Fort Polk Guardian 11-27-2019

4/ Guardian Nov. 27, 2019 Soldier feedback driving Army modernization FORT PICKETT, Va. — Senior Department of Defense officials and congressional staff were briefed on the status of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, program at Fort Pickett, near Richmond, Virginia, Nov. 6. IVAS is a next-generation situational awareness tool un- der development to return overmatch to Soldiers in small units throughout the close combat force. "Technology will never be as slow as it is to- day," said the Hon. James E. McPherson, the sen- ior official performing the duties of undersecre- tary of the U.S. Army. "We never want to have a fair fight." "Budgets make us make hard choices," McPherson said. "Could we field everything we have on the drawing board today? Probably not. We're going to have to make hard choices, budg- et-driven choices on what's most important to field." Decision-making can be informed through ag- gressive evaluation to quickly discern viable mil- itary solutions and modify designs early, before sinking additional costs into a program. To facili- tate research, U.S. Army Futures Command's eight cross-functional teams, or CFTs, have con- ducted dozens of Soldier-centered engagements called Soldier touch points to further the Army's modernization priorities. "Soldier touch points help us better demon- strate technology, like the IVAS, at specific points in the development process, the cross-functional team gets direct feedback — and if something fails — it fails early and we learn from it," said Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command. Soldiers are brought into the development process to provide input to industry, testers, re- searchers and acquisition experts on the capabili- ties they will need to fight and win. During these events, prototypes are delivered to units to incor- porate into their training. The events are designed to empower Soldiers to help improve the final equipment and technol- ogy. This feedback loop is critical to drive cost-ef- fective and timely innovation. "That's why these touch points are important, something that is revolutionary that we've not done before," McPherson said. "Before, it's been, the engineers put it together, met the require- ments, 'Ok, here you go,' and the Soldier gets it and says, 'I've got to adapt to this now.' Now, we're making the weapon system adapt to the Soldier." The current IVAS touch point was led by AFC's Fort Benning, Georgia-based Soldier Lethality CFT in conjunction with the command's Orlando, Florida-based Synthetic Training Envi- ronment CFT. They were joined by industry part- ners to gather tens of thousands of data points and direct feedback to spur rapid iterations of the IVAS design and technology before the next touch point takes place. Soldier touch points are conducted in coordi- nation with the Program Executive Office Soldier, an organization within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army — Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, PEO Soldier is the Army's acquisition agency re- sponsible for everything a Soldier wears or car- ries. "We're doing something called Soldier-cen- tered design," said Jason Regnier, PEO Soldier's technical director for the IVAS project. "The touch points are a culmination of months of work, where we actually put it in their hands and get real-time feedback, make improvements, even on the site, and then think about what that next turn is going to be," Regnier said. "Instead of one, stamped-out design that we can give to Sol- diers — that may or may not really work — this is designed, in essence, by Soldiers through this Soldier touch point project." These engagements not only generate Soldier- initiated problems that have been overlooked, but also confirms or dispels the need to address real or perceived problems with the technology for the development teams. This Soldier-centered design concept was also explained by an industry partner developing the IVAS device for the Army. "It's an adaptation of an industry practice known as human-centered design, where you have to start with understanding the underlying human needs. In this case, what are the needs of the Soldier?" said Scott Evans, Microsoft Corpo- ration's general manager for the IVAS program. "In the case of a Soldier, you need a methodology to ensure we understand those needs and can evaluate prototypes against those needs." These touch points are about teamwork, col- laboration and common-sense innovation, said Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the director of the Soldier Lethality CFT. "It’s about Soldier-centered design, feedback from Soldiers and feedback from our partners at Microsoft on how we can achieve technical solu- tions to arrive at an exceptional device that will allow Soldiers to fight, rehearse and train in a manner they've not been able to previously," Hodne said. The Soldier touch points make rapid iteration of the prototypes possible. "We're here not just to evaluate the prototype against the measures that we identified, but to learn more around the Soldier needs and carry that forward," Evans said. "We're also here to evolve our methodology. Every time we have a Soldier touch point, our ability to understand, what is the most effective way to measure things like Soldier performance? We get better at the ac- tual methodology itself." In addition to working with traditional indus- try partners, AFC seeks solutions from non-tradi- tional innovators through the Army Applications Laboratory and a small business office within the command's headquarters. AAL was stood up in the Capital Factory in downtown Austin, Texas to provide a venue for Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command, headquar- tered in Austin, Texas, helps William K. Sutey, a professional staff member with the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, demonstrate the capabilities of a current iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, at Fort Pickett, near Richmond, Vir- ginia, Nov. 6. IVAS is a next-generation situational awareness tool under development to return overmatch to soldiers in small units throughout the U.S. Army's close combat force JOHN G. MARTINEZ/ U.S. ARMY Army news PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE Please see Army , page 6