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"Soldier Power"


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A recent article from Army AL&T magazine describes improvements in personal energy generation technology that benefits the deployed soldier and squad.

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"Soldier Power"

  1. 1. ONE SOURCE, MULTIPLE DEVICES The Soldier Worn Integrated Power Equipment System can provide power for up to four devices, including but not limited to a Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGR), a radio via a smart charging pouch, a USB hub to power any USB device, and an end-user device such as Nett Warrior, the Soldier- borne situational awareness tool. Here, SSG Eric Cook (left) and SSG Sean Im of 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, input grid coordinates on DAGRs for an upcoming mission objective during Operation Jolo II, Jan. 26 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. (Photo by SGT Trey Harvey.)12 Army AL&T Magazine
  2. 2. ACQUISITION SOLDIER POWER Operational energy solutions focus on lightening the load and reducing the logistical burden, with encouraging results by Steven MapesT ihe growth of technology in Soldier equip- Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier is scheduled ment brings greater power needs, thus to begin fielding the systems to 10 brigades per year, increasing the load that a Soldier takes into beginning in FY14. the fight. Most devices run on commercialor military standard lithium ion-batteries. Units oper- In the past, the types of gear that Soldiers carriedating in the most austere environments traditionally into battle had a low power requirement that a smallhave had to carry enough batteries to sustain all of amount of conventional batteries could address. Astheir devices for up to 72 hours before having to resup- technologies mature and new power-consuming sys-ply at a forward operating base (FOB). tems are added to the Soldier’s load, we need to address how to reduce that load and eliminate the logisticalIndividual power requirements have long been an footprint associated with battery resupply. The Army’safterthought to materiel developers as they continu- logisticians are very effective at pushing supplies, suchally strive to create high-tech, Soldier-borne solutions. as batteries, as far into the fight as the Soldiers needBreakthrough operational energy solutions at the indi- them. However, there is a great cost, both in dollarsvidual Soldier level help to lighten the load and reduce and in human lives, associated with getting these sup-the logistical burden. (See related article on Page 54.) plies onto the battlefield.Soldier Power encompasses expeditionary solutions In a June 7, 2011, memorandum, Supporting the Mis-intended for the most austere operating environments. sion with Operational Energy (http://energy.defense.These solutions include power generation systems, gov/OperationalEnergy-SpttoMission.pdf), GENpower scavenging, renewable energy, power distribu- David H. Petraeus (USA Ret.), then Commander,tion, management, and storage that are lightweight International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistanand can be worn or carried by Soldiers. Soldier power and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, said, “Changing thesystems will be distributed to select units in FY13, and way we use operational energy will lighten the logistics A S C . A R M Y. M I L 13
  3. 3. SOLDIER POWER burden, minimize tactical distractions enduring operating environment such as than traditional units using FM radios to the mission, and deny easy targets to a FOB or a combat outpost. This feed- because the Soldiers’ radios are always the adversary.” back prompted the APM Soldier Power on, sending and receiving information office to move research and development and draining power. Evaluation of the The Assistant Product Manager (APM) dollars toward items that are more por- Expeditionary Soldier Power Suite will Soldier Power falls under PEO Soldier’s table, with fewer logistical requirements. help determine the sustainability of the Project Manager Soldier Warrior (PM The generators and fuel cells fit into ruck- networked formation. SWAR), whose mission is to provide sacks, but feedback from the 1/16 helped power solutions to Soldiers operating in demonstrate that many other mission- A second SUE at NIE 12.2 is the Sol- the most austere environments, known as specific items besides power needs are dier Worn Integrated Power Equipment Tier 1 environments. carried in the rucksack. System (SWIPES). It provides a central power source for extended missions when Tier 1 environments have no power infra- The Soldier feedback, both positive and used with the ergonomic, Soldier-worn structure. Soldiers perform dismounted negative, catapulted Soldier Power to conformal battery, while reducing the operations in complex, restrictive terrain. the forefront of the strategic conversa- numbers and varieties of batteries the Everything that Soldiers have available to tion. Comments on the Soldier Power Soldier must carry. SWIPES can provide them is located in their rucksacks or on Manager and the REPPS kit were power for up to four devices, including their bodies. These Soldiers are at the heart resoundingly positive and underscored but not limited to a radio via a smart of Soldier Power developmental efforts. the value of being able to scavenge fuel charging pouch, a USB hub to power any and renewable energy on the battlefield. USB device, a Defense Advanced GPS SOLDIER FEEDBACK Soldier feedback also renewed focus on Receiver, and an end-user device such In November 2011, the 1st Battalion, the developments in improved battery as Nett Warrior, the Soldier-borne situ- 16th Infantry Regiment (1/16) received a chemistry to help equipment run longer. ational awareness tool. no-notice deployment order. PEO Soldier provided this unit with a suite of expedi- The Soldier Power office was able to work The Universal Battery Charger (UBC) tionary power systems. The deployment closely with industry to identify and with a 120 watt solar blanket will also was in support of Village Stability develop improved solar technology that be evaluated at NIE 12.2. This system Platform (VSP) operations in Afghani- performs more efficiently than its current weighs approximately 6 pounds and stan. VSPs are largely cut off from the rate of about 8 percent. Research is also brings recharging forward for the entire supply chain, compared with FOBs or being conducted to develop multi-fuel networked squad in a Tier 1 environ- patrol bases. generators that can be used for scaveng- ment. This charger will reduce, and ing any type of fuel on the battlefield to potentially eliminate, the need to return These power items were intended to power man-portable generators. to the FOB for recharging. The UBC will sustain units that did not have access allow Soldiers to extend mission duration to a preexisting power grid, vehicles, or NETWORK INTEGRATION without being tethered to a logistics bat- items such as generators. The items sent An expeditionary power suite will be tery resupply. included the Soldier Power Manager, a sent to the Army’s Network Integration state-of-the-art, lightweight, portable Evaluation (NIE) 12.2 in May as a system The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force power management system; the Ruck- under evaluation (SUE). This includes a (REF) recently approached the APM sack Enhanced Portable Power System kinetic energy device, the Soldier Power Soldier Power office to request support (REPPS), a solar power system; 300 watt Manager, a 1 kW JP-8 generator, and a for an operational energy fielding to the fuel cells; and 1 kilowatt (kW) generators. solar blanket. These items are intended 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to serve as one package per platoon. and the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Soldiers of the 1/16 recognized the utility Division (1/82). These units will receive of the generators and fuel cells but indi- This tailored package meets the power much larger Soldier power packages cated that the unique fuel requirements, needs of what is becoming known as tailored to specific unit requirements combined with the weight of the sys- the networked formation, which has and informed by the feedback received tems, made them better suited to a more a much greater power requirement from the 1/16. The 173rd and 1/82 will14 Army AL&T Magazine
  4. 4. ACQUISITION Manager Ground Soldier team in sup- port of the Nett Warrior program, and to PEO Soldier’s Product Manager Air War- rior team in support of the Air Soldier System program. The future of Soldier Power will be dynamic. Ultimately it will reduce Sol- dier load, increase mission duration, and reduce logistics. Gen John R. Allen, Commander of the International Security Assis- tance Force – Afghanistan and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, recently wrote, “Operational Energy in the battlespace is about improving combat effectiveness. It’s about increasing our forces’ endurance, being more lethal, and reducing the num- ber of men and women risking their lives moving fuel.”SMART USAGEThe Soldier Power Manager calculates available and required power and allocates power to The APM Soldier Power office willloads according to availability and priority. It also allows multiple power generation sources continue to work with industry andto be hooked up simultaneously, using energy based on a predetermined set of energy costs. the Army laboratories to identify(Photo courtesy of Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.) technologies that are lighter and more efficient. The Army is directing resources to provide and improvereceive the Soldier Power Manager, the solutions and developmental efforts are Soldier Power to achieve its short- andREPPS kit, and the SWIPES with a con- not duplicated. The APM Soldier Power long-term goals.formal battery. office intends to look at the capability sets in years to come and determine what the For more information, go to https://www.MAJ Mark Owens, APM Soldier Power, Army is planning to field, in an attempt provided the 1st Battalion, 503rd to ensure that future systems’ supportInfantry Regiment with new equipment strategies are consistent with the Army’straining on this Soldier Power gear. The Operational Energy Campaign Plan. STEVEN MAPES is Project Directortraining was well received by the unit, for the Army’s Soldier Power programwhich immediately understood the Efforts are also underway to ensure within Program Executive Office Sol-utility of this equipment. Some of the that each PEO is informed of the entire dier’s Project Manager Soldier Warrior.Soldiers took it a step further, envisioning Soldier Power portfolio. The challenge He holds a B.S. in program manage-scenarios on the battlefield in which the is to identify the programs that could ment from Excelsior University of Newequipment would be a combat multiplier. benefit from these capabilities before York and is a member of the U.S. ArmyOwens’ next stop is Fort Bragg, NC, to individual program managers estab- Acquisition Corps. Mapes is an active mem-train elements of the 1/82. lish their own solutions. The APM ber of NATO’s Land Capability Group 1 Soldier Power office is provid- (Chairman, Soldier Power) and servesCONCLUSION ing Soldier Power capability to the on the operational energy working groupSoldier Power spans the entire acquisition REF, to the Joint Tactical Radio Sys- for the Assistant Secretary of the Armycommunity. It is a challenge to ensure that tem team, to PEO Soldier’s Product for Installations, Energy, and Environment. A S C . A R M Y. M I L 15