Army Acquisition official visits PEO Soldier

By Debi Dawson
Program Executive Office Soldier
Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia (Dec. 8, 2016) – The Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army
(Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) visited Program Executive Office Soldier Nov. 29, and learned how the organization is improving integration, reducing Soldier load, and increasing Soldier protection and capability.

“This has been a great opportunity to see the breadth of the Soldier portfolio,” said Mr. Christopher J. Lowman, Acting Principal Deputy ASA (ALT). “I was extraordinarily impressed with the levels of integration.”

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), talks with Col. Brian Stehle, Project Manager Soldier Weapons (left). Lowman visited Program Executive Office Soldier Nov. 29.

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army
(Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), talks with Col. Brian Stehle, Project Manager Soldier Weapons (left). Lowman visited Program Executive Office Soldier Nov. 29.

During his visit, Lowman visited the Warrior Integration Site. Maj. Sheila L. Howell, WinSite Assistant Product Manager, explained how the WinSite allows PEO Soldier to have a more focused and deliberate approach to studying lightening Soldier Load and Systems Integration.

The WinSite gives the ability to examine how Soldier equipment will fit on Soldiers, interact with their movements, and affect energy usage. She added how Project Managers use the WinSite to see how their products integrate with what Soldiers already use and carry.

Howell also mentioned how they are working with cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and engineers at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Massachusetts, to study how additional kit affects Soldiers.

Lightening Soldier Load examples also caught Lowman’s interest. Maj. Ronald D. Schow, APM for Soldier Power at Project Manager Soldier Warrior, explained how the Conformal Battery and Power Distribution Hubs lessen the number of batteries Soldiers need to carry. Additionally, PM SWAR is studying how knee harvester and kinetic rucksacks can generate power as dismounted Soldiers walk.

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman learns about the Soldier baseline and PEO Soldier’s efforts to lighten Soldier load during a stop to the Warrior Integration Site at Project Manager Soldier Warrior. In the photo, from left to right, are Brig. Gen. Brian P. Cummings, Program Executive Officer Soldier; Col. Wayne E. Barker, PM SWAR; Ms. Kathleen W. Gerstein, Director of Systems Integration; and Maj. Sheila L. Howell, Assistant Product Manager for WinSite.

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman learns about the Soldier baseline and PEO Soldier’s efforts to lighten Soldier load during a stop to the Warrior Integration Site at Project Manager Soldier Warrior. In the photo, from left to right, are Brig. Gen. Brian P. Cummings, Program Executive Officer Soldier; Col. Wayne E. Barker, PM SWAR; Ms. Kathleen W. Gerstein, Director of Systems Integration; and Maj. Sheila L. Howell, Assistant Product Manager for WinSite.

Capt. Paul Janker, APM for Soft Armor, explained the Soldier Protection System. He said its scalability lightens Soldier Load. Instead of wearing the large and bulky Improved Outer Tactical Vest and its plates, commanders can scale the SPS protection level to mission requirements, the captain said. The lesser the threat Soldiers may face, the less they need to wear.

The project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment equated this scalability to something Soldiers are very familiar with today.

“We have levels of MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture),” said Col. Dean M. Hoffman IV, PM SPIE. MOPP is levels of protective gear Soldiers wear in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear environments. Soldiers only wear the level of MOPP gear they need for the current CBRN situation. “Let’s have levels of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment),” he added.

The mission scalability of the SPS piqued Lowman’s attention. “That’s pretty impressive,” he said.

The SPS also has a Load Distribution System that will place the weight on Soldiers’ hips and not on the shoulders, Janker added. This will reduce the fatigue Soldiers experience from overburdened shoulders.

Concerning Soldier Protection, Maj. Nicole M. Clark, APM for Soldier Protective Equipment, talked with Lowman about hard armor plates. She showed him examples of body armor plates that have stopped enemy rounds and saved Soldiers’ lives. The Army returns helmets and plates that saved a Soldier’s life to PEO Soldier for forensic analysis to examine how well the equipment worked.

In 250 impact evaluations, there has never been a complete penetration, according to Clark. Because the plate worked none of these Soldiers were seriously injured, and they returned to duty.

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman learns about Conformal Batteries from Maj. Ronald D. Schow, APM for Soldier Power.

Mr. Christopher J. Lowman learns about Conformal Batteries from Maj. Ronald D. Schow, APM for Soldier Power.

Hoffman told Lowman about the PPE Return Program PEO Soldier operates. It returns life-saving body armor and helmets to Soldiers. A typical ceremony takes place before a Soldier’s unit formation and family where they see first-hand how well the equipment works. This is a good opportunity for Soldiers to hear the message, “Hey, wear your stuff; it works,” Hoffman said.

Additionally, Lowman learned of new capabilities PEO Soldier is working on for Soldiers. Maj. Andrew Miller, Nett Warrior APM, said the system gives Soldiers situational awareness. They can see themselves, their left and right elements, and see their adversary. It gives leaders confidence in knowing where their Soldiers are and in decision-making.

Mr. Ronald Johnson, Soldier Enhancement Program Lead Integrator, briefed how SEP allows the Army to move at “the speed of industry” to evaluate and type classify existing prototypes or commercially available items that will enhance Soldiers’ ability to carry out their combat missions. One SEP item Lowman learned about was the Scalable Grenade that Soldiers can modify to blast doors or use as regular grenades.

Col. Christopher Schneider, Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers talked about the Family of Weapon Sights–Individual and –Crew Served Weapons, and the Joints Effects Targeting System.

Col. Christopher D. Schneider, Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers explains Family of Weapon Sights–Individual to Mr. Christopher J. Lowman.

Col. Christopher D. Schneider, Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers explains Family of Weapon Sights–Individual to Mr. Christopher J. Lowman.

FWS-I links wirelessly with the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III to transmit a video signal of the reticle into the ENVG III display. This enables the Soldier to see what the weapon sight “sees” and to aim without having to raise the scope to eye level. FWS-CSW has a laser rangefinder and will lase a target and raise the reticle to ensure rounds hit where they should.

The portable JETS will allow small units supported by Army Forward Observers or Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to have access to precision targeting in all operational environments.

Col. Brian C. Stehle, Project Manager Soldier Weapons showed Lowman weapons from his portfolio. He described how the M240 and M249 Machine Guns keep the opposing force in position and how the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System can airburst ammunition over them. Stehle also briefed the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System and stated how much Soldiers love the weapon.

Col. Lanier Ward of the Rapid Equipping Force, which is part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command but receives Milestone Decision Authority from PEO Soldier, said his organization seeks innovative materiel solutions to meet urgent requirements, typically within 180 days. One such project REF is working on is Drone Defender, which addresses the threat of drones by shooting radio waves at it.

Maj. Nicole M. Clark, APM for Soldier Protective Equipment, shows Mr. Christopher J. Lowman how hard armor saves Soldiers’ lives. She added that there’s never been a case of hard armor allowing complete penetration by a bullet.

Maj. Nicole M. Clark, APM for Soldier Protective Equipment, shows Mr. Christopher J. Lowman how hard armor saves Soldiers’ lives. She added that there’s never been a case of hard armor allowing complete penetration by a bullet.

Finally, Lowman learned of the importance Non-Commissioned Officers to PEO Soldier’s success. Each PM shop has a Senior Enlisted Adviser who brings field knowledge and experience to what PEO Soldier is developing. Stehle said how Master Sgt. Jason Lee Barton, PM SW SEA, brings invaluable Soldier’s perspective on the weapons PM SW is developing. This ensures PEO Soldier produces weapons, gear and uniforms that readily gain Soldier acceptance.

The Program Executive Officer Soldier, Brig. Gen. Brian P. Cummings, agreed. “NCOs are unbelievably important,” Cummings said. “Senior NCOs get more out of the mission.”

Lowman replied, “Have to have people who walk the walk and talk the talk.”

About Debra Dawson