TARDEC: Army must re-think doctrine to cut vehicle weights


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- If the Army is serious about wanting to reduce the weight of its vehicles, then it has to seriously re-evaluate how it operates and not depend so heavily on material science, said Paul Rogers, the director of U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

"If you really want to go after vehicle weight in a disruptive manner, material science is an aspect of it but we really need to start challenging our doctrine, our conops, and our reliance on other technological means," Rogers said here Friday at the Association of the U.S. Army's Winter Symposium.

Vehicle weights have significantly increased as commanders look to protect their troops from relatively basic threats such as improvised explosive devices that littered the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan. With those increased weights, Army leaders have complained about losing their speed on the battlefield.

Rogers explained that to lessen those weights, too much is expected from material science. Unless there is a major break through in material science, Rogers said the Army can expect to reduce tank weights by only about six tons over the next 30 years.

However, if the Army was willing to take some risks and re-think the way it operates, it could slash vehicle weights.

"If you really want to get down to a 20 ton platform, lets take the soldier completely out of it and lets leverage autonomy out of systems," Rogers said.

With soldiers coming out of Afghanistan after 12 years at war, Rogers said it's time the Army take some risk in vehicle weights. Rogers said he's interested in working with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to reconsider how the Army operates in its armored vehicles.

It's time for the Army to consider the vehicle as a member of the squad, Rogers said. Soldiers should be able to depend on their vehicle to collect real time data for them and provide analysis. Vehicles should be better connected to unmanned vehicles collecting information overhead.

Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition chief, has focused the Army to better sync their Science & Technology efforts to deliver better equipment on the battlefield quicker. Rogers said she has forced TARDEC to look beyond five years. He said that has helped understand future technologies and will help them take educated risks.

"I think this is a time to take risk. I think this is a time to incentivize ourselves to take risk. The longer planning horizons allow us to do that," Rogers said.

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