December 17, 2012
Agency support in combat environment heralded
Innovation rarely comes from sitting still. DARPA program personnel routinely travel across the country and in some cases around the globe to ensure the latest research and technologic advances inform their efforts. From February 2007 to July 2011, for dozens of DARPA personnel, this travel included locations throughout Afghanistan. It is this direct support to the warfighter that resulted in the Agency’s receipt of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
The award citation, signed by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, notes that the Agency was not content to conduct research from far behind enemy lines, and instead “…stood side-by-side with our warfighters, engaging with senior military leaders and front-line troops alike to better understand battlefield conditions and the realities of the combat environment.”
This support included the establishment of “a permanent presence in Afghanistan, the DARPA Forward Cell, and embedded [personnel] in locations throughout Afghanistan to rapidly bring emerging capabilities to bear,” the citation continued. “Based on urgent needs identified by troops on the ground, [DARPA] created and fielded a wide range of highly effective tools including…”
According to DARPA Director, Arati Prabhakar, “We are proud to have contributed to the ongoing efforts on the ground. These engagements provide us with immensely valuable insight from taking technology to real users in harsh operational environments.”
These insights will inform future DARPA efforts. “We’re winding up more than a decade of two ground wars and dealing with counterinsurgency challenges,” said Prabhakar. “It’s an important time for us all, and DARPA in particular, to take what we’ve learned and look ahead, to consider what the future issues will be for national security and to have that influence the work we do in the coming years.”
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