Our problem sets come from the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.
Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL)
PROBLEM TITLE: Data Mining Social Media
Within heavily populated urban environments, millions of people use social media to communicate and spread ideas. This surge of electronic traffic provides a trove of information, which operational units can analyze to understand the human terrain/social environment of a particular location. Additionally, in recent years, non-state actors and/or government entities have used social media to spread information and impact US forces and operations.
Currently, there is no organic ability at the tactical level to rapidly understand and exploit local populations via social media. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory would like to explore how publically available information originating from social media can be integrated and leveraged in order to gain granular situational awareness about a certain location.
Determine how the Marine Corps Ground Combat Element can access, analyze, and leverage information derived from social media for offensive and/or information operations within a dense urban environment
- Compatible with austere environments (i.e. hot, cold, sandy, wet, etc.)
- Easily trainable and intuitive to high school level education
- Solution does not need to send early indicators of troublesome area – should focus on aggregating all information from social media
- Within classification requirements
Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory
DC Air National Guard
PROBLEM TITLE: DC Air National Guard Recruiting
In recent years, the DC Air National Guard has not met its annual recruiting goals. Recruiters from the DC Air National Guard currently employ antiquated recruiting approaches by relying on referrals, cold calling, and in person engagements such as career fairs. The current methods not only don’t offer recruiting approaches over the Internet, but they also limit recruiting to only individuals within the DC Metropolitan area (members of the National Guard can serve in a state of which they are not currently a resident).
The DC Air National Guard would like to explore how top technology companies are leveraging recruiting techniques to reach and recruit more interested individuals. Recruiters would like to understand how to generate awareness and whom the types of people are that are interested in joining the DC Air National Guard.
Recruiters need a way to raise awareness about the opportunities with the DC Air National Guard in order to increase applicants.
- No previous or similar efforts have been pursued (i.e. recruitment has not yet been translated into the digital space)
DC Air National Guard
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
PROBLEM TITLE: Vehicle Immobilization
In the past two years, terrorists have deliberately rammed vehicles into crowds in attempt to kill a large number of individuals in France, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Israel, and the United States. These attacks have killed at least 125 people and injured over 300, and further demonstrated how large public spaces can quickly be turned into targets.
Current tools to stop these attacks include physical barriers, which although are readily available, are often not utilized due to an inability to anchor, rapidly deploy and recover, or be aesthetically acceptable. The Engineering Research and Development Center within the US Army Corps of Engineers would like to explore how it would be possible to immobilize vehicles attempting to attack pedestrians or large crowds using non-permanent fixtures.
Develop a tool that prevents vehicles attempting to attack vulnerable points in urban environments.
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards for stopping vehicles
- Hard to physically stop large, heavy vehicles
US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), Geotechnical and Structure Laboratory
NATO Allied Command Transformation
PROBLEM TITLE: Publicly Available Information for Speedy Deployment
The 2014 invasion of Crimea and recent training exercises near the Baltics have demonstrated Russia’s ability to deploy troops across borders at speed. NATO is currently not able to deploy personnel and resources sufficiently fast in response, in part, because NATO does not currently have the ability to track the location of material and resources across the alliance.
Determine how NATO can leverage publicly available information to improve the speed resource deployment in response to emerging threats.
- NATO nations have various levels of interest in sharing information
- Different NATO nations might be more or less interested in deploying resources in response to certain threats
- Risks in consolidating information in one place
NATO Allied Command Transformation, Deployment and Sustainment Branch
PROBLEM TITLE: Preventing Security Force Abuses
The Leahy Law mandates that U.S. foreign assistance cannot be given to foreign security force units, military or police, where credible evidence suggests an individual or individuals in the unit have committed a gross violation of human rights, such as torture, rape, or enforced disappearances. For the State Department office responsible for vetting all unites where U.S. assistance is being proposed, this is an arduous and data-intensive task. It has become particularly high profile as Congress continuously asks them questions about how the vetting process, the rejection rate, and eligibility decisions made on specific units.
Currently, after training is approved, State Department human rights offices do not have a way to gauge whether providing assistance to the “clean” units is beneficial to the human rights trends in that military. Human rights assessment of security sector assistance ends with Leahy Vetting until new assistance is identified, and the process begins again. The result is an inability to assess whether training has been successful in reducing human rights violations.
LONG TERM GOAL
Improve the effectiveness of civilian security and human rights training programs in preventing partner military and police units from committing human rights abuses.
Develop a way for State Department officials to identify trends in human rights abuses committed by foreign militaries to ensure that the U.S. Department of Defense is training the right foreign military units.
- There are no metrics to determine whether training of these forces is successful, as well as no inventory about what training is taking place.
- Tracking reports of gross violations of human rights (extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, enforced disappearance) and violations of international humanitarian law can be one way to determine human rights abuses
- Consider interactive cloud technologies, data aggregation tools, and mapping/visualization of results
State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
PROBLEM TITLE: Boat Heads-Up Display
The primary focal point of the pilot is to maintain situational awareness of the external environment to ensure safe arrival on target. While navigating swells up to 12 feet in height, it is imperative that the pilot preserves his field of vision on the up-coming sea state. Failure to make adjustments to in coming waves can result in significant impacts with the waves. These impacts can result in loss of control, vessel collision, and subsequent catastrophic injury/death to crew. Maritime operations are primarily conducted at night while utilizing night vision goggles. For the Boat Captain to accurately navigate the CCA, he must take his eyes off of the route in order to read the tools (chart date, depths, speed, and radar contacts) on the control panel. There have been numerous examples during night navigation of the Boat Captain gaining situational awareness of his course for correction, only to look up and need to conduct a significant course change to avoid an obstacle or vessel. These sudden maneuvers endanger the boat formation and his own craft. On a recent training exercise, four vessels were transiting along an intercostal waterway, and a Lead Boat Captain took his eyes off the water way to confirm his vessels position within the channel. The Navigator who was looking forward was able to warn the Boat Captain in time to avoid a small unlit fishing boat. Evasive maneuvers were conducted to avoid a head on collision. Technology that allows the Captain to maximize situational awareness of the vessels environment will further decrease the probability of future accidents.
Development of technology that will allow Combatant Crew Assault (CCA) Boat Captain to navigate the vessel at sea without taking his eyes off of the current sea state. Currently, the navigation tools are anchored to the boats control panel. While reading these tools, the Boat Captain’s situational awareness is significantly reduced during the operation. Beneficiaries currently need the ability to monitor these gauges while maintaining eyesight on the vessels route.
- Operations will be conducted during both day and night (primary).
- Night operations will utilize night vision goggles.
- Primary gauges utilized on the control panel: Course to steer (Magnetic), Heading (Magnetic), Speed over ground (Knots), Chart Data, Radar Contacts, Distance to Waypoint, ETA, Distance Traveled, Distance to Destination, & Depth.
- There are three individuals responsible for the boat while en-route to target:
- Boat Captain: Steers craft/directs team
- Navigator: Responsible for safe Navigation of craft.
- Chief Engineer (throttle man) Controls boats trim.
- Technology that tethers can be safety hazard in the event the vessel cap sizes.
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
U.S. Forces Korea
PROBLEM TITLE: Commander’s Knowledge Management
The alliance between the Republic of South Korea and the U.S. goes back decades, and the commanding officer of U.S. Forces Korea traditionally plays a pivotal diplomatic and military role. The current commanding officer, General Brooks, typically has 10 or more engagements a day, meeting hundreds of people. He and his staff currently lack a mobile way to keep track of every individual and key discussion points. This issue is complicated by the fact that the commanding officer will rotate out of Korea every three years, leaving no method for his successor to know the predecessor’s local allies and partners. Without a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, key diplomatic personnel in the State Department and Department of Defense, the commander’s ability to effectively coordinate and communicate U.S. interests in a time of heightened tension is of a paramount importance.
Build a way for the staff of the commanding general of U.S. Forces Korea to search for and centralize personal information of after engagements in order to prioritize critical meetings with key individuals in South Korea.
- Mobile device preferred
U.S. Forces, Korea, Commander’s Strategic Initiatives Group
U.S. Air Force
PROBLEM TITLE: Nation-wide Aeromedical Laydown
During the recent disaster in Houston, the 18th Air Force dispatched Boeing C-17s, transformed into flying hospitals. With doctors and medical equipment on board, their goal is to stabilize 38 critically injured patients per flight long enough to bring them to a hospital for surgery. During a disaster, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) searches for injured patients and takes them to local hospital facilities. Once the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approves funding for patient redistribution, C-17s are dispatched to pick up critical care patients for transport to other hospitals across the country.
On-board flight surgeons validate patient needs and coordinate with a Theater Patient Movement Requirement Center to determine appropriate hospitals before taking off. However, TRANSCOM flight planners have no common picture and way to match airports that have the availability to accept a C-17 with available hospitals. Any confusion in matching the two creates delays and puts patient lives at risk.
LONG TERM GOAL
Reduce the planning time needed to set up a patient redistribution mission.
Develop a way for TRANSCOM flight planners to match available hospitals with the nearest available airport to speedily plan transport routes during a disaster.
- Describe technical thresholds (but do not write requirements)
- Environmental Conditions
- Technologies that may be relevant
- Other clarifying information
U.S. Air Force, 18th Air Force Air Mobility Command
U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL)
PROBLEM TITLE: Personnel Signature Reduction
During combat search and rescue operations, it is not always possible to locate and rescue downed pilots before they are identified in enemy territory. Current uniforms and over-garments do little to reduce the visible and infrared signature of downed airmen to avoid detection, and therefore pilots have trouble evading visual, thermal, and low-light sensors. Space for evasion methods on aircraft is extremely limited, so any solution must either already be worn by the pilot, naturally occurring in their environment, or fit in their kit.
Develop a way for pilots shot down in combat to evade detection for 28 days until they can be rescued.
- Look at ways to reduce the detectability range of human observers both in daytime and at night
- Ability to maintain mobility when employed
- Worldwide applicability, focus on land
- Technologies that might be relevant: Active camouflage (OLED), metamaterials
U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), 711th Human Performance Wing & AFwerX