ing and breakthrough innovations by HRED scientists who wish to study more fundamental problems that do not easily fit into a particular defined mission.

In other words, HRED must more seriously consider ways in which it can best achieve the goal of performing cutting-edge applied research in addition to maintaining its cutting-edge basic research, given that the large majority (approximately 90 percent) of its funding is from 6.2-level or above sources, which target applied research. Because of the existing funding allocation for mission-oriented work, it is important to begin this discussion by revisiting the definition of “applied research,” which in the Army is defined from the DoD Financial Management Regulation which states:

Applied research is a systematic study to understand the means to meet a recognized and specific need. It is a systematic expansion and application of knowledge to develop useful materials, devices, and systems or methods. It may be oriented, ultimately, toward the design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet general mission area requirements. Applied research may translate promising basic research into solutions for broadly defined military needs, short of system development. It includes studies, investigations, and non-system specific technology efforts. The dominant characteristic is that applied research is directed toward general military needs with a view toward developing and evaluating the feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions and determining their parameters. Applied research precedes system specific technology investigations or development.1

A significant proportion of HRED staff resources is allocated to the support of Army programs under development and related field work; that work is not assessed by the Board, whose focus is on the research supportive of the program and field support. HRED is in a unique position to improve the Army’s development and use of advanced technologies with targeted, cutting-edge, applied research that will assist in determining the feasibility of various weapons systems and design concepts early in the development process. More specifically, HRED is developing new methods, models, and human performance databases to aid in designing specific Army technologies and in evaluating and improving existing mounted and dismounted soldier systems. To excel in such endeavors, however, will require HRED to continue to perform complex, human-centered, scientifically sound studies that are motivated and defined by a staff and management that have a deep understanding of the complexity of various soldier-system interactions associated with tasks performed within emerging hardware and software technologies.


Five major changes are evident in the Human Research and Engineering Directorate since the previous published review:2

  1. Planning for a major new program in neuroergonomics. This initiative is expected to result in fundamental studies of how to use newer neurological monitoring methods and data along with cognitive and human performance models to improve the decision-making and performance capabilities of soldiers in the field. Because this is such a new area of investigation for the Army, a collaborative program that includes multiple universities, using a Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) arrangement, will be the best way to meet the high expectations for this program over the next 5 to 10 years.


Department of Defense, DoD Financial Management Regulation, Vol. 2, Ch. 5, Washington, D.C., June 2006.


National Research Council, 2005-2006 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2007.

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