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Army deploys testers to assess systems that were rushed to war.

THE ARMY HAS FIELDED scores of new high-tech combat systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, but much of this technology was put into the hands of troops without undergoing the full-scale Army acquisition process.

This was the case because the traditional process is "notoriously slow," said Frank Bartosik, who works at the plans and operations division of the Army Test and Evaluation Command in Aberdeen, Md.

Several ATEC teams have been dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan to evaluate the performance of new equipment and to determine whether any of the combat systems fielded had flaws that needed to be fixed, Bartosik said. They also wanted to determine whether troops were using the proper tactics, techniques and procedures.

A key objective is to determine whether test and evaluation programs need modification to the "reality on the ground," Bartosik added. It helps the testers in theater become more knowledgeable about how sys terns are being employed and their level of effectiveness, and it gives them greater expertise on the evolving threats, he said.

"The enemy employs a tactic, and we observe that tactic and devise a countermeasure," Bartosik said. "The enemy then devises a countermeasure to our countermeasure. It goes back and forth all the time."

The Army Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground is responsible for testing force-protection systems, including the cage-like slat armor it fabricated to keep rocket-propelled grenades from penetrating the hull of the Army's Stryker, and various iterations of add-on armor for the humvee and other light tactical vehicles.

The armor kits designed for light tactical vehicles add considerably to a vehicle's weight, and the extra weight can adversely affect vehicle drive trains, axles and cooling systems.

Data from the ATEC teams also is being integrated into the test program for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, a high-priority acquisition program for both the Army and the Marine Corps. The MRAP program includes both light-utility vehicles and medium trucks, which have V-shaped hulls that reduce the impact of explosive devices.

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"We are supporting what is probably the largest rapid initiative of a major-category program," said the test center's commander, Col. John Rooney. "This is going even faster than the whole Stryker program, with an expectation of decisions to buy and field vehicles this year. We anticipate significant acquisition decisions to be made based on what we have learned in testing."

ATEC's aviation test experts also have been forward deployed to evaluate the survivability of aircraft. Experimental test pilots from Fort Rucker, Ala., were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to fly combat missions with units. They were able to assess the effectiveness of a missile warning system, a target acquisition and designation system, and a system designed to help U.S. forces pinpoint disturbances in the ground that indicate possible buried explosive devices.

Among the systems that ATEC teams have tested in theater are the common missile warning system, the modified target acquisition and designation system/pilot night vision, the gyrocam surveillance system, robotic weapons and surveillance systems such as the Talon, and the Constant Hawk image surveillance and analysis system, which is placed in fixed-wing aircraft to help search for buried explosives.

--MIKE CAST, ARMY DEVELOPMENTAL TEST COMMAND
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Title Annotation:BATTLEFIELD GEAR
Comment:Army deploys testers to assess systems that were rushed to war.(BATTLEFIELD GEAR)
Author:Cast, Mike
Publication:National Defense
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:531
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