Correctly applying the wonders of technology to long-standing, intractable warfare problems, making sure that "the right (and also affordable) stuff' ends up in the hands of the warfighters—and doing all of this within a compressed time frame that beats traditional procurement schedules by years—is challenging, to say the least. Attacking these challenges head-on is the mission of the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) program, run by the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Advanced Technology.
The process assesses a system's military utility in an operational environment with continuous interaction between warfighter and developer. Fifteen "novel" countermine technologies were demonstrated in two major joint exercises using an assessment architecture designed by the U.S. Atlantic Command, recently (1 October 1999) redesignated the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Adding bells and whistles to a training evolution can be a recipe for disaster, but detailed coordination can lead to a big payoff.