Critical Focus Areas for DOD ST

Approximately three years ago the senior directors in the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology selected five areas as especially critical areas in DOD's research program. These five research areas are the following: chemical and biological defense, hardened and deeply buried targets, information assurance, smart sensor web, and cognitive readiness. Today, these five areas seem to be obvious priorities, but three years ago that was not the case. These areas had existing research programs that were supported by the military service research programs and the defense agencies. The identification of these five areas by the Office of the Secretary of Defense gave these areas a corporate priority. Additional funds were provided to start new programs, coordinate existing programs, and to support workshops to bring together new players who worked in various aspects of the areas.

The Department's focus on chemical and biological defense has been a clear priority for DOD over the last few years. The need for this research results from proliferation of inexpensive weapons of both chemical and biological agents. DOD's research has four key areas of priority: detection of the agents, protection from the agents, decontamination of equipment and people after exposure, and an understanding of the dispersion of the agents from a modeling and simulation perspective.

Concern over hardened and deeply buried targets comes from the fact that underground facilities are often used to conceal missiles and weapons of mass destruction. DOD's research program includes priorities in overhead imagery to attempt to locate the targets, sensor research to determine what activities are being carried out underground, delivery systems to neutralize facilities if necessary, and computational modeling activities to understand the structures and activities within them.

Cyberterrorism is a real part of today's world. Attacks come from hackers, terrorists, and from insiders. Dealing with information warfare is critical to assure that our information is protected and is not compromised. Research in information assurance involves designs of new firewalls, malicious code detectors, encryption techniques, and correlation technologies.

Smart sensor web is a concept that provides complete situation awareness to the individual soldier in the field. It is based on integrating information from areas such as realtime imagery, micro weather information, and moving targets. The research includes physical model understanding, dynamic data bases, microsensors, wireless communications, and the next-generation Internet.

Cognitive readiness addresses human optimization. The challenges to the human include sustained operations, environmental ambiguity, and information overload. Research programs address topics such as physiological monitoring, embedded training, learner-centric instruction, and augmented reality. Figure E. 1 shows the wide range of areas covered by cognitive readiness.

Human Optimization

Sustained Operations Environmental Ambiguity Distributed Learning Information Overload

Physiological Monitoring Embedded Training Learner-centric Instruction Augmented Reality

DoD Science & Technology
Figure E.1. Cognitive readiness research.

Cognitive Readiness Framework

The DOD has a multidisciplinary focus on the human dimension of joint warfighting capabilities. This cross-Service framework ensures that research addresses the following requirements:

• warfighters are mentally prepared for accomplishing their missions

• warfighters are performing at their optimum

• tools and techniques for preparing warfighters are the most effective and affordable

• tools and techniques that warfighters use are the most effective and affordable

The changing military environment compels a focus on cognitive readiness. Issues that affect this aspect of military readiness come from many directions. Soldiers have many different threats and changing missions that extend from peacekeeping to warfighting. Budget reduction brings personnel drawdowns in the military, and that brings demographic changes. In addition, military systems are becoming more complex, and soldiers need to handle new technologies. Figure E.2 illustrates the range of these interactions that soldiers must handle.

Figure E.2. Changing military environment.

Four domains from science and technology research have been defined for cognitive readiness:

• Sociology and personnel. This domain deals with family, group and culturally defined issues, selection and classification, and leadership.

• Health and welfare. This domain includes mental acuity, fatigue, physiological readiness, quality of life, and morale.

• Human systems integration. This domain covers human-centered design, decision aids, and dynamic function allocation.

• Education and training. This domain includes using new technologies for teaching/learning and to develop specific tasks, skills, and/or procedures.

The following three examples demonstrate the wide range of research necessary to support cognitive readiness. Augmented reality involves bringing the information world to the soldier in real time.

Biomedical monitoring combines sensors for measuring the physical readiness of soldiers to real time monitoring to judge performance capability. Survival technologies present different areas of research to protect soldiers physically so that they are mentally and physically ready to perform their missions.

Example 1: Augmented Reality

Consider an urban environment. Soldiers need to know immediate answers to questions such as

• Where is the main electric circuit in this building?

• What is the safest route to this building?

• Are there hidden tunnels under the streets?

• Have sniper locations been identified?

The area of augmented reality is an area in which technology is used to augment, or add, information for the soldier. For example, augmented reality could amplify natural vision by projecting information on a soldier's visor, or perhaps projecting it directly on the soldier's retina. This additional information added to the natural view could identify warnings for sniper locations and mines. Hidden infrastructure and utilities such as subways, service tunnels, and floor plans could be displayed. Virtual information such as simulated forces could be displayed to provide new training simulations. Figure E.3 gives an example of the type of information that would be very helpful if it were shown over an image to augment the information available to a soldier.

Figure E.3. Augmented reality.

Example 2: Biomedical Status

Biomedical status monitoring is the medical equivalent of the Global Positioning System (GPS). It uses sensors for vital signs, electrolytes, stress hormones, neurotransmitter levels, and physical activity. In essence, it locates the soldier in physiological space as GPS does in geographic space.

The biomedical status monitoring program is integrated into several DOD programs, including Land Warrior, Warrior's Medic, and Warfighter Status Monitor. These programs allow dynamic operational planning with biomedical input that supports pacing of operations at sustainable tempo. It also allows commanders to anticipate and prevent casualties due to heat stress, dehydration, performance failures from sleep deprivation, and combat stress casualties. Not only can casualties be detected, but initial treatment can be guided.

Figure E.4 gives an example of a wrist monitor that predicts performance by monitoring sleep. Sleep is determined by the lack of motion of the wrist monitor. The graph in the figure predicts performance based on the amount of rest that the soldier has had.

Figure E.4. Sustaining performance: managing sleep.

Sensors can also help prevent casualties by monitoring soldiers in MOPP gear - the equipment worn to work in hazardous environments. The sensors can include core temperature (collected from a sensor that is swallowed by the soldier), skin temperature, heart rate, and activity rate. The combination of these sensors can be used to determine when a soldier needs to take a break in order to prevent possible injury or death.

Figure E.5 illustrates the hypothetical use of these biomedical status monitoring devices when they are combined with wireless communication systems. Individual soldier status can be monitored not only by soldiers working side by side, but also by central units that can be mobile or transmitted to satellite systems. Future sensors may also be embedded bionic chips.

Figure E.5. Wrist-mounted remote biological assay.
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