• Strategic approach drives MICC realignment

    Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs Office

     

    JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials realigned six field directorate offices into four Dec. 4 in a strategic effort to bring consistency to its operations and improve contract administration and oversight.

    The four field directorate offices will be located at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Eustis, Va., Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Knox, Ky.

    Of the two other field directorates, MICC-Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington was realigned under Fort Bragg, and MICC-Fort Sam Houston is serving as the headquarters’ activity responsible for acquisitions not normally provided by other MICC elements as well as specialized contracting assignments for the MICC leadership. The command’s remaining 34 subordinate contracting offices located throughout the country and Puerto Rico will be administratively and operationally realigned under the four directorates.

    “The MICC continues to mature its oversight and responsive capabilities to meet the growing demands of our Soldiers and the acquisition community,” said Brig. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, the MICC commanding general. “The realignment of contracting offices under field directorate offices restores a command-wide focus that supports our core mission of providing responsive contracting solutions and oversight for our customers.”

    Analysis for the organizational realignment began in mid-2012 and included an assessment of the command’s operational efficiency to determine a structure that would improve contract compliance and oversight of operations, provide strategic support to customers, and effectively utilize existing resources.

    Sarah Corley, a senior contracting professional in the MICC who helped lead the realignment integrated process team, said the selection of locations for field directorate offices came after thorough mission analysis and was based on their link with the command’s major customer groups.

    “The realignment provides a more strategic alignment with the customer base, in order to provide optimum opportunity for standardization of processes and products,” Corley said. “The realignment strikes a core balance between horizontal and vertical spans of control, leverages the strengths of pre-existing organizational components, enhances the ability to streamline and standardize MICC’s processes, achieves consistency of operations, enhances support to core customers, and provides a mechanism to measure results.”

    MICC officials met with field directors and their deputies here in October to conduct roundtable discussions on realignment that included procurement authorities and roles and responsibilities for the four field directorate offices to support their customers.

    The MICC’s major customers include the U.S. Army Forces Command and Reserve Command supported by MICC FDO-Fort Bragg; U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command supported by MICC FDO-Fort Eustis; U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command supported by MICC FDO-Fort Hood; and Department of the Army-level customers in the Military District of Washington supported by MICC FDO-Fort Knox.

    At the same time, the MICC is transferring Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Fort Dix, N.J., and Miami to other areas of the U.S. Army Contracting Command. California’s MICC-Moffett Field will assume oversight of contracting support actions at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif.

    For the most part, the realignment should be transparent at the installation contracting officer and customer levels, according to Albert Jacob, the chief of MICC Contract Operations. He added that in the transition, some MICC offices reporting to a different field directorate office should coordinate with the staff at MICC Contract Operations to ensure proper visibility and compliance with acquisition and contracting procedures.

    The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter across Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.
     


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  • MICC member earns Army award

    Deborah Ault is a winner of the 2012 Secretary of the Army Award for Excellence in Contracting for her efforts to increase contract opportunities for people with significant disabilities. She is the chief of the contracts division for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo Credit: Stephen Moore)

    Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs Office

     

    JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — The chief of the contracts division for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., is a winner of the 2012 Secretary of the Army Award for Excellence in Contracting for her efforts to increase contract opportunities for people with significant disabilities.

    Deborah Ault was recognized for her support of the AbilityOne Program, which offers several products and a wide range of services to the federal government. She worked closely with National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, or NISH, managers to identify contract requirements to be added to the procurement list increasing employment opportunities not only for the blind and severely handicapped, but also for wounded veterans.

    “I feel honored and am very pleased to have been selected for this award,” Ault said. “Support of the AbilityOne Program is the easiest part of my job and, in my opinion, one of the most important.”

    Ault, who has more than 30 years of acquisition and leadership experience, is responsible for reviewing incoming contract requirements to identify those that may be suitable for the procurement list. The federal procurement list identifies supplies and services that are required to be purchased from AbilityOne and its participating nonprofit agencies.

    “This is a win win,” she said. “The AbilityOne mission is to provide employment opportunities for people who want to work, are very capable of working, but have difficulty finding or competing for jobs on their own.”

    She was instrumental in the award of two contracts — one to the NISH and one to a NISH nonprofit agency — following a market research and education process between both the requiring activity and NISH managers to add contracted services to the procurement list.

    “The misperception is that work can’t be accomplished, or accomplished well, by people with disabilities. I believe many people assume that individuals with disabilities have limited skills,” Ault said. “Additionally, many people seem to be uncomfortable around individuals with disabilities. Disabilities can be physical or cognitive, and there are not many jobs that these folks can’t do as well as people without disabilities. It is part of my job to help educate our customers and to make them feel more comfortable with this program.”

    A contract for facilities maintenance services was awarded to the NISH that was combined with the Fort Knox custodial services requirement valued at approximately $121 million for the base and four one-year option periods. Award of this contract led the NISH to identify the installation as its center of excellence for total facilities management and begin the standup of a training program at Fort Knox for its nonprofit partners at no cost to the government. The aim of the center of excellence is to expand business opportunities for the NISH and its participating nonprofit agencies across the Department of Defense.

    Additionally, she played a critical role in the award of a contract for Human Resources Command call center services to be awarded to a NISH non-profit agency valued at $17 million for the base and four one-year option periods.

    Ault said both of the contracts provide great potential for employment of people with significant disabilities. The facilities maintenance services contract includes the employment of about 200 people, and the call center services contract employs another 65-70 people.

    The work by Ault also indirectly benefits this nation’s wounded warriors. The NISH works closely with Fort Knox veterans support groups, including the Warrior Transition Unit, to identify potential employees for these and other Ability One contracts at Fort Knox. To date more than 15 service-disabled veterans have been hired and more are being identified, said Ault.

    “A very small percentage of government contracts are in the AbilityOne program. I consider it part of my mission to increase that number,” she said.

    As contracts division chief for MICC-Fort Knox, Ault is responsible for managing the work of her team, which includes 23 civilian employees and 10 contingency contracting Soldiers. She works closely with division team leaders to allocate workload assignments ensuring an opportunity to learn a variety of contracting processes. In support of the MICC’s integration efforts, she helps ensure military members assigned at Fort Knox receive the technical, hands-on training necessary to prepare for their contracting roles during deployment. She is also responsible for providing guidance and advice to co-workers, team members, customers and contractors.

    The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter across Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.
     


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Acquisition team develops innovative purchasing approach to meet demand and budget challenges

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    JOENS: As an Acquisition Manager, I am responsible for planning and managing procurement activities for PM CAS, Acquisition Category I, II and III artillery, mortars, munitions and weapons systems in the development, production, fielding, and sustainment phases. Given the range of tasks we work with, it’s a complex task.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    JOENS: Soldier safety is paramount in the development and production of our products. We deliver the highest quality, most affordable conventional and advanced munitions and combat power to our warfighters to give them the materiel edge over real and potential adversaries. Our products enable Soldiers to execute their missions with superiority.

    FOTF: What has your work experience been like?

    JOENS: The work has always been challenging. I’ve seen a lot of cyclical changes, such as budget cuts, hiring freezes, and difficulties in steadily growing the workforce. The level of management oversight and review has increased and decreased over the years as well. One of the challenges we face right now is long acquisition lead times. It currently takes two years from requirement definition to contract award. I believe the solution for this, considering decreasing budgets and manpower, is to streamline our processes so we can continue to deliver quality, cost-effective products on time. At the end of the day, though, it has been rewarding knowing I support our Soldiers who defend our freedom.

    FOTF: Why did you choose a career with the Army?

    JOENS: My father was a World War II veteran and career Department of the Army civilian. I also chose a civilian career with the Army because it offered many opportunities and a place where I could serve those who serve our country.

    FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction being a part of the Army?

    JOENS: I am always heartened when I hear positive feedback from Soldiers about the weapons, fire control, and ammunition we provide. Helping them execute their missions and return home safely is my greatest reward. They are the true heroes.

    FOTF: Your team recently received the prestigious Packard Award for establishing and implementing an efficient buying approach for critical ammunition. Tell us a little about the strategy you developed.

    JOENS: The new strategy was developed out of necessity. Previously, we executed basic contracts with four option years to single vendors for products. We saw the effectiveness of that change of approach, especially with all of the overseas requirements and reduced budgets. We exhausted five years of production options within two years to try and fill customer orders for ammunition. To address this, we set up multiple contractors to hold basic delivery order contracts for the products, and now they all compete to meet requirements. We are seeing strong price competition, with the savings being invested in additional products for our Soldiers. We have also added flexibility in meeting required delivery schedules, helping to eliminate single-point failures, and we’ve added some new quality DOD contractors to the industrial base.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: The Packard Award, which was presented on Nov. 2 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, recognizes an organization that has demonstrated superior management and accomplishment in the successful execution of one or more of the Better Buying Power acquisition efficiency initiatives.

    FOTF: What was your reaction to the news that your team had received the Packard Award?

    JOENS: Initially, it was disbelief we had actually won such a prestigious award! Once I knew it was for real, I felt satisfaction. We knew when we started to develop this vision that it would be a long road with many challenges, but in the end, we were able to respond much better to our customers’ needs while strengthening our industrial base.

    For more information on PM CAS, visit http://www.pica.army.mil/peoammo/Home.aspx.
     


    • “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.

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  • Acquisition Education and Training Corner

    Army Acquisition Civilian Leadership Development Plan
    The Army Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) recently published our first leadership development plan for civilians. Unfortunately, there is not one clear path for civilians…that would be too easy! Unlike the military, civilians can/will take hundreds of different routes in their quest for upward mobility. This plan is meant to serve as a guide for all levels of our acquisition workforce. Using this model, each workforce member may see what the training requirements are at each level. In addition, they may also use this plan to identify desired training opportunities available at upper levels and each opportunity is hyperlinked to an information page for the program. Please take some time to review programs of interest to you and put any on your Individual Development Plan (IDP) and discuss with your Supervisor.

    The model is broken into Four Sections (from bottom to top):
    1. Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act/Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training – functional REQUIRED training from left to right from Level I through 400 Level courses.
    2. Continuing Education System Courses – Army G-3/5/7 REQUIRED courses from left to right from Foundation Course, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Continuing Education are for Senior Leaders depending on your rank.
    3. Leadership Training – Includes all the leadership opportunities available in our Army Education, Training and Experience (AETE) portfolio as well as a few DOD and U.S. Army Materiel Command programs.
    4. Higher Education – Bachelor, Masters Degrees as well as Senior Service Colleges (SSC) and SSC Fellowships (SSCF); please note that all courses are hyperlinks which will take workforce members to dedicated pages to each course/program where they may find additional information. Above is an image of the Development Plan; however, you may view the full version and download a copy here: http://asc.army.mil/career-development/civilian/career-planning-steps/.

    The 2013-14 DAU-SSCF announcement is open January 22-March 28 to all eligible GS-14s and 15s who have met their current position certification requirements. For more information, visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-senior-service-college/. This program offered in Aberdeen, MD, Huntsville, AL, and Warren, MI provides a great opportunity for our civilians to attend a SSC within their local area.

    The “Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program” (ALCP) is the newest program to the AETE 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 2.5 day course in FY12. For FY13, we are bringing the course to you. For more information on how to apply, visit 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 Atlanta, GA
    March 11-15 Back-to-back Level I offerings Huntsville, AL
    April 29-May 3 Back-to-back Level I offerings 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 Atlanta, GA
    Aug. 19-23 Back-to-back Level I offerings Aberdeen, MD

     
    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training

    The Army DACM office will start working with DAU to project the FY14 demand. On May 16, 2013 the FY14 schedule will be available for students to apply for classes. If students are unable to attend an FY13 course, they need to review and complete the required course prerequisite(s) now for a course they intend to take in the future. 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 posted weekly 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 of the class start date are available on a first come, first served basis.

    Applications cannot be processed by the Army registrar office until the training has been approved by the supervisor. It is also imperative the student and supervisor email addresses are provided correctly on the Resources Internet Training Application System (AITAS) student profile. Please apply through the Army Training Requirements and AITAS at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. For more information on DAU training to include, systematic instructions, training priority definition or frequently asked questions, please visit: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, ensure you attend the class as scheduled. Cancellation requests for a confirmed reservation must be submitted at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier, to avoid a ‘no show.’

    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 other institutions, open a helpdesk ticket at: https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/index.cfm?fuseaction=support.helpRequest and request your Acquisition Career Record Brief be updated to reflect DAU equivalent course(s) completion. On September 4, DAU approved the very first DAU equivalent vendor, Trio Consulting accredited 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 January 7, 2013. Students with reservations in classes starting that day and thereafter have been notified directly by DAU of the change and the requirement to complete the prerequisite course, BCF 220 prior to attending the resident portion, BCF 225. Students must successfully complete BCF 220 prior to applying to BCF 225. Students completing BCF 220 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. Taking the time to focus and successfully complete prerequisite course BCF 220 will likely determine the success of the resident portion (BCF 225).

    DAU course management has a new process to allow higher priority, specifically Priority 1 students, 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 before the class reservation cut-off date or start date, whichever is higher if a higher priority student applied within the 65 days. The new process minimizes bumping and allows Priority 1 students to see which courses actually have seats available for them to obtain their required position certification.


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  • Army Developing Next-Generation Surveillance Aircraft

    Scientists and engineers are working to develop the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS), which will allow commanders to gather real-world data in a combat environment. The system is equipped with a wide array of sensors, communications, and signals intelligence-gathering technologies An EMARSS aircraft is shown here in this artist's rendering. (U.S. Army Photo)

    Kris Osborn

     

    Army scientists, engineers, and program developers in a laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. are making substantial progress with efforts to build and integrate a sophisticated battlefield surveillance aircraft called the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS), service officials said.

    “We want to build one bird with as many common capability packages on it as well as a full-motion video camera. We want it to be sensor agnostic.”

    The initial task, now underway at Aberdeen’s Joint Test and Integration Facility (JTIF), is aimed at engineering and integrating an EMARSS fuselage with cameras, sensors, software, antennas, intelligence databases, and electronic equipment so the Army can deliver four Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) aircraft to Afghanistan as part of a forward assessment of the capabilities, said Raymond Santiago, deputy product manager, Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems.

    “An EMARSS Forward Operational Assessment will place this system in the hands of our Soldiers, allowing them to inform an assessment as to whether the system meets the approved requirements. We will get to see the system being used to gather real-world data in a combat environment, with a high op-tempo. This will help us refine and establish the architecture for the platform,” an Army acquisition official explained.

    The Army plans to complete the EMARSS EMD Phase with a minimum of four systems (aircraft). Overall, the EMD contract has options to procure two additional EMD systems and four to six Low Rate Initial Production systems.

    Plans for the EMARSS aircraft include efforts to engineer a surveillance aircraft with a wide range of vital combat-relevant capabilities such as the ability to quickly gather, integrate and disseminate intelligence information of great value to warfighters in real time. It is being built to do this with an integrated suite of cameras, sensors, communications and signals intelligence-gathering technologies, and a data-link with ground-based intelligence databases allowing it to organize and communicate information of great relevance to a Commander’s Area of Responsibility, Santiago explained.

    The work at the JTIF laboratory, involving a significant development and integration-related collaborative effort with Army and industry engineers, is aimed at reducing risk through rapid prototyping and software and sensor integration. The EMARSS fuselage in the laboratory is a built-to specification model of a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350.

    “The laboratory gives us the flexibility to try things out with the fuselage. This helps us with how we configure the equipment,” Santiago added.

    A key aim of the effort is to engineer and configure a modular aircraft designed with “open architecture” and a plug-and-play capability, allowing it to successfully integrate and function effectively with a variety of different sensor payloads, software packages and electronic equipment, he said.

    “We want to build one bird with as many common capability packages on it as well as a full-motion video camera. We want it to be sensor agnostic,” Santiago said.

    For example, the EMARSS aircraft is being configured to integrate a range of sensor packages such as Electro-Optical/Infrared cameras, MX-15 full-motion video cameras, and an imaging sensor known as the Wide Area Surveillance System, a technology able to identify and produce images spanning over a given area of terrain, explained Army acquisition officials.

    “An EMARSS Forward Operational Assessment will place this system in the hands of our Soldiers, allowing them to inform an assessment as to whether the system meets the approved requirements.”

    The EMARSS capability is unique in that it is engineered with a data-link connecting the aircraft to the Army’s ground-based intelligence database called Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). DCGS-A is a comprehensive integrated intelligence data repository that compiles, organizes, displays, and distributes information from more than 500 data sources. DCGS-A incorporates data from a wide array of sensors, including space-based sensors, geospatial information, and signal and human intelligence sources. A data-link with information from the ground-bases DCGS-A, will enable flight crews onboard EMARSS to use display screens and on-board electronics to receive and view intelligence information in real-time pertaining to their Area of Operations.

    “As they are flying over an area, the EMARSS crew is able to immediately pick up the latest information from what other nearby intelligence assets are picking up. They can immediately get results from DCGS-A and see it on their display screens. Intelligence experts on the ground are doing analysis, and they can send relevant information back up to the aircraft,” Santiago explained.

    Also, EMARSS’ plug-and-play, open architecture framework is being engineered so that the aircraft could potentially accommodate certain radar imaging technologies in the future, such as Ground Moving Target Indicator, a radar imaging technology able to detect moving vehicles and Synthetic Aperture Radar, a radar system able to paint an image or picture of the ground showing terrain, elevation, and nearby structures, Santiago said.

    Given that all the sensors, antennas, cameras, and electronics are designed to operate within a common architecture, one possibility is to strategically disperse various sensor capabilities across a fleet of several EMARSS aircraft, thus maximizing the ability to gather and distribute relevant intelligence information, Santiago explained.

    The Army Training and Doctrine Capability Manager for Intelligence Sensors is also working on the Capabilities Production Document which, according to plans, will eventually be submitted to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council before the EMARSS program can achieve a Milestone C production decision paving the way for limited rate initial production of the system in FY 13, Army acquisition officials explained.
     


    • 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.

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  • NIE drives technology growth, cost savings

    Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division drive a vehicle equipped with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 during the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 on Nov. 9, 2012. The next NIE, 13.2, will focus on the continued solidification of the network baseline, including the Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation for WIN-T Increment 2. (Photo Credit: Claire Heininger, U.S. Army)

    Claire Heininger, ASA (ALT)

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (December 4, 2012) — Initial findings from the Army’s latest Network Integration Evaluation show steady progress toward improved, user-friendly tactical communications systems, as well as new efficiencies from the consolidation of test practices.

    Although the final technical evaluations and responses are still pending, the Army is reviewing early assessments from NIE 13.1, which concluded Nov. 17, and planning for NIE 13.2, which gets underway in May 2013. Observations from NIE 13.1 included a more stable network backbone, demand for a “mid-tier” networking radio for use by lower echelons, and better user collaboration through a common framework for operations and intelligence tools. Several systems that participated in previous NIEs had incorporated Soldier feedback into updated versions with software and hardware enhancements.

    “With each NIE, we get better — the technology improves, Soldier proficiency increases and we become more efficient in how we execute,” said Col. Mark Elliott, director of the Army G-3/5/7 Landwarnet-Mission Command Directorate. “Doing these events every six months allows us to keep pace with technical advances and address new requirements and capability gaps as they arise.”

    During the month-long NIE event held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division evaluated five systems under formal test and 21 under evaluation. NIE 13.1 offered an early look at network enhancements that will be provided by Capability Set 14, helped to integrate mobile network technologies on armored platforms such as the Stryker, evaluated the requirements for a mid-tier radio within the network architecture, and hosted a formal test for Nett Warrior, a smartphone-like device that allows dismounted leaders to navigate terrain, exchange messages and digitally track one another’s locations.

    NIE 13.1 was the fourth NIE conducted, and the Army continues to apply lessons learned in an effort to make each NIE more effective. Through streamlined NIE testing practices, the Army has realized $86.2 million in cost avoidance and savings by evaluating multiple systems in an integrated setting, rather than holding multiple independent events, and by improving processes such as data collection and instrumentation planning. Requiring all systems to go through a laboratory assessment and integration phase prior to NIE operations has also reduced NIE risk and cost.

    “Doing a system of systems evaluation is what we’re driving toward, because that’s how we’re going to fight,” said Maj. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, commander of the Army Test and Evaluation Command. “The beauty of this is we’re shaking off these systems stateside, not on the battlefield. And that’s saving money.”

    A Soldier from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division uses a Nett Warrior handheld connected to a Rifleman Radio to pass information during operations at the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 on Nov. 9, 2012. Although the final technical evaluations and responses are still pending, the Army is reviewing early assessments from NIE 13.1, which concluded Nov. 17, and planning for NIE 13.2, which gets underway in May 2013. (Photo Credit: Claire Heininger, U.S. Army)

    To date, the NIEs have also yielded more than $6 billion in overall programmatic cost avoidance. Driven by Soldier feedback, NIE lessons-learned have allowed the Army to restructure certain programs, terminate others, and re-allocate resources to other priorities — while providing more network capability more quickly to operational commanders.

    Two brigades of the 10th Mountain Division are now training on Capability Set 13, the Army’s first fully-integrated communications package to emerge from the NIE process. The 4th BCT, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., will be the next to get the new gear starting early in 2013.

    NIEs have not only allowed for Soldier-driven evaluations and assessments of network technologies, they have also aided the Army in development of Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for using Capability Set 13 as a holistic network. Training best practices for CS 13 systems — individually and as an integrated set — were also developed through the NIE. The training is designed not just to make Soldiers proficient on the systems within their individual specialties, but also to understand how those systems fit in with the rest of the brigade network structure.

    “The value of the NIE lies in obtaining early Soldier feedback to improve systems, integrate them as a complete Capability Set prior to fielding, and develop training and TTPs for the whole package — rather than testing and fielding individual technologies as was done in the past,” said Col. Rob Carpenter, Army director of System of Systems Integration. “The key is to make sure this equipment is useable, trainable, supportable and sustainable.”

    The next NIE, 13.2, will focus on the continued solidification of the network baseline, including the Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2. WIN-T Increment 2 is the backbone of the Army’s tactical network, providing key mission command on the move capability beyond what is available in today’s operational force.

    The NIE construct will continue to expand in future exercises, including involvement by the joint services in 2014. By utilizing a two event process during each fiscal year, the Army will also leverage the NIE to help shape requirements, allowing for more targeted acquisitions. Going forward, the Army will conduct the first evaluation to assess broad industry capability gap solutions, and then use feedback to validate and refine the requirement prior to additional targeted gap industry solicitation for participation in the second NIE.

     


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  • Research & Development underway for Abrams Modernization

    The Abrams ECP ensures the Army can seamlessly incorporate other programs of record into the Abrams well into the future, without degrading operational performance. (U.S. Army photo)

    Bill Good

     

    Over the past decade the only thing that has been able to slow the Army’s premier combat vehicle hasn’t been enemies on the battlefield, but rather the technological advancements added to the platform. While every vehicle is designed to have Space, Weight, and Power, or SWaP, margin for incremental improvements, recent upgrades made to the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Program Version 2 have left little margin for future improvements.

    The ECP1 upgrade will posture the tank to accept the Army network components in the near term, while building the necessary margin to accept future capabilities in the decades to come.

    “The Abrams main battle tank was developed over three decades ago in response to a major Soviet threat. We were fortunate that engineers had the foresight to design in enough SWaP margin to enable us to host new capabilities needed during our recent missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. William Brennan, product manager for Abrams.

    To help alleviate SWaP constraints, the Army has launched the Abrams Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, program designed to reeestablish as much SWaP as possible by redesigning and modernizing many elements of the tank. This ECP is a modification to the system that leaves the essential capability unchanged. The Abrams ECP program will help ensure the Army can seamlessly incorporate other programs of record into the Abrams well into the future, without degrading operational performance.

    “Right now the electrical power is in short supply on the tank. The centerpiece of the ECP 1 upgrade will be to restore lost power margin through the integration of a larger generator, improved slip ring, battery management system and a new power generation and distribution system,” said Brennan.

    Other major Abrams ECP upgrades will focus on communications, data transmission and processing, and survivability. The communications upgrade will integrate the Joint Tactical Radio Systemand Handheld, Manpack, & Small Form Fit into the Abrams, replacing the current Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System.

    The ability to incorporate the Army’s network is also a vital part of the ECP1 effort. To address network requirements the Abrams will integrate a gigabit Ethernet databus to allow greater data processing and transmission. The modified slip ring on the turret will provide the ability to transmit larger amounts of data into the turretand provide more power.

    “The ECP1 upgrade will posture the tank to accept the Army network components in the near term, while building the necessary margin to accept future capabilities in the decades to come,” added Brennan.

    While the Abrams remains the dominate vehicle on the battlefield, the ECP program will make it more formidable by including a new armor solution as well as an updated version of the counter-remote-control improvised explosive device electronic warfaresystem.

    Initial production of tanks with ECP1 upgrades is slated to begin in 2017.

    The Abrams ECP program is managed by Product Manager Abrams, which falls under leadership of the Project Manager, Heavy Brigade Combat Team within the Program Executive (PEO) Office for Ground Combat Systems (GCS).

     


    • Bill Good is with Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems Public Affairs.

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  • Bradley Changes to Upgrade Vehicle Across the Board

    The Bradley ECP is a modification to a system that leaves the essential capability unchanged, so while the Bradley will maintain its classic look on the outside, under the hood will be a different matter. (U.S. Army photo)

    Bill Good

     

    Since the Bradley Fighting Vehicle was first introduced to the Army in 1982 it has been constantly modernized; however, the upgrades conducted over the past decade have been particularly taxing to the platform.

    “It’s important to remember that armor improvements and the Bradley Urban Survivability Kit (BUSK) make today’s Bradley very different than the Bradleys that rolled into Iraq in 2003. The Army has not stopped improving its capabilities, but the Bradley has reached its limit of new capabilities it can accept without making some basic architectural improvements,” said Lt. Col. Glenn Dean, Product Manager for the Bradley and Armored Knight programs.

    Space, Weight, and Power-Cooling, or SWaP-C, limits have been reached within the Bradley’s current configuration, leaving little room for integrating future capabilities. During the conflict in Iraq, the Army upgraded the Bradley to improve Soldier protection. These modifications included improved armor, BUSK integration, and counter-radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare (CREW) devices. The improvements, while extremely effective, increased the weight and electrical power consumption of the vehicle leaving little remaining margin to add new capabilities. This problem becomes compounded by the need to integrate the Army’s new network systems — the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, the Joint Tactical Radio System, and the Joint Battle Command-Platform software — and new systems such as next generation CREW devices, all of which require additional SWaP-C or computing capacity to operate.

    To ensure the vehicle can enable the Army’s network investment and incorporate other Army programs of record without further degrading operational performance, basic improvements will be made as part of the upcoming Bradley Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) program. An ECP is a modification to a system that leaves the essential capability unchanged. So while the Bradley will maintain its classic look on the outside, under the hood will be a different matter.

    The current Army plan breaks the Bradley ECP changes into two iterations. ECP 1 is designed to address the weight growth of the vehicle with early delivery of some mature products. It includes four capabilities — extended life; heavyweight track designed to handle larger vehicle weights; heavyweight torsion bars which will restore ground clearance lost to increased weight, improving cross-country mobility and underbelly blast protection; and improved durability road arms and shock absorbers, designed to reduce operating costs and maintenance intervals at increased vehicle weights.

    The Army has not stopped improving its capabilities, but the Bradley has reached its limit of new capabilities it can accept without making some basic architectural improvements.

    ECP 2 is focused on meeting electric power generation and computing requirements for network systems.

    “The intent of the Bradley ECP program is not to degrade the performance of the vehicle. If we simply added a larger generator to the current vehicle, we would get more electrical power, but at the expense of less automotive power for speed, acceleration, and cross-country mobility,” said Dean.

    To address this issue ECP 2 will include an upgraded generator and power distribution system, but will also require an engine and transmission modification to ensure automotive capability is not lost in order to power network systems.

    “The last time we did an engine power upgrade was with the Bradley A2 in 1988. With the ECP program, the Bradley will be able to keep pace with Army modernization, remaining capable and relevant into the next decade and beyond,” added Dean.

    Computing and data handling capability will also weigh heavily in the ECP effort. The digital bus architecture of the Bradley will be improved through incorporation of common intelligent displays, an improved slip ring, improved Ethernet switch, and VICTORY computing architecture standards, all of which will contribute to the integration and handling of the large volumes of data the new Army network systems require.

    Current plans are to apply both ECPs to just over 15 brigades, or about 1,860 vehicles. Some ECP 1 components are projected to be fielded during FYs 14 through 18, depending upon future defense budgets. ECP 2 will begin engineering design in FY13, and is scheduled for initial fielding in FY18.

    “The ECP effort is a total system solution to manage vehicle space, weight, and power to enable the network,” said Dean. “We’re taking the opportunity to deliver the weight management pieces early, since they are the most ready, while we complete the engineering of the rest of the changes. That way we can ensure a constant flow of improvements to the field.”

    The Bradley ECP program is managed by Product Manager Bradley/Armored Knight, which falls under leadership of the Heavy Brigade Combat Team within the Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems.

     


    • Bill Good is with Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems Public Affairs.

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  • Team Stryker receives 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Award

    The Stryker Life Cycle Requirements Contracting Team received the 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Team Award for outstanding Systems, Research and Development, and Logistics Support (Sustainment) Contracting. Here, Slovenian soldiers from the 74th Motorized Infantry Battalion and U.S. Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct a Stryker convoy during Saber Junction 2012, a decisive action training environment exercise conducted at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, in October 2012. (Photo by SGT Ian Schell, Viper Combat Camera, U.S. Army Europe)

    Bill Good

     

    The Stryker Life Cycle Requirements Contracting Team has received the 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Award for outstanding Systems, Research and Development, and Logistics Support (Sustainment) Contracting as a result of its work on a complicated follow-on contract that included more than a dozen scopes of work.

    “There were numerous submittals in this category, all of which exemplified contracting excellence in a teaming environment,” said Harry Hallock, Executive Director of the Army Contracting Command, in an email congratulating Team Stryker on its award. “Team Stryker’s selection as the ‘best of the best’ is a tribute to your professionalism and drive to accomplish the mission, as teammates and colleagues with individual and unique talents that are enhanced by working together for a common goal in support of your customer, every day.”

    The Stryker team was nominated for the exemplary performance it demonstrated during the acquisition planning and pre-solicitation phase associated with the fiscal year 2013-2015 Stryker Life Cycle follow-on requirements contract. The contract will enable the Stryker Team to cost-effectively continue its mission over the next three years and includes key services such as new equipment training, fielding, logistics and engineering support, and possibly, production.

    “Our most important mission is to provide Soldiers with ground combat systems that are adaptable, versatile, and affordable, all while ensuring we provide the taxpayer with the kind of value they deserve.”

    The entire program’s complement of life cycle mission requirements are contained under one base contract, with performance enacted by the issuance of delivery orders that are linked to 13 distinct scopes of work.

    “This means that Stryker has one contract with 13 different sections, each of which supports continued real time execution of the Stryker mission,” said David Dopp, project manager for the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “The planning and pre-solicitation effort associated with this contract required careful orchestration across the organization.”

    The team developed several key elements needed to execute the project from start to finish, including an integrated master schedule and defined project organizational resource charts. Team Stryker created a specific working group for each scope of work —13 different working groups each responsible for their own scope of work and deliverables, and for developing, evaluating, and negotiating all elements of the proposed contract. “To say it’s a huge task would be an understatement,” said Dopp.

    “This project was successful because of Team Stryker’s ability to define and communicate the details of a highly complex and integrated project,” said Scott Davis, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “To increase efficiency and reduce cost, the team defined and obtained approval to implement a staggered proposal submission and award schedule for each of the 13 distinct scopes of work, allowing the project to be managed within existing resources.”

    Davis added, “What is truly significant about this award is that it demonstrates the incredible attention to detail and adherence to best business practices that the Styker team goes through every day. Our most important mission is to provide Soldiers with ground combat systems that are adaptable, versatile, and affordable, all while ensuring we provide the taxpayer with the kind of value they deserve.”
     


    • Bill Good is with Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems Public Affairs.

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