Leveraging Advances in Portable Power

As long as electronics are used to enable the key equipments on which Soldiers and TSUs depend, advances in portable power will continue to provide decisive-edge potential to U.S. Soldiers. Power issues have doctrinal implications because of their impact on TSU tactics, techniques, and procedures. The last decade has seen major advances in portable power materiel technologies, which could have outsize influence on overmatch. However, this can occur only if the Army can leverage the advances to their full effect, which requires considering the full range of DOTMLPF implications for alternative portable-power solutions.

While the Army is well on the way toward implementing a rechargeable battery technology that could become the primary energy source for the Soldier on the battlefield, aside from the materiel development itself, critical DOTMLPF elements have not been evaluated. There is no doctrinal philosophy for the TSU to recharge the battery; there is no organizational equipment to support recharging; there is no hint of the training required; there is no parallel materiel development of a recharger or fuel reformer to exploit new rechargeable battery or fuel-cell technologies.

Rechargeable lithium-air energy sources used as the primary energy source in hybrid configurations have high potential to replace many of the disposable and rechargeable storage systems now in use. The selection of rechargeable battery storage technology as the primary choice for the Soldier energy source necessitates the parallel introduction of a recharger technology sufficiently small and lightweight that would be applicable at the squad level. Successful development of a JP-fuel reforming technology would allow for small combustion engine battery chargers of low cost and light weight. The Army needs to complete development of JP-reforming technology over a wide range of sizes in order to exploit either rechargeable battery technology or fuel-cell technology.

Advances in portable power will contribute to the decisiveness of TSUs by giving future Soldiers high confidence that their equipment ensemble will have sufficient energy to carry out the mission. Achieving this goal will help to reduce fatigue, eliminate the anxiety associated with resupply, increase confidence in situational awareness from powered sensors, and assure communications links with higher levels in the command structure.

Recommendation 15: The Army should develop and maintain a robust program in advanced energy sources based on full analysis of DOTMLPF elements with the goal of eliminating power and energy as limiting factors in tactical small unit operations.

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