The Army’s modernization plan establishes a blueprint to develop and field a versatile and affordable mix of equipment that will allow Soldiers and units to succeed in full-spectrum operations today and to maintain their decisive advantage over any enemy.
The Army has evaluated its modernization program portfolios, set priorities within them, and continually improves its acquisition program.
In improving the programs and processes, the Army has four major lines of effort:
- Develop and acquire new capabilities to meet capability gaps through traditional and rapid acquisition processes.
- Sustain existing equipment to extend its useful life.
- Procure unique equipment for immediate capability needs.
- Field and distribute capabilities in accordance with Army priorities and the Army Force Generation model.
The Army’s strategy-based priorities for modernized equipment are to network the force, deter and defeat hybrid threats, and protect and empower Soldiers. In particular, the Army needs to continue to close capability gaps in cross-country mobility, protection, and enhancing the squad. The equipment in the Army’s FY12 budget request strikes a balance between current and future needs and provides the basis for an affordable equipping strategy over time.
Also, the Army has developed governance structures and initiatives to implement these lines of effort and to drive capability development, programming, acquisition, and sustainment in an integrated and synchronized manner.
The Army will continue to collect and incorporate lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan to inform future acquisition and to prepare and equip our Soldiers and units for current operations, as well as maintaining full-spectrum capability for an unpredictable future. Also, the Army will continue to improve its processes to more effectively manage the resources provided for developing and employing innovative ways to equip, thus saving resources in some areas to allow investments in others while positioning our forces for success.
The Army has the obligation to provide, develop, field, and resource an affordable and interoperable mix of the best equipment available for Soldiers to succeed in current and future operations. This new strategy for equipping the force in the 21st century will ensure that the Army can provide and sustain adaptable, networked, and affordable capabilities to forces, enabling success in their assigned missions across the spectrum of operations.
For more information, visit https://www.g8.army.mil.
Update on FY12 Contracting Certification Changes
The Army Deputy Director of Acquisition Career Management is seeking a reprieve to the Defense Acquisition University contracting curriculum changes, scheduled to go in effect October 1.
The following alternative plans are under consideration: extensions that would allow workforce members to complete their certification training under the current FY11 Contracting Certification requirements; an extended grace period to meet experience requirements; and permission for those to complete training already in progress.
More up-to-date information will be provided once the vetting process is concluded.
Defense Acquisition University Updates
Registration is open for FY12 Defense Acquisition University (DAU) courses. Students should continue to apply through the Army Training Requirements and Resources Internet Training Application System (AITAS) at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas.
DAU is working diligently to resume normal operation of the Online Learning Management System (LMS). Its three-phase approach is designed to ensure that the is up and running smoothly:
- Phase 1—A temporary site with limited functionality and capacity has been set up to accommodate students who are enrolled in classroom course offerings and who require online courses as a prerequisite (ACQ 201A, BCF 106, CON 112, CON 214, CLC 056, LOG 200, LOG 235, PMT 352A, PQM 201A, SYS 202, or TST 102). In other words, students who need the online courses for their classroom training are getting first priority. Students were notified by DAU on Aug. 10 with directions to access the temporary site by using their DOD Common Access Cards (CACs). DAU was successful in getting the first tranche of students in Phase 1.
- Phase 2—Full capacity by mid-September, with an interface that will offer students CAC access to all online courses, including the continuous learning modules.
- Phase 3—Full operational capability, with a new security-hardened LMS for all users by December.
The timeframe for DAU course cancellations has changed from five business days to 30 calendar days from the date the student receives a reservation. Cancellations for a confirmed reservation must be received at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier. Cancellations submitted after that deadline must have general officer or Senior Executive Service member approval, per Department of the Army DAU Training Policy and Procedures signed April 18, 2011. U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) students must cancel at least 45 calendar days before the start of the class. Please view AMC memo and DA DAU training policy and procedures at http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training/documents. Please send an email directly to AMC.CourseCancellations@us.army.mil. (This is the correct email address, not the one included in the memo.)
On March 25, the Director for Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy released a memorandum on “Upcoming Changes to the Contracting Curriculum in Fiscal Year 2012.” The changes affect the certification requirements for acquisition workforce members in contracting-coded positions. The Deputy Director for Acquisition Career Management provided supplemental guidance for the FY12 contracting changes. Please view the changes and recommendations at http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training/fy12-new-contracting-changes.
To address the shortfall in Level II contracting classes, six commercial vendors and four universities offer CON 215, 217, and 218 equivalent classes. The vendors will continue to teach the FY11 courses in FY12.The courses are valid predecessors to the new FY12 courses until Sept. 30, 2013. For more information on equivalencies, please visit the DAU website http://icatalog.dau.mil/appg.aspx. If you are unable to obtain CON 215, 217, and/or 218 during FY11 and would like to use Section 852 funds to pay for an equivalent provider, the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) now offers these courses. If a course is approved for training by the command, the Section 852/ Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund program manager for that command will request funding from the USAASC Section 852 manager by submitting a Program Request Form for FY11, found at https://www.usaasc.info/section852_cms. The point of contact is Chandra Evans Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To address the shortfall in Level II business, cost, and financial management (BCFM) courses, the Army is placing only first-priority students into available BCFM classes. Level II courses are available on the FY12 schedule. DAU has expanded class size from 24 to 28-30 for current FY11 and all FY12 course offerings, specifically in the following courses: BCF 203, BCF 205, BCF 206, BCF 211 and BCF 215. An additional 680 seats were added to the FY12 schedule with additional offerings and increased class size. The demand stems from a temporary surge of BCFM certification requirements, along with an increase in BCFM workforce members who need certification. For experienced BCFM personnel, fulfillment of the course is recommended. For more information, go to http://icatalog.dau.mil/DAUFulfillmentPgm.aspx.
DAU has successfully procured a new commercial-off-the-shelf Student Information System (SIS) to replace the current distinct DAU registration systems. The system, named PORTICO, is web-based and will interface with DAU and DOD systems, AITAS, and the Career Acquisition Management Portal/Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System. Army workforce members will be able to authenticate via their CAC. PORTICO will standardize functionality and capability for all services. It will allow more transparency and the latest status information for students applying for DAU courses. The system is in the Business Requirements Review phase, with initial operating capability slated for July 2012 and full operating capability in January 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.dau.mil/sis/default.aspx.
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USMRMC) marked a major advance against the disease cutaneous leishmaniasis when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of a new diagnostic test developed by a partnership of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA), and the molecular diagnostics company Cepheid USA Inc.
On the treatment front, USAMMDA continues to work with the Tunisian Ministry of Public Health and the Institute Pasteur of Tunis to develop the Paromomycin/Gentamicin Topical Cream for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis. Because there is no topical treatment approved by the FDA, U.S. service members have to be evacuated from the theater of operations to be treated with expensive and often toxic intravenous therapies. An approved topical treatment would allow physicians to prescribe the topical cream for service members, allowing them to treat their own cutaneous leishmaniasis in theater and return to duty quickly.
Leishmaniasis is endemic throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. It is caused by single-cell organisms transmitted by the bite of the tiny sand fly. Cutaneous leishmaniasis, the most common form of the disease, affects more than 1 million people a year worldwide. About 3,000 U.S. service members have been infected since 2003, primarily troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although not considered life-threatening, cutaneous leishmaniasis can cause disfiguring skin ulcers that take months to heal. If left untreated, it results in potentially disfiguring scars and occasionally can progress to the less common and much more serious mucocutaneous and visceral forms of leishmaniasis.
USAMRMC worked for several years to develop the SMART Leish PCR assay for people with signs and symptoms of leishmaniasis. Up to this point, there were no FDA-cleared devices to diagnose cutaneous leishmaniasis. Traditional testing methods require a small tissue sample of the skin ulcer lesion. These samples are examined by microscopy and culture to determine the presence of the intracellular form of the leishmania parasites, called amastigotes. These traditional testing methods can take anywhere from 30 minutes (for staining and microscopy) to four weeks (for cultures) to produce results.
In contrast, the SMART Leish PCR is a qualitative test that uses a real-time polymerase chain reaction to amplify genetic sequences unique to the organism that causes cutaneous leishmaniasis. Samples are acquired from skin lesions in the same way as for traditional methods.
“The Smart Leish Real-Time PCR assay can provide consistent results within hours of sample receipt, even when the numbers of parasites in the skin are so low that microscopy and culture results will be negative at Day 30. This allows for timely treatment of the disease,” said Lisa Hochberg, Department Chief of Molecular Diagnostics, Division of Entomology at WRAIR.
The new assay will be part of the battery of tests run at the Leishmania Diagnostic Laboratory in WRAIR’s Division of Experimental Therapeutics. “In the near future, this assay may be utilized at additional strategically located DOD medical facilities,” said COL Max Grogl, Director of the division.
According to Hochberg, this assay represents the first FDA-cleared, real-time PCR diagnostic device for infectious diseases that was developed and cleared by the Department of the Army. WRAIR developed the intellectual property for this assay and licensed it to Cepheid USA, which manufactures the Smart Cycler, primers, and probes for the SMART Leish test.
USAMMDA played two roles in helping to forward the development of the assay, serving as the sponsor’s representative for the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army and as the advanced development program management office, said Product Manager Louis Jasper. Its Division of Regulated Activities and Compliance provided regulatory oversight and guidance throughout the product’s development.
In coordination with the USAMRMC Integrated Product Team and commercial partner, the Pharmaceutical Systems Project Management Office provided funding and leadership to mature the SMART Leish PCR assay from the technology base through advanced development.
Meanwhile, USAMMDA’s ongoing work with the Tunisian Ministry of Public Health and the Institute Pasteur of Tunis to develop the Paromomycin/Gentamicin Topical Cream for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis has shifted in focus from the need to demonstrate that topical paromomycin is safe and effective, to the manufacturing and commercialization of the product, said COL Russell Coleman, Commander of USAMMDA.
“From the beginning, the Tunisians understood we were fighting a common enemy—cutaneous leishmaniasis,” Grogl said. “Access to endemic areas is fundamental to the conduct of pivotal trials that comply with current Good Clinical Practices.”
The population of Tunisia is significantly affected by cutaneous leishmaniasis, with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases per year, straining the resources of the Tunisian health system. The current standard of care for cutaneous leishmaniasis in Tunisia is intralesional injections of the toxic antimonial compound Glucantime. This treatment is especially painful in children, who are predominantly affected by the disease.
The nearly 10-year collaboration among USAMRMC, the Institute Pasteur of Tunis, and the Tunisian Ministry of Health has resulted in the successful conduct of three clinical trials of the Paromomycin/Gentamicin cream in Tunisia: two Phase 2 trials and an ongoing Phase 3 pivotal efficacy trial. The Phase 3 trial will provide a critical part of the clinical data package that will be submitted to the FDA for approval of this product.
The Phase 3 trial has taken on particular significance amid the political unrest in Tunisia. The Tunisian revolution began in the town of Sidi Bouzid, which is also the location of the central clinic for the Phase 3 trial. The Tunisian study team has gone to great lengths to ensure that the study continued uninterrupted without jeopardizing the safety and welfare of the study subjects or the quality of the results.
“Total trust and respect are a great gift and a sign of a mature and healthy collaboration. This was a fantastic opportunity to work in probably the most neglected of the neglected diseases,” Grogl said.
Additional information about leishmaniasis is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/leishmaniasis.
- CAREY PHILLIPS is the USAMMDA Public Affairs Officer at Fort Detrick, MD. She holds a B.A. in communication arts from Framingham State College and is pursuing an M.S. in management/marketing from the University of Maryland University College.
WASHINGTON–Nineteen members of the acquisition workforce were among 263 federal employees, spanning 23 government agencies, that graduated from the Excellence in Government Fellows (EIGF) program at a graduation luncheon held in their honor at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Aug 18.
The EIGF program is a year-long leadership development program designed to build and enhance the skills of government employees to help them increase their effectiveness in their positions and to work toward becoming an executive. The program is organized by the Partnership for Public Service, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that aims to help revitalize the federal government.
“Over the course of a year, what we try to do is remind folks of the importance of public service. We refocus the emphasis on public service. It’s a personal vision and a mission statement. It’s thinking about how that aligns with the work of the agency,” said Tom Fox, Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at Partnership for Public Service.
There are seven sessions over the course of the program year. Conducted about six weeks apart, each three-day session centers on a particular topic or theme. In each session, students are introduced to key theories and content associated with the selected topic. Practitioners from the private and public sectors that have implemented the strategies speak to the classes and explain how they make the transition from learning the skills in the classroom to implementing them into their work. The students are also given opportunities to practice the skills through interactive exercises and year-end projects.
“We surveyed all of the best practices in the private and public sector and developed a program that includes everything from formal classroom training, 360 degree assessments, executive coaching, and site visits to high-performing benchmark organizations, and mentoring and peer networking,” Fox said.
“It’s a leadership training opportunity. The participants focus on how to be a leader and how to enhance their leadership skills,” said Gloria King, Acquisition Training and Education Manager at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC).
The individual federal agencies are charged with selecting the candidates for the EIGF program. In the case of USAASC, applications are accepted from workforce members who meet the criteria for the program. Those candidates are referred to a selection board for evaluation and recommendation. The board is a three-person panel composed of senior level individuals from the major commands. The board members review applications and make recommendations to Mr. Craig Spisak, Deputy Director, Acquisition Career Management (DDACM) for the final selection of students for the program.
Those who have completed the EIGF program explain that it not only teaches and enhances leadership skills, but also provides the opportunity to interact with employees of other government agencies.
“This program was amazing because it was government wide. We could build off of other agencies and people who have similar projects or problems within the Department of Defense,” said Kerry Henry, Chief, Technology and Prototyping Division, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ammunition, who graduated from the EIGF program on Thursday. “It was also great to step out of the work environment, learn new skills and take what we learned and put it back into the workplace.”
Wen Lin, Acquisition Training Development Manager at USAASC, completed the program in 2010 and has been able to implement those strategies into her current position.
“You are able to see what’s been done that works well and not so well. Then you can benchmark your organization. I’ve been able see what good leaders have done and apply that to my job,” Lin said.
With smaller budgets and an increased emphasis on streamlining efficiencies, Fox explained that the EIGF program has taken on an elevated meaning.
“Right now, programs like this are really important, not just to the individuals, but to the organizations,” he said. “The problems confronting our country are getting more difficult. So let’s make sure folks are ready to tackle these problems successfully because we need an effective and efficient government.”
Rift Valley fever death toll on the rise
(Pretoria News, May 7, 2010)
Economic losses from Rift Valley fever greater than previous documented
(ILRI Clippings, Oct. 10, 2010)
Epidemiologists now have a tool that might make such tragic headlines a thing of the past. The Military Infectious Diseases Research Program, part of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and VecTOR Test Systems Inc. have developed a diagnostic device that can detect the presence of the Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus in mosquitoes, thus alerting deploying troops to its presence and enabling public health officials to prevent or mitigate the spread of disease.
RVF is a mosquito-borne viral disease that poses a significant health risk, primarily to livestock but also to humans. Epidemiologists have been aware of RVF since first isolating the virus in Kenya in 1931. Over the decades, the virus has spread throughout sub-Saharan and North Africa and beyond the continent’s borders to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Health officials openly wonder whether RVF could strike Southern Europe or even the United States.
Scientists believe the virus persists in nature because infected female Aedes mosquitoes transmit it to their eggs. The infected eggs lay dormant until excessive rainfall, when they hatch and produce infected adult mosquitoes that can initiate an outbreak. Secondary vectors, such as Culex mosquitoes, also reproduce rapidly during heavy rains and contribute to disease outbreaks among animals (known as epizootics).
Forces at increased risk include personnel operating in the Horn of Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to combat terrorism and to thwart piracy. The most vulnerable human populations are farmers and herders who live near canals, rice fields, and other wet zones where mosquitoes proliferate. In animals, RVF causes acute hepatitis and spontaneous abortion in infected livestock, leading to steep mortality rates and substantial economic losses. Once authorities declare an epidemic, they immediately prohibit all animal exports. Such bans cause further economic hardship, particularly for developing countries that depend on livestock for their livelihood. For Somalia, where livestock accounts for more than 80 percent of export earnings, extended bans can be devastating. Losses totaled $109 million during a ban there from February 1998 to May 1999 and another $326 million from September 2000 to December 2002.
Sick livestock infect other mosquito species, which then transmit the virus to humans. People can also contract RVF by coming into contact with the meat or blood of infected animals. Mild cases of human RVF present with flulike symptoms. In some cases, the patient can develop retinal degeneration, which may lead to blindness. In severe cases, the patient can develop encephalitis or even hemorrhagic complications, which kill up to half of those who contract the disease.
In 1997, 300 Kenyans died from what researchers suspect was a hemorrhagic form of RVF. Determining actual infection rates on the African continent can be challenging, as populations often live far from medical care. No treatments or licensed vaccines exist for human RVF, only palliative care; thus, accurate and reliable diagnostic methods are critical.
The new test kit, developed by VecTOR with funding from the Small Business Innovative Research program and the Military Infectious Disease Research Program, is a handheld dipstick assay that determines whether field-collected mosquitoes are infected with RVF virus. Providing results in less than 20 minutes, it is easy to use and does not require the use of a laboratory with containment facilities. Another big plus is that the test does not require refrigeration, a particular concern in the tropics. As long as the dipsticks are kept within their original containers, they remain stable for two or more years.
The test kits allow early detection of infected mosquitoes, which enables military planners and public health officials to initiate preventive action, including mosquito control operations, administering animal vaccines, restricting the movement of livestock and warning against contact with infected animals. Officials can also distribute mosquito nets and repellents to the public and forewarn local hospitals. On the military side, relevant agencies can issue such proven preventive measures as repellent and insecticide-treated uniforms and netting.
The validation process for VecTOR’s RVF virus assay was a joint effort among researchers from the Entomology Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Virology Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit, Kenya.
- LTC JASON RICHARDSON is Director of the Entomology Branch at WRAIR. He holds a B.S. in biology from Vanderbilt University, an M.S. in medical entomology from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Colorado State University. Richardson is Level I certified in science and technology and a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps.
- DR. MICHAEL TURELL is a Research Entomologist in the Virology Division at USAMRIID. He holds a B.S. and M.S in entomology from Cornell University, an M.P.H in epidemiology from Tulane University, and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. Turell is a board-certified medical entomologist.
- CPT ELIZABETH WANJA is a Research Entomologist in the Entomology Branch at WRAIR. She holds a B.S in zoology and an M.S. in applied entomology and parasitology from the University of Jos, Nigeria; an M.S. in medical entomology from Michigan State University; and a Ph.D. in environmental biology, majoring in entomology, from the University of Guelph, Canada. Wanja has completed the intermediate medical acquisition training.
Today’s warfighters face numerous threats to their vision, from blasts to chemical, biohazard, laser, and environmental exposure. According to the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, traumatic eye injuries from penetrating wounds and visual disorders related to brain injury together rank as the second most common injury among active-duty military personnel. Compounding the problem, eye-injured Soldiers have only a 20 percent return-to-duty rate, compared with 80 percent for other battle trauma injuries.
The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) is funding research projects as a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to preventing and treating vision disorders. It is collaborating with universities and research institutes worldwide in this effort.
“We’ve purposefully funded these projects as a group because we believe they will work together most quickly and effectively to develop treatments and products to save the sight of our warfighters,” said TATRC Director COL Karl Friedl.
The TATRC projects address critical gaps in vision research.
“Each partner is working on a very important piece of the puzzle,” said Robert Read, who manages TATRC’s vision research portfolio. “We chose these 12 recipients from 120 research submissions because they best address these critical areas.”
The most recent projects began in late 2010. They include:
Quick, Portable Tests for Early Diagnosis
The key to restoring sight after a blast injury is early diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Randy Kardon of the University of Iowa and Dr. Yury Petrov of Northeastern University are developing tests that use the eye’s natural reflexes to determine the extent of visual processing disorders. Kardon’s, for example, uses eye-tracking technology developed for gaming and is geared toward a smartphone application.
Dr. Stacey Choi of the New England College of Optometry is combining new optical technology with current retinal imaging systems to detect cellular changes at the back of the eye. Because of its sensitivity, this imaging technique could be valuable as a diagnostic tool when a blast was too weak to cause damage detectable by standard screening standards, yet visual symptoms exist.
RNA Treament Therapies
Researchers are hoping to develop drugs that use interfering RNA (ribonucleic acid, a type of genetic material) to inactivate specific genes that regulate cellular processes involved in injury. Drs. Colin Doherty and Peter Humphries of St. James Hospital, Ireland, are seeking to modulate the blood-brain barrier to reduce dangerous brain swelling and thus treat visual dysfunction associated with brain injury. Dr. Gregory Schultz of the University of Florida is applying RNA technology to reduce corneal scarring and resulting vision loss after burn and blast injuries. Dr. Nicholas Brecha of the University of California, Los Angeles is exploring ways to reduce excessive intracellular calcium levels to slow or stop loss of vision in traumatic optic neuropathies. Optic nerve injuries are not always immediately detected and treated because there is often no visible damage.
Other Treatments for Vision Disorders
Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda of the State University of New York College of Optometry and Dr. Uri Polat of Tel Aviv University, Israel, are exploring rehabilitative behavior-training therapies for visual disorders associated with brain injury. Dr. James Weiland of the University of Southern California is working on a project similar to synthetic vision work in aviation, exploring how to render visual information to an individual in a nonvisual way. Weiland’s project uses artificial intelligence to help a person determine what input is most important to pay attention to (for example, a moving car as opposed to a building in the background).
Computational Models of Blast Injury to the Eye
Understanding the mechanism of injury has great potential value in preventing and treating vision loss. Models could also be used to evaluate protective eyewear. Investigators developing computational models include Dr. Thao Nguyen of Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Tonia Rex of the University of Tennessee, and Dr. Richard Regueiro of the University of Colorado. These are funded through the Peer Reviewed Vision Research Program (VRP) line item in the Defense Appropriations portion of the federal budget.
TATRC manages the VRP, as well as vision research funds from USAMRMC’s Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program.
Those involved in strategic planning and execution of the vision portfolio include COL Donald Gagliano and Dr. Robert Mazzoli, Director and Deputy Director of the DOD/Department of Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Walter Reed Comprehensive Ophthalmologist LTC Michael Mines; TATRC Senior Scientist Dr. Francis McVeigh, OD; and Marc Mitchell, Grant Officer’s Representative and Project Officer.
- BARB RUPPERT is a science and technology writer for USAMRMC TATRC. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in education from Virginia Tech.
Project Director Acquisition, Logistics & Technology Enterprise Systems & Services (PD ALTESS), part of Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, received three national honors.
The Radford, VA-based ALTESS, a provider of information technology (IT) systems, services, and security for the Army’s acquisition domain, learned in February that it would receive a Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) Project Management Award. Less than a week later, ALTESS’ Service Level Management Branch Chief, Debbie Jenkins, was selected as Pink Elephant Inc.’s Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Practitioner of the Year. Then, in March, ALTESS was named runner-up for Excellence.gov’s Going Green Award.
ALTESS’ 2011 awards reflect the cutting-edge technologies and peerless support that it provides to warfighters to succeed in their missions.
GITEC Project of the Year: ITIL Implementation
GITEC honored ALTESS’ ITIL process deployments with its annual “Technology That Is Reshaping America: Best Practices in Information Life Cycle Management” Project Management Award. ALTESS received the award for successfully incorporating industry best practices into federal computing.
ALTESS implemented ITIL-based processes and tools in 2007. By 2010, ALTESS had implemented the Service-Level Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, and Change Management processes. BMC Software’s Remedy application, an ITIL-based enterprise solutions tool, was procured and configured to serve as ALTESS’s conduit for service requests, work records, and performance metrics.
The benefits of ALTESS’ ITIL deployments have been far-reaching. After acquiring the BMC Remedy application and designing a mature Change Management process, PD ALTESS’ weekly total of documented changes more than tripled, ensuring effective management of actions affecting the organization and its customers.
ALTESS’ Incident Management process raised the Service Desk’s customer support rating to an unparalleled 92 percent, far above the 45-55 percent average reported in a 2008 Forrester Research study. The Service Desk’s 2.1 million end users include deployed warfighters and high-ranking military officials, and ALTESS’ Incident Management process ensures that the support they receive is prompt and consistent.
Richard T. Eva, ALTESS’ Project Director, recognizes ITIL as a vital tool for providing exceptional service to customers. “It is so critical, when delivering cost-effective IT services, to have efficient documented and measurable processes. ITIL is the methodology that provides us the framework to be successful.”
Pink Elephant ITIL Practitioner of the Year
ALTESS’ workforce is diverse, from accountants to network engineers. Designing a Change Management process suitable for the entire organization was no small undertaking. Had it not been for Debbie Jenkins, ALTESS’ Change Management process might have languished indefinitely in the planning phase.
Jenkins, then ALTESS’ acting Division Chief for the Enterprise Services Division, led a successful effort to produce a Change Management process that would meet each team’s unique needs. For her tireless efforts, Jenkins was awarded Pink Elephant’s prestigious ITIL Practitioner of the Year Award. Pink Elephant provides consulting services focusing on IT management.
Since Change Management was deployed, the average time needed to complete change requests has dwindled from seven days to less than three. Change requests now follow an automated approval cycle that requires multiple reviews before and after implementation. Because of Jenkins’ patience and perseverance, changes to ALTESS’ data infrastructure can be performed more quickly and efficiently than ever.
What Jenkins finds most fulfilling is ALTESS’ support to its customers. “The thing I’m proudest of is the way we’ve been able to use Change Management to improve customer service. We have greater awareness of what goes on in the organization [and] better documentation,” she said.
Excellence.gov: Going Green
From more than 70 nominees, Excellence.gov selected ALTESS as runner-up for its 2011 Going Green Award.
ALTESS’ green energy initiatives began several years ago with the adoption of virtual machine (VM) server technology. Using VMs, ALTESS could house multiple customer systems on a single physical server. In addition to conserving physical space, VMs reduced emissions and energy waste. According to software publisher VMware Inc., virtual machines consume up to 80 percent less energy than traditional servers and can reduce carbon emissions as much as 94 percent.
ALTESS began offering virtualized environments in 2007. By 2012, the organization plans to support 80 percent of its hosted systems on VMs. To cool its VM servers, ALTESS has implemented an in-row cooling solution, using variable-speed fans that operate only as needed. The result is a 43 percent energy saving over standard cooling systems.
Additional energy savings have resulted from upgrades to ALTESS’ lighting and temperature control systems. A new high-efficiency lighting system has reduced the electrical load for facility lighting by 50 percent. Occupancy sensors have been installed to eliminate unnecessary use of lighting and temperature control systems.
Although the green initiatives’ benefits have varied in magnitude, each has contributed to a “big picture” envisioned by ALTESS’ leadership. The ultimate goal of the green project is to create a proven “blueprint,” optimizing the energy efficiency for Army data centers.
Green initiatives implemented thus far have reduced ALTESS’ Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score to 1.46—far below the 2.0 national average. The facility’s PUE will continue to decrease as additional efficiency initiatives are implemented.
Commitment to the Future
Excellence.gov, GITEC, and Pink Elephant have affirmed ALTESS’ current capability. But to continue providing high-quality support for its 43 customers, 77 supported applications and 2.1 million end-users, ALTESS remains focused not only on today’s capabilities, but also on tomorrow’s innovations.
- SCOTT FRIEND is Chief of ALTESS’ Enterprise Systems Division. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Friend is Level III certified in IT III and is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps member.
- CHARLES SMITH is an ALTESS technical writer/editor. He holds a B.A. and an M.S. in English from Radford University and is Level I certified in program management.
A large, white radome dominates the high ground at Tobyhanna Army Depot in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It symbolizes the growing number of radars and sensors, including air defense, air traffic control, ground surveillance, airborne, shipborne, range threat systems, and critical counterfire systems, which Tobyhanna personnel maintain and support for the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.
“Tobyhanna has been repairing and testing radars since the 1960s,” said COL Charles Gibson, commander of Tobyhanna Army Depot, “so we have extensive capability and experience in this critical commodity.”
Facilities, experience, and personnel make Tobyhanna DOD’s one-stop-shop for radar sustainment, engineering, redesign, and environmental testing.
Tobyhanna has flexible and modern facilities to effectively handle today’s radars and accommodate additional systems. The depot’s Antenna and Radar Range Campus offers 12 distinct radar test sites comprising multiple test pads, as well as specialized support facilities and equipment. Indoor testing includes several anechoic chambers, Near Field Probes, an elevated temperature burn facility, and rain testing. Outdoor testing includes modified Munson Road facilities, used to ensure that systems will function after being driven over rough terrain, and a Tower Track calibration range.
The indoor and outdoor facilities were designed and installed with flexibility in mind, for rapid adjustment to changing missions and to meet technical advancements. These facilities enable the depot to support not only current repair and overhaul missions but also upgrades, modifications, and technical insertions. “We do not need to take the radars to any another facility. We can do it all here,” said George Galaydick, Electronics Engineer in the Production Engineering Directorate.
The latest additions to the depot’s 50 years of radar support are the Marine Corps’ AN/TPQ-46 Firefinder Radar, the AN/TPS-59 Tactical Ballistic Missile Detection and Tracking Radar, and the AN/TPS-63 Air Surveillance Radar. These radars transferred to Tobyhanna from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, CA, as a result of a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision.
“The Marine Corps’ AN/TPQ-46 radar was a natural fit for Tobyhanna, since it is essentially a version of the Army’s AN/TPQ-36 system, which is already fully supported by the depot with existing facilities and highly trained personnel,” said Deputy Commander Frank Zardecki.
The surveillance radars are supported with new testing facilities and repair capabilities, such as the 77-foot diameter protective radome, a signal source and target tower, and a Far-Field Antenna Pattern Range complex capable of supporting a broad range of frequencies.
The depot supports more than 20 major radar systems, including the Firefinder family of radars, the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, Air Force air defense radars, air traffic control and landing systems, and Electronic Warfare Range threat simulators. In FY10, the depot completed the repair and overhaul of more than 100 major radar systems and countless secondary radar items for both DOD and Foreign Military Sales customers.
“So whether it’s air defense, counterfire, air traffic control, navigation, long-range surveillance, threat simulators, mine detectors, or even interrogators and transponders, Tobyhanna has the tools, skills, and facilities to support mission-essential tasks,” said Mark Viola, Chief of the C4ISR Maintenance Division, Production Engineering Directorate. C4ISR comprises command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.
In all, Tobyhanna has more than 500 employees dedicated to radar systems support, including the largest concentration of electronics mechanics with radar skills in DOD.
The depot’s reach is global, with a number of Forward Repair Activities throughout the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, which support counterbattery radars, such as Firefinder and Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, said Joe Salamido, Chief of the ISR Engineering Branch in the Production Engineering Directorate.
“In fact, hundreds of people are in the field every day keeping the warfighter’s C4ISR systems up and running,” he added.
Tobyhanna is always looking to the future, Viola said. “On the horizon are some of the latest Defense Department radars, including the Firefinder EQ-36,Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar, AN/TPY-2 Ballistic Missile Defense Radar, Deployable Radar Approach Control, and the new Joint Threat Emitter systems and sensor suites onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”
“As new systems like these move from manufacturer support to organic, Tobyhanna will be there to ensure that the nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines continue to see in new and better ways and survive the challenges of tomorrow’s battlefield,” Gibson said.
- From Tobyhanna Public Affairs
The U.S. Army in July completed an exhaustive Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) at Fort Bliss, TX, and White Sands Missile Range, NM, to test programs of record and assess emerging network technologies.
The NIE, which began the first week of June, is a key part of the Army’s network strategy. This and future follow-on NIEs are structured to assess the scope and readiness of emerging technologies and integrate new capability before sending it to Soldiers in combat.
One of the main goals of the NIEs is to help the Army field current technology faster, ensuring that Soldiers maintain the technological edge over our adversaries. With this overarching effort to develop a single battlefield network, dismounted Soldiers can connect to other units in real time, linking them to command posts, vehicles on the move, and higher headquarters.
“Ultimately, the network will connect leaders and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines at all levels, at every echelon of command, in any formation, and across the entire team, with the right information quickly and seamlessly,” said GEN Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “And in doing so, I am confident it will make our various formations more lethal, faster, and survivable in today’s battlefield.”
The continued evaluation of nonproprietary high-bandwidth waveforms, such as Soldier Radio Waveform and Wideband Networking Waveform, which use a larger portion of the available spectrum than legacy waveforms, is a central aspect of the NIE.
The waveforms and many of the technologies are designed with standards aimed at meeting the needs of all the services, to accommodate the potential for joint service involvement in the network.
“I see this evolving very, very quickly into a test bed that can be used not just by the United States Army, but by all services,” Chiarelli said.
The technologies evaluated include a wide range of capability. Some programs that underwent formal Limited User Tests in the first NIE were:
- Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack, and Small Form Fit, a multi-channel, Soldier-mounted, software-programmable radio able to transmit using high-bandwidth waveforms.
- Joint Capabilities Release, next-generation software for Force Battle Command Brigade and Below display screens, featuring Army-Marine Corps interoperability and advanced mapping tool kits.
- Mounted Soldier System, a combat vehicle-Soldier ensemble that integrates advanced gear, such as a helmet-mounted display.
- Network Integration Kit, a vehicle-mounted communications hub.
- SPIDER, a remote munitions delivery system.
The NIE also experimented with more than 25 emerging technologies to zero in on the best ones that can benefit Soldiers in combat.
“The reality is these NIEs are as much about learning as they are about testing. After all, the only way to fix problems is to accurately identify them. Likewise, the most effective means for developing new, relevant doctrine and tactics is to conduct integrated network-enabled training exercises,” Chiarelli said.
‘A Revolutionary New Approach’
The purpose of the NIE is to evaluate all of these technologies from a system-of-systems perspective in a combatlike environment.
“We can evaluate new capabilities across the potential spectrum of conflict … in terrain that our units are really having to deal with today,” said MG Keith C. Walker, Commanding General, Brigade Modernization Command, who oversees the Network Integration Center at Fort Bliss. “If there is a capability that has merit, we can evaluate it and get feedback, not just on … the technical material piece, but what are the implications of this equipment on our doctrine, on how we organize, how we train, and how we develop leaders.”
The NIEs are aimed at refining the acquisition of new technologies and blending programs of record with commercial-off-the-shelf solutions, Army leaders said.
“The Army will buy what it needs, when it needs it, for those who need it. Simply stated, I see these NIEs not as evolutionary events but as representing a revolutionary new approach that will potentially change how we provide new capabilities in the future,” Chiarelli said.
New and emerging technological solutions will have to adhere to the standards articulated by the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE), a set of computing standards designed to maximize interoperability among systems and create an environment where new applications can be built and integrated more easily, Army leaders said.
“As we deliver the Common Operating Environment implementation plan and we talk about the technology standards that we are going to put in there and articulate to industry, we’re now going to scope what our capability gaps are on the battlefield,” said LTG Susan S. Lawrence, Army Chief Information Officer/G-6.
Integrate, Then Issue
The NIEs are geared toward speeding up and improving the ways that new networking technologies are delivered to Soldiers, in part by ensuring that the integration of new capability is properly solidified before items are sent into combat.
“Right now any technical integration issue in theater must be fixed in theater. We owe it to our Soldiers to do better,” Chiarelli said. “And with the establishment of the Network Integration Center, we will bear that integration burden, not our Soldiers and commanders downrange. That’s the right answer.”
- KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.
The U.S. Army’s System-of-Systems (SoS) Engineering effort has identified a number of computing environments through which to implement standards defined by the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO/G-6), service officials said. When adopted, these standards will define the Common Operating Environment (COE).
Aimed at addressing interoperability between systems and agility in development and deployment, the COE also focuses on an open architecture to leverage industry innovation, ensure cyber-hardened foundations for security, and reduce the life-cycle cost of systems.
The computing environment (CE) structure is geared toward organizing the Army environment from the sustaining base to the tactical edge.
Stringent technical standards will be established and enforced for software infrastructure to guide materiel development and ensure built-in interoperability, said Terry Edwards, Director of SoS Engineering for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT).
Also, the COE will be aligned to industry trends, best practices, and products while making the necessary investments in complementing security components to support DOD-unique requirements. That will enable the Army to quickly take advantage of commercial innovation and will spur competition, Edwards said.
The COE’s design will allow industry to know upfront and without question the parameters within which Army hardware and applications must fit. By establishing an ecosystem for each of the CEs, developers will be given access to architectures, foundational products, and certification environments required for developing applications.
Building a Foundation
Edwards compared the Army effort to commercial endeavors such as those undertaken by Apple and Google.
“The Apple foundation and the Android foundation have a bunch of software that determines their environment,” Edwards explained. “When you go to build an app, it does not take a long time to build because a lot of the pieces are already there. People take that software, and they build their application on top of that,” he said.
“The computing environments allow us to organize our programs in such a way that there is greater efficiency due to greater collaboration among the PMs [program managers],” said Monica Farah-Stapleton, COE Lead for SoS Engineering.
A key rationale for the COE is to ensure that various mission command applications all work together on a common software foundation, Farah-Stapleton explained.
Minimum standard configurations for CEs will support the Army’s ability to produce and deploy high-quality applications quickly, thereby reducing the complexities of configuration and support training as well as life-cycle cost. Strict compliance to standards will ensure interoperability among CEs, Edwards explained.
Benefits to Industry
The CE standards promise to be just as valuable to industry. “… From the joint tactical radio environment, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from industry in terms of the definition of standards,” said BG Michael E. Williamson, Joint Program Executive Officer Joint Tactical Radio System.
CEs will allow the Army to more frequently and more clearly articulate capability gaps and put these requests for information out faster, explained LTG Susan S. Lawrence, Army CIO/G-6.
Industry is willing and able to respond, she said. “They tell me they will spend their research dollars, but they’re afraid that they’re out building something that we don’t need, and they’re trying to guess. And so it is on us to do a better job in communicating with industry those capability gaps and get those requests for information out faster.”
Staying up to date with technology will be an ongoing responsibility that industry shares with the Army, said GEN Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “We’re going to hold that [vendor] responsible to make sure that they’re staying up with technology. And if they want us to keep buying their widget, their widget … better ensure that it incorporates the advances.”
Supporting the Network
The scope of the COE goes well beyond procurement of tactical and operational applications, Chiarelli noted. “It’s also very, very important for those things that are going to be pulling data that will allow us, across the board, to ensure that we have one network and have accessibility to all the data we need to run an organization of 1.1 million men and women.
“The network strategy is now end to end,” Lawrence said. “By putting the battle command systems inside the cloud, we can extend it virtually to every post, camp, and station,” she said.
The Army has already proven that it can extend the Afghan mission network to the next deployers, Lawrence said. For every unit going into the theater now, “we have put the Afghan Mission Network into their headquarters.” The unit commander can then meet with his counterpart in Afghanistan every day. “And that’s what this end-to-end global network enterprise is going to deliver for our teams,” Lawrence said.
The Path Forward
Part of the plan to execute this vision of the COE requires Edwards and his team to establish the framework and governance structure. This is a huge undertaking that requires a change in how the Army thinks and develops systems, Edwards said.
When implemented, the COE will give the warfighter and the generating force unprecedented capability, flexibility, and agility to exploit information, Edwards added.
“We can’t afford to chase technology,” Williamson said. “And so what those standards do for us is to give us the ability to make sure that we are both backward- and forward-compatible as we move forward. And that’s a critical piece of understanding the architecture and understanding the standards.”
For more information on the COE, go to http://ciog6.army.mil.
- KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the ASAALT Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.
- MARGARET C. ROTH is the Senior Editor of Army AL&T Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Russian language and linguistics from the University of Virginia. Roth has more than a decade of experience in writing about the Army and more than two decades’ experience in journalism and public relations.