From left: TARDEC Interim Director Jennifer Hitchcock and Secretary of the Army John McHugh observe as the Army and TARDEC Senior Research Scientist for Robotics Dr. Jim Overholt explains how fuel cells can provide power to robots to extend mission life. McHugh visited the GSPEL; the Concepts, Analysis, Systems Simulation and Integration (CASSI) area; GVPM labs; and the CGVDI Prototype Integration Facility during his visit to the Detroit Arsenal on July 19. (U.S. Army TARDEC photos.)
Calling the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) “an amazing place with amazing, dedicated people,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh made a one-day trip to the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal on Thursday, July 19, to get a close-up view of the facilities where vital energy, mobility and survivability research are shaping the Army’s future.
McHugh, the Army’s top-ranking civilian official, toured TACOM LCMC laboratories and work spaces, including the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), where he viewed the newly opened Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL), regarded as a key testing and evaluation epicenter for new energy technology.
“We know we have budget challenges that will require us to think in new and different ways, but one thing we’ll always sustain is ensuring that we’re providing warfighters with the things they need,” McHugh stated. “Whether it’s protective clothing, whether it’s the right kind of vehicles, or the right kind of firepower, those are the kinds of things that start here, are fielded through here and sustained here as well.
“This is a very important organization for our men and women in uniform and their families. It makes you realize we have dedicated men and women in the civilian workforce. It’s an amazing place with amazing people.”
The Secretary explained that he had heard so many positive comments from generals, assistant secretaries and elected officials who recently visited the Arsenal, he decided he should personally see the Command’s capabilities and meet the leaders guiding fleet modernization and developing life-saving technology.
From left: TARDEC Associate Director for Ground vehicle Power and Mobility (GvPM) COL (Ret.) Charles Coutteau, and GvPM Lab Team Leader Michael Reid explain to McHugh how engineers can expose military systems to extreme heat or bitter cold in the GsPEL’s environmental test chambers. The temperature was elevated to about 120 degrees in the chamber, replicating a desert-like environment.
McHugh surveyed an environmental test cell spiked to 120 degrees to simulate desert heat, and then strolled into the GSPEL’s climate-controlled Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Laboratory (PEVEL), where the temperature was plunged to minus 20 degrees, to experience the range of testing environments possible in the TARDEC labs. In Concepts, Analysis, Systems Simulation and Integration (CASSI), McHugh witnessed how Army engineers use modeling and simulation studies to develop vehicle systems and predict their durability. TARDEC associates showed him heavy-duty testing equipment, such as the Turret Motion Base Simulator, Vehicle Inertial Properties Evaluation Rig (VIPER) and vehicle shaker.
The Army’s Robotics Senior Research Scientist Dr. Jim Overholt explained how fuel cells on robots dramatically increase the time they can be deployed on reconnaissance and surveillance missions, and briefed McHugh on other key developments, such as autonomous ground vehicle systems.
The entourage moved to the Center for Ground Vehicle Development and Integration (CGVDI), where McHugh sat in a Stryker vehicle and slid under the platform to check the blast-deflecting
V-hull design — a life-saving advancement protecting Soldiers from roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Engineers from Program Executive Office (PEO) Combat Support & Combat Service Support (CS&CSS) and PEO Ground Combat Systems (GCS) presented vehicles they’re developing and sustaining, such as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) future combat platform and the Stryker combat vehicle. Other pivotal advancements presented to the secretary included the Capability Set 13 network integration program and how TARDEC’s Occupant Centric Platform design philosophy puts the Soldier at the core of all survivability research.
Secretary McHugh (right) was briefed on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) during his visit to TACOM LCMC facilities. JLTV Chief Engineer brett Johnson from Program Executive Office Ground Combat systems explained the JLTV’s prominent features to the secretary as he toured TARDEC’s CGVDI.
McHugh got a close-up look at a couple of pivotal technology transfer programs for the Future Force — the Fuel Efficient ground vehicle Demonstrator (FED) and Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULV). The FED Bravo vehicle was designed by TARDEC engineers, working with a variety of industry and academic partners, to install and evaluate commercially available fuel economy technology on a military demonstrator platform.
The ULV program has a similar purpose but focuses on safety and survivability systems and equipment. The Army intends to combine what it learns from both programs and develop a new tactical vehicle that will offer heightened protection and fuel efficiency for future forces. In the meantime, much of the technology tested on the two FED vehicles and survivability demonstrators can be shared on other, existing platforms to elevate survivability and fuel economy across the fleet.
“We understand the importance of the work being done here. The people here bring an amazing spirit to work every day and they’re making a difference in Soldiers’ lives every day,” McHugh remarked. “I see briefs every day in Washington on every aspect of operations, but there’s no substitute for coming to places like this and seeing the work in action. To walk through these buildings and meet the forward-thinking people here is breathtaking. This has been a great opportunity for me to see it firsthand.”
The Secretary’s Focus
Secretary of the Army John McHugh told news reporters he was impressed by the innovative spirit of TACOM LCMC associates during his visit to the U.s. Army Detroit Arsenal on July 19. Just over McHugh’s left shoulder is TACOM LCMC Commanding General MG Michael Terry.
McHugh has declared in previous statements that funding must remain in the Army’s budget to continue supporting readiness, training and modernization. The research and development work at the TACOM LCMC helps achieve the top priorities he issued earlier this year. For example, McHugh’s office is focused on maintaining a highly capable force with sound fiscal management, building the Army of 2020, funding reset and modernization efforts, and developing energy solutions. He has also stated the Army must always provide warfighters with the latest and most advanced technology to ensure operational capability and agility.
President Obama nominated McHugh to become the nation’s 21st Secretary of the Army three years ago and he was sworn in on Sept. 21, 2009. Previously, McHugh served nine terms as a Congressman representing a district spanning Northern and Central New York from January 1993 until his appointment as Secretary.
In that office, McHugh oversees all matters relating to manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communications and financial management for the Army. His workforce includes 1.1 million active-duty personnel (including Army Reserve and National Guard), 221,000 civilian employees and 213,000 contracted service employees.
A persistent advocate of veterans’ and military families’ causes while in Congress, McHugh served as co-chair of the House Army Caucus, a bipartisan organization that works to educate fellow House Members and their staffs about Army issues and programs. He was a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee responsible for the Department of Defense policies and programs and for each of the Armed Forces.
McHugh earned a B.A. degree in Political Science from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1970, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the State University of New York’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Graduate School of Public Affairs in 1977.