Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate

The Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate (ASCD) combines the functions of advanced systems development, long-range planning, and interfacing with military customers. With respect to foodservice systems, ASCD works closely with each of the uniformed Services through the DOD Food and Nutrition Research, Development and Engineering Program. From its creation in 1970, as the Operations Research and Systems Analysis Office, ASCD has evolved into an organization employing roughly 20 individuals working in the foodservice concept development and long-range planning arena. Typically, there are 10 to 15 projects being pursued in ASCD's portion of the food program. These projects place ASCD in the forefront of developing the most advanced feeding system concepts for land, sea, and air military missions.

ASCD applies a systems approach, which uniquely combines appropriate statistical and mathematical modeling techniques with field verification when possible. This approach provides analyses of the benefits and characteristics of the existing system and alternatives, and validates the performance of the selected candidate system with field experiments. The success of this approach has been demonstrated in the development and rapid adoption of a new foodservice system concept for aircraft carriers, the development and fielding of a new concept for combat field feeding in the Army, and the development and deployment of a new feeding concept for Air Force Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles.

Current systems analysis development projects include a foodservice concept for the proposed Peacekeeper Rail Garrison system. Peacekeeper units must operate without assigned foodservice personnel, without resupply, and, despite extreme space constraints, must still provide high quality food for the crews. The problems of providing qual ity foodservice to the Navy's antisubmarine warfare squadrons is the subject of another project wherein the current system cannot provide the flexibility required by air crews engaged in long surveillance and combat missions. Also for the Navy, ASCD is developing a new concept for disposal of plastic waste products. Under international treaty, by 1993 the Navy was to cease disposing of plastics at sea. With the large volume of plastic packaging generated by aircraft carriers, which are essentially floating cities containing over 5,000 individuals, and with industry's trend toward increasing use of plastics packaging material, this is a crucial project addressing a highly visible problem.

In addition to projects involving long-term improvements to current systems, ASCD is involved in the definition and evaluation of "Next Generation" (1990s) and "Future Systems" (2000 and beyond), recognizing future threats and warfighting concepts. One example is a project to explore concepts for undersea subsistence storage and resupply. Another project is looking at the value of concepts involving mobile, automated food production systems in terms of futuristic battlefield threats and warfighting concepts.

Working closely with representatives from the Food Engineering and Soldier Science Directorates, ASCD also conducts a proactive program to obtain feedback from users in the field. For this purpose ASCD representatives makes a large number of visits to Army installations worldwide. These visits familiarize General Officers and their staffs with Natick's products as well as providing opportunities for collecting survey data from soldiers using those products in field exercises.

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