Soldier uses radio frequency technology to track Army shipments worldwide
By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell
FOTF: What do you do in the Army?
LEONARD: I recently returned from Afghanistan, where I was responsible for logistical tracking of all Army shipments in and out of the war theater, including Southwest Asia. I managed 221 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) read sites and 477 write sites. RFID tags are powered sensors that are attached to Army shipments, allowing us to track items as they transit through the Defense Transportation System. We have the ability to “write” data on the tags, telling us what the containers hold, and “read” (or scan) them at various locations worldwide. As the lead government representative for PD AMIS in Southwest Asia, I was the liaison between leadership on the ground and our headquarters in Alexandria, Va. I was also responsible for training Soldiers and leaders on the use of the Remote Frequency In-transit Visibility Server (RF-ITV), the system used to track inbound and outbound shipments.
FOTF Editor’s Note: RFID isn’t new technology; you’ve seen the tags on DVDs and other items you buy. They are being used more and more commercially, and the Army is effectively using the technology to manage its assets. All other military branches also use the Army’s RFID tracking system.
FOTF: Why is your job important?
LEONARD: My job gives combatant commanders and logisticians the capability to track and determine the last known location for their shipments. Previous liaison officers had been posted in Kuwait, but I requested to be posted in Afghanistan because the center of gravity of the war shifted from Iraq. Based on the Presidential mandate to reduce the force to 68,000 troops by Sept. 15 of this year, the PD AMIS program manager decided that the logistics involved in reaching that number and meeting the RFID infrastructure requirements of the combatant commanders warranted a full-time liaison in Afghanistan. Because of the lack of infrastructure in Afghanistan (e.g., roads), I needed to be embedded in-theater to provide government support to the commanders and contractors so all of the logistics tracking could be effectively carried out. By the way, we did meet the troop reduction mandate on schedule.
FOTF: What has your experience been like?
LEONARD: I visited all 88 RFID read and write sites in Afghanistan and discovered that they need two things to keep them running: power and communications. Those requirements are crucial so that information can be uploaded via satellites or local networks to the RF-ITV national server. On any given day or time, a number of sites could be down, and trying to keep them running in austere environments at remote locations with little infrastructure and security concerns, is a great challenge. Supporting the field service engineers is critical. There were times when the backlog was serious enough that I had to fly out to a forward operating base to be the liaison between the engineers and the commander. Luckily, we have the finest field service engineers anyone could ask for, and the credit goes to them for doing an amazing job.
FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?
LEONARD: I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country and lead Soldiers. My greatest satisfaction comes from knowing I helped improve the operational readiness state of the RFID network in Afghanistan from 95 to 99 percent. That may not seem like a lot, but the Army needs to know exactly where its supplies are at all times. Every operational improvement, no matter how small, contributes to mission success.
FOTF: What’s next for you?
LEONARD: Since returning from Afghanistan, I’ve been managing a program to track 14,000 of the Army’s new T-11 parachutes. Believe it or not, Army parachutes have been tracked by individual, hand-written log books since 1943. If an inventory is required, each parachute and log book had to be pulled manually. We’re now automating the tracking system, using passive RFID tags. We’re in the process of capturing all of the historical data in the log books into a database so that future inventory activities will be much more efficient.
FOTF: Tell us a little about your personal interests and how they dovetail with your work.
LEONARD: Before I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was going to run in the Boston Marathon. I had run it twice before, and since I wasn’t stateside to participate this year, I decided be a part of the Military Shadow Run in Bagram. I trained every morning with some good runners. The snow and wind were a real challenge along with adjusting to the altitude in Afghanistan, which is 5,000 feet above sea level. The race started at 3 a.m. on April 16, and a few of us got lost and had to run an additional two miles to get back on course, but we finished, and my adjusted time was 2:15. I’m currently on the Army 10-Mile team at Fort Belvoir, Va., and I try to run at least two marathons a year. Physical fitness is one of the Army’s tenets, and this activity keeps me in shape.
For more information on PD AMIS, visit http://www.tis.army.mil/.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) is close to reaching its 2012 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) goal but donors still have time to make a difference before this year’s campaign ends. The CFC is the only authorized charitable-giving drive for employees in the Federal workplace and serves all Federal employees, civilian, and military.
USAASC campaign had raised $7,402 of its $9,146 goal. This year’s campaign began mid-September and ends on December 15.
Keith Butler, USAASC Campaign Manager, explained the CFC fundraising goal. “We fall under ASA(ALT) [Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology]. ASA(ALT) has a goal, and when you break it down to reporting units, each unit has a goal.” As of November 20, the USAASC campaign had raised $7,402 of its $9,146 goal. This year’s campaign began mid-September and ends on December 15.
The CFC was established by an Executive Order from President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The campaign is an avenue to donate to charities, with donors able to select from among 4,400 local, national and international charities. These charities provide human services, health care, medical research, disaster relief, housing, youth development, and much more. Donors can pick any organization they desire and can select multiple agencies for their donations and can split the donation as many ways as they chose.
Donations can be made either by cash, check, or payroll deduction and the designation of charities can be done online. There are some forms that need to be turned in but they can be submitted electronically. Some CFC donations are tax deductible but it is recommended that donors check with their tax preparer for specifics. The CFC of the National Capital Area is the largest CFC group in the country.
“It is a perfect avenue to help those in need,” stated Butler. “Especially in this economy. People out of work and just trying to make ends meet. It’s the right thing to do and making a donation is easy.”
For more information about the CFC go to http://www.cfcnca.org. Individuals with further questions about the USAASC CFC campaign, that need pledge forms or documentation can contact Butler at (703) 805-1903.
Amy Walker, ASA (ALT)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 19, 2012) — The Army has awarded a new, expanded defense contract, which will enable the acquisition of hardware, software, services and data in support of the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T, mission over a five-year ordering period.
The Global Tactical Advanced Communication Systems, known as GTACS, and Services contract is one of the largest defense contracts the Department of Defense plans to issue within the next few years. By utilizing the GTACS contract and its group of 20 defense contractors, it is expected that the government will realize significant cost savings, while enabling industry to quickly fill needed mission requirements with innovative solutions.
“This is a one-stop shop for a very broad range of hardware and services,” said Lt. Col. Greg Coile, the Army’s product manager for Satellite Communications, or PdM SATCOM. “The contract’s range, flexibility and consolidation capabilities will enable the Army, Department of Defense and other agencies to spend more efficiently and get needed capability into the hands of Soldiers at a faster pace.”
The GTACS contract was awarded on Oct. 31, and will be managed by PdM SATCOM under Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or PM WIN-T, which provides the Army’s tactical communications network. PM WIN-T is assigned to PEO C3T, which develops, fields and supports fully networked capability sets, connecting the fixed command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier.
During the five year ordering period of the GTACS contract, it is expected that the needs of PEO C3T will evolve in response to the changing requirements of the Soldier and emerging threats. The GTACS contract is designed to provide the flexibility and responsiveness needed to support the mission of PEO C3T and its PMs.
Created as a replacement for the World Wide Satellite Systems, or WWSS, contract, GTACS is a five-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity, or IDIQ, contract with an expansive scope. It covers the hardware, software, equipment and data necessary to support PEO C3T, with an emphasis on tactical SATCOM. GTACS is a base contract and PdM SATCOM will issue delivery/task orders there under. Instead of awarding multiple contracts, the Army can now award numerous delivery/task orders from a single contract.
“The GTACS contract will provide for centralized competitive contracting to support PEO C3T in acquiring state-of-the-art solutions to the C3T community ranging from research and development, production through the sustainment of the equipment lifecycle,” said Barbara Hansen, contracting officer/branch chief at Army Contracting Command — Aberdeen Proving Ground. “The large multiple award IDIQ contract type allows for competition among both small and large contractors and is anticipated to reduce administrative redundancy to the maximum extent practicable, provide the best solutions to government requirements and provide cost savings as a result of increased competition.”
An IDIQ contract such as GTACS is designed to have a group of contractors that can support any task the government requires as long as it is within the scope of the Statement Of Work, or SOW, which identifies the work to be performed by the contractor. This type of contract allows for shortened timelines for awarding delivery/task orders, which in turn saves the government money and provides critical equipment and services to the Soldier in a timely manner, said James Sawall, GTACS lead.
The GTACS contract provides for three functional areas — research and development, production and deployment, and sustainment and logistics.
“This means that no matter where a program of record is in the acquisition lifecycle, its managing organization can utilize this contract to support its requirements,” Sawall said. “The GTACS contract enables the customer to develop a concept, then produce, test, field and sustain that concept with one contract. It’s simplified and consolidated the entire process.”
The GTACS selection process resulted in an award to 20 prime contractors that are granted the opportunity to compete for the broad spectrum of work that is anticipated under the contract in order to provide the optimum resolution of requirements. The GTACS contract contains two suites of contracts; one specifically composed of small business prime contractors, and the other suite composed of both large and small business prime contractors.
“We’ve given the DOD the ability to purchase hardware in an efficient and effective manner,” Sawall said. “We’ve done all the work up front so that the delivery orders can go on contract in a timely fashion.”
For example, Sawall noted that a PdM or PM can come to the GTACS team and say, “I need a satellite terminal, or an upgrade kit, or service reps to support the hardware that I am fielding.”
Once a requirement is defined, the streamlined GTACS contractual vehicle provides a quick, easy and cost-effective way for the customer’s needs to be met.
“The emphasis is on customer satisfaction,” he said. “The expertise provided by the GTACS acquisition team will assist the customer with shaping quality acquisition requirements package. This approach will enable the contracting officer to more expeditiously process contractual actions.”
The contracting office staff will provide post award contract management of the GTACS delivery/task orders. For customers, this means that the acquisition team will provide cradle to grave, support. This support places a premium on responsiveness and is dedicated to providing a quality solution, Sawall said.
“Following the tremendous success of WWSS, the GTACS contracting vehicle is even more flexible, efficient and competitive in delivering capability while balancing Soldier requirements and taxpayer resources,” Coile said.
“Systems engineering incorporates multiple engineering disciplines and reduces risk by providing an ordered process that ensures you’ve looked at all available courses of action.”
A seamless link from development to production helped to distinguish a recent DOD-awarded radar as one of the top five 2012 defense programs of excellence in systems engineering in October.
The AN/TPQ-53 Counterfire Target Acquisition Radar, commonly referred to as Q-53, leveraged government, industry, and academic organizations to provide U.S. Soldiers with advanced radar that provides 360-degree surveillance capabilities.
The Q-53 system is managed by Product Manager Radars, or PM Radars, with Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor, and the program traces its roots back to development work done in the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Center (CERDEC) more than 10 years ago.
The transition from the science and technology community through to production was a distinguishing factor in recognizing the Q-53, said Leo Smith, Army representative to the selection committee and director of the Program of Record Engineering Support Directorate under the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) Office of the Chief System Engineer.
“This program was highly ranked among the representatives who selected this year’s winners, and it was one of the few programs that started as an Army Technology Objective or Advanced Technology Development-funded effort that eventually transitioned across the ‘valley of death,’ where so much can happen: the requirements change, for example, or the prime contractor doesn’t get a bid,” said Smith.
“Systems engineers from across CERDEC directorates along with quality assurance managers from CERDEC Product Realization Engineering and Quality Directorate (PRD) have been working hard for a number of years to make this critical program a reality and have succeeded in doing so,” said Ron Michel, CERDEC PRD director.
CERDEC first demonstrated the Q-53 technology concept in 2006 through its Army-funded Multi-Mission Radar Advanced Technology Objective (MMR ATO) demonstration, said Hai Phu, a systems engineer working with PM Radars for the CERDEC Intelligence and InformationWarfare Directorate (I2WD).
“I2WD started with the idea by collecting requirements to get approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and we had five years of development and prototyping on the MMR ATO starting in 2001. It then transitioned to PM Radars and was developed into what we have right now with the Q-53,” said Phu.
Keys To Success
Researchers referred to the ground work done across Army acquisition communities as a key factor in the success of the program, starting with CERDEC’s identification of a possible Soldier need.
“Going back 10 plus years, CERDEC I2WD is credited with identifying the mission need and the technological solution and getting in front of the [TRADOC Capabilities Manager] Fire Brigade at Fort Sill and saying, ‘This requirement doesn’t exist today, but it is a need of yours, and if you make it a requirement it can be met with technology that is now available,’ ” said David Lusk, a consultant from D&S Consultants Inc. who works with I2WD and PM Radars.
Those involved in the Q-53 program utilized the late RADM Wayne Meyer’s “build alittle, test a little, learn a lot” approach, said Lusk. Part of Q-53’s success was because of this method of incremental building and testing of technologies and systems to increase efficiency when developing systems, he noted.
“There were technical reviews along the way to ensure the design was progressing as it should, was meeting requirements, and was meeting what the user ultimately wanted,” said Daniel Foster, Booz Allen Hamilton consultant working at PM Radars.
“Systems engineers from across CERDEC directorates along with quality assurance managers from CERDEC Product Realization Engineering and Quality Directorate (PRD) have been working hard for a number of years to make this critical program a reality and have succeeded in doing so.”
The Q-53 program continues to apply systems engineering rigor through the Life Cycle Signature Support Plan, a “living document” that allows for new threats to be identified in theater and accounted for, said Jessy Chacko, a CERDEC I2WD systems engineer working at PM Radars. Design changes are then incorporated to defeat those threats.
“Systems engineering incorporates multiple engineering disciplines and reduces risk by providing an ordered process that ensures you’ve looked at all available courses of action,” said Frank Vellella, PM Radars’ chief engineer and CERDEC PRD’s Radar Branch chief, currently assigned to CERDEC’s Systems Engineering Office. “Without it you’re kind of scatterbrained. But with it, you can break things down logically and reduce risks over the product’s lifecycle because you know you have looked at everything.”
The Q-53 quick reaction capability system first deployed in 2010. DOD awarded the program its Milestone C decision in February, greenlighting the start of low-rate initial production (LRIP). The first LRIP program of record system will deploy in a few months, said Phu.
“In the DoD lifecycle, Milestone C is essentially the gate between finishing your engineering and development and going into production,” said Foster.
- Kristen Kushiyama is a CERDEC Public Affairs Specialist.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD. (Nov. 14, 2012) — New ballistic research areas are filling a critical gap in troop pelvic protection systems, said U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) engineers.
No standard scientific methodology currently exists to assess the performance of personal protection equipment (PPE) against secondary debris, such as flying rocks, and bomb fragments ejected after a buried improvised explosive device (IED) detonates, said Tyrone Jones, a mechanical engineer in ARL’s, Weapons and Materials Research Directorate (WMRD).
ARL teamed with the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Joint IED Defeat Organization and the British Ministry of Defence to provide the Army with a technical tool to evaluate the PPE against this spectrum of threats.
“Fundamentally, our role in this is to understand the underpinning science and technology of the threat itself, how explosive charges interact with the soil then with the target, but also the fundamental mechanical properties of the materials that are acquired to stop these threats.”
In 2010, ARL began developing a novel lab scale test methodology to reproduce the soil conditions from buried IEDs, and then consistently launch the surrogate soils via a sabot from a medium-caliber smooth-bore gun, called the sand cannon.
The test methodology quantifies the debris-resistant performance of various fabrics such as Kevlar and jersey-knitted silk, to be integrated into current PPE within a highly controlled environment. From here, Jones said, researchers can understand and readily identify the penetration mechanisms of the secondary debris into a prospect material.
ARL tested candidate materials provided by NSRDC leading to an improvement in the “ballistic boxer shorts” the military fielded last summer under its formal name, the Pelvic Protection System, as a response to the growing number of Soldiers on foot patrol sustaining injuries to the groin caused by IED blasts, and secondary debris. As of March 2012, more than 15,000 Soldiers had received the Army’s Pelvic Protection System.
The previous pelvic protection system was designed to protect against numerous and obvious Soldier threats, including small arms fire, thermal and environmental, but much of it can’t fully stand up against the tiniest of culprits — soil particulate and small debris — that en masse, can cause irreversible medical damage to soft tissue to include internal bleeding.
“Wound management is a critical part of medical care for dismounted Soldiers that are injured by buried IEDs,” said Jones. “Secondary debris, including soil ejecta, from buried explosive devices can lead to severe contamination and debridement issues for wounds and adds to the complexity of the first response care of stabilizing the primary wound.”
Col. James Jezior, Chief of Urology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda said it’s not too difficult to tell the difference between a blast injury and a high velocity or gunshot wound type injury.
“The patterns of injury are much different between the two,” Jezior said. “Whether we see the fragments from the actual armament or whether there is secondary debris from things around or from the vehicle or from clothes, I don’t think that’s quite as easy to tell. It’s probably in many of the cases a mixture of those things that are eventually embedded in tissue or are part of the injury mechanism.”
ABOUT THE SCIENCE
Secondary debris testing involves complete analysis of live-fire blast data and soil mechanics, in addition to knowledge and experience in ballistics.
“ARL is the world leader in the characterization of blast, soil effects and terminal ballistic effects caused by fragments and secondary debris,” Jones said. “With this fundamental understanding, ARL is able to design repeatable methods and procedures to simulate these blast conditions in order to develop protection solutions.”
From the science, ARL is able to identify the relevant dynamic soil components and variables that inflict the damage on target during live-fire blast testing, and translate these components and variables into a debris simulant that can be consistently reproduced in a laboratory environment.
Typical sand-cannon tests involve a 25.4mm smooth-bore barrel gun firing “surrogate” soil load into a ballistic gelatin block designed to represent a body surrogate. Candidate materials were placed in front of the gelatin block. The soil “cloud” travels through the material and into the gelatin block. The amount of soil retained by the gelatin block and the depth of penetration into gelatin block gives a measure of insult, or damage the secondary debris can cause.
“Bulk aggregate presents a very different threat than a discrete fragment or rock,” said Jones. “We are investigating how this threat interacts with a spectrum of materials, focusing on personal protective equipment and clothing so that revolutionary protective material breakthroughs can be achieved.”
Jones said surrogate soil is actually a 36-grit garnet abrasive blasting particulate selected because of its consistency of grain size and distribution, lack of moisture variability, individual grain hardness, availability in bulk, and easily obtainable specification.
“We use a high speed Phantom v7.1 video camera to capture the dynamic elements such as grit cloud flyer diameter and length, velocity and depth of penetration into the gelatin up to 160,000 frames per second. The high speed video camera captures the launch and penetration process in slow motion, measuring test variables and detailing revealing dynamic mechanism and verifying consistency in our test execution. Finally, the use of powerful three-dimensional microscopes can be used to analyze the architecture of the protective materials before and after impact, to aid in understanding the terminal ballistic effects of the interaction,” said Jones, who received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and a Master of Science in Acoustics Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
“ARL is the world leader in the characterization of blast, soil effects and terminal ballistic effects caused by fragments and secondary debris.”
Integration, Teamwork Strengthen Research
Just as ARL began developing this methodology, the British Ministry of Defense began deploying pelvic protection for its Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, with the aim of reducing the number and extent of injuries from secondary blast. Dr. Mike Dalzell began a two-year ESEP exchange program with the ARL on the heels of previous assignments with the U.K.’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory where he investigated Soldier protection solutions against blast and fragmentation.
“Fundamentally, our role in this is to understand the underpinning science and technology of the threat itself, how explosive charges interact with the soil then with the target, but also the fundamental mechanical properties of the materials that are acquired to stop these threats,” Dalzell said. “Secondary to that of course, we also have to understand the properties in the materials that are necessary to ensure the Soldier is not excessively burdened by wearing the protective technologies, so we’re interested in, for example, comfort, thermal burden, flexibility and so on.”
This methodology would eventually provide PEO Soldier with an evaluation tool used to understand how materials perform against a range of threats, and provide measurable insight on other important material factors such as breathability, thermal resistance and comfort that affect the Soldier’s ability to function and execute their mission.
This information would be used to assist the material community in the development of new materials that provide better protection at less weight, and it can be used to develop techniques and procedures that provide Soldiers with methods to increase survivability.
The methodology has already been provided to the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center with an initial screening of candidate protective materials for potential incorporation into Army Combat Uniform pants. This methodology would support ongoing evaluations within the Army and Defense Department to determine which materials provide the most protection, while minimizing weight and bulk.
Dalzell said working with ARL presented “an opportunity there to get some collaboration between the U.K. and the U.S. on the particular subject. So I worked with the division and branch chiefs in WMRD to see if we could put together a program to support the U.S. Army’s own efforts developing pelvic protection for their own Soldiers.”
He said he’ll take some of the different and unique techniques learned in ARL back with him to apply on U.K. research projects.
“It’s been really great to work with ARL, especially within WMRD, with the shear breadth and depth of the scientists working there. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct a whole range of testing with a multitude of experts here to really get a different perspective on the problem. I think it’s important as scientists and engineers, we sometimes tend to look at things from our perspective but to get a different perspective from my colleagues here in the U.S. has been really worthwhile.”
- T’Jae Gibson is with ARL Public Affairs.
In late October, the Army began the Limited User Test (LUT) of the Self-Propelled Howitzer Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program. Soldiers from Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion-27th Field Artillery, 1st Armored Division, of Fort Bliss, Texas are set to complete a week long field exercise in simulated combat conditions, evaluating the PIM’s operational capability and reliability.
“The LUT will prove the suitability, effectiveness and survivability of the platform with Soldiers manning the system for the first time,” said Lt. Col. Dan Furber, product manager for Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems.
Additionally, the Army will complete the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability Growth Curve as required prior to the Milestone C Low Rate Initial Production decision scheduled to occur in June 2013.
“If the PIM meets expectations the Army will begin Low Rate Initial Production in 2013, with the full production for a total of 580 sets of Self-Propelled Howitzer and Carrier Ammunition Tracked units scheduled to begin in early 2017,” added Furber.
Currently, the Paladin PIM is slated to begin fielding in late FY17 as part of the Army’s modernization to its Self-Propelled Howitzer fleet.
The PIM modernization effort is a significant upgrade of the M109A6 Paladin which includes buying back Space, Weight, and Power-Cooling. While the Self-Propelled Howitzer’s cannon will remain unchanged the PIM will sport a brand new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, to go along with an upgraded electric ramming system. The new 600-volt on-board power system is designed to accommodate emerging technologies and future requirements, as well as current requirements like the Network. The on-board power system leverages technologies developed during the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon program.
“The LUT will prove the suitability, effectiveness and survivability of the platform with Soldiers manning the system for the first time.”
“The 70 kW 600-volt on-board power system is a key enabler for adding future capabilities to the PIM once it’s fielded. Anything new the Army gives us, we now have the power to integrate,” said Col. Bill Sheehy, project manager for the Army’s Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT).
These improvements will ensure the PIM can keep pace on the battlefield with other members of the Army’s HBCT formation from both an automotive and technological standpoint. PIM is engineered to increase crew force protection, improve readiness and vehicle survivability, and avoid component obsolescence.
As a way of keeping life-cycle costs down, the PIM shares power train and suspension components and other systems with the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Establishing a level of commonality between the vehicles means increased availability and lower costs over the years.
The M109 Paladin has been a staple of the battlefield for the better part of the last five decades and the improvements made by the PIM will allow the M109 to stay relevant for the foreseeable future.
The PIM Program modernizes the M109 set of vehicles: the Self-Propelled Howitzer and the Carrier Ammunition Tracked. The effort is being led by Product Manager Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems, which falls under leadership of the Project Manager, Heavy Brigade Combat Team within the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS).
- Ashley John-Givens is with PEO GCS Public Affairs.
Thirteen individuals and teams within the acquisition community were recognized for their exceptional skill, efficiency, and dedication in their service to Soldiers, the U.S. Army, and the Nation during the 2012 U.S. Army Acquisition Annual Awards ceremony.
The theme for this year’s ceremony, “Recognizing Army Acquisition Excellence,” pays tribute to the uniformed and civilian professionals who design, develop, and deliver capabilities that continually improve force protection and Soldier survivability, enabling Soldiers to execute decisive, full-spectrum operations in support of overseas contingency operations.
“The depth and breadth of the 180 nominations for this year’s 12 awards were truly outstanding, showcasing the best and brightest in the Acquisition, Logistics and Technology community, said Col. Andrew T. Clements, Deputy Director, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) and Master of Ceremonies.
The Army’s most senior leaders in the acquisition community were in attendance to recognize the award recipients.
“Today we celebrate our very best and acknowledge our superior, dynamic and dedicated professionals. Our central mission is to equip Soldiers so they can execute their mission quickly and successfully and return home safe. That’s our priority. That’s why we’re here today,” said Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.
A record-breaking 180 total nominees competed for 12 awards in the following categories:
• Army Life Cycle Logistician of the Year, recognizing excellence in the field of Life Cycle Logistics and achievements in improving the Total Life Cycle Systems Management process.
• Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Continuous Performance Improvement, recognizing contributions in the improvement of business processes, application of lean Six Sigma methods and operational and financial achievement in the service of our warfighters.
• Contracting Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Award for Contracting Excellence, highlighting exceptional leadership and significant achievements as a contracting NCO.
• Director, Acquisition Career Management, recognizing long-lasting contributions to the Army Acquisitions Corps throughout a civilian or military career.
• Acquisition Director, Project Manager and Product Manager of the Year, recognizing expertise to research, develop, test, evaluate, contract, field, and sustain warfighting systems. These three awards highlight professionals who ensure our Soldiers have the materiel needed to fight wherever the battlefield or mission takes them.
• Army Acquisition Excellence Awards, highlighting four Acquisition Workforce individuals or teams reflecting outstanding achievement in support of Soldiers and Army transformation initiatives.
“Overall, this competition reaffirms the talent and dedication of the Acquisition Corps as well as the greater acquisition workforce to meet the needs of our Soldiers around the clock, around the world, 24/7. We never let our Soldiers down,” said Ms. Shyu.
Coming from one Soldier, his previous three deployments have made a significant impact on ensuring Soldiers have what they need to accomplish the mission.
“When you’ve been in their shoes, it’s easier to see where they [Soldiers] are coming from,” said,” Sgt. 1st Class Sears, 414th Contracting Support Brigade and winner of the 2012 ASA(ALT) Contracting Noncommissioned Officer Award for Contracting Excellence.
While deployed to Afghanistan, Sears was responsible for awarding and administering more than $20 million in contracts supporting Regional Command-West (RC-West). In addition, he served as the primary trainer for all contracting courses in RC-West supporting more than 10,000 coalition troops.
“Combat experience has really helped to see the larger picture as a whole. Once you have visibility and support for tens of thousands of Soldiers, it really allows you to see how a little change can make a big difference.”
“This is the highlight of my career to be selected for this honor,” said Sears who attended the ceremony with his mother, Mary Anne.
This year’s award winners include:
2012 Army Life Cycle Logistician of the Year Award
Preston Turner, Director, Logistics Management, Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier
2012 ASA(ALT) Contracting Noncommissioned Officer Award for Contracting Excellence
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Sears, 414th Contracting Support Brigade, U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command
2012 Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Continuous Performance Improvement Award
Retaining High Powered Serviceable T700-GE-700 & T700-GE-701C/D Aircraft Engines Lean Six Sigma Project Team, PEO Aviation
2012 Director, Acquisition Career Management Award
Cheryl Maggio, Deputy Program Manager, Chemical Stockpile Elimination, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency
2012 Secretary of the Army Acquisition Director, Project Manager and Product Manager
of the Year Awards
Acquisition Director of the Year at the Lieutenant Colonel Level
Lt. Col. Yee Hang, Commander, Defense Contract Management Agency, Detroit
Product Manager of the Year
Lt. Col. Terrece B. Harris, Product Manager Improvised Explosive Device Defeat/Protect Force, PEO Ammunition
Acquisition Director of the Year at the Colonel Level
Col. Michael Hoskin, Commander, 413th Contracting Support Brigade,
U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command
Project Manager of the Year
Col. Andrew DiMarco, Project Manager, Ground Combat Vehicle, PEO Ground Combat Systems
2012 Army Acquisition Excellence Awards
Individual Sustained Achievement Award
Maj. Jason Good, Defense Contract Management Agency
Equipping and Sustaining Our Soldier’s Systems Award
Soft Armor Team, Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment, PEO (PEO) Soldier
Team C5ISR (Coalition, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors and PEO Command, Control, and Communications – Tactical
Information Enabled Army Award
Live Training Transformation Team, Project Manager Training Devices, PEO Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation
Transforming the Way We Do Business Award
Project Manager, Chemical Stockpile Elimination, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency
A complete list of the winners and nominees can be found at http://asc.army.mil/web/aac-awards-ceremony-2012/nominees-winners/.
- Tara Clements is a USAASC Public Affairs Specialist.
• The “Competitive Development Group – Army Acquisition Fellows” announcement will be open through Nov. 15 to all eligible personnel in GS-12 through GS-13 or broadband/pay equivalent positions who are level III certified in any career field. The Program provides expanded training, leadership, experiential and other career development opportunities. For more information, visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/competitive-development-group-army-acquisition-fellowship/announcements/.
• The “Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program” (ALCP) is the newest program to the Acquisition Education and Training Portfolio for the Army. Based upon the huge success our sister Service the Air Force has had with ALCP, we piloted multiple offerings of the 21/2 day course in FY12. For FY13, we are bringing the course to you. For more information on how to apply, please visit our website: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/acquisition-leadership-challenge-program/. Below is the FY13 ALCP training dates (by location):FY13 ALCP Plan
DATE Offering TYPE
(ALCPI or II)
LOCATION Jan. 14-18 Level I & Level II Atlanta, GA Feb. 25-March 1 Back-to-back Level I offerings Huntsville, AL March 11-15 Level I & Level II Huntsville, AL April 29-May 3 Level I & Level II Aberdeen, MD May 20-24 Level I & Level II Atlanta, GA June 10-14 Back-to-back Level I offerings Warren, MI July 29-Aug. 2 Level I & Level II Huntsville, AL Aug. 19-23 Back-to-back Level I offerings Aberdeen, MD
Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training
Students should continue to apply for FY13 courses available on the schedule. Planning and applying early will afford students better opportunity in obtaining a class in the timeframe requested. Encourage your supervisor to approve your training request as soon as you apply. Students should view the DAU I-catalog at http://icatalog.dau.mil to ensure they meet the prerequisite(s), prior to applying to a DAU course. A weekly low fill listing is posted at http://icatalog.dau.mil/onlinecatalog/tabnav.aspx to allow students opportunity to attend classes coming up in the next 60 days. Low fill classes within 60 days from the start date of the class are available on a first come, first served basis.
Applications cannot be processed by the Army registrar office until the training has approved by the supervisor. Please apply through the Army Training Requirements and Resources Internet Training Application System at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. For more information on DAU training to include, systematic instructions, training priority definition or FAQs, please see link at http://asc.army.mil/career/programs/dau/default.cfm. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, ensure you attend the class as scheduled. Cancellation request for a confirmed reservation must submitted at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier, to avoid a ‘no show’.
Any workforce related inquires (DAU training, DAU Course Travel Orders, Certification, IDP, ACRB issues) should be submitted through the Workforce Management Inquiry system within Career Acquisition Management Portal (CAMP): https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/. If you logged in CAMP, click on the “Help Request” button for assistance. Otherwise, you may open a ticket without logging in CAMP at: https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/index.cfm?fuseaction=support.helpRequest.
DAU provides a listing of equivalencies (http://icatalog.dau.mil/appg.aspx) for all courses delivered by DAU and/or predecessors courses, which are considered acceptable towards meeting current acquisition career field certification requirements. To document equivalencies, accepted by DAU that are obtained from non Army Schools, open a help desk ticket at: https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/index.cfm?fuseaction=support.helpRequest and request your ACRB be updated to reflect DAU equivalent course(s) completion. In September, DAU approved the very first DAU equivalent vendor, Trio Consulting, to teach BCF 211 – Acquisition Business Management. Students interested in taking BCF211 DAU equivalent course, should apply and contact the vendor directly. Trio Instructors can bring the course to your Organization to teach the course locally onsite. Please contact Trio directly at www.trio-consulting.com.
BCF 211 will split into two courses: BCF 220 (web) and BCF 225 (classroom). BCF 211-Acquisition Business Management transition to BCF 220 & BCF 225 will start for classes starting 7 January 2013. Students with reservations in classes starting 7 January and thereafter have been notified directly by DAU of the change and the requirement to complete the prerequisite course, BCF 220 before attending the resident portion, BCF 225. Students must successfully complete BCF 220 prior to applying to BCF 225. Students completing BCF 220 far in advance, must review the course material at a minimum two weeks prior to start of date of the resident, BCF 225 course to ensure successful completion.
DAU course management has a new process to allow higher priority, specifically priority 1 student’s first preference in the DAU resident courses. As result, students in priority 2 through 5 will be waitlisted for classes showing available seats. When a student is placed in a wait status, they will roll into a reservation 65 days prior to class start date if a priority 1 does not encumber a seat. They could still be bumped up to five business days prior to class start date if a higher priority student applied within the 65 days. The new process minimizes bumping and allows priority 1s to see which courses actually have seats available.
Ray K. Ragan
Mobile technology, or mobility as it is referred to by the military, is for the first time, taking a prominent role in defense. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Director, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, Jr. announced mobility would be one of his eight initial efforts for his agency, which has raised the next question – “how to test and evaluate these technologies before our Nation’s warfighters use them?”
For the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), a U.S. defense organization charged by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to test, evaluate and certify technology and communications systems and products for joint use, this is a question that they must answer.
Testing and evaluating mobility is especially challenging when compared with technology of the past. In the past, many of the devices used by the military were purpose-built, that is, engineers designed the technology for use by the military and adhering to strict requirements. Consequently, the device and its software did not change frequently; the tests on these products did not need to re-invent themselves constantly.
DISA’s Strategic Plan describes how the agency will support its mobility initiatives as, “we will promote rapid delivery, scaling, and utilization of secure mobile capability leveraging commercial mobile technology to enable an agile deployment environment for new and innovative applications to support evolving warfighter requirements.”
“Central to automated testing is being able to script a test. Scripting is a simplified programming language that allows engineers to tell a computer how to conduct a test. Rather than having testers pick up a device and press the buttons, while recording the results, scripting can do this automatically.”
The plan’s ‘commercial mobile technology’, means devices like BlackBerrys, iPhones, the Android-based family and many others that will be used by the warfighter. With the rapid release cycle of new handsets and devices, there is no guarantee that a button will stay in the same place or the screen will be the same size from one generation to the next. Complicating matters further, software changes can change how devices behave. All these changes create many variables for engineers and testers at JITC as they test and evaluate mobility.
“The mobility infrastructure involves many device types running a large number of applications on multiple operating systems connecting through WiFi and wireless carriers to mobile device managers, backend enterprise systems and mobile application storefronts,” explains JITC’s DISA Mobility Instrumentation Lead, John LeCompte. “Testing this continually evolving infrastructure is a complex resource intensive effort.”
To meet this effort, LeCompte and his team turned to automated testing and like the commercial mobile devices they would be testing, the team looked at five commercial testing tools for mobile devices. Evaluating those tools on nine criteria, one tool emerged as the best fit for the testers’ needs that offered both, an integrated-development environment (IDE) and testing service package. The tool offers a cloud-based service that uses actual mobile devices, like iPads and Android-based phones. Devices can be connected to the cloud by two methods: hardware instrumented for the device or installing software agents. For hardware-instrumented devices, engineers have physically wired in connections to the video, buttons and other controls to allow the device to be remotely monitored and controlled from the cloud. Testers can interact with the devices through a web-based interface across a network as if they were holding the device in their hand.
The second method of connecting a device is to install a software agent on a device that is tethered to the network. An agent is a special piece of software that usually runs in the background and performs some action. In this case, the agent relays input and output from the device back to a testing IDE, where JITC technicians monitor and write scripts that perform the tests.
Central to automated testing is being able to script a test. Scripting is a simplified programming language that allows engineers to tell a computer how to conduct a test. Rather than having testers pick up a device and press the buttons, while recording the results, scripting can do this automatically.
“This allows us to write the script once and test it against many devices,” said contract Senior System Engineer at JITC, Tuan Nguyen.
The testers and engineers of JITC will need this tool, as well as others, as they meet the growing needs of information mobility on the battlefield. Not only do they have the challenge of meeting rapidly advancing technology with mobile devices, they must also address DOD-specific challenges such as security and information assurance.
“The biggest test instrumentation concern at the moment will be how to rapidly conduct static and dynamic IA [information assurance] testing analysis on mobile applications. The recently released draft Mobile Applications Security Requirements Guide is being evaluated and tools are being researched to address this need. The solution will most likely be a combination of automated and manual testing,” said LeCompte.
- Ray K. Ragan is the JITC Public Affairs Officer.