The statement of task that guided the work of the Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) is as follows:
An ad hoc committee to be named the Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB), to be overseen by the Laboratory Assessments Board, will be appointed to continue the function of providing biennial assessments of the scientific and technical quality of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). These assessments will include findings and recommendations related to the quality of ARL’s research, development, and analysis programs. While the primary role of the ARLTAB is to provide peer assessment, it may offer advice on related matters when requested by the ARL Director. The ARLTAB will provide an interim assessment report at the end of Year 1 of each 2-year assessment cycle and a final assessment report biennially. The ARLTAB will be assisted by up to seven separately appointed panels that will focus on particular portions of the ARL program. Each year, up to three additional panels may be appointed to assess special topics, at the request of the ARL Director.
During the 2017-2018 assessment, the ARLTAB was assisted by seven panels, each of which focused on a portion of the ARL program conducted in ARL’s science and technology (S&T) campaigns: Materials Research, Sciences for Lethality and Protection, Information Sciences, Computational Sciences, Sciences for Maneuver, Human Sciences, and Analysis and Assessment.
This report summarizes the findings of the board for the 2017-2018 biennial assessment. Because a full spectrum of projects and programs within each ARL campaign and the interrelated mapping across all campaigns’ projects and programs were not provided to the ARLTAB, this report presents the board’s assessment of only the projects and programs presented and is not intended to portray a representative assessment of the S&T work across ARL.
The board examined the following elements within the ARL S&T campaigns:
- Materials Research—energy-efficient electronics and photonics; materials for soldier and platform power systems; quantum sciences; adaptive and responsive materials; agile expedient manufacturing, and high-rate materials and mechanisms.
- Sciences for Lethality and Protection—battlefield injury mechanisms; directed energy; penetration, armor, and adaptive protection; disruptive energetics and propulsion technologies; effects on target—ballistics and blast; and flight guidance, navigation, and control.
- Information Sciences—sensing and effecting; system intelligence and intelligent systems; human-information interaction; atmospheric sciences; networks and communications; and cybersecurity: detection and agility.
- Computational Sciences—advanced computing architectures; data-intensive sciences; and predictive sciences.
- Sciences for Maneuver—intelligence and control; machine-human interaction; perception; platform mechanics; energy and propulsion; and logistics and sustainability.
- Human Sciences—real-world behavior; human variability; humans in multiagent systems; and human cyber performance.
- Analysis and Assessment—ballistics survivability, vulnerability, and lethality (BSVL); personnel survivability; human systems integration; electronic warfare survivability, lethality, and vulnerability (SLV); cyber SLV; and complex adaptive systems analysis.
The mission of ARL, as the U.S. Army’s corporate laboratory, is to discover, innovate, and transition science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. In 2013, ARL restructured its portfolio of ongoing and planned research and development to align with its S&T campaign plans for 2015-2035. ARL has maintained its organizational structure, consisting of six directorates: Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD), Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED), Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate (SEDD), Survivability and Lethality Analysis Directorate (SLAD), Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD), and Weapons and Materials Research Directorate (WMRD). The research portfolio has been organized into S&T campaigns, each of which describes related work supported by staff from multiple directorates. Appendix A (Table A.1) shows the directorates that supported each campaign during the 2017 and 2018 reviews. The ARL technical strategy document describes the portfolio of each campaign in detail.1 ARL’s vision is compelling and raises expectations for an innovative program of research designed to be responsive to the needs of the “Army after next.” This is not yet fully evident in the portfolio currently being assessed. The reorganization of the portfolio into key focused campaigns is promising, but it may take some time to transform and mature the program of work to consistently align with new critical paths.
In general, the quality of the research presented, the capabilities of the leadership, the knowledge and abilities of the investigators, and proposed future directions continue to improve from the past assessment period. Also, significant gains were evident in publication rates, numbers of postdoctoral researchers, and collaborations with relevant peers outside ARL. The research work environments were impressive in terms of their unique and advanced technology capabilities to support research. Overall, these are outstanding accomplishments and mark an advance over prior years.
1 U.S. Army Research Laboratory, 2014, Army Research Laboratory Technical Strategy 2015-2035, Adelphi, Md., https://www.arl.army.mil/www/pages/172/docs/ARL_Technical_Strategy_FINAL.pdf.
ARL’s materials research spans the spectrum of technology maturity and addresses Army applications, working from the state of the art to the art of the possible—“25 years into the future”—according to the ARL. Materials research efforts and expertise are spread throughout the ARL enterprise. The area of materials sciences is one of ARL’s primary core technical competencies.
Energy-Efficient Electronics and Photonics
Energy-efficient electronics and photonics are intended to address the size, weight, power, cost, and time (SWAPCT) of soldier technologies on the battlefield. The impact of advances utilizing optical equivalents, efficiencies realized through new radio frequency (RF) waveform and encoding strategies, and efficiencies for directed-energy applications are envisioned as being significant and important targets. Examples include escalation of electronic warfare technologies down to the individual unit and soldier in a continually contested RF environment, exacerbating current power challenges.
Materials for Soldier and Platform Power Systems
The research programs of materials for soldier and platform power (MS&PP) systems are motivated by soldier battlefield power needs both currently and in the future. The research supports the essential research area of tactical unit energy independence, with focus on unburdening the soldier by making power lightweight, providing power on-site, and diminishing power needs, all essential enabling factors in supporting soldier welfare and effectiveness. Toward these ends, ARL is among the country’s top-tier research organizations. Its research portfolio includes a mixture of world-leading, established, innovative projects and recently initiated programs anticipating scientific trends.
Quantum sciences is a new program area of high scientific quality and well aligned with the long-term goals of ARL’s mission to provide the Army of the future with clear tactical advantage. It is anticipated that quantum sciences will provide game-changing capabilities for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) for the Army of the future. It is critical that ARL maintain and expand this research effort.
Adaptive and Responsive Materials
Adaptive and responsive materials is an emerging and promising crosscutting ARL program with two thrusts: energy coupled to matter (ECM) and materials for soldier augmentation.
The overall objective of the ECM program is to expand the processing parameter space to enable discovery and processing of metals, ceramics, and polymers with controlled microstructures not accessible through conventional processing. Building on novel modeling-experimental capabilities and on past pioneering experience in field-assisted processing, ARL has the potential to become a leader in processing science to ensure the fast succession from materials discoveries to production.
The overall objective of the soldier augmentation program is to improve protection, increase lethality, and reduce the burden on the soldier.
Agile Expedient Manufacturing
The objective of this initiative is to develop novel adaptive and rapid manufacturing technologies to enable deployable “materials on demand” capability to enable operational readiness concomitant with the capability to counter new threats with point-of-use solutions. The materials on demand capability will lead the way toward a new paradigm in flexible, rapid, low-rate production for the factory of the future. Science and innovation in synthesis from reclaimed, renewable, and indigenous resourcing will enable cost reduction and the capability to mobilize this manufacturing technology with minimal materials burden to support expeditionary operations on location and in time.
High-Rate Materials and Mechanisms
High-rate materials play a key role in addressing current and future challenges associated with the development of new Army platforms and capabilities, including the next-generation combat vehicle, long-range precision fire, and soldier lethality. ARL has struck a balance between use-inspired and curiosity-driven research and development activities including near-term projects to develop various forms of lightweight and low-cost ceramic, metal, polymer, and composite armor and far-term investigations toward a fundamental understanding of ballistic impact—exposing materials to unique and extreme conditions of loading states.
SCIENCES FOR LETHALITY AND PROTECTION
ARL’s research in the area of sciences for lethality and protection included basic research that improves fundamental understanding of the scientific phenomena and technology generation that addresses battlefield injury mechanisms, human response to threats, human protective equipment, directed energy programs, weapon-target interactions, and armor and adaptive protection.
Battlefield Injury Mechanisms
The study of battlefield injury mechanisms is a relatively new area of research at ARL, and ARL has shown greatly improved coordination and focus over the past two years. Excellent progress on many topics was observed during the review. There has been considerable improvement in prioritization of projects, at least in the near term; some of the specific goals and timelines of the remaining elements of the program need to be better developed and articulated. The ARL focus on the definition of biological injury in terms relevant to materials and engineering is a necessary step in moving this critical area forward and may be unique in the field. The focus at ARL on identifying the critical size scale of injury is correct, and the group emphasis on the translation of animal data to humans is necessary and positive.
The ARL directed energy (DE) program focuses on RF-DE and laser-DE. ARL leadership and research teams successfully implemented some of the recommendations of the previous ARLTAB report.2 Specifically, the collection of presented projects demonstrated a coordinated strategy across
2 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017, 2015-2016 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
the enterprise for the laser-related work, with indications of much greater collaboration with the Navy and Air Force. Internal to ARL, principal investigators (PIs) demonstrated greater awareness of work done in the areas of threat warning and countermeasures. The quality of the programs will continue to benefit from even deeper and more frequent collaborations both internal and external to ARL to foster rapid innovation with operational and contextual relevance.
Penetration, Armor, and Adaptive Protection
ARL continues to demonstrate a strong record of achievement in the fundamental and applied sciences and the engineering of penetration, armor, and adaptive protection. The ongoing work continues to highlight how ARL is building on its history of excellence to provide the knowledge basis for future Army needs in the area of warfighter protection. This is critical and core competency that underlies Army capabilities.
A start has been made in the uncertainty quantification (UQ) area of research, but there is a long way to go. It was unclear what the level of effort of research is or the number of people involved. ARL needs to continue an emphasis in UQ. Further, ARL needs to pursue the integration of UQ into its data-to-decision workflow that includes modeling and simulation, experimentation, and design. To accelerate integration and given the complexity of their objectives, ARL scientists and engineers need to leverage software and methodologies developed at other Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories.
Disruptive Energetics and Propulsion Technologies
The focus of research in the disruptive energetics and propulsion technologies program is the exploration and development of new and novel energetic materials that can potentially revolutionize munitions and propulsion systems by enhancing energy release and lethality greater than traditional energetic materials.
The review of the disruptive energetic material and propulsion technology covered the areas of new material synthesis, small-scale energetic material characterization using laser flyers and rapid heating diagnostics, experimental studies of structural bond energy release nanomaterials, quantum to force field molecular modeling, multiscale coarse-grain modeling of energetic composites, and multiphase rocket and gun propellant modeling.
Effects on Targets—Ballistics and Blast
In the effects on targets—ballistics and blast research portfolio, projects on lethal and scalable effect technologies and imaging of ballistic impact in ceramics were reviewed. The ongoing work in this review focused on how ARL continues to lead the Army in its core competencies of blast survivability, ballistic penetration, and protection technologies. These programs are critical to achieving the Army’s articulated goal of 20 percent weight reduction in body armor without negatively impacting its loss-exchange ratio. These programs, taken together, address this goal in myriad efforts to better understand the physics of failure and utilize this understanding to quantify the effects of threats, develop more lethal threats, and design more resilient strategies to defeat threats. ARL’s forward-looking approach to challenges and opportunities such as designing the next generation of combat vehicles to enable the use of higher energy weapons is well aligned with the new Futures Command. Opportunities exist to
leverage ARL’s many collaborations to closely integrate analytical and computational modeling efforts to the experimental enterprise.
Flight Guidance, Navigation, and Control
Overall, the projects in flight guidance, navigation, and control demonstrated very competent, and in some cases excellent, research. The ARL leadership and research staff described quality research with realistic potential for high payoffs such as
- Estimation techniques that incorporate dynamics into the algorithms to predict maneuverability;
- Diverse sensing approaches in a Global Positioning System (GPS)-denied environment;
- Aero- and flight-dynamic models, some of which were validated with experiments; and
- State estimation to achieve required accuracies for smart munitions.
The fundamental problems addressed include maneuverability and terminal guidance to imperfectly located, moving, or protected targets to achieve the operational impact of a deep magazine with precision capability.
Many of the projects would benefit from end-to-end system performance modeling to frame performance requirements and technical and parametric goals. Specifically, the assured delivery in constrained environments work demonstrated many excellent component models that would benefit from being more fully linked to an end-to-end performance model. This observation also applies to the low-cost canard activator discussion. With a systems view of the impact to the overall cost balance, ARL could identify where improvements provide the most leverage in achieving desired performance at an affordable cost.
The ARL flight guidance, navigation, and control research program leads among similar institutions in its focus on Army-relevant problems with the potential for breakthrough operational capability and acceleration. The research team demonstrates exceptional competence in executing a research program focused on incremental advances that could revolutionize Army precision and lethality capability while breaking the cost curve.
ARL research in information sciences is focused on developing and enhancing S&T capabilities that allow for the timely acquisition and use of high-quality information and knowledge at the tactical edge, for both strategic operations planning and mission deployment. Included in this approach are technological advances that support information acquisition, reasoning with such information, and support for decision-making activities such as collaborative communications.
Sensing and Effecting
Sensing and effecting research projects covered thematic areas of nonimaging sensors (acoustic, electric, magnetic, seismic), radar sensing and signal processing, image and video analytics, sensor and data fusion, and machine learning. Noteworthy programs include electric and magnetic field sensing, research on the next-generation improvised explosive device and landmine detection platform, computational advances in electric field modeling, cross-modal face recognition, and innovative approaches to fuse textual context with image features to improve machine learning.
The work was generally of high scientific quality, with a balance between theoretical and experimental work, as well as evidence of transition into practice.
System Intelligence and Intelligent Systems
System intelligence and intelligent systems (SIIS) research spans areas of information understanding, information fusion, and computational intelligence. This research has led to an improved understanding of complex environments and streaming data related to navigation, exploration, and mapping of the physical world. The work on unsupervised learning of semantic labels in streaming data, and the synergies between visual analysis and efficient exploration of environments is noteworthy. Ongoing collaboration among researchers within ARL as well as on the outside on information analysis (in SIIS) to decision support (in human-information interaction), is likely to yield good dividends.
Human-information interaction (HII) is a new program in the Information Sciences Campaign and has been in operation since 2017, bringing together researchers from disparate disciplines and technical backgrounds. The objective of HII research at ARL is to develop models, methods, and understanding of data and information generated by humans and intelligent agents in a complex, multigenre network environment. It further examines tools to respond to user information needs with due consideration of user variability and mission constraints, and thereby to develop timely and accurate situational understanding.
The atmospheric sciences research portfolio of the Battlefield Environments Division seeks to improve environmental understanding of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and processes that operate on small spatial and temporal scales, and on developing appropriate environmental intelligence tools for deployed soldiers to use in austere, complex operating environments. Promising research projects reviewed included detection and characterization of chemical aerosols, acoustic and infrasound sensing, development and fielding of a meteorological sensor array at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), and advances in small-scale atmospheric model development, verification, and validation.
Networks and Communications
The networks and communications research portfolio focuses on understanding and exploiting interactions of information with sociotechnical networks, particularly communications, and command and control networks. The research comprises three broad topical areas: channels and protocols, control and behavior, and information delivery. Human-machine teaming is a growing topic in all three topical areas. Since the previous review in 2016, significant progress has been made in many of these areas of research.
Cybersecurity: Detection and Agility
Cyberattackers, both human and intelligent agents, pose a significant threat to Army information systems and networks. Understanding how adversarial elements interact with information is important, as is the analysis and understanding of adversary resources, learning and recognizing adversary tactics, and ultimately anticipating adversarial activity to mitigate the effects of cyberattacks. Risk characterization
is another important element of cybersecurity research. The overall quality of research was good, with some projects characterized as excellent.
The Computational Sciences Campaign includes projects in advanced computing architectures, data-intensive sciences (artificial intelligence and machine learning), and predictive sciences. Substantial progress has been made in each of the three areas since the last review in 2016. Looking forward, the campaign would benefit from three activities designed to focus effort and ensure success. By creating and sharing white papers on the state of the art, the campaign could identify national thought leaders whose research, insights, and ideas would inform and guide research and development. Second, the campaign could convert conceptual diagrams of future battlefields to tangible work plans, emphasizing those focused activities likely to maximize return on investment. Third, all projects would benefit from clearer metrics for project success and associated project exit strategies, including transitions that maximize Army benefits.
Advanced Computing Architectures
The present and future battlefield places a premium on real-time analysis of large-scale data under energy constraints. The need for tactical high-performance computing (HPC) at the edge is especially true when this analysis must be combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in edge devices—distributed, mobile sensors, and actuators distributed across the battlefield. In response to previous recommendations, the ARL advanced computing architectures group is focusing on size, weight, power, and time (SWAPT) and SWAPT plus network (SWAPTN) constraints to support workflows to enable faster decisions through faster computation.
These activities include exploration of neuromorphic computing, exemplified by experiments with IBM’s TrueNorth processor, and low-power parallel programming software on Adapteva’s Epiphany processor. To serve the long-term Army needs for quantum secure communication and networking, ARL has also been exploring the potential range of uses of quantum computing and networking through modeling and simulation. Building on these experiences, for the success of the ARL S&T campaigns, there would be value in considering a few critical end-to-end processing workflows representative of the gaps that could be covered along with the needed computational hardware and software resources.
This campaign has focused on applied machine learning (ML), neuromorphic computing, and cooperative multiagent control using deep reinforcement learning. In addition to software testing and evaluation for the IBM TrueNorth processor, in a collaborative partnership with Stanford University, the campaign extended the multiagent-setting methods previously used to train a single agent using cooperative reinforcement learning, achieving state-of-the-art performance in several applications.
In addition, the campaign has addressed several Army-relevant ML needs, including planetary gearbox analysis as a proactive approach to preventative maintenance by automated generation of features. Three data-intensive computing projects (high-throughput electrolyte modeling, discovering and quantifying atomistic defects in large data sets for assessing nanocrystalline aluminum, and computational technologies for the reduction of highly nonlinear and multiscale solid mechanics and structural dynamics models) are exploiting the same ARL-developed software architecture for distributed simulation.
The campaign focuses on developing multiscale, multidisciplinary, and multifidelity capabilities for accurate computational analysis, with emphasis on verification and validation (V&V) and uncertainty quantification (UQ). Two notable examples of such work were a computational framework for scale bridging with application to multiscale modeling of RDX explosives, and models for integrated computational materials engineering for polycrystalline materials.
SCIENCES FOR MANEUVER
ARL provided director-level responses to the 2015-2016 Board recommendations indicating productive interaction of the Board and ARL staff during the previous reviews of the Sciences for Maneuver Campaign.
Interactions with ARL scientists and engineers, including research presentations, posters, and laboratory visits, were useful in terms of assessing the quality of ARL research. Research presentations were outstanding and demonstrated continuous improvement in quality content, rigor, and project planning. The campaign’s collaborative engagements remain productive and ensure a useful link to industry, adding collegial interaction.
Several outstanding research projects are noteworthy. The project on stimuli-responsive interface mechanics for nanocomposites focused on improving damping by modifying the polymer-fiber interface and using stimuli-responsive (photoreactive) molecules for functionalizing the carbon nanotubes. Theoretical concepts for controlling system dynamics by using a linear state space model were elegantly explained in the project on Gramian-based control of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) disturbances. The work on developing an autonomous four-legged mobility controller utilizing proprioception sensors in the project on fore-aft leg specialization control for a dynamic quadruped is equal to, or possibly superior to, similar work being pursued in academia and industry for achieving high-speed mobility over various terrains, and it aligns well with the Army’s goal of agility. The project on energy-efficient multimodal flight is focused on designing and testing a tiltrotor vehicle weighing less than 500 g. The project principally addresses the dynamics and control of the system and has successfully achieved the transition from hover to forward flight. The research on low-rank representation learning of action attributes (flexibility and extensibility) in focusing on human action attributes is outstanding. The research on autonomous mobile information collection using a value of information-enriched belief approach is also outstanding. The research and simulation in the wingman software integration laboratory has a clear path to Army-relevant static and dynamic scenarios involving multiple machine/multiple human interactions is also outstanding.
The ARL has world-class research equipment, experimental facilities, and computational resources, including a spray combustion research laboratory, small engine altitude research facility, and high-temperature propulsion materials laboratory.
The laboratory appears to be committed to nurturing new ideas through a variety of avenues, including the laboratory director’s office, the availability of seed money, and the process whereby the project portfolio is regularly refreshed. Mentoring efforts appear to be effective.
There are several opportunities for greater advancement in the campaign research productivity. Researchers working on the project on stimuli-responsive interface mechanics for nanocomposites could estimate the amount of damping created by modifications of the interface between the nanoreinforcements and the surrounding m5atrix. The project on computational fluid dynamics/computational structural dynamics (CFD/CSD) aeroelastic predictions of a semispan tiltrotor could first use a simpler
aerodynamic model to complete computations in time to impact the design and execution of the wind tunnel test and use the more sophisticated and time consuming FUN3D computational fluid dynamics model later. The investigators could consider the following: examining a tiltrotor version of the recently ended UH-60A helicopter air loads program seeking improved tiltrotor modeling tools to accurately predict whirl-flutter stability; exploring other CFD solvers toward validating FUN3D results; and identifying desirable tiltrotor features that require better computational models (e.g., thin tiltrotor wing). Increased use of Army (soldier) field experiences and scenarios, robots, and more relevant data sets could enhance all research in this campaign. Increased ARL journal publications and presence at and participation in conferences would help to define the problem set.
This initiative is an ambitious and promising entry into the challenging field of the measurement and analysis of real-world behavior (RWB). Overall, the technical quality of the work is high. In particular, the group has worked to identify technical and theoretical gaps and to align resources to solve specific needs. The technical quality of enabling technology and instrumentation was especially high. In general, the group uses strong experimental techniques and appropriate modeling approaches. There has been a continued improvement in research products, including published papers, book chapters, technical reports, and conference papers. Still, as new research areas are broached, the work would benefit from consultation with appropriate experts.
The analytical abilities and techniques of the Human Variability program in general are strong. The electroencephalogram (EEG)-related technical expertise is excellent. The source localization methods being developed are interesting and provide a good approach to go beyond simple subtractive methods of analysis.
The Human Variability projects have made progress since the last review by continuing to publish findings in the scientific literature and present findings at conferences.
Humans in Multiagent Systems
Overall, the technical quality of the work is good, and methodologies that are used to explore the research questions are appropriate. Throughout the description of the research in this area, there were many examples of good interdisciplinary collaboration to support broad-ranging questions among computer scientists, cognitive scientists, and human factors psychologists and engineers, such as in the work on trust in robotic transportation systems. The Humans in Multiagent Systems team leverages the foundational research of colleagues in the Human Variability and Real-World Behavior programs to inform their applied work as well as collaboration with operational warfighters, at Fort Bragg, for example. The identification of the Cyber Human Integrated Modeling and Experimentation Range Army (CHIMERA) laboratory as a target of opportunity for research into the human aspects of cybersecurity represents forward-thinking outreach and collaboration with other organizations, and it leverages investments made elsewhere. The researchers demonstrated understanding of the importance of measures of
performance and measures of effectiveness, that achievement of the former does not always translate into achievement of the latter, and that this disconnect needs to be addressed in their research.
One area that lacks depth is qualitative research. The work on sociocultural influences in particular seems heavily dependent upon the use of qualitative methods, but the methods used for conceptualizing research questions and analyzing and presenting data need some additional expertise to reach the standards of similar academic research.
More depth is also needed in the area of teams research. In some areas—particularly the work on teams in cybersecurity—the lack of deep expertise of current literature is leading to slow progress in the research. The opinion of some ARL researchers that nothing is known about the area of cybersecurity teams reveals a lack of knowledge of other teamwork research. Abstracting the issues of cybersecurity teams to think in terms of complex, fast-paced decision making in the face of adversarial pressure would reveal some relevant and useful literature to build upon.
A related area that could benefit from more expertise is multilevel theory and analysis. Ultimately, to translate the findings across campaigns into actionable conclusions will require integrating findings from individual-level research into teams research and higher levels of analysis. Much of the research presented was at the individual level of analysis; the few examples of teams research made no use of information on individual differences, which would undoubtedly affect how teams operate.
Human Cyber Performance
Because this line of research is in its infancy at ARL, it is very difficult to assess the technical quality of the work at this time. With that said, the researchers are beginning to come up to speed in cybersecurity as they continue to collaborate with their technical counterparts who have a deeper understanding of the technical components of the cyber mission. This collaboration will be essential as the team advances its vision to develop a human science of cybersecurity.
ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT
The board’s assessment of this campaign is different from that of other campaign assessments, because the Analysis and Assessment (A&A) Campaign is intended to be more of an analytically focused, crosscutting activity rather than research focused. Although the criteria are different from those of research-focused campaigns, the work needs to have sufficient technical depth. The A&A Campaign plays an important role in linking tool development for applied research with tool development for test and evaluation. Tool development needs to be prioritized to reflect current and future Army acquisition needs.
Ballistics Survivability, Vulnerability, and Lethality
The ballistics survivability, vulnerability, and lethality (BSVL) team is a key contributor to the Army’s system analysis, acquisition, and test and evaluation communities. Specific accomplishments were improvements in analysis of visualization and augmented reality, computing efficiency efforts, underbody blast advancements, and automation of manual data collection. Making more extensive use of HPC resources to improve BSVL tools would have a positive effect on the contribution of BSVL tools to the Army community.
Both modular UNIX-based vulnerability estimation suite (MUVES) and operational-requirements-based casualty assessment (ORCA) software are indispensable, but they need to be further developed and validated. For MUVES, validation and extension efforts are critical, since no other organization will develop a robust analysis tool central to the ARL mission. Behind-armor blunt trauma and behind-helmet blunt trauma injury risk assessments are urgently needed capabilities. The development of enabling technology for realistic finite element models of humans for personnel vulnerability assessments is important. A key challenge is obtaining detailed medical data beyond coded injury descriptions. Effective personnel risk assessments cannot be performed without granular knowledge of injuries beyond abbreviated injury scale coding categories.
Human Systems Integration
The human systems integration (HSI) team has applied the Improved Performance Research Integration Tool (IMPRINT) and digital human modeling to Army system concepts sufficiently early to avoid costly redesigns later in the development cycle. A Manpower Requirements Criteria (MARC) toolset has been developed that enables designers to trade off candidate designs to cost-effectively optimize soldier accommodation. However, anthropometric models with more realistic scenarios and dynamic conditions for soldier protection are needed. More direct interaction with warfighters is essential to provide high confidence that real Army problems are being successfully addressed. The analyses and assessments need to be expanded to address all domains of HSI.
Electronic Warfare Survivability, Lethality, and Vulnerability
The electronic warfare (EW) team’s focus includes digital radio frequency memory effects to support the development of more robust offensive and defensive technologies and systems. The optimized modular EW network (OMEN) system enables sensing and responding to signals of interest. Hosting subsets of OMEN on mobile platforms such as unmanned aircraft systems is a significant accomplishment. The commercial off-the-shelf vehicle radar sensors studied for ground vehicles need to have a stronger mission context, and a physics-based model would be beneficial. The cyber electromagnetic activities laboratory is a big step forward, but a focus on better designed and secured systems is needed.
Cyber Survivability, Lethality, and Vulnerability
The cyber team has responded to the recommendations from the previous review. At least some team members attend top-tier vulnerability research conferences (e.g., Black Hat and DEFCON). The team has also extended its capabilities to include security analysis of embedded systems that incorporate CanBus networks for internal communications. The integrated network vulnerability assessment discovery and exploitation (INVADE) tool was not demonstrated, and so it was not possible to evaluate its capabilities for finding zero-day vulnerabilities. The cyber team needs to sustain an effort to learn about new classes of security vulnerabilities—for example, new attacks that exploit the hardware-software boundary. The apparent demands on the cyber SLV team’s time may limit its ability to conduct applied research, to develop tools, and to remain current with emerging cybersecurity trends.
Complex Adaptive Systems Analysis
In the previous review, the complex adaptive system analysis team was provided recommendations to improve the quality and relevance of its work. These recommendations were addressed. The base simulation platform has been moved to one semi-automated forces (OneSAF). Cybersecurity effects are being integrated into the OneSAF simulation. However, OneSAF does not simulate, with a physical model, the effects of jamming in an electronic attack. The SAGE RF modeling tool is being integrated into OneSAF, which will provide better emulation of real-world radio jamming.
Based on the assessment of the 2017-2018 reviews summarized in this report, the board offers eight key recommendations.
Key Recommendation 1: ARL should provide a predictable research environment characterized by well-defined and consistent evaluation schemes and funding priorities that are appropriate for the long-term research that is key to ARL’s mission.
Key Recommendation 2: Upon initiation, ARL research efforts should propose a positioning plan and schedule that includes the following:
- Identifies key, core, and complementary research programs and relevant expertise; and
- Seeks external and internal technical support—for example, via external advisory boards, visiting researchers, workshops, or collaborations—and if needed develops such support for evaluating the context of ARL’s expertise (lead, follow, support) and conducting the work.
Key Recommendation 3: The ARL research efforts within a particular core competency or research campaign should consider four components:
- Real-world observations (for example, surveillance, field research, and naturalistic observations);
- Laboratory testing;
- Theoretical underpinning of the science (for example, modeling and simulation); and
- Assessment, verification and validation, and uncertainty quantification of the models.
All research should endeavor to contribute to one or more of these research components in such a way that each component’s findings serve to inform the other research components. In addition, the contributions to these various components should be directed so that an overall systems appreciation is achieved. ARL should further enhance the use of appropriate models to better understand the physical phenomena and mechanisms of interest and to develop technology.
Key Recommendation 4: ARL should place greater emphasis and focus on a systematic assessment of its research, as follows:
- The assessment should include measurable milestones, outcomes, and metrics for the portfolios and the projects within them.
- In all ARL campaigns, research efforts aimed at developing any system should endeavor to understand, incorporate, and accommodate the soldier within the system through the incorporation of human systems integration (HSI) principles. HSI should include the consideration of usability, sustainability, resilience, and survivability within the system.
Key Recommendation 5: To facilitate ARL’s science and technology forecasting missions, ARL should
- Enhance professional development by encouraging researchers to engage in leadership and organization roles in professional societies and conferences;
- Accelerate the approval process for external engagement activities, including conference participation, and for procurement of equipment; and
- Develop a clear and broad-based process for engaging and collaborating with the research community.
Key Recommendation 6: ARL should increase its awareness and leveraging of available technical expertise within ARL to build greater synergy across campaign thrusts and produce research results with greater efficiency.
Key Recommendation 7: To enrich the ARL open campus, ARL should consider developing an ARL on-site open network that research staff can use to access research software that has not yet received qualification for use on the internal network.
Key Recommendation 8: ARL should develop and host a curated data and models repository of select Army-relevant data, targeting domains and contexts relevant to its strategic objectives and preserving data, models, and contexts that may otherwise be lost. In conjunction with development of the data and model repository, ARL should develop a set of Army-specific data analytics questions and sponsor competitions to accelerate progress on ARL problems and attract new talent and expertise. ARL should also expand inputs to data sets to include information that modern sensors can provide—for example, wearable sensors and voice-activated devices.