Chapter V. Basic Research
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)


1. Army Materiel Command Research Philosophy

The Army Materiel Command (AMC) vests primary responsibility for intramural basic and applied research programs in the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). This federated, multidisciplinary laboratory also provides analysis and technical consultation to all Army elements. To ensure the flow of innovative projects, ideas, and technical opportunities required for developmental activities in the Army's continuing force modernization program, ARL maintains a focused basic and exploratory research program closely coupled with the academic and industrial sectors of the research community and supported by a mix of institutional funding complemented by support from customer programs.

The Army Materiel Command has a key research initiative to support the Army's thrust to digitize the battlefield. The objective of the Army digitization effort is to ensure the superiority of our command and control system by providing warfighters with a horizontally and vertically integrated digital information network. This network will provide a simultaneous, consistent picture of the battlefield from soldier to commander at each echelon, as well as across all the services and allied forces. The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has prime responsibility for the AMC's Intramural research program and this program has recently been enhanced by the development of a Federated Laboratory concept.

The Federated Laboratory construct for conducting research is an innovative approach to integrating external research relevant to battlefield information systems, where the private sector has a substantial technology capability, with internal ARL research through the establishment of consortia in critical technology areas. Rather than developing or maintaining in-house research capabilities across the entire technological spectrum, this approach leverages external expertise, facilities, and technologies in areas where the private sector has both the lead and the incentive to invest, such as in telecommunications technologies. The intent is to form distributed, public-private sector teams that together conduct research, develop new technologies, and employ existing, state-of-the-art concepts and infrastructure available in industry, academe, and the Army. This approach will produce an effective synergy between government, industry, and academe that will provide the maximum return on Army resources by:

In January 1996, the Army awarded three Federated Laboratory Cooperative Research Agreements in these research areas:

The selection of research areas was based on the needs of the Army's Digitization Initiative and the priority of the research programs to meet critical technology gaps in the Force XXI vision. A listing of the consortia participants is given in Table V-4. A finalized research plan that describes the planned work for 1996 and 1997 is currently in place.

Table V-4. Federated Laboratory Consortia Participants

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ARL maintains two major centers of gravity. The one at Aberdeen, MD, maintains a predominantly in-house program focused on armor, armament, and soldier systems. In these areas, there are unique Army requirements and historically strong in-house capabilities. At Adelphi, MD, ARL is developing a predominantly external program to "Win the Information War." Strengthened efforts in digital communications, battlefield command and control, and information science will build on the world-class capabilities of some of our nation's best institutions, rather than attempting to duplicate such capabilities in-house. Efforts with an in-house center of gravity will use about 60 to 80 percent of their resources in-house to support their recognized preeminence and uniqueness. Efforts with an external center of gravity will use 60 to 80 percent of their resources in affiliated "outside" organizations.

Research topics are selected based on their potential benefit to the Army as gathered through close liaison with users (TRADOC schools and Battle Labs) and commodity developers (RDECs, PMs, PEOs). Research approaches are selected based on awareness of the state of the art in the entire research community, ingenuity of investigator's approach, and resource availability. Projects are formulated to ensure focusing a critical mass of scientific personnel and facilities to the maximum extent possible through the federated laboratories various elements. This collaboration is furthered throughout the "open laboratory" concept, where scientists and engineers from nonaffiliated institutions are encouraged to come and work on topics of mutual interest at ARL's specialized facilities and ARL scientists and engineers are sent to reciprocating laboratories.

ARL's research efforts are coordinated by its Technical Directorates with the Army's RDECs through a formal technology planning process carried out with the cognizance of ARL's Board of Directors, consisting of the RDEC Directors, the Technical Directors of ISC's engineering center, and key individuals from AMC and DA Headquarters. Coordination with other Service laboratories is primarily through the Tri-Service Joint Directors of Laboratories (JDL) technical panels and Project Reliance. Cognizance of activities of non-affiliated academic institutions is primarily through participation in the COE programs and scientific oversight of extramural academic research supported by ARO. Cognizance of industrial activities is primarily through periodic independent research and development programmatic reviews, through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs), and through proprietary licensing agreements. Additionally, ARL scientists and engineers are encouraged to interact directly with their colleagues through papers and attendance at professional conferences and seminars, at the national and international level.

In addition to providing a direct flow of ideas and technology into the Army's developmental activities, ARL's basic research program is an essential means of attracting scientific talent and nurturing the continuing growth of our scientists and engineers. These programs form the primary Army resource for the assessment of advances between the Army's developmental and operational activities. Through their professional leadership they stimulate civilian research into areas of current military interest or future potential military payoff, providing the widest possible base for future advances. Specific programmatic activities are discussed in the Survey of Scientific Research summaries later in this chapter.