which universally demonstrate mindfulness of the importance of transitioning technology to support immediate and near-term Army needs.
ARL staff also continue to expand their involvement with the wider scientific and engineering community. This involvement includes monitoring relevant developments elsewhere, engaging in significant collaborative work (including the Collaborative Technology Alliances), and sharing work through peer reviews (although the sensitive nature of ARL work increasingly presents challenges to such sharing).
In general, ARL is working very well within an appropriate research and development (R&D) niche and has been demonstrating significant accomplishments. Examples among many include the following:
The development of technology for electromagnetic armor, machine translation of foreign languages, electrooptic sensors, autonomous sensing, corrugated quantum-well infrared photo-detectors, robotics and unmanned air and ground vehicles, high-energy batteries, microelectro-mechanical systems technology for microrobotics, solid-geometry modeling computer-aided design, aircraft propulsion and structures, flexible displays, and portable biotoxin analysis;
Research in atmospheric acoustics and radio-frequency propagation in battlefield environments, surface weather and wind modeling, auditory awareness and speech communication in battlefield environments, neuroergonomics, network science, and active stall control and active wake modeling for rotorcraft;
The development and application of sophisticated models of soldier performance and of software to support the assessment of survivability and lethality of systems; and
Studies to assess and improve the designs of helmets and body armor for soldiers.
ARL is increasingly addressing in proactive and creative ways challenges that require cross-directorate collaboration and is engaging in a variety of initiatives and collaborative alliances that enhance crosscutting research and development. The Board encourages ARL to continue to address several specific areas that require collaboration across ARL directorates. These include advanced computing, system-of-systems analysis, applications of neuroscience to the enhancement of soldier performance, information fusion, information security, ad hoc wireless networks, and system prototyping and model verification and validation.
ARL has been responding admirably to severe pressures to transition new technologies quickly to the field and to address simultaneously the challenging requirements of the Future Combat Systems while also maintaining its role with respect to longer-term basic research. The Board recognizes the importance of each of these types of endeavor for ARL, but it notes here the importance of basic research as a foundation for future R&D accomplishments since basic research activities may be at greater risk in the current economic environment.
ARL has been successfully addressing these significant challenges by its careful management of technical resources. Through its extensive interactions with the external academic, industrial, and government research and development communities, ARL develops opportunities to hire talented scientists, engineers, technicians, and managers. Contacts are developed through the Collaborative Technology Alliances, the Army Research Office, regular stakeholder meetings, collaborative work at the directorates, planned interaction with academic organizations, and regular recruiting activities. ARL’s ability to secure needed talent would be enhanced by any administrative adjustments that improve speed and flexibility with respect to new appointments. Sufficient funding should be provided to ARL so that funding is not a constraint on managers’ ability to enable the interactions of ARL staff with the scientific community through travel to professional meetings. ARL management should continue to encourage and support its staff to publish in scientific, peer-reviewed journals and proceedings.