BRUSSELS – Building strong scientific partnerships with European allies is important for the US Army in order to secure the most advanced technology for American warfighters and to expand interoperability with allied nations. The US Army, US Navy and Belgian military hosted the first Belgian / US science and technology conference in Brussels, Belgium in June 2022. They brought together the Belgian research and technology community, and representatives from the Belgium Ministry of Defense and the US Department of Defense.
The theme of the conference was “Forging the future – Belgium-US joint effort in science for a safer world.” The one-day meeting, held at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, provided an opportunity for Belgian academic institutions, research institutions and government representatives to discuss emerging research and technologies.
The US sponsorship of the event was led by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, and the US Office of Naval Research – Global with support from the US Embassy in Belgium, and the Belgian sponsorship was led by the Royal Higher Institute of Defense.
Seventeen Belgian researchers shared their ideas for potential new projects in three areas: human performance and protection; power, energy and energetics / aerodynamics; and data science / processing. US Army and Navy representatives also shared information about Department of Defense international grant programs, including how to compete for funding.
“Partnerships like this jointly-sponsored workshop allow scientists to come together and learn from one another. Most of these researchers did not know that the US Department of Defense supports basic science research both inside the US and abroad. “By establishing relationships through science between foreign researchers and the Army research enterprise, we build goodwill for the US and for peace and prosperity,” said Col. Jenny Stacy, DEVCOM Atlantic director.
The conference team received 20 abstracts from various Belgian academic and research institutions and government representatives across a wide range of topic areas. Each of the 17 researchers who were chosen had ten minutes to describe their concepts and visions. Topics included: optimizing human performance in extreme environments; ballistic helmet design; and data-centric architecture, a solid and easily accessible architecture design for fast integration and interpretation of data.
“The basic research carried out in these topic areas will provide the foundational science to support the next round of Army modernization from 2035 to 2050, and beyond. And, these topic areas are highly relevant to the Belgian Army, NATO and US allies and partners around the world. Promoting fundamental science and applied research in these areas supports not only technological modernization, but also strong scientific partnerships for a safer world, ”said Jonathan Brame, DEVCOM-ATL Basic and Applied Research team lead.
The US DOD will select at least one new idea from the joint conference for a collaborative basic research project that the US government will fund.
The conference team is exploring a second joint annual conference in 2023.
The US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command – DEVCOM – is home to the Army’s largest pool of civilian scientists, engineers, analysts and technicians who are the bedrock for discovering and developing the capabilities Soldiers need to deter, and when necessary, defeat current and future adversaries .
DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of Army Futures Command, and together the Team of Teams provides the scientific and engineering expertise necessary to better integrate modernization priorities and give the Army, as part of the Joint Force, the ability to act faster and more effectively than the adversary.