Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
About the BAST
Current Activities
Standing Committees
Science & Technology Reports
Disposal of Chemical Weapons via Incineration
Disposal of Recovered Chemical Munitions
Disposal of Chemical Weapons via Non-Incineration Technologies

Science and Technology Reports

Bookmark and Share

2014 Logisitics ReportForce Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations (2014)

This report explores Army logistics in a global, complex environment that includes the increasing use of antiaccess and area-denial tactics and technologies by potential adversaries. This report describes new technologies and systems that would reduce the demand for logistics and meet the demand at the point of need, make maintenance more efficient, improve inter- and intratheater mobility, and improve near-real-time, in-transit visibility. Force Multiplying Technologies also explores options for the Army to operate with the other services and improve its support of Special Operations Forces. This report provides a logistics-centric research and development investment strategy and illustrative examples of how improved logistics could look in the future.

2014 helmet testing

Review of Department of Defense Test Protocols for Combat Helmets

Combat helmets have evolved considerably over the years from those used in World War I to today's Advanced Combat Helmet. One of the key advances was the development of aramid fibers in the 1960s, which led to today's Kevlar-based helmets. The Department of Defense is continuing to invest in research to improve helmet performance, through better design and materials as well as better manufacturing processes.

Review of the Department of Defense Test Protocols for Combat Helmets considers the technical issues relating to test protocols for military combat helmets. At the request of Congress, this report evaluates the adequacy of the Advanced Combat Helmet test protocol for both first article testing and lot acceptance testing, including its use of the metrics of probability of no penetration and the upper tolerance limit (used to evaluate backface deformation). The report evaluates appropriate use of statistical techniques in gathering data; adequacy of current helmet testing procedures; procedures for the conduct of additional analysis of penetration and backface deformation data; and scope of characterization testing relative to the benefit of the information obtained.


Making the Soldier Decisive on Future Battlefields

The U.S. military does not believe its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines should be engaged in combat with adversaries on a "level playing field." Our combat individuals enter engagements to win. To that end, the United States has used its technical prowess and industrial capability to develop decisive weapons that overmatch those of potential enemies. In its current engagement—what has been identified as an "era of persistent conflict"— the nation's most important weapon is the dismounted soldier operating in small units. Today's soldier must be prepared to contend with both regular and irregular adversaries. Results in Iraq and Afghanistan show that, while the U.S. soldier is a formidable fighter, the contemporary suite of equipment and support does not afford the same high degree of overmatch capability exhibited by large weapons platforms—yet it is the soldier who ultimately will play the decisive role in restoring stability.

Making the Soldier Decisive on Future Battlefields establishes the technical requirements for overmatch capability for dismounted soldiers operating individually or in small units. It prescribes technological and organizational capabilities needed to make the dismounted soldier a decisive weapon in a changing, uncertain, and complex future environment and provides the Army with 15 recommendations on how to focus its efforts to enable the soldier and tactical small unit (TSU) to achieve overmatch.

Report in Brief |Video Briefing

2012 Body Armor Phase III

Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III

In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report Warfighter Support: Independent Expert Assessment of Army Body Armor Test Results and Procedures Needed Before Fielding, which commented on the conduct of the test procedures governing acceptance of body armor vest-plate inserts worn by military service members. This GAO report, as well as other observations, led the Department of Defense Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, to request that the National Research Council (NRC) Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences conduct a three-phase study to investigate issues related to the testing of body armor materials for use by the U.S. Army and other military departments. Phase I and II resulted in two NRC letter reports: one in 2009 and one in 2010. This report is Phase III in the study.

Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III provides a roadmap to reduce the variability of clay processes and shows how to migrate from clay to future solutions, as well as considers the use of statistics to permit a more scientific determination of sample sizes to be used in body armor testing. This report also develops ideas for revising or replacing the Prather study methodology, as well as reviews comments on methodologies and technical approaches to military helmet testing. Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III also considers the possibility of combining various national body armor testing standards.


2011 Protection Materials

Opportunities in Protection Materials Science and Technology for Future Army Applications

This report explores the current theoretical and experimental understanding of the key issues surrounding protection materials, identifies the major challenges and technical gaps for developing the future generation of lightweight protection materials, and recommends a path forward for their development. It examines multiscale shockwave energy transfer mechanisms and experimental approaches for their characterization over short timescales, as well as multiscale modeling techniques to predict mechanisms for dissipating energy. The report also considers exemplary threats and design philosophy for the three key applications of armor systems: (1) personnel protection, including body armor and helmets, (2) vehicle armor, and (3) transparent armor.

The committee recommends that the Department of Defense (DoD) establish a defense initiative for protection materials by design (PMD), with associated funding lines for basic and applied research. The PMD initiative should include a combination of computational, experimental, and materials testing, characterization, and processing research conducted by government, industry, and academia.





The National Research Council of the National Academies established a study to assess the methodologies used by the U.S. Army for the testing of body armor. This Phase II report is focused on the behavior of ballistic clay and on other issues relating to the test process that were raised in Phase I of the study. More detailed evaluations of the array of issues surrounding body armor testing, both present and future, will be presented in the final Phase III report.



The National Research Council of the National Academies established a study to assess the methodologies used by the U.S. Army for the testing of body armor. This Phase I report is focused primarily on the validity of laser-profiling techniques for body armor test measurements. More comprehensive and detailed evaluations of an array of issues surrounding body armor testing will be presented in the forthcoming Phase II and Phase III reports. 
 Opportunities in Neuroscience

 Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications

Advances and major investments in the field of neuroscience can enhance traditional behavioral science approaches to training, learning, and other applications of value to the Army. Neural-behavioral indicators offer new ways to evaluate how well an individual trainee has assimilated mission critical knowledge and skills, and can also be used to provide feedback on the readiness of soldiers for combat. Current methods for matching individual capabilities with the requirements for performing high-value Army assignments do not include neuropsychological, psychophysiological, neurochemical or neurogenetic components; simple neuropsychological testing could greatly improve training success rates for these assignments.
Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications makes 17 recommendations that focus on  utilizing current scientific research and development initiatives to improve performance and efficiency,  collaborating with pharmaceutical companies to employ neuropharmaceuticals for general sustainment or enhancement of soldier performance, and improving cognitive and behavioral performance using interdisciplinary approaches and technological investments. An essential guide for the Army, this book will also be of interest to other branches of military, national security and intelligence agencies, academic and commercial researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and others interested in applying the rapid advances in neuroscience to the performance of individual and group tasks.




 Directed Energy


Review of Directed Energy Technology for Countering Rockets, Artillery, and Mortars (RAM): Abbreviated Version

The United States Army is looking for ways to defend against missile and mortar attacks. In this book, the National Research Council assesses a plan to create a 100 kW mobile, solid-state, laser weapon that could defend an area several kilometers in diameter.

The NRC provides several recommendations:

  • A 100 kW Laser is of limited value, so the program's goal should be a 400 kW weapon.
  • The Army should proceed with the program in stages, focusing first on a rugged transportable platform for the weapon using existing 25 kW laser technology, then directing resources toward 100kW and 400 kW weapons.
  • The Army should perform a detailed, quantitative study of the effectiveness of a high energy, solid-state laser weapon against future threats.
  • The Army should continue to participate in U.S.-based and international research on high-energy lasers and related equipment. The committee found substantial benefits for the Army's solid-state laser program from other programs outside the Army.
  • The Army should conduct risk-assessments that investigate the effects that a high energy laser may have on other airborne platforms in the vicinity of the target. 
  • The Army should study eye safety for both the operators of the laser and for civilians. The results of these studies should be integrated into the development of the weapon.



 Strategy for Network Science


Strategy for an Army Center for Network Science, Technology, and Experimentation

The U.S. military has committed to a strategy of network-centric warfare. As a result, the Army has become increasingly interested in the critical role of network science. To a significant extent, this interest was stimulated by an earlier NRC report, Network Science. To build on that report, the Army asked the NRC to conduct a study to define advanced operating models and architectures for future Army laboratories and centers focused on network science, technologies, and experimentation (NSTE). The challenges resulting from base realignment and closure (BRAC) relocations of Army research, development, and engineering resources—as they affected the NSTE program—were also to be a focus of the study. This report provides a discussion of what NSTE is needed by the Army; an examination of the NSTE currently carried out by the Army; an assessment of needed infrastructure resources for Army NSTE; and an analysis of goals, models, and alternatives for an NSTE center.




 Network Science


Network Science

The U.S. Army depends on a broad array of interacting physical, informational, cognitive, and social networks. Nevertheless, fundamental understanding about these networks is primitive. This gap between what is known and what is needed to ensure the smooth operation of complex networks makes the Army's transformation to a force capable of network-centric operations (NCO) problematic. To help address this problem, the Army asked the National Research Council to find out whether identifying and funding �network science� research could help close this gap. This book presents an assessment of the importance and content of network science as it exists today. The book also provides an analysis of how the Army might advance the transformation to NCO operations by supporting fundamental research on networks. The study finds that networks are indispensable to the defense of the United States. In addition, there is no science today that offers the fundamental knowledge necessary to design large, complex networks in a predictable manner. The study also concluded that current federal funding of network research is focused on specific applications and not on advancing fundamental knowledge.


 Army Homeland Security C4ISR


Army Science and Technology for Homeland Security: Report 2–C4ISR

Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Army asked the National Research Council (NRC) to study how science and technology could assist the Army meet its Homeland defense obligations. The first report, Science and Technology for Army Homeland Security—Report 1, presented a survey of a broad range of technologies and recommended applying Future Force technologies to homeland security wherever possible. In particular, the report noted that the Army should play a major role in providing emergency command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities and that the technology and architecture needed for homeland security C4ISR was compatible with that of the Army’s Future Force. This second report focuses on C4ISR and how it can facilitate the Army’s efforts to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and emergency responders meet a catastrophic event.


 Energy Needs of Future Warriors


Meeting the Energy Needs of Future Warriors

The central characteristic of the evolution of the combat soldier in recent years is an increasingly sophisticated array of sensing, communications, and related electronics for use in battlefield situations. The most critical factor for maintaining this evolution will be the development of power supply systems capable of operating those electronics effectively for missions up to 72 hours long. To address the challenge, it is important that new approaches be sought on how to integrate and power these electronics. To assist in addressing this problem, the Army requested the National Research Council to review the state of the art and to recommend technologies that will support the rapid development of effective power systems for the future warrior. This report presents the results of that review. It provides an assessment of various technology options for different power level requirements, power system design, and soldier energy sinks. The report also describes future design concepts, focusing on low-power systems. Recommendations for technology development and system design are presented.  


 Army Homeland Security Report 1


Science and Technology for Army Homeland Security: Report 1

The confluence of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the U.S. Army�s historic role to support civil authorities has resulted in substantial new challenges for the Army. To help meet these challenges, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology requested the National Research Council (NRC) carry out a series of studies on how science and technology could assist the Army prepare for its role in homeland security (HLS). The NRC's Board on Army Science and Technology formed the Committee on Army Science and Technology for Homeland Security to accomplish that assignment. The Committee was asked to review relevant literature and activities, determine areas of emphasis for Army S&T in support of counter terrorism and anti-terrorism, and recommend high-payoff technologies to help the Army fulfill its mission. The Department of Defense Counter-Terrorism Technology Task Force identified four operational areas in reviewing technical proposals for HLS operations: indications and warning; denial and survivability; recovery and consequence management; and attribution and retaliation. The study sponsor asked the Committee to use these four areas as the basis for its assessment of the science and technology (S&T) that will be important for the Army's HLS role. Overall, the Committee found that: - There is potential for substantial synergy between S&T work carried out by the Army for its HLS responsibilities and the development of the next generation Army, the Objective Force. - The Army National Guard (ARNG) is critical to the success of the Army�s HLS efforts. 


 Unmanned Ground Vehicles


Technology Development for Army Unmanned Ground Vehicles

Unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) are expected to play a key role in the Army�s Objective Force structure. These UGVs would be used for weapons platforms, logistics carriers, and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition among other things. To examine aspects of the Army�s UGV program, assess technology readiness, and identify key issues in implementing UGV systems, among other questions, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study of UGV technologies. This report discusses UGV operational requirements, current development efforts, and technology integration and roadmaps to the future. Key recommendations are presented addressing technical content, time lines, and milestones for the UGV efforts. 


 Alternatives to Antipersonnel Landmines


Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines

This report examines potential technologies for replacing antipersonnel landmines by 2006, the target date the United States set in the late 1990s for signing an international treaty banning these weapons if suitable alternatives were available. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines emphasizes the role that technology can play to allow certain weapons to be used more selectively, reducing the danger to uninvolved civilians while improving the effectiveness of the U.S. military. Landmines are an important weapon in the U.S. military's arsenal but their indiscriminate nature poses risks to civilians and friendly forces. Some varieties remain active for many years, posing further risks of unintended casualties. New technologies could replace some, but not all, of the U.S. military's antipersonnel landmines by 2006. In the period following 2006, emerging technologies might eliminate landmines totally, while retaining the necessary functions that current mines provide to the military.

 Opportunities in Biotechnology


Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army Applications

"...accessible yet technical. excellent overview of biotechnology applications - with an excellent selection of non-pharmaceutical uses. excellent resource for anyone seeking to understand the tools, techniques,and applications of biotechnology. The extensive coverage of non-pharmaceutical applications and the focus on leading-edge science make this book especially useful for readers seeking a broad view of current and future research areas of biotechnology."
-- Biotech Book Reviews


 Deployed Forces-Detecting


Strategies to Protect the Health of Deployed U.S. Forces: Detecting, Characterizing, and Documenting Exposures

 Deployed Forces-Force Protection


Strategies to Protect the Health of Deployed U.S. Forces: Force Protection and Decontamination

 Reducing the Logistics Burden


Reducing the Logistics Burden for the Army After Next: Doing More with Less

 Tech-Based Pilot Programs


Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces

 Mass Spec at ERDEC


Review of Mass Spectrometry and Bioremediation Programs of the Edgewood Research, Development and Engineering Center

 Assessment of Natick RDEC


Assessment of the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development, and Engineering Center

 Energy Efficient Technologies


Energy Efficient Technologies for the Dismounted Soldier

This book documents electric power requirements for the dismounted soldier on future Army battlefields, describes advanced energy concepts, and provides an integrated assessment of technologies likely to affect limitations and needs in the future. It surveys technologies associated with both supply and demand including: energy sources and systems; low power electronics and design; communications, computers, displays, and sensors; and networks, protocols, and operations. Advanced concepts discussed are predicated on continued development by the Army of soldier systems similar to the Land Warrior system on which the committee bases its projections on energy use. Finally, the volume proposes twenty research objectives to achieve energy goals in the 2025 time frame.



Technical Assessment of the Man-In-Simulant Test (MIST) Program

 Worls Class R&D


World-Class Research and Development: Characteristics for an Army Research, Development, and Engineering Organization

 Multimedia Technologies


Commercial Multimedia Technologies for Twenty-First Century Army Battlefields

This book responds to an request by the U.S. Army to study the applicability of commercial multimedia technologies to command, control, communications and intelligence needs on future battlefields. After reviewing Army's needs and discussing relevant commercial technologies within the context of a generic architecture, the book recommends approaches for meeting the Army's needs. Battlefield potential is illustrated, and--drawing on lessons learned from the private sector--a technology management strategy consisting of specific recommendations to the Army is provided. The key to future benefits is for the Army to accommodate the rapid changes taking place in the commercial world of multimedia technologies.


 Army Research Laboratory


The Army Research Laboratory: Alternative Organizational and Management Options
 STAR 21

STAR 21: Strategic Technologies for the Army of the Twenty-First Century (Summary of subgroup reports which were published separately)

The STAR 21 effort produced a multi-volume assessment, over two years, of the strategic technologies needed for a dominant Twenty-First Century Army. The above like leads to the main publication. The subgroup reports, published separately, are:

STAR 21: Electronic Systems (1994)
STAR 21: Personnel Systems (1994)
STAR 21: Support Systems (1994)
STAR 21: Technology Management and Development Planning (1994)
STAR 21: Airborne Systems (1993)
STAR 21: Health and Medical Systems (1993)
STAR 21: Lethal Systems (1993)
STAR 21: Special Technologies and Systems (1993)
STAR 21: Technology Forecast Assessments (1993)
STAR 21: Mobility Systems (1992)
STAR 21: Strategic Technologies for the Army of the Twenty-First Century—book and booklet (1992)

Dramatic political and economic changes throughout the world, coupled with rapid advances in technology, pose an important question for the U.S. Army: What technologies are best suited to defending U.S. interests against tomorrow's military threats?
STAR 21 provides an expert analysis of how the Army can prepare itself for the battlefield of the future--where soldiers will wear "smart" helmets and combat chemical warfare with vaccines produced in days to counter new threats.
This book summarizes emerging developments in robotics, "brillant" munitions, medical support, laser sensors, biotechnolgy, novel materials, and other key areas. Taking into account reliability, deployability, and other values that all military systems will need, the volume identifies new systems and emerging technologies that offer the greatest payoff for the Army.
The volume addresses a host of important military issues, including the importance of mobile, rapidly deployable forces, the changing role of the helicopter, and how commercial technology may help the Army stay ahead of potential opponents.
Alternative Selection, Doubleday's Military Book Club

 "This book is wide ranging and uninhibited. This review can only give a flavour of the many areas of technology it covers . . . . It is highly recommended, both to weapons and general staff officers and those with an interest in military technology. A copy of this book should be in every military library." --Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies Journal (UK)




Assessment of the Implications of Present and Future Space Systems for the Army (U)



Panel on Tactical Explosive System (Letter Report)



Achieving Leadership in Materials Technology for the Army of the Future

Committee on Vulnerability Analysis Phase I (Letter Report)

Committee on Vulnerability Analysis Phase II (Letter Report)

Energetic Materials for Military Purposes: An Assessment




Foreign Production of Electronic Components and Army Systems Vulnerabilities



The Professional Environment in Army Laboratories and its Effect on Scientific and Engineering Performance



Assessment of an Evaluation by the U.S. Army of Commercial Calibration Equipment