At the second Adaptive Squad Architecture (ASA) Industry Day, which took place in late January, leaders from the Army’s PEO Soldier and Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team (SL CFT) met with industry experts to find ways to further explore how the soldier can be integrated into an increasingly digital, increasingly connected battlefield.
The framework for this Adaptive Squad Architecture Industry Day is a clear vision of what tomorrow’s dismounted, close-combat soldier will look like. According to an Army press statement, the “ASA concept demands the Soldier be treated as an integrated weapons system and the squad as an integrated weapons platform, much the same as an aircraft carrier or tank is ‘kitted’ as a system.”
“An M1 Tank is a system; everyone understands that,” Brigadier General David Hodne, director of SL CFT commented, and the same can be said of the dismounted soldier.
“The soldier is really becoming much more of a platform than just a person,” Tara Martin, Director of Business Development for Collins Aerospace told us, adding that “we are developing technologies to help connect those platforms: the soldier as a platform together with the vehicles, the aircraft overhead, so we’re trying to communicate, share data, and share imagery between those platforms.”
This is, however, a relatively new way of thinking, and it is not enough to plug a soldier into data from across services and across battlefield domains.
Other considerations, as ASA rightly points out, are that even with all of the battery and processing power that he or she needs to carry to make use of all the data available to him or her, the fact remains that they still need to be nimble enough to fight in close quarters while wearing it.
And adding to the challenge, those devices, while being as light as possible, need to also present information as streamlined and integrated as possible and improve upon the infantryman’s current 122-pound kit of incompatible power sources, processing systems, cables, and interfaces.
“Every device that we’re thinking about now for the future close-combat warfighter has to take these needs into consideration,” commented Preston Johnson, a Director of Business Development at Collins Aerospace. “You see this in our PRC-162 manpack radio, for example. They have to be man-portable, and they have to provide secure, robust connectivity between the soldier on the tactical edge and the network.”