Human Performance and Biosystems Summit: Strengthening Warfighter Capability with Technology

Human Performance and Biosystems Summit

On September 30-October 1, 2020, experts in the defense community will gather for the Defense Strategies Institute’s 2nd Annual Human Performance and Biosystems Summit to explore the growth in human capabilities due to progress in human performance research as well as emerging biological technologies. This year’s slogan is “Leveraging Innovative Technologies to Optimize Warfighter Capability,” pointing to the tightly knit relationship between technology and the modern warfighter.

Leading up to the event, we had the opportunity to catch up with Erica Noreika of the Defense Strategies Institute to hear more about what to expect at this year’s event. Noreika shared important topics to be discussed, like trends in human-machine teaming as well as a few highlighted speakers for the event from organizations like the U.S. Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing and the United States Special Operations Command.

Here’s what she had to say during our conversation:

Modern Integrated Warfare (MIW) Editors: What are some of the key themes being covered at this year’s Human Performance and Biosystems Summit?

Erica Noreika: Maintaining an asymmetric advantage in operational environments is a key priority for the DoD, particularly as the current threat landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The advent of biotechnology poses an opportunity for the DoD to grow and maintain this advantage through the development of optimized warfighter systems and augmented human systems. Defense Strategies Institute’s annual Human Performance and Biosystems Summit will closely examine the military’s efforts to ensure that its warfighters are prepared to win in this evolving landscape. The event will focus on recent and future advancements in personalized assessment, education and training, developments in system interfaces and cognitive processes, and improving protection and warfighter performance capabilities.

MIW Editors: Which speaker or panel are you most looking forward to at this year’s Human Performance and Biosystems Summit?

Noreika: The speakers at this year’s Summit will all offer distinct and valuable insights into the U.S. Government’s human performance and biotechnology initiatives. Personally, I am looking forward to hearing from Dr. Rajish Naik, the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing. The 711th Human Performance Wing oversees the Airman Systems Directorate, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, and the Human Systems Integration Directorate, and combines advanced research and development capabilities to maximize operational medicine, human effectiveness S&T, and human systems integration. Dr. Naik will discuss the Wing’s technological achievements in these areas as well as share insights into its current thrust areas such as human-machine teaming, performance optimization, and improving decision making. Dr. Naik will also speak about the 711th Human Performance Wing’s role in conducting COVID-19 research.

I also believe that Mr. James Smith’s perspectives, as the Acquisition Executive of the United States Special Operations Command, will be especially valuable to the group. He will provide insight into the real and urgent capability needs of our nation’s special operations warfighters and describe how the military partners with industry and academia to deliver the needed human performance optimization technologies to the force.

MIW Editors: Tell us a bit about the important relationship between the human elements and the hardware/software elements of a military training program.

Noreika: Integrating hardware/software into the training experience has vastly improved the military’s understanding of performance optimization. For example, equipping trainees with sensors throughout their training process provides deeper insights into personalized performance abilities and more effectively tracks both cognitive and physical capability development. Recent technological advancements have additionally enabled train-as-we-fight opportunities with Live Virtual Constructive (LVC) environments that can be further individualized with proficiency-based assessments of training effectiveness.

MIW Editors: Where do you see military training headed with regards to the integration of new technologies like wearables and cognitive performance tracking?

Noreika: I believe the military will continue to work towards improving measures of operational performance and behavior through the development of innovative sensors and cognitive performance tracking technologies. The data provided by these technologies allow warfighters to better their understanding of their abilities and make vast, targeted improvements. With technologically advanced personalized assessment, education, and training, the military can ensure correct matching between the right person, right job, and right skills.