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By Michelle Milliner, ARL Public Affairs

Maj. Jerry Mize, military deputy at the simulation center tells Gen. Via the story of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, and the memorial and building dedication in his honor.

Gen. Dennis Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, recently spent the day visiting Army organizations in Orlando’s Central Florida Research Park. He kicked off his one-day visit at the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation where he met with Maj. Gen. Jon Maddux and his leadership team before heading to the Army Research Laboratory’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate for a working lunch and demonstrations.

Dr. Laurel Allender, director of HRED, and Col. Harry Buhl, deputy director of HRED, hosted the general at the Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith Simulation and Training Technology Center. The visit opened at the memorial for Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith which serves as a daily reminder to the employees and visitors of the importance of the work that is performed for the Soldier. The building was dedicated in Smith’s name in 2004, and in April 2005, Smith was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Via was moved by the memorial built by the employees of the center, the personal artifacts donated by Smith’s family and the Medal of Honor that is prominently displayed for those entering the building.

Gen. Via looks on at the data following an augmented reality target engagement using a MK-19 simulated weapon.

Gen. Via looks on at the data following an augmented
reality target engagement using a MK-19 simulated weapon.

Via echoed the new Army chief of staff’s priorities, stating readiness is the number one priority and always will be, followed by preparedness for the future and the development of future capabilities.

Because resources in science and technology continue to be flat, Via spoke at length on the importance of making the best decisions in a fiscally-constrained environment and how often the best ideas and products are produced when money is tight. Emphasizing this point he paraphrased a comment by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak saying, the best decisions we ever made, were made when we had little money.

“We need to take advantage of the years when resources are low and seek out the good ideas,” Via stated. “We need to look at those times as opportunities to make great things happen, not as a challenge.”

AMC Commander Gen. Via watches Sgt. 1st Class John Hardwick, senior enlisted advisor at HRED's STTC, take aim. The STTC is using bio sensor instrumentation with the engagement skills trainer to provide immediate feedback to instructors and Soldiers providing a new way to individualize training.

AMC Commander Gen. Via watches Sgt. 1st Class John Hardwick, senior enlisted advisor at HRED’s STTC, take aim. The STTC is using bio sensor instrumentation with the engagement skills trainer to provide immediate feedback to instructors and Soldiers providing a new way to individualize training.

Following the discussions, Via was shown some of the most exciting new research and development technologies HRED’s STTC is developing for the future force to include augmented reality for dismounted Soldiers and adaptive marksmanship training effectiveness using the engagement skills trainer.
After the demonstration, Via asked Sgt. 1st Class John Hardwick, senior enlisted advisor at the STTC, what he thinks of the research.

“As a drill sergeant, you learn to spot the common issues, but you don’t see the details, especially when you are monitoring a group of trainees,” Hardwick said. “This research gives the drill sergeant, instructor or even the trainee immediate feedback on the weapon position, breathing and trigger pressure, allowing adjustments to be made rapidly.”

Via agreed and emphasized the importance of continuing to bring in experts from the field like Sgt. 1st Class Hardwick to help evaluate and provide no nonsense feedback.

As the visit drew to a close, Via shook hands with a number of employees, thanked them and encouraged everyone to continue the work they’re doing for Soldiers like Sgt. 1st Class Smith.

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