By Marc Krauss
Shaping the battlefield, and thus shaping the terrain, has been doctrine for how to execute large-scale ground operations. Obstacles play a vital role in this process, providing friendly forces the freedom of maneuver while limiting the enemy’s ability to do the same.
The Product Manager for Terrain Shaping Obstacles, based at Picatinny Arsenal, completed a Close Terrain Shaping Obstacle July 24 and 25 at Fort Leonard Wood as part of its ongoing mission to develop the revolutionary next generation of terrain-shaping munitions.
The ability to shape terrain is a key enabler for maneuver and needed capabilities across the Army modernization priorities of long-range precision fires, next generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift and Soldier lethality.
The Picatinny-based PM-TSO, formerly the Product Manager for Gator Landmine Replacement, is part of the Project Manager for Close Combat Systems, which is an element of the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition.
The Soldier Touch Point was completed with the 595th Sapper Company, 5th Engineer Battalion. The event brought together Soldiers, along with government and industry partners to evaluate two, terrain-shaping obstacle prototypes.
CTSO will be developed in accordance with U.S. landmine policy and will begin the modernization of the Army’s terrain shaping capabilities. Eventually, newer capabilities will replace the fielded family of scatterable mines systems, which were developed in the mid-1980s through the late 1990s, and provided obstacle capability for the close-in, mid- and far-ranges.
Soldiers with 595th Sapper Company were given a CTSO system capabilities overview, followed by the opportunity to use CTSO remote control station software, manually palletized, transported, and emplaced near net weight, and shape Top Attack munition Dispenser Launcher Module inert devices.
The Soldiers were split into two groups. Each group met with industry representatives to review their proposed CTSO designs and features.
“This was a great event to see what is getting developed and produced for future Engineer Soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Sargent, 595th Sapper Co. “The industry representatives really appreciated our feedback and continually asked questions about what features we liked and disliked.”
Candid Soldier feedback was captured throughout the event in the form of impromptu questions and answer session, written surveys, and after-action reviews. Soldier feedback identified many readily adaptable changes that would provide improvements to system performance and reduced Soldier burden during employment.
The future TSOs will feature Top Attack and Bottom Attack munitions with Command and Control features, along with an RCS integrated tablet to activate and deactivate the munition systems on demand.
Lt. Col. Phillip Poteet, the product manager for Terrain Shaping Obstacles, provided 14 model DLMs from each industry partner to simulate handling, palletization and transportation of the two designs. Transport of the DLMs was accomplished with an M113 and PLS vehicles.
“Direct Soldier involvement is an essential key element to developing the next generation of terrain-shaping obstacles,” Poteet said. “Our industry partners had nothing but praise for the Soldiers depth of knowledge and expertise.”
The ability to conduct a detailed terrain analysis, obstacle planning, and logistical planning would greatly reduce the time it usually takes, plus reduce the current number of systems in the command post.
The information gathered in this event will positively impact the PM CCS fielding of the future CTSO Top Attack Munition within the Army Terrain Shaping Modernization Plan, as well as planned future CTSO increments, Poteet said.
(Editor’s note: Krauss is the Close Combat Systems program manager at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.)