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    Under the Big [Virtual] Tent

    Under the Big [Virtual] Tent

    Courtesy Photo | Warfighters from U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army’s 20th CBRNE, and...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Chemical and Biological Technologies Department

    At the latest in-person CBOA event in 2019, DTRA-JSTO incorporated a new tool called the User Feedback Tent for Technology Concepts, or Concept Tent, that hosted demonstrations of an assortment of sensors, detectors, mapping software, and other technologies not yet mature enough for the CBOA operational scenarios which could benefit from warfighter feedback. The objectives of the Concept Tent were to:
    1. Provide early feedback to explore joint force utility and validate requirements and technology approaches.
    2. Identify notional mission or operational parameters.
    3. Scope out future user engagements.

    The emerging technologies displayed in the Concept Tent related to the medical, assess, protect, and mitigate tasks that warfighters execute when faced with a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threat. Two of the technologies were the Pocket Detection Pouch—a small detection kit that identifies and stores samples, and the Biological Automated Collector/Detector for Expeditionary Reconnaissance (BioACER)—a fully automated biological collection and identification device releasable from an unmanned aerial vehicle over a plume that provides remote analysis in less than 20 minutes.

    In the Concept Tent format, the science and technology manager (STM) or a subject matter expert gives a short presentation followed by a Q&A session between the presenter and warfighters. The warfighters then complete a short questionnaire to provide feedback mainly on form, fit, function, and potential employment concepts or considerations in various mission spaces. Warfighter feedback has highlighted mission uses, capability, and placement with a specific focus on ideal size and weight, power supply choices, portability, and integration with wearable technology already in use. The Concept Tent technology developers are then encouraged to participate in future CBOA operational scenario demonstrations when their products matured.

    Even though the in-person CBOA 20 demonstration was cancelled, DTRA-JSTO still wanted to respond to the technology developers who rely on CBOA data to guide their development and to make timely investment decisions. Considering state mandates on indoor and outdoor crowd sizes, the virtual Concept Tent leveraged telework by using videoconferencing to present the demonstrations and an online questionnaire to collect feedback. Warfighters previously tasked for the in-person CBOA 20 participated in the virtual event to provide similar feedback they would have made in person.

    As the event schedule was circulated and updated with the new virtual format, other interested parties submitted requests to participate, including government agencies and multiple services such as the Joint Program Executive Office, Office of the Surgeon General/Army Medical Command Public Affairs, and other medical divisions. This new audience provided extra exposure to the STM’s technologies in addition to the originally invited CBOA 20 attendees. The virtual option also showcased additional technologies not previously planned for the event.
    The virtual Concept Tent has several benefits for the warfighter:
    1. Warfighters have on-the-spot interactions with the STMs developing the technologies.
    2. Warfighters can give the STMs insight into their missions.
    3. Warfighters learn of technologies they may use in the future.

    This important early communication between scientist and warfighter could result in ideas for new uses or a simple change to make the technology easier to use prior to building a prototype. These interactions allow warfighters to expand their daily duties beyond the battlefield and provide invaluable insight from their first-hand experiences. The interactions with the technologies challenge warfighters to think outside of their current constraints and imagine new concepts to increase effectiveness and better fit their mission needs.

    The virtual CBOA 20 demonstrations included these new technologies:
    1. Rapid Canine Decontamination Kit—for handlers to use when military working dogs are contaminated in a remote location not near a water supply where they can be thoroughly washed.
    2. Colorimetric Fiber Optic Sensor (CFOS)—a chemical warfare agent (CWA) and toxic industrial chemical (TIC) detector that can be used in places of interest that require long-distance sensing.
    3. Fast Antimicrobial Sensitivity Test Scan—an integrated system capable of detecting a broad range of CWA, TIC, and confined-space hazards.

    The STMs for BioACER and CFOS are applying to be a part of the full demonstrations scenarios at the next CBOA, further highlighting the importance of CBOA feedback in developing these technologies to more advanced stages.

    The success of the first virtual Concept Tent created a template on how to successfully execute virtual events that provide opportunities to increase the number and scope of interactions between government agencies and the joint force. By conducting several virtual events a year, DTRA-JSTO can increase user feedback and expedite technology development while minimizing participants’ time away from duty, travel, and logistical footprint.

    DTRA-JSTO is proposing three virtual Concept Tents per year in addition to the physical Concept Tent featured at the annual CBOA event and is confirming a greater number of warfighter participants for the next virtual Concept Tent event.

    POC: Markham Smith,



    Date Taken: 05.07.2021
    Date Posted: 05.07.2021 17:48
    Story ID: 395949
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

    Web Views: 203
    Downloads: 2