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Interview with Program Director for Light Armored Vehicles & Stryker Summit, Nick Petti

The 10th annual Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) & Stryker Summit, will be held from the 14th to the 16th of November, 2011. To be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill Washington DC, the summit seeks to deliver the latest information regarding agile and adaptive light vehicle platforms, advancements in integrated and interoperable systems, and new capabilities for providing fast and lethal troop support in any environment at any time. Highlighted at this event will be the many opportunities for development and growth in the domestic and international light armored vehicles industry. 

Some of the issues that will be discussed include developing capabilities requirements and upgrades for the LAV and Stryker platforms. Similarly, issues such as reducing weight while increasing speed, lethality and survivability will be highlighted. And how to achieve a true force multiplier through collaboration, co-ordination, and communication. Finally, international LAV efforts and capabilities for joint operations and analyzing the latest priorities and requirements for industry providers will be discussed. 

This year’s LAV & Stryker Summit will have a range of distinguished speakers that will talk on the emerging requirements and needed capabilities for the LAV and Stryker platforms. These include 

Colonel Brian Buckles, USMC, Program Manager, LAV, Marine Corps Systems Command

David Dopp, USA, Project Manager, Stryker Brigade Combat Team

Lieutenant Colonel R.G. McKinstry, NZDF, Land Combat Capability Manager, NZLAV, New Zealand

Major Pierre Larivee, DND, Project Director, LAV III, Land Forces Command, Canada

Major Vít Ducháček, ACR, Program Manager, KBVP, Land Forces Development, Czech Republic

LTC Maxi Blum (Ret), Israeli Defense Forces

Colonel (ret) Jack Stiglich Ph.D, President, Advanced Materials Associates

Captain Carlos Flores, Commanding Officer, Company B, 1st LAR BN

Master Sergeant Alfred Lukus, Operations Chief, Company B, 1st LAR BN

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Roberson, Deputy Director, Logistics, PM Stryker

Cliff Harmon, SDDC-TEA, Deployability Engineering Branch, US Army

Eric Thorstensen, Director, Grote Industries

Mike Buchen, President and CEO, SkyDex Technologies, Inc

Dr. Tom Nosker, Principal Investigator, AMIPP Professor, Department of Ceramic and Materials Engineering, Rutgers University

John Engbloom, Head, LAV Platform Upgrades Team, Marine Corps Systems Command

Kurt Koch, Mob/C-Mobility Section, Fires & Maneuver, Integration Division

David Kiernan, Vice President & Managing Director, Global Seating Systems

Dr. John Simpson, Senior Research Scientist, Oak Ridge National Lab

Uday Vaidya, PhD, Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham

There will also be exclusive briefings on platform integration and technological improvements for future upgrades, warfighter perspective and lessons learned from current operations, international needs and capabilities for joint operations and coalition support and active and passive armor protection systems and IED solutions.
Last year’s LAV & Stryker Summit – the ninth to be held – proved invaluable to participants. “This has become one of the most exciting LAV and Stryker Summits IDGA has ever produced. With such esteemed experts as Col Brian Buckles and LTC Aaron D Roberson on the speaker roster, we’ve seen a lot of interest from the LAV and Stryker communities,” said event producer Michelle Cardinal after last year’s event.
Some of the key topics to be discussed include the future of light armored vehicles, increasing vehicles and personnel survivability, the Stryker program strategy and reducing weight without compromising survivability. “IDGA has been producing this event for so many years,” Cardinal continued, “that we have the advantage of really knowing our audience and understanding the topics that are most pertinent to them. I think you can clearly see that reflected in the agenda.” 

The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA) is a non-partisan information-based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense through live conferences and events. IDGA’s Light Armored Vehicles & Stryker Summit has become the ‘must attend”’ event for the international LAV community. Military, industry, and others attend each year to discuss areas such as armor, communications, firepower, drive trains, battery power, and other important components to the family of LAVs. The summit also provides a forum for military and industry to network and forge new partnerships and solutions.

AI: What are some of the highlights of this year’s LAV & Stryker summit?
I’m really excited about this year’s event. We decided to bring in a couple international program managers for light armored vehicles. This is something that we have not done in the past and should really add a new facet to this annual summit. Having representatives from Israel, Czech Republic, Canada and New Zealand will give us an idea of the global requirements and expanding capabilities for these platforms. The whole point of the summit is to get ideas flowing and eventually use those ideas to support the Warfighter. With these new unique perspectives in the mix, I think we can come up with some exciting new directions we can take these vehicles.
AI: What kind of participation are you expecting – how does this differ from previous years?
With the new focus on international presenters, we are tracking to have higher foreign military participation than years past. I have a also been working with some of the Marine Corps LAR battalions to have them on-site. Having these two groups in the same room with industry should build an all encompassing, realistic view of the future of the platforms.
AI: Tell us a little about the profile of participants at the summit.
All sorts of industry participants across the military vehicle universe will be there to participate, from the vehicle manufacturers themselves to material composite manufacturers. Many people are unaware of how many companies it takes to build these complete platforms. The level of industry and military cooperation and coordination is extensive in order to create the perfect vehicle for our troops. This summit is an opportunity for all of those involved to meet in person and continue that cooperation.
AI: Tell us about the issues facing the LAV and Stryker platforms?
A lot of the issues we are seeing now have a lot to do with blast protection. With IEDs causing 80% of the casualties in OEF, it is important that are vehicles are able to protect the troops they carry without becoming to heavy and therefore losing the edge they have in agility. Ensuring that Light Armored Vehicles are true force multipliers is not an easy task. Size, weight, and power are tradeoffs that must be given serious consideration. This is not the only challenge however. With legacy platforms, continuous upgrades and improvements can cause interoperability chaos. Making sure systems work together across the board is imperative and not easy to accomplish. These amongst other challenges will be discussed in depth at the summit.

AI: How does the summit help resolve these challenges?
Having our presenters in the room with all the major players in the space opens up doors for discussions about possible solutions. Warfighters, Program Managers, and Industry at all levels can talk about the different solutions currently available in the market and work towards an acquisition strategy to make these changes possible. If a solution is not available, our representatives from academia and industry can work towards creating one.
AI: Give us an overview of the topics that will be discussed by the panel of speakers at the summit.
The event is focused on the LAV25 and Stryker platforms. The speakers will be discussing these vehicles from 3 primary points of view. We have the program managers of the platforms who will give a big picture view of the developing needs and capability requirements as well as the road ahead after OEF. Under them are the branch heads within the program offices that will focus on armor solutions, survivability, logistics, etc. Really allowing the delegates to get an ‘in the weeds’ look at all the current challenges and opportunities facing how the platform performs in theater. We then have the Warfighters, who will give their personal perspective, talk about their needs and lessons learned from the fight.
AI: What kind of international participation does the LAV & Stryker summit attract?
This year we are honored to have Israel, Czech Republic, Canada and New Zealand as part of our speaker roster. These program managers and the international delegates should give a good perspective on platforms that we normally don’t discuss, such as the Pandur II.

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