National Academies Press: OpenBook

Powering the U.S. Army of the Future (2021)

Chapter: Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Powering the U.S. Army of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26052.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Powering the U.S. Army of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26052.
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Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Powering the U.S. Army of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26052.
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Page 10

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Introduction At the request of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA(RT)), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, under the auspices of the Board on Army Research and Development (BOARD), appointed an ad hoc committee—the Committee on Powering the U.S. Army of the Future—to conduct a fast-track study to examine U.S. Army’s future power requirements for sustaining a multi-domain operational conflict; and to what extent emerging power generation and transmission technologies can achieve the Army’s operational power requirements in 2035. The study was based on one operational usage case identified by the Army as part of its ongoing efforts in multi-domain operations. To facilitate the request for a fast-track study, the data-collection phase of the project leveraged the recent work in assessing alternate energy technologies from the Defense Science Board, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and the Army Science Board to survey and collate data on promising power technologies. Following the guidelines established by the Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020) to create an opportunity for broad participation from the research community and identify emerging technologies, early in the data-gathering phase of the project, the committee issued a request for white papers on activities, projects, or state of the profession considerations. Following the call for white papers, the committee invited the authors of the most promising white papers to participate in a public forum to discuss their ideas with the committee. In completing this study, the committee has 1. Reviewed the power needs as defined in the Army’s multi-domain operational scenario; 2. Assessed candidate power technologies against the requirements of the operational usage case; and 3. Recommended the technologies that have the potential to achieve the operational requirements at the scale appropriate for the U.S. Army in 2035. The recommendations contained in this report are meant to help inform the Army’s investment priorities in technologies to help ensure that the power requirements of the Army’s future capability needs are achieved. STUDY APPROACH The study conducted a series of open data-gathering meetings and closed committee discussions, and was informed by testimony from experts in related fields, white-paper submissions, and committee and staff research. Early in the study’s data-gathering period, a call for white papers (see Appendix C) was released to solicit input from the broader scientific and engineering community on candidate power and energy technologies. The committee conducted four major data-gathering sessions and a series of smaller open discussions with experts over the course of the study. Included in the major data-gathering meetings was a public forum held with authors of selected white papers to discuss their concepts and inform the study committee’s analysis. These activities were conducted contemporaneously with the COVID-19 pandemic from December 2019 to August 2020. As a result, the committee met only once in person (December 2019), and all subsequent data-gathering meetings and closed committee sessions were held virtually via online meeting PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION I-8

software. See Appendix D for a list of the dates and speakers that participated in the study committee’s data gathering activities. In order to facilitate the evaluation of the diverse power and energy technologies presented to the committee for their operational suitability for future operating environments, the committee evaluated each across a three-tier structure (mapping to a 5-, 15-, and 15+-year outlook) and for their capacity to meet a diverse set of criteria. Finally, the committee used the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Team unit as a benchmark case for the systems under consideration in this report. ROLE OF THE WHITE PAPERS As part of the data-collection phase of the study, white papers responding to the committee’s request provided insights into the latest power and energy technologies now being explored, and in particular how they might be applied in a battlefield scenario. These papers supported the committee’s work and informed the study. However, the committee was not beholden to the conclusions of the papers nor limited to them in its data-gathering efforts. Committee members conducted extensive independent research or relied on their own expertise to reach conclusions. The committee heard extensive testimony from a wide range of experts in various power and energy fields from across government, industry, and academia in developing its conclusions and recommendations. A summary of the committee member backgrounds is contained in Appendix B. The call for white papers is reprinted in Appendix C. A summary of the committee meeting at which those papers were reviewed is contained in Appendix D. Abstracts of the white papers are contained in Appendix E. References to specific white papers of interest are contained within the main body of this report. PAST ARMY STUDIES—ENERGY INFORMED OPERATIONS As part of the study development, the committee built upon work previously conducted by the Army and past National Academies studies. Recent operations, contemporary Army doctrine, and projected operational concepts reflect a shift in energy conceptualization from a commodity logistic “problem” to a multifaceted domain that is integrally tied to operational capabilities. In this report, the following are considered: energy use for forward base power, combat vehicle mobility, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles, and, perhaps most importantly, the dismounted soldier. Information technology has transformed operations—not only by virtue of increased volume, but especially targeting latency, adequacy, relevance, veracity, concision, or other attributes as they are critical to the various applications. Similarly, energy value derives from timing, location, availability, interchangeability in form, and/or other attributes depending upon the application and situation. In that vein, the Army’s “Energy Informed Operations” (EIO) concept 1 does not discourage use of energy; rather, it calls for forces to “use energy to the greatest benefit.” High-priority needs include support of awareness and management of energy, including improvements to sensing/reporting/predicting, interoperability, efficiency, fungibility, and exchange. In particular, the document identifies two key technology-oriented systemic needs that span the operational use cases: scalable energy networks and an energy information and management system. An excerpt follows: Energy Informed Operations aims to provide the Soldier the ability to interactively monitor and manage power systems in order to optimize power availability, allowing the unit to maintain mission critical systems needed to achieve mission success . . . A battlefield environment, based on energy- 1 Barrow, A. 2015. Army Demonstrates Energy Informed Operations Microgrid. Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center. https://www.army.mil/article/148287/Army_demonstrates_Energy_Informed_Operations_microgrid. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION I-9

informed operations, will enable our forces to be more agile, more efficient and more able to rapidly adapt to any mission conditions. This assessment will result in increases in lethality, survivability and mission effectiveness.” 2 Presentations by Army headquarters and science and technology representatives to the committee highlighted ongoing initiatives to meet such needs, from networks of on-Soldier systems to tactical microgrids. 2 Ibid. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION I-10

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At the request of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, Powering the U.S. Army of the Future examines the U.S. Army's future power requirements for sustaining a multi-domain operational conflict and considers to what extent emerging power generation and transmission technologies can achieve the Army's operational power requirements in 2035. The study was based on one operational usage case identified by the Army as part of its ongoing efforts in multi-domain operations. The recommendations contained in this report are meant to help inform the Army's investment priorities in technologies to help ensure that the power requirements of the Army's future capability needs are achieved.

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