Tech Warrior links engineers, scientist to battlefield

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- At the first loud explosion, a pararescue specialist from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rappelled down a tower, jumped into a waiting vehicle, raced to the site of the explosion and began directing Air Force Research Laboratory personnel in applying battlefield care to the wounded. 


Was this Iraq? Afghanistan? No, the simulated scenario took place at the National Center for Medical Readiness in Fairborn, during Tech Warrior 2016.


The annual immersion training exercise is designed to provide an intense field mobility and combat skills training opportunity to AFRL personnel with limited operational assignment experience. The event is intended to support, maintain and continue the Air Force’s scientific and technological edge by providing an opportunity for warfighters, scientists, engineers and industry partners to meet and converse on technical vision and experiences.


“This allows our scientists and engineers to walk in the shoes of the warfighter,” Lt. Col. David Shahady, AFRL Tech Warrior Commander. “The importance of that is they will build better products, better capabilities and empower our warfighters to continue to be the best in the world.”


Exercises were led by experts from the Army National Guard, Air Force National Guard, local community first responders and local universities. Trainees participated in the joint operational vignettes while lab technicians and industry partners demonstrated the operational utility of various AFRL technologies.


“We have been doing this for over ten years and every year it grows larger with more technical innovation displayed,” said Shahady. “It is very rewarding to see our participants show-up on the first day and not know anything about what it is to be a warfighter, then to see them on the last day proclaim, I get it, I will never design something with a 20 pound battery because I now understand how heavy a backpack can be.”


During the 11-day immersion training three specific focus areas were covered: combat rescue, disaster response and airbase defense. Participants were provided up-close and personal scenarios of warfighters experiences with technology integration.


Technological areas covered included: Human-Centered Analysis, Health and Performance Monitoring, Command and Control, Battlefield Situational Awareness, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations and Cyber Attack Response. The immersive battlefield vignettes were designed to showcase and demonstrate state-of-the-art warfighting technologies in a realistic environment.


“This is a full immersion experience,” stated Shahady “We are very excited not only for AFRL scientists and engineers to understand what it’s like to be a deployed warfighter, but, also to see some of the technologies that have been displayed here for the past years, developed by small industry partners some even local,  to be put into the field. I think we have a hand in expediting these products and we take great pride in thinking we help get these vital products into the hands of our warfighters even faster.”