"Assessing Military Benefits of S&T Investments..." New Defense Technology Paper from CTNSP
"Assessing Military Benefits of S&T Investments in Micro Autonomous Systems Utilizing a Gedanken Experiment."
Defense Technology Paper #80
By Albert Sciarretta, Joseph Mait, Richard Chait, Elizabeth Redden, and Jordan Willcox
In a Defense and Technology Paper (DTP) entitled “A Methodology for Assessing the Military Benefits of Science and Technology Investments,”1 the National Defense University (NDU) Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) presented a variety of approaches for deriving the return on investment – in terms of warfighting capabilities – for Army science and technology (S&T) efforts. As a follow-up to the methodology study that generated the DTP, the CTNSP wished to demonstrate parts of the methodology in the evaluation of an actual Army S&T effort. The Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) Micro-Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) program was chosen to demonstrate the utility of the methodology because it offers significant future capabilities for our Army, provides a set of very robust present-day technical challenges, and offers a significant assessment challenge since it is focused on basic research.
The MAST CTA demonstration focused on the components of the methodology that relate to modeling and simulation. It was conducted as a Gedanken Experiment (thought experiment) to test hypotheses because the micro-autonomous robotic systems are only conceptual at this time. It explored the potential operational benefits of the MAST technologies by attempting to prove or disprove hypotheses using the thoughts of subject matter experts (SMEs) rather than experimental data derived from brassboard, breadboard, prototype, or fielded systems. Similar types of experiments have been carried out under names like Technology Wargame, Army Transformation Wargame, etc. Within these low fidelity simulations, participants provide SME feedback as they step through the use of the technologies in the planning and execution cycles of various warfighting mission scenarios, taking into account various topics, capabilities, constraints, and trade-offs. In demonstrating the applicability of the cost-benefit methodology, the Gedanken Experiment provided the MAST CTA Cooperative Agreement Manager (CAM) with Warfighter insights which proved to be useful for design considerations and future trade-off analyses. As hoped for in a cost-benefit analysis effort, it aided the MAST CTA CAM in developing his investment strategy.
The Gedanken Experiment activity was a three day event at Fort Benning, GA. The first day of the event was devoted to exposing the MAST CTA personnel (the CAM and MAST technical performers) to small unit operations (how dismounted infantry fire teams and squads clear rooms and buildings) and providing them an overview of the three scripted experiment scenarios. This exposure included hands-on experience in clearing rooms at a Fort Benning training site. During the second and third days, nine of the MAST CTA personnel and two separate groups of Warfighters participated in the Gedanken Experiment and follow-on survey activities in a classroom environment. For the experiment, the moderator used MS PowerPoint presentations of the scenarios to guide the participants through their discussions. At the end of each day, ARL Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED) Fort Benning Field Element personnel conducted a survey. An analysis of the discussions and survey data was conducted by the CTNSP personnel, the MAST CTA CAM, and HRED personnel.
The overall effort was a successful endeavor for the MAST CTA. The MAST CTA personnel gained much from their exposure to small unit urban operations, including the first day's classroom tutorial and the hands-on training experience at an urban dismounted infantry training site. Their involvement in the Gedanken Experiments on the second and third day:
- Exposed them to Warfighter operational thought processes and concerns
- Exposed them to Warfighter tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), which generated ideas on how MAST systems might be integrated into small unit urban operations
- Utilized their subject matter expertise to answer the technical/capability questions of the Warfighter participants
In addition, the Warfighter participants gained insights on what the Army's science and technology community is trying to do for them.
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