Global security threats always generate complex situations. These security threats will continue to require Canada to support and act within a coalition of nations, conducting expeditionary activities in diverse locations where failed and failing states have succumbed to insurgent pressure and internal political strife. Canadian soldiers will have to be able to face a future security environment that is highly volatile and uncertain. Adversaries are always working to undermine our efforts to protect international stability, and the threats they pose become even more varied.
Future soldier systems research and development should be aligned to deliver integrated capabilities that harness the potential of networked technologies to improve situational awareness, target acquisition, handover and prosecution, as well as to increase the efficiency of command execution, act, shield and sustain activities.
The Soldier Systems Technology Roadmap (SSTRM) was initiated in 2008 to support the development of technological advancements for the Canadian soldier of the future. While industry engagement was traditionally focused around the procurement process, the SSTRM improved the dialogue between industry and the Department of National Defence (DND) to discuss current capabilities as well as future requirements and technologies.
The outcome created a roadmap for the future to guide the soldier system community of interest over the next 15 years in the areas of power, weapons effects, C4I, sensing, survivability/mobility, and human factors integration. The Soldier Systems Technology Roadmap: Capstone Report and Action Plan, a comprehensive articulation of future soldier capability gaps, related challenges, and potential technology solutions, was published in June 2011.
From a government perspective, active engagement in roadmapping processes had a tendency to end once the roadmap and action plan were established. However, in the case of SSTRM, DND is attempting to move beyond planning into actual implementation. An oversight committee comprising government, industry and academic representation has been established to plan and oversee implementation.
The continued networking and partnerships established by participants during the development of the Capstone Report and Action Plan is key to the future success of the SSTRM. While DND will continue to be actively engaged, the responsibility for Technology Networks (TNs) (formally known as technical sub-committees) has been transferred to the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries.
Participation in the TN does not require CADSI membership and is open to large, medium and small enterprises, academia and research organizations. The objective of the TN is to continue knowledge exchange, leading to routine updates of the roadmap. Key activities of the TN include:
• providing a key tool for the TNs to monitor, provide input and align with evolving future soldier system requirements;
• providing a forum for industry, academia and government to discuss issues, challenges and opportunities of mutual interest;
• formalizing the ability of government, industry and academia to network, make contacts and develop collaborative projects; and
• providing a forum where information on government innovation programs can be discussed.
Research and development
R&D is crucial to addressing the long-term capability gaps identified in the Capstone Report and Action Plan. One of the objectives of the SSTRM implementation is to assist the soldier system community of interest to access funding available through various innovation funding programs. Significant efforts have been made by the SSTRM Management Office to socialize the SSTRM initiative with relevant government funding programs that cover the innovation spectrum.
In addition, DND will provide technical feedback on any research and development proposals received. For those proposals that are deemed by DND to align with SSTRM, a letter of recommendation may be provided to assist in obtaining innovation funding.
SSTRM implementation is well underway. The TN structure is established and is operating. The SSTRM Management Office has received 29 proposals, the majority of which were aligned with key future technology requirements outlined in the Capstone Report and Action Plan, and were from Technology Readiness Levels 1-7. Several of these proposals have received innovation funding through a number of programs. In addition, initial planning has begun for a Soldier Systems Conference and Trade Show, to be held on December 11 and 12, 2012.
The Soldier Systems Technology Roadmap provides an excellent opportunity for industry, academia and government collaboration. It has the potential to align the efforts of the soldier system community of interest towards a common goal of improving capabilities for Canada’s future soldier, through the effective use of R&D funding.
Peter Graham is the project manager for the Soldier Systems Technology Roadmap.
For a copy of the capstone report or more information on the SSTRM, including instructions on how to submit an R&D proposal or become involved with a Technology Network, please visit www.materiel.forces.gc.ca/en/sstrm.page or contact the SSTRM Management Office (SSTRM-CTSS@forces.gc.ca).