Officials detail Army tech needs

The Army's critical technology needs to include tools for improved awareness and tracking of soldiers in combat situations, and better language translation, according to a trio of service officials.

Technologies that can operate in an environment where Global Positioning System capabilities are degraded can be used to improve the situational awareness of soldiers and, potentially, first responders, said Larry Fillian, associate director of the Army Communications-Electronics Command (Cecom) Research and Development Engineering Center in Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Those tools can also help track soldiers' and first responders' movements in those environments, such as during urban or cave assaults, Fillian said.

Dennis Van Derlaske, on detail to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (OASAALT), agreed and said that some fiscal 2003 funding in those areas will "prime the pump" for future tools.

Speaking Sept. 11 at the Homeland Security and National Defense Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J., Van Derlaske, who normally is an official in the Army's Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Fort Belvoir, Va., said that "better, faster language translation" is another critical need in order to decrease the reliance on subject-matter experts.

Maj. Gen. William Bond, deputy for systems management in OASAALT, agreed with the need for voice translators, especially in areas such as Afghanistan where multiple languages are spoken.

The symposium sponsors are Cecom, the Association of the U.S. Army's Fort Monmouth chapter, the Association of Old Crows' Garden State chapter and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Fort Monmouth chapter.

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