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United States Army Research Laboratory

Before the forming of the ARL, the United States Army had research facilities dating back to 1820 when the laboratory at Watertown Arsenal, Massachusetts, studied pyrotechnics and waterproof paper cartridges. This facility would evolve into the Materials Technology Laboratory. Most pre-WWII military research occurred within the military by military personnel, but in 1945, the Army published a policy affirming the need for civilian scientific contributions in military planning and weapons production. Non-military involvement before this time was frequent; however, methods for contribution to warfare technology was on limited and incidental basis. On June 11, 1946, a new research and development division of the War Department General Staff was created; however, due to internal forces within the military which supported the traditional technical service structure the division was closed. A variety of reorganizations took place over the next four decades, which put many organizations in command of Army research and development. Often commanders of these organizations were advocates of the reorganization, while some middle level management was opposed to the change.
The Army Research Office (ARO), located in Research Triangle Park, funds extramural basic research, that is, research in outside academic and industrial organizations, providing grants to both single investigators and university-affiliated research centers, as well as outreach programs.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED) is the principal Army organization for research and development (R&D) in the human dimension. HRED conducts a broad-based program of scientific research and technology directed toward optimizing Soldier performance and Soldier-machine interactions to maximize battlefield effectiveness. HRED also executes an analysis mission that provides the Army with human factors leadership to ensure that Soldier performance requirements are adequately considered in technology development and system design. HRED coordinates technologies within the Army, other services and their laboratories, industry, and academia to leverage basic and applied research opportunities for the benefit of the Army.
The Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate (SLAD) is the primary center for expertise in survivability, lethality, and vulnerability of all army systems, across the full range of battlefield threats: ballistic, electronic warfare, information operations, and nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. SLAD's mission is to assist technology and system developers in optimizing system designs and to provide analytical data to evaluators and decision makers in the Army and the DOD.
Beginning in 1996, the Army Research Laboratory entered into innovative cooperative agreements with industrial and academic partners to form "federated laboratories," or "FedLabs", to perform research in broad areas important to the U.S. Army where the ARL could extract significant leverage from work being performed in the commercial and academic arenas. The first three FedLabs were in Advanced Displays, Advanced Sensors, and Telecommunications. Each FedLab was a large consortium of companies, universities, and non-profit organizations, with both an overall industrial leader and an ARL leader. The cooperative agreements forming the FedLabs were somewhat unusual in that the ARL was not a mere funder of research, but an active consortium participant. The first three FedLabs won a National Performance Award in 1999 from then-Vice President Al Gore.