To execute operations in future conflicts, our Army must innovate to develop capabilities that enables us to accomplish future missions as part of the Joint Force. Innovation is the act or process of introducing something new, or creating new uses for existing designs. Innovation is not invention. To innovate, Army leaders drive the development of new tools or methods that permit Army forces to retain overmatch against determined enemies and adversaries. Moreover, successful innovation requires focused and sustained collaboration across the Army, the joint community, industry, academia, and other inter-organizational and multinational partners.
During future conflicts Army forces execute Multi-Domain Battle to ensure Joint Force freedom of action and deny the enemy the ability to operate freely across those domains by maneuvering and projecting power across all domains. The Army’s ability to execute multi-domain operations is essential to the Joint Force’s ability to achieve objectives consistent with U.S. interests and foreign policy. The U.S. Army Functional Concept for Movement and Maneuver requires that future Army forces, as part of the Joint Force, be mobile and maneuver dispersed with the ability to concentrate combat power rapidly at decisive points and in spaces (domains) to achieve operational objectives. Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) must have the capability to deploy and operate semi-independently in order to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative by attacking from multiple locations, directions, and domains to present dilemmas to the enemy throughout the depth of the battlefield. BCTs, therefore, require innovative solutions that enable them to operate semi-independently for sustained periods during future conflicts.
This week’s professional reading highlights an innovation that may hold promise for future Army forces. In “Army showcases stealthy, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle,” David Vergun provides an overview of the ZH2 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle that is the result of a collaborative effort between General Motors (GM) and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The ZH2 is a modified, street-legal Chevy Colorado that is fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell and electric drive. Instead of using batteries like most electric vehicles, electricity is generated from compressed hydrogen that is stored in the vehicle by an electrochemical reaction. According to Vergun, the ZH2 provides several benefits that may be useful to future soldiers:
- The ZH2 produces high torque and comes equipped with 37-inch tires that enable it to negotiate rough and steep terrain.
- The hydrogen fuel cell can produce two gallons per hour of potable water.
- When the vehicle isn't moving, it can generate 25 kilowatts of continuous power or 50 kW of peak power. There are 120 and 240-volt outlets located in the trunk.
The ZH2 is not the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle used by the military but it is the first developed for tactical situations. Throughout 2017 the Army and GM have been testing the ZH2 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Benning, Georgia; Quantico Marine Base, Virginia; and, GM's own Proving Grounds in Michigan.
Through collaborative efforts such as the one that produced the ZH2, fuel cell technology will continue to evolve and improve. While the ZH2 is only a prototype, Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hold promise for not only improving stealth but also for decreasing future logistics demand. Demand consists of operational requirements for services or commodities beyond a unit’s organic ability to produce or acquire independently that enables freedom of action, extends operational reach, or prolongs its endurance. Demand reduction objectives consist of the following:
- Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency. Reduce consumption across all classes of supply in formations by providing commanders with holistically developed formations equipped with energy efficient platforms; manned and maneuvered by Soldiers using demand sensitive tactics, techniques and procedures; and led by consumption informed and educated leaders.
- Meet Demand at the Point of Need. Reducing vulnerabilities inherent in deployment and sustainment activities supports resiliency of U.S. Forces. Dispersed, distributed, and resilient force deployment and sustainment using multiple lines of communications will reduce vulnerability to interdiction.
- Employ Robotics and Autonomous Systems. Just as robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) are transforming the private sector, these capabilities have the potential to transform many aspects of military operations.
Improve Situational Awareness. Development of an automated fuel management system, condition based maintenance plus, and automated sustainment tools that are capable of performing predictive analysis will allow supplies to be pushed forward to units at the right time and to the right location. Additionally, sustainment information systems must also be interoperable with mission command systems to have a robust common operating picture.
To meet demand reduction objectives with this technology the hydrogen that fuels the ZH2 must be produced closer to the point of demand. Through sustained collaboration the Army will be able to develop innovative solutions to decrease demand to the point of need, which will be critical to the Army’s ability to execute Multi-Domain Battle during future conflicts. To share your thoughts and recommendations, receive additional information, or find out how you can contribute to ARCIC Demand Reduction efforts, please contact Mr. Steve Behel, Chief, Deployment and Sustainment Branch, Sustainment Division, ARCIC, at 757-501-5544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ZH2 Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle will be on display at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition 9-11 Oct in Washington, DC. It will also be at TRADOC Headquarters on 13 October. All are invited to view the vehicle and speak with its developers. -To learn more about the ZH2, access the following link: http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2016/oct/1003-zh2.html
-To learn more about Multi-Domain Battle and contribute to conversation, access the following link: http://www.tradoc.army.mil/MultiDomainBattle/index.asp