WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s chief technology office kicked off a weeklong experimentation campaign to demonstrate technologies that can be quickly fielded to military users.
The event, dubbed Technology Experimentation 2023 or TREX, runs from May 16 to 24 at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. Hosted in partnership with the Indiana National Guard, it will support the Pentagon’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which funds promising prototypes that can meet near-term needs.
“A key attribute of RDER is the focus on a campaign of experimentation that enables the collection of a body of evidence to accelerate technology transition to the field,” Thomas Browning, deputy chief technology officer for mission capabilities, said in a May 17 press release. “TREX is integral to the success of this enduring campaign of experiments.”
Joint warfighting is a key part of the Pentagon’s science and technology strategy, released this month, and RDER is one of its primary means of achieving that. The department created the experimentation fund in 2021 to address high-need capability gaps shared across the military services. Since then, it has crafted plans demonstration sprints focused in three areas: long-range fires contested logistics and base defense.
The program requested $687 million for RDER in its fiscal 2024 budget, nearly double the $358 million it asked for last year. Congress appropriated $272 million for the program in FY23 and $34 million the previous year for the effort.
This first TREX experimentation campaign will assess the utility and performance of six technology prototypes in a “disaster scenario” that requires military forces to establish communications. The prototypes – which include signal devices and cyber, protection, surveillance, counterintelligence and reconnaissance capabilities – are expected to operate within the scenario “to protect their operators and ensure a successful evacuation of non-combatants,” the Pentagon said in the release.
Companies large and small are also showcasing military technology at TREX that aligns with RDER focus areas. More than 30 companies and government organizations are participating in the event.
Along with the experimentation and technology exposition aspects of TREX, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is participating in the exercises to train for an upcoming deployment.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.