ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army Research Laboratory hosted its Program Formulation Meeting March 20-23 at APG’s Mallette Training Facility, in hopes of building bridges with stakeholders and gathering feedback to influence the future of Army research.
Acting ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti briefed the nine Essential Research Areas that the laboratory must address to support the Army of 2050. The areas, which covered a broad spectrum of future technology challenges, included Human Agent Teaming; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Cyber and Electromagnetic Technologies for Complex Environments; Distributed and Cooperative Engagement in Contested Environments; Tactical Unit Energy Independence; Manipulating Physics of Failure for Robust Performance of Materials; Science for Manufacturing at the Point of Need; Accelerated Learning for a Ready and Responsive Force; and Discovery.
“I don’t think any of these topics should be a surprise to anyone really,” Perconti said. “When you think about the complexity of the future, this is where we need to start the conversation.”
Perconti said the future of research depends on collaboration.
“If we don’t come together as a community in the beginning to get after how we’re going to engineer complex systems, I think we’re missing it,” he said. “We have to break down the stovepipes that we as institutions have erected.”
The annual meeting brings together Army engineers, researchers and scientists with military and civilian representatives from organizations like Program Executive Offices, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and various research, development and engineering centers.
Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, told the gathering that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has set the priorities for the future of the force as number one, readiness; number two, readiness of the future force; and number three, taking care of the troops.
“We have to be focused on what it is that the Army has set forward as the priority in material development…in development of future capabilities to give our Soldiers the technological advantage that they need in the event that they are called upon in war,” Wins said.
The meeting brought together senior Department of Defense and Army leaders, including Dr. Thomas Russell, the Army’s chief scientist and the deputy assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
“The mission of science and technology in the Army is to look at the current force as well as the future force,” Russell said. “There’s a balance here as far as how we place resources to meet existing challenges and how we focus on the future and the emerging opportunities that might be occurring so we can help the Army define its future force.”
Perconti thanked the attendees for helping share future research.
“This workshop is part of aligning and synchronizing perspectives,” Perconti said. “Your help in this is vitally important to really critique what we’re doing, what our plans are and where we’re going to go together in the future – hopefully – to address these essential research areas.”