News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

Chapter V
Basic Research

Without strong basic research, the foundations for the development of future technologies will not be laid.

STAR21, National Research Council


The Army is the full spectrum land warfighting force of the United States. In order to maintain an overmatching capability on which the U.S. depends, the Army invests in basic research to provide this force with technological superiority. Fundamental research is the "seed corn" for technological discoveries and advancements. The Army’s basic research:

Fosters progress and innovations in Army–unique areas (e.g., armor/antiarmor) or where commercial incentive to invest is lacking due to limited markets (e.g., military medicine to develop vaccines for tropical diseases).
Shapes research and technological innovations concerning issues related to Army applications/environments.

In this way, the Army can develop or adapt its technology needs for the ever–increasing variety of missions it faces. The Army’s dependence on technology is increasing as it evolves toward smaller, lighter, more lethal forces. The investment made in basic research today will shape the future Army by providing the technological building blocks needed to address imperatives emerging from future warfighting concepts.

Senior Army management is committed to a sustained basic research program that supports the Army’s needs. To this end, the Army structures a coherent basic research program and integrates extramural research that leverages the power of academia and industry with in–house research in critical, Army–unique areas. The resulting science base provides the foundation for follow–on applied research (6.2) and, eventually, advanced technology development (6.3) programs.

The Army research program is managed and performed by a network of Army laboratories and centers. Within the Army Materiel Command (AMC) the Army Research Office (ARO) manages extramural programs through the University Single Investigator program, selected centers of excellence (COEs) and the university research initiative (URI) programs. The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) supports several Centers of Excellence, manages the federated laboratories, and conducts in–house research. Finally, the research, development and engineering centers (RDECs) initiate research through the In–house Laboratory Independent Research program. The Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Army Research Institute (ARI) for Behavioral and Social Sciences also conduct a mixture of intramural and extramural research programs as shown in Table V–1.

Without the scientific base developed by these activities, the Army would not have in its arsenal many technologies that are now taken for granted and that have been used effectively in

Table V–1.  Basic Research Responsibilities of Department of Army Components

Army Component

Basic Research Mission

Research Emphases

Execution Strategy

Army Materiel Command Conduct and sponsor basic research unique to Army requirements (that are not covered by the Army Corps of Engineers, Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and ARI) and areas assigned to AMC through the Department of Defense (DoD) in support of other agencies

Ensure that basic research supports future warfighting requirements

Making technology work for soldiers


Energy efficiency

Lighter, smaller components

Protection and survivability

Specific areas are:

Vehicles (tracked and wheeled)
Guns and artillery
Nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) defense
Nutrition/food sciences


Simulation and training devices
Armor (personnel, vehicle, weapon systems)
Multispectral camouflage


Partnership with Training and Doctrine Command to focus on future warfighting doctrine and required capabilities

Leverage industry, national laboratories, and academia

Teams and consortia with national organizations

Participate in international organizations

AMC’s ARO directs most long–term (theoretical and feasibility) efforts

AMC’s ARL directs most short–term (prototype and demonstration) efforts

Move basic research successes from ARO and ARL to AMC research, development and engineering centers for systems application

Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Exploit basic science to define potential biomedical solutions to overcome military–unique threats to health and combat health care delivery constraints, and maximize the operational performance of the warfighter Infectious diseases of military importance

Combat casualty care

Army operational medicine

Medical chemical and biological (CB) defense

Perform studies and exploit civilian basic biomedical research to define injury mechanisms of military health threats

Maintain in–house expertise, including uniformed military medical scientists, to avoid technological surprise and maximize ability to meet military needs

Selectively invest in critical extramural capabilities

Leverage industry and other government agency programs, exploiting unique Army capabilities to facilitate discovery of dual–use technologies

Maximize efficiency through tri–service coordination via the Armed Services Biomedical Research Evaluation and Management Committee

Army Corps of Engineers Conduct scientific research in disciplines associated with civil engineering, environmental sciences, and environmental quality that expands knowledge base and provides technical underpinning for exploratory research related to future operational capabilities for:

Mapping, terrain analysis, image processing, and radar exploitation

Effects of cold regions and winter weather on combat operations and stability and support operations (SASO)

Airfields and pavements for strategic and operational mobility

Next generation Army mobility models

Acquisition, operation, maintenance and repair of installations

Environmental quality

Signature analysis (radar and spectral analysis for data generation)

Terrain analysis and reasoning

Energy propagation in terrestrial environments

Pavements and airfields

Smart materials

Hardened construction materials

Multispectral materials for field fortifications and structures

Vehicle–terrain interaction

Hazardous/toxic waste remediation

Hazardous wastewater management

Quantifying impacts of military operations on natural and cultural resources

Groundwater modeling

Identify and execute research efforts focused on future operational capabilities (FOCs) and concepts for AAN

Establish and maintain liaison support to primary customers

Identify specific technology areas that lend themselves to partnering with academia and industry

Develop a resource strategy that supports both internal teaming and external partnering

Transition basic research successes in a timely manner

Army Research Institute Conduct scientific research that will support the development of people–related technologies:

Training: improve the long–term retention of trained skills and the potential of skills to transfer to real life

Personnel: improve recruitment, assignment, and Army’s ability to address societal issues

Leadership: improve the assessment and development of skills

Training research

Personnel research

Leadership research

Aim research to future–oriented/AAN issues

Coordinate research with applied scientists to increase chance of transitions

Call upon world–class scientists for conduct of research

recent military operations around the world. The ultimate payoff of basic research is the translation of concepts into technological applications. Examples of applications that have evolved from Army basic research programs include:

The concept of inverted populations of excited quantum states translated into a laser.
Use of fast mathematical procedures to calculate Fourier transforms for fire support.
Advanced materials from basic principles to yield required properties and performance.
Incorporation of small, superfast electronic devices into systems.
Precise atomic measurements transitioned to global positioning systems (GPSs).
Nonlinear mathematical techniques that are the basis for secure Army communications.
Mathematical simulation techniques yielding application–specific microprocessors for Army use.

The Army must be a versatile, mobile, deployable, power projection land warfighting force. To meet this objective the Army is increasing its dependence on technology to increase its lethality and survivability, decrease its logistics burden, maximize its situational awareness, lighten the force, and enhance soldier performance. To become technologically superior there is a continuous and essential emphasis on basic research in:

Enabling breakthrough capabilities.
Exploiting technological opportunities.
Taking advantage of surprise technological discoveries.
Interpreting and tailoring progress for the Army’s benefit.

1. Army Basic Research Program

The Army basic research program is a critical and integral part of the Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research Plan (BRP). This DoD BRP describes twelve scientific disciplines and formulates broad visions of what might be achieved in each of these disciplines. It also presents six Strategic Research Objectives (SROs) that define rapidly expanding research fronts with the potential for high military benefit.

The Army Basic Research Plan formulates Army–oriented programs in all but one (Ocean Sciences) of the DoD–recognized scientific disciplines, and it recognizes and plays a lead role in all six of the SROs. These Army programs and roles are detailed in following sections of this chapter.

The Army BRP is managed and executed to focus knowledge in areas critical to the Army. It initiates and fosters revolutionary research that is capable of providing innovative new opportunities for the future Army and evolutionary research responsive to identified needs. The level of investment is dependent on:

Emerging technological opportunities.
Future Army concepts and perceived needs.
The ability to leverage investment for many applications and from other services/agencies.
Commercial investments.
Program continuity.
Viable support for selected areas (e.g., SROs).

There is a tripartite approach to Army basic research that is based on complementary driving forces. These driving forces are:

To exploit basic research opportunities and discoveries (revolutionary innovations).
To pursue SROs, particularly those related to the Army After Next (AAN) doctrine (focused research).
To maintain land warfare technical subdisciplines (evolutionary research).

The Army’s basic research program maintains a balanced intramural/extramural effort to satisfy these driving forces. Sixty percent of monies funded are for extramural research to:

Give leverage to the power of academia and industry.
Focus world–class research on Army challenges.
Allow for flexibility to capture new discoveries.
Complement the intramural efforts.

Forty percent of the monies funded are for intramural research programs (Army in–house) that:

Help maintain "smart buyer" capability essential to the Army.
Give leverage to government–unique facilities.
Support Army–unique niche efforts.
Support world–class researchers in areas critical to the Army.

2. Future Outlook

As the Army enters the 21st century, doctrinal changes are envisioned that will exploit technological advancements. From the beginning of the next century to the year 2010, Force XXI and Army Vision 2010 doctrines will shape the Army’s warfighting capabilities, and technologies already unfolding will support these doctrines. Further into the future, in an effort to project the Army toward the year 2025, the Chief of Staff of the Army has established the AAN. In planning the Army’s basic research programs, this AAN initiative provides additional focus for the overall program. A key role for the Army research program is to foster the fundamental research that will enable AAN initiatives. The AAN will benefit from all 6.1 basic research, including the SROs, because the discoveries of today are the enablers of tomorrow’s technologies.

It has been recognized for some time that basic research has been and will continue to be critical to the success of the military. Comments on basic research made over 50 years ago by Dr. Vannevar Bush, 1963 National Medal of Science Recipient, are still valid today: "Basic research is performed without thought of practical ends, but it provides a means of answering a large number of important practical problems." William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense, also stated, "We are not the only nation with competence in defense science and technology. To sustain the lead which brought us victory during Desert Storm . . . recognizing that over time other nations will develop comparable capabilities, we must . . . invest in the next generation of defense technologies." More recently, Dr. Anita K. Jones, Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), emphasized that basic research "provides guidance to the services and defense agencies so that their combined research efforts may enable our primary customer—the warfighter—to gain military advantage in the future." The wonder of research is that you never know what you might discover.

The following sections of this chapter detail the Army initiatives that scope the Army’s basic research program and the scientific research areas that execute it.

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