By Lt. Col. Will McDonough, Robert Ucci, Bill Webber and Ted Greiner
As defense budgets and military force structure are reduced, the United States must once again examine ways to maintain our defense industrial base. While budgets may not allow for the procurement of new weapons for our own military at the rate many would like, there can be no question that we need to maintain the ability to ramp up for a future conflict at a time and a place that may be totally unpredictable.
One very valuable tool for maintaining our domestic industrial base is to promote the sale of our defense materiel to friendly nations who may very well be allies in the next conflict. On Jan. 3, 2012, the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan requested the establishment of a foreign military sales case for 890 M224 60 mm mortar systems for the Afghan National Army (ANA). As is often the case, this initial requirement was later increased to include more weapons (up to a total of 918) and more accessories, support equipment and spare parts than originally requested. To put this in perspective, this represents a quantity that is more than half the total number of 60 mm mortar systems in the entire U.S. Army [inventory]. The team led by the product manager (PdM) for Precision Guided Munitions and Mortar Systems (GPM2S) not only delivered all required weapon systems ahead of schedule, but also $11 million under budget. The last 92 weapon systems were delivered to Afghanistan in Sept. 2013, two months ahead of schedule.
CONTRIBUTORS TO SUCCESS
Upon program initiation, PdM GPM2S formed an integrated product team (IPT) consisting of representatives from the Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y. (WVA), Anniston Army Depot, Ala. (ANAD), the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Tank and Automotive Command (TACOM)’s Product Support Integration Directorate (PSID) and Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD), the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Fort Benning, Ga., the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), the deputy secretary of the army for defense exports and cooperation (DASA-DEC), and the Office of the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8.
The majority of the team members were already familiar with each others’ roles and capabilities because of the normal interaction required to support Army and USMC units that were deployed, or preparing to deploy to combat operations. The long-standing relationships formed through personal interactions at program management reviews (PMRs) enabled the rapid formation of a high-performing team without the traditional forming, storming, and norming phases of team development. While every organization performed a unique and invaluable role, the leadership role of the PdM as individually responsible for program execution, granted by his charter as a life-cycle manager, ensured the unity and focus of the entire effort.
In his Feb. 12, 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama emphasized the strategic importance of transitioning the United States’ role in Afghanistan from leading the fight to equipping and training Afghan security forces to take the lead. He stated, “Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.” This address served to strengthen the team’s commitment to success.
This national-level emphasis on program success also allowed for creative, non-traditional solutions to providing weapon systems at an unusually high rate. For example, the Department of the Army allowed the diversion of Army-owned assets to this FMS case to fill immediate needs, with Army stocks to be replenished from new production using FMS case funding. Not only did this unusual step improve our responsiveness, it also provided the added benefit of updating the Army inventory with all new items.
Another contributor to the success of this program was the USMC. Over the past several years, the Army and Marines have cooperatively developed, qualified, and fielded a newer and lighter 60 mm mortar system, the M224A1. The Marines have been aggressively replacing their M224 systems with M224A1s, thus freeing up M224s for demilitarization. In large part as a result of the good will built up during years of interservice cooperation, the Marines allowed this excess inventory to be overhauled and sold, rather that demilitarized and scrapped, resulting in a very substantial cost savings.
The dedication of the workforce at WVA, New York, and at ANAD was also key to program success. WVA provided for new production of many components, as well as expertise in assembling kits, and staging and shipping systems into theater. ANAD was responsible for overhauling many of the weapons. Their tireless commitment to quality ensured the safety of the weapons and provided an added benefit of minimizing schedule risk due to unnecessary scrap and rework.
“The team led by the product manager (PdM) for Precision Guided Munitions and Mortar Systems (GPM2S) not only delivered all required weapon systems ahead of schedule, but also $11 million under budget.”
TACOM PSID played a key role in providing both new and used Army assets for the effort, purchasing new components using existing sustainment contracts, coordinating with the DLA for acquisition of DLA-managed items, and providing direct oversight and management of ANAD depot efforts.
The final enabler to program success was the PM’s ability to leverage a new equipment training (NET) team that was already in theater. This NET team, from Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A), was composed of a mix of active-duty and former Soldiers, all graduates of the Army’s Infantry Mortar Leader Course (IMLC). They were indispensible in writing the doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that the ANA would use in both training and in combat. After that, these military and civilian professionals actually trained their ANA counterparts to the highest standards to allow them to train their own soldiers in the proficient use of the weapons. If the team had not already been stood up and in theater, additional time and expense would have been incurred to form and deploy the necessary capability.
As is always the case with any successful program, the ANA 60 mm mortars case was the result of a very strong team effort. The lesson to be learned is that the strongest teams are the ones who are already used to working together. PdM GPM2S has had a history of cooperation with the USMC, MCoE, TACOM, WVA and ANAD to provide world-class equipment, training, and support to Soldiers and Marines. As the Army’s Product Manager for Mortar Systems, PM GPM2S was uniquely qualified and positioned to respond to the urgency and need for providing mortar systems to the ANA. The product manager immediately stood up an IPT of mortar system professionals with defined roles and responsibilities. Daily meetings were established and a management tool referred to as “the dashboard” chart was created to capture and present the key events and weekly accomplishments. The dashboard chart was also used as a communication medium to keep Army leaders closely informed of critical program milestones and weekly achievements.
Despite times of constrained resources and reduced travel budgets, true team building requires at least some face-to-face contact to foster trust and communication. For example, members of the IPT from PM GPM2S and TACOM-Warren travelled to ANAD, a key location in the process, to ensure the urgency of the mission was well understood, along with establishing the process map for refurbishment and shipping. In addition, periodic face-to-face meetings are also required after the team is formed and working to ensure that project status is tracked accurately and that priorities are properly communicated.
A specific lesson for time-sensitive cases is the existence of the Special Defense Acquisition Fund (SDAF). This is a revolving fund administered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) that may not be familiar to many program managers. Authorized in 1981, it was specifically created to allow for the acquisition of defense articles and services in anticipation of a future FMS sale. Tapping into this fund allowed PdM GPM2S to order some long-lead items early, thereby shaving approximately one month from the program schedule.
Finally, PdM GPM2S learned the value of indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts in responding rapidly to a surge in requirements. PdM GPM2S’ parent organization, Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS) maintains numerous ID/IQ contracts for artillery and mortar munitions, both at the subcomponent level and for the load, assemble, and pack (LAP) of all-up rounds. Once established, these contracts allow for the rapid procurement of parts, projectiles or cartridges from any one of several qualified suppliers to meet surge demands. Traditionally, the procurement of major weapon systems have been focused on meeting U.S. requirements only and therefore have not required this flexibility and responsiveness.
The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) and Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System (PPBES) processes normally provide PMs with years to decide on a contracting strategy, build the required procurement packages, and perform competitive selections. If a PM wants to be able to respond quickly to future foreign demands, they must have more foresight and be willing to put in the extra work up front to ensure that more flexible and responsive contract vehicles are available to them when needed.
As the nation winds down from the latter of two large conflicts, our need to procure large numbers of weapons will taper off. This may lead to a risk of losing valuable parts of our military industrial base. At the same time, however, many of our potential allies now recognize more than ever that the United States has the best-equipped Army in the world. As a result, they would now like to equip their own forces with weapon systems that are as safe, effective and reliable as ours. This situation offers up the opportunity to supplement domestic weapons procurement with foreign sales to maintain our own ability to respond to future conflicts. Wherever possible, PMs should prepare in advance to respond to security cooperation and security assistance cases with high-quality, timely, and cost-effective support so that we are the supplier of choice.
By Bruce J. Huffman, TARDEC Public Affairs
DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. (March 21, 2014) — Working closely with Lockheed Martin and a conglomeration of Army technology, acquisition and user community stakeholders, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center successfully demonstrated an unmanned military convoy Jan. 14 at Fort Hood, Texas.
From a rooftop in the Fort Hood training area, military and industry VIPs saw firsthand how the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System, or AMAS, enabled two driverless Palletized Loading System prime movers and an M915 tractor trailer truck to seamlessly interact with a manned Humvee gun truck escort. The convoy negotiated oncoming traffic, followed rules of the road, recognized and avoided pedestrians and various obstacles, and then used intelligence and decision-making abilities to re-route their direction through a maze of test areas to complete both complex urban and rural line haul missions.
As the ground systems expert within the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, TARDEC develops, integrates and sustains the right technology solutions to address ever-changing threats and shifts in strategic, technological and fiscal environments. Flexibility and adaptability are vital to future systems, and AMAS is designed to provide a wide range of military vehicle platforms with optionally-manned capabilities that will increase safety and provide the warfighter with additional flexibility.
“We’re not looking to replace Soldiers with robots. It’s about augmenting and increasing capability,” said Col. Chris Cross, chief of Science and Technology at the Army Capabilities Integration Center.
Equipped with GPS, Light Detecting and Ranging systems, known as LIDAR, Automotive radar, a host of sensors and other high-tech hardware and software components, the common appliqué kit’s intelligence and autonomous decision-making abilities can be installed in practically any military vehicle, transforming an ordinary vehicle into an optionally manned version.
AMAS can also keep personnel out of harm’s way and provide Soldiers on manned missions with increased situational awareness and other safety benefits. For instance, AMAS also features collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist and a roll-over warning system, electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control. During manned missions, these additional safety features could theoretically increase Soldier performance. The robotic mode frees up the vehicle crew to more closely watch for enemy threats, while still leaving them the option of manually taking control of the vehicle when necessary.
“The AMAS hardware and software performed exactly as designed and dealt successfully with all of the real-world obstacles that a real-world convoy would encounter,” said AMAS Program Manager David Simon, with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
AMAS development aligns with Army goals for the Future Force. At an Association of the United States Army breakfast in Arlington, Va., Jan. 23, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno talked about the Army Modernization Strategy and the difficult decisions ahead.
“What is that leap-ahead technology that we need that could make a real difference for our Soldiers on the ground?” Odierno asked. “What is the technology that allows us to decrease the weight so we can be more expeditionary? I need tactical mobility for the future. We need to move towards mobility and try to determine how we sustain survivability while increasing mobility.”
In his just-released CSA Strategic Priorities, Odierno added that we must prioritize Soldier-centered modernization and procurement of proven technologies so that Soldiers have the best weapons, equipment and protection to accomplish the mission.
Another AMAS demonstration with more vehicles and more complex notional scenarios is scheduled for later this year.
“We are very happy with the results, but the AMAS must undergo more testing before it becomes deployable,” said TARDEC AMAS Lead Engineer Bernard Theisen.
“The vehicles and systems are replaceable, but nothing can replace the life of a Soldier. These systems keep Soldiers safe and make them more efficient,” he said.
TARDEC is the ground systems expert within RDECOM. It provides engineering and scientific expertise for Department of Defense manned and autonomy-enabled ground systems and ground support systems; serves as the nation’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology; and provides leadership for the Army’s advanced Science and Technology research, demonstration, development and full life cycle engineering efforts.
TARDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
TARDEC is also a TACOM Life Cycle Management Command partner. In this capacity, it is responsible for critical technology functions within the “acquisition — logistics — technology” system life-cycle model, including: technology maturation and integration; technology subject-matter expertise; systems-level engineering analysis; and systems engineering.
TARDEC provides engineering support for more than 2,800 Army systems and many of the Army’s and DoD’s top joint development programs. The organization is responsible for maximizing the research, development, transition and sustainment of technologies and integration across ground systems.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.
By Justin Eimers
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have named Tobyhanna the Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) for the Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Ground Control Stations (GCSs).
The decision by the four services’ Maintenance Interservice Support Management Offices recognizes the depot as the installation best suited for these repairs.
“Through the acquisition process, there is a lot of assessment that takes place, including core logistics analyses that look at our capabilities,” said Nick Caprioli, chief of the Business Development Division. “Tobyhanna was selected based on infrastructure, training and technical expertise for this type of work.”
Repair work will begin in FY16 with 19 GCSs scheduled per year, totaling more than 75 systems through FY18.
The Gray Eagle system is a long-range, high-altitude UAS that provides the capability to perform wide-area reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. It is also capable of relaying communications and can be equipped for attack missions. The system consists of the aircraft, GCS, data terminals and data links. Each GCS controls one Gray Eagle aircraft and is used by the operator to perform command and control, payload control and weapon launch operations.
Because of their complexity, Gray Eagle systems and components are currently replaced rather than repaired, exhausting money and resources. Depot personnel are developing cost-effective solutions to repair GCSes and increase capability. Tobyhanna recognizes that the assignment of this DSOR will enable the depot to be selected for additional DSORs for UAS equipment.
Katlin Edmunds, business development specialist, noted that revamping the DSOR decision process will also help substantially reduce costs and bring more UAS work to the depot.
“DSOR selection helps ensure effective use of commercial and organic depot maintenance resources,” she said. “We have been aggressively trying to streamline processes, find inefficiencies and figure out the best way to accommodate new UAS workloads.”
Based on trends in the market, business management analysts anticipate that UAS will be the depot’s largest commodity in the future. As the only Army depot involved in the integrated product team (IPT) for Air Force and Army UAS, Tobyhanna is well positioned to receive workloads for additional UAS component repairs. The IPT is working with Tobyhanna to identify the need for any new test equipment, facilitation or training necessary for additional UAS work.
“Part of the planning process to bring in this workload is to have our engineers work with the program offices to make sure our capabilities are sufficient to provide the best solution for everybody involved,” said Caprioli. “The depot’s all-hands-on-deck approach to secure this DSOR selection has helped to increase our marketability and should open doors for future UAS workloads.”
DOD policymakers have complex array of tools
to help protect industrial capabilities
By Mr. Kris Osborn
As DOD grapples with multiple fiscal challenges, the Army and the Pentagon are stepping up efforts to sustain and preserve the health of the U.S. defense industrial base (IB) by assessing vendor capabilities, watching for mergers and acquisitions, and analyzing the supply chain for critical capabilities.
In its 2013 report to Congress on the health of the defense IB, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP) notes DOD’s tightening fiscal constraints and widespread concern about their effects on the IB, but says only a small portion of the IB is truly at risk. “DOD recognizes [that] only a small fraction of our enormous industrial base capabilities are truly at risk (fragile) and, therefore, in danger of disappearing without dedicated efforts to sustain them,” states the October 2013 report from MIBP, in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(ATL)).
That does not mean, however, that the risk is insignificant, the report states.
“The United States is in danger of losing some key industrial capabilities that will be vital for our future national security. Insufficient near-term demand for certain products will keep some companies below their minimum economic sustaining rates, making it financially challenging to keep workers with unique, technical expertise active enough to maintain their proficiency in these advanced skills,” the report states.
The fiscal pressures on the U.S. military in the coming months and years include a shrinking defense budget, the lingering effects of deep sequestration cuts last year, and the prospect of further sequestration cuts in 2014.
“We are now entering the second year where we are likely to face sequestration. The health of the industrial base is a question that is near and dear to the department’s leadership interests,” said Elana Broitman, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for MIBP.
The policy office is focused on vendors’ production capacity as well as the need to preserve or maintain a highly skilled, technically competent workforce. “In order to equip the warfighter, we depend upon a healthy industrial base that continues to innovate,” Broitman said. “The assessments of the industrial base that we do are an important tool in understanding how the industrial base will fare during this downturn.”
“We have to be aware of what’s happening with the industrial base with this country,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told a reporter for Breaking Defense on Nov. 22, 2013. “Whether you need a separate program to fund R&D or other things to keep some suppliers alive, I think that’s another question, but it’s worth asking.”
Army leaders often cite multiyear procurement contracts, foreign military sales (FMS) and industry outreach as examples of ways to support a prosperous path forward for industry.
Through the multiyear deals for the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter and CH-47 Chinook cargo aircraft, the Army can help solidify and sustain production expertise while simultaneously maintaining production capacity. The Army also is continuing a variety of IB assessments to identify potential areas of difficulty or challenge.
FMS, too, continue to have a strategic impact by helping to build partner capacity and, in some cases, sustain production capacity for a variety of needed technologies and systems. FMS have been a part of programs such as the Patriot missile, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and AH-64 Apache helicopter, among others.
As an example of how these various approaches can come together, the Army has conducted IB assessments related to Abrams tank modernization at the Lima Army Tank Plant, OH, also called the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center. These efforts focused on maintaining needed production capacity as well as engineering and manufacturing expertise. FMS are a part of this calculus as well, because there is an upcoming period of time in which the Army plans to temporarily pause its tank modernization line.
The Army works closely with the other services and Pentagon leadership to coordinate efforts and collectively develop mitigation strategies. If one of the services is producing a given technology, that may help another service maintain production capacity for a desired system.
The MIBP office relies on a data repository created through a Pentagon-led multiyear IB assessment called Sector-by-Sector, Tier-by-Tier (S2T2). The S2T2 database looks at vendor capability, supply chain issues and manufacturing details regarding the production of critical components, platforms and technologies.
S2T2 is a starting point for assessments of all defense components. The information in S2T2 is used to manage DOD’s investments more effectively, to ensure a healthy IB for key sectors that are critical to future capabilities. All of the vendor-specific information is kept in strict confidence and is therefore not publicly available.
While still an ongoing project, most of the work of S2T2 is complete, Broitman said.
She described S2T2 as an invaluable resource. “With S2T2, we really delve deep into each tier of the supply chain in order to be accurate [as to] whether a particular company is critical, meaning if it goes away, no other company could fill its spot, so the entire supply chain is at risk,” she said. The S2T2 data repository includes a detailed examination of relationships between second- and third-tier suppliers.
“The effect on these firms is especially important to emphasize, since a substantial portion, often 60-70 percent, of defense dollars provided to prime contractors is subcontracted,” states the 2013 MIBP report to Congress. “Many of these subcontractors, and their own suppliers, are small and innovative firms.”
POSSIBLE POINTS OF FAILURE
“Single points of failure” is another key phrase in the lexicon of Pentagon IB policymakers, who look for instances in which the ability to produce a certain product could go away. “On single points of failure, we look at the fragility and criticality of the supply chain,” Broitman said.
“Whether you need a separate program to fund R&D or other things to keep some suppliers alive, I think that’s another question, but it’s worth asking.”
She added that these points tend to be more common among products or technologies that are manufactured solely for DOD, meaning that there is no alternative commercial use or market for the product.
One analyst agreed, explaining that industries with a large commercial audience are likely to be more stable in what they can provide DOD during a downturn. “For example, you have a commercial airliner industry that is going really well. Companies without diversification elsewhere [beyond DOD] will have a much harder time,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group Corp., a Virginia-based consultancy.
Aboulafia added that the Pentagon, in its examination of the IB, might want to emphasize individual companies on a case-by-case basis instead of taking a sector-by-sector approach, because there is significant diversity within sectors. One company in a given sector might be diversified with commercial products or multiple defense programs, whereas another may not, he explained.
At the same time, Broitman noted, an IB issue could emerge regarding a product available in parts of the world, but that the United States would like to ensure is produced domestically.
Another analyst wondered if single points of failure might, in reality, merely translate to market price increases for particular products.
“A single point of failure may become a price increase because there is almost always someone who will make something if the price is right,” said Benjamin H. Friedman, senior fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank.
Friedman said globalization and the “netting” together of markets are likely to make DOD less dependent on one particular source of supply. He emphasized that the free-market would is well suited to address most IB issues.
“The more technically difficult or complex it is to produce something, the more we should worry about an ability to make it at low cost,” he added.
Mitigation strategies also are a large part of the IB policy equation, wherein the Pentagon employs a particular approach to foster competition, sustain production or identify key areas of needed investment.
Such strategies may involve DOD investment in a particular product or area in order to preserve the supply chain and critical core capabilities.
DOD recognizes its responsibility to maintain a robust IB for the long term and to enhance industrial capacity “by investing in those defense unique items that will support future acquisition programs,” the report to Congress states. Sequestration and longer-term budget cuts could limit capital market confidence in the defense industry. “Faced with this continued uncertainty, companies will be less willing to make internal investments in their defense portfolios or more likely abandon them altogether,” particularly smaller, innovative and niche-product companies with fewer resources to cushion the fiscal pressures, the report states.
This is where DOD can play a role. The report notes that earlier Pentagon decisions to invest in important IB technologies and capabilities when defense spending was on the decline led to pivotal programs such as the F-16, the Abrams tank, and the Patriot air and missile defense system.
“We’re not looking to invest forever,” Broitman said. “When we do this, it is a temporary solution. We need to know if, at the end, there is a way forward for the company without us.” DOD is careful to analyze the market to ensure that any investment will prove both relevant and worthwhile. It is important to keep pace with market changes and technological progress, Broitman said.
“We don’t want to spend money if a particular product will be moving to the next generation by the time there is an exit strategy,” she explained.
DOD has invested in a number of areas over the past several years to preserve critical capabilities—for example, lightweight materials, GPS-related technologies, rocket components and battery items, Broitman said.
There are various avenues of funding for mitigation strategies, including use of the Defense Production Act and the DOD technology program ManTech, Broitman said.
“We try to do small, flexible, nimble investments,” she said.
MIBP’s 2013 report to Congress warns against expectations that DOD will simply spend more on procurement to solve IB challenges. “Now, more than ever, buying products beyond what is required is not an option, no matter how much those products may protect key industrial base capabilities by generally exercising the entire industrial base,” the report states. “We simply cannot pursue a strategy that ultimately results in solving ‘million dollar’ problems with ‘billion dollar’ solutions.”
Rather, DOD is weighing options along a spectrum between program cancellation and completed full-scale production. “These options include upgrading or extending the service life of existing programs, hovering or slowing ongoing programs, shelving or rolling over technology for future systems, executing planned low-rate procurements, and/or choosing silver bullet procurements of successful prototypes,” the report states.
Of those possible approaches, the report identifies two with the greatest promise for keeping the IB intact during long intervals between new major weapon program starts:
• Selective low-rate procurements, also known as block production.
• A hedging approach that produces a highly capable system with a high-technology operational advantage against current or near-term threats and, at the same time, forms a basis to build out larger production runs if necessary, while preserving critical human, manufacturing and technical capabilities.
For more information, go to http://www.acq.osd.mil/mibp/.
MR. KRIS OSBORN is a reporter for Military.com. Previously he was 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, and has done graduate work in international relations at the University of Chicago.
- Previoulsy published in Army AL&T magazine (Jan-March 2014 edition).
By Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs Office
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 12, 2014) — Entering the Army Acquisition Corps necessitates enlisted Soldiers to meet specific education and certification requirements outlined in federal statutes in order to execute contracts on behalf of the government and maintain readiness.
Soldiers in the 51C military occupational specialty attached to the Mission and Installation Contracting Command arrive having completed training on the basic fundamentals of contracting before promptly entering a carefully mapped training regimen under the observant direction of a mentor.
Helping steer their development is the MICC 51C Contingency Contracting Officer Rotational Training Plan and a proficiency guide that outline a structured approach and defines training guidelines and participant responsibilities. The plan charts training, education and experience requirements on a rotational schedule alongside MICC civilian professionals allowing uniformed members to gain experience and certification necessary in performing operational contract support in garrison and during contingency operations.
“Attaching Soldiers to the MICC was a deliberate decision by the Army Contracting Command to broaden their proficiency in contracting while increasing readiness,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bowens, the MICC command sergeant major. “Accomplishing the necessary steps in a timely manner to achieve appropriate certification is at the core of readiness. I cannot overstate the importance of this as a critical mission component.”
The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, or DAWIA, sets forth core standards in acquisition and functional training as well as education and experience for contracting certification at three levels for both uniformed and civilian members in the workforce.
Soldiers also have the opportunity to work toward certification by attending several in-resident courses to include the three-week Army Acquisition Foundation Course, four-week Army Basic Contracting Course and four-week Army Acquisition Intermediate Contracting Course in Huntsville, Ala., provided by the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence. The AACoE is a centralized training, education, and career development school for Army acquisition officers, noncommissioned officers, and Department of the Army civilians. The center integrates Army institutional training, education, and career development courses for the acquisition, logistics, and technology workforce.
Contracting experience essential for certification ranges from one year for DAWIA Level I certification to two years for Level II and four years for Level III. Eligible Soldiers and civilians may request to substitute a year of education for a year of experience when seeking their Level II and III certifications.
Donna VanGilder is the chief of training and readiness for MICC Operations. She explained that the requirement for enlisted Soldiers to obtain certification is also coupled with their grade. Staff sergeants are required to obtain a minimum Level I certification; sergeants first class should attain their Level II certification; and those in the grade of master sergeant and above must achieve their Level III certification.
Acquisition and functional training involve successfully completing multiple online and a few resident DAWIA courses in varied subjects to include contract planning, execution and management, cost and price analysis, contract structure and format, and Federal Acquisition Regulation fundamentals for basic certification. Intermediate courses explore legal considerations, source selection, managing government property, analyzing contract costs and negotiation. Advance certification training focuses on contracting for decision makers, construction contracting, cost accounting standards and acquisition law. Additional developmental training is also needed depending on the type of assignment and activity individuals represent.
Perhaps proving most demanding for enlisted Soldiers in the 51C MOS is satisfying the education requirement, according to VanGilder.
“A minimum education requirement of a bachelor’s degree in any field of study with at least 24 hours in business disciplines is required to obtain certification in the contracting career field,” she said.
A threshold of certification is established by the office of the principle deputy to the Army acquisition executive. Civilian interns and officers enter the acquisition workforce already possessing the necessary education, and approximately 96 percent are certified or within the grace period of accomplishing their appropriate certification. VanGilder said approximately 34 percent of enlisted members have achieved their necessary certification level against a threshold of 94 percent.
“Much of the delinquency is due to accomplishing the education requirement in time to obtain certification,” she said.
While she anticipates that enlisted certification percentage to improve significantly in the next few months, is still falls below that necessary to ensure readiness.
The decision to begin assessing uniformed members into the 51C contracting career field came about in late 2006 to meet the Army’s increasing need for contingency contracting officers. The integration of approximately 400 Soldiers to contracting offices throughout the MICC began in March 2013 as a means to streamline the span of control from oversight of uniformed service members stateside while enhancing their professional development.
As the influx of enlisted Soldiers into the 51C MOS continues, education is becoming more of a discriminator due to certification requirements. This stipulation has become a key element in a competitive selection process to enter into the career field, according to career field officials.
“NCOs are judged on a ‘total Soldier’ concept, with primary areas of emphasis consisting of completion of a bachelor’s degree and rated leadership time on an NCO evaluation report carrying the most significance,” said Master Sgt. Eric Sears, chief of the 51C Proponent NCO at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.
Sears added other factors influencing selection include total time in service and letters of recommendation. Applications are now being accepted through April 4 for the next 51C selection board with results to be announced in May.
Entering the 51C MOS comes with the recognition that its demands are not limited to civilian education and DAWIA certification as Soldiers also must maintain all aspects of readiness.
“It can be really difficult since they still have to take into consideration family commitments, soldiering tasks such as weapons qualification and physical training, deployments and contingency training exercises,” VanGilder said.
Soldiers begin their training with simplified contract actions alongside civilian contracting professionals. Simplified actions include the acquisition of supplies and services, including minor construction, research and development, and commercial items not exceeding a threshold of $150,000. They then move on to more complex contracts until they become proficient in all procedures making up the contracting lifecycle from pre-award and award to administration, including closeout.
“Technical, hands-on training is a critical component in developing contracting skills,” Bowens said, “but achieving all aspects required of certification is necessary to remain committed to the Army profession.”
The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter at Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In fiscal 2013, the command executed more than 43,000 contract actions worth more than $5.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.1 billion to American small businesses. The command has also managed more than 780,000 Government Purchase Card Program transactions this fiscal year valued at an additional $880 million.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the certification for contracting Soldiers. Following articles will highlight success stories and developmental benefits of obtaining certification.
Education and training opportunities
By USAASC Acquisition, Education and Training Branch
2014 Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP): Applications will be accepted starting March 12- April 21. Following a review board, selections will be announced the week of May 19, 2014. Acceptance requires a three-year civilian service agreement (CSA). Acceptance to the program one year does not guarantee acceptance in subsequent years. Additional information and application instructions are available on the SLRP webpage.
Defense Acquisition University-Senior Service College Fellowship (DAU-SSCF): The announcement opened Jan. 29 and closes April 2. This Military Education Level One (MEL-1) Army-approved SSCF provides SSC equivalency at your local commuting area if you live in Maryland (Aberdeen Proving Ground), Alabama (Huntsville), or Michigan (Warren). The purpose of the SSCF is to provide leadership and acquisition training to prepare senior level civilians for senior leadership roles such as product and project managers, program executive officers and other key acquisition leadership positions. Participants not only graduate from an SSC, they will also complete the Army Program Managers Course (PMT 401), and have the option to complete a master’s degree. For additional information on this great GS-14/15 SSC, visit the DAU-SSCF website.
The announcement can be accessed through the Army Acquisition Professional Development System (AAPDS). Log in at the Career Acquisition Management Portal (CAMP). Next, click on Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAPPMIS). Once in CAPPMIS, select the AAPDS tab, and then select the Application Module link. Click on Apply and view all Army DACM available opportunities.
REMINDER: Applicants need to complete the Civilian Education System (CES) advanced course prior to the start of the fellowship. If interested applicants have not yet completed the resident portion of the advanced course due to lack of seat availability, a waiver may be requested.
Naval Post Graduate School – Master’s of Science in Program Management (NPS-MSPM): The announcement closes March 18, 2014. NPS is the premier director of acquisition career management (DACM)-funded master’s degree program, and offers an opportunity to complete a master’s of science in program management on a part-time basis within two years. The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) Army DACM Office is the sponsor of the NPS-MSPM program and will fund the tuition and book costs.
This eight-quarter part-time degree opportunity is open to permanent civilian members of the Army acquisition workforce who are GS-11-15 or broadband or pay band equivalent and have met their current position Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certification requirement. The target audience for the NPS-MSPM program is high-performing workforce members who have been identified by their organization as demonstrating the potential for positions of increased responsibility. Because of limited funds, this program is primarily intended for our Army acquisition applicants who do not currently have a master’s in an acquisition- or business-related discipline. Eligible Army acquisition workforce members must first obtain a letter of acceptance from the NPS prior to submitting an application through the USAASC Army DACM Office for consideration of funding. Selection of applicants will depend on funding availability.
For additional details and application instructions, visit the NPS-MSPM website.
School of Choice (SOC): There will not be a SOC announcement in FY14 because of the current fiscal environment. Should a command have an urgent need to send a high performing workforce member to obtain his or her bachelor’s or master’s degree during duty-time, please contact the AET Branch Chief Scott Greene to discuss potential for the DACM office to fund.
Having trouble keeping the dates straight? All of the opening and closing dates noted above are also posted to the USAASC Events Calendar.
Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training
FY15 DAU Course Registration: The FY15 course schedule will launch May 15. Students must plan their training schedule to ensure all required prerequisites outlined in the DAU iCatalog are met prior to registering for FY15 courses. Advance planning and applying early allows for timely completion of certification requirements and afford students a better opportunity to secure a reservation in their desired timeframe. Once open, eligible students should apply immediately in the Army Training Requirements (ATRRS) and Resources Internet Training Application System (AITAS) by selecting a “C” next to the most cost-effective class location. Encourage your supervisor to approve the training request as soon as you apply. Supervisors must approve the training prior to further processing by the USAASC registration office.
FY14 DAU Course Registration: Students should continue to apply to the FY14 schedule using AITAS.
Student Application Profile: It is imperative that both student and supervisor email addresses are correctly listed on the AITAS student profile. For students with a disability, please ensure you select “Yes” on your student profile. This selection prompts a DAU Student Services representative to contact the student directly with additional questions and provide reasonable accommodations for student during the training period. For more information on DAU training to include, systematic instructions, training priority definition or FAQs, please visit DAU Training website.
Low-fill Classes: A weekly low-fill listing, posted on DAU’s website, allows students the 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 for priority 2 students and 40 days for priority 3-5 students. Please remember that even if a class is on the low-fill list, students must choose the designated cost-effective location to minimize travel cost.
Alternate Delivery Method Courses: DAU continues to pilot innovative delivery methods to provide the same level of seat capacity of 57,000 and providing effective learning assets. Alternate delivery methods for student pilots include video teleconferencing (VTC), Telepresence using high-definition resolution, Defense Connect Online (DCO), and flipped classroom. The pilots will continue to run until the end of FY14. Upcoming pilots include ACQ 370, class 951 at Chester, Va., using flipped classroom format. Students interested in attending this pilot offering should apply in AITAS. This class is scheduled for three and a half days starting April 15 and ending at noon Eastern time, April 18. You will be required to complete several online activities that include several reading assignments, preparing and submitting a written summation of the readings, viewing a video, completing a group project, and taking a quiz. For more information, visit the flipped classrooms website.
College of Contract Management (CCM): CCM is now a new business unit under DAU with the primary goal to support tailored training for Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) employees. DAU deployed two new resident courses offered under the College of Contract Management (CCM), CMA 211 – Joint Government Flight Representative (GFR) and CMA 221-Joint Government Ground Representative (GGR). This is a certification course intended for those who will serve as an appointed GFR or GGR. If you are a supervisor or commander, contracting officer, contractor employee, or of another non-aircraft operations discipline who is interested in this subject matter, please pursue the Continuous Learning Module, CLX 110, “Fundamentals of GRF and GGR”. Commands must fund travel for both courses. DCMA employees, please seek travel funding from your unit.
DAU deployment of Single Sign-On (SSO): DAU recently deployed a single sign-on (SSO) capability, which allows users to authenticate once and have access to multiple applications within DAU for which they have privileges. SSO will allow users many self-service options such as resetting your own DAU password and re-activating login accounts without having to call the DAU Help Desk to reset or reactivate accounts to the DAU Virtual Campus; access to communities of practice hosted on Acquisition Community Connection; and other knowledge sharing resources like the Defense Acquisition Portal. The deployment of SSO did result in latency issues causing a high call volume to the DAU helpdesk. For quicker assistance, DAU advises students to email instead of calling the helpdesk.
- If you have questions on any Acquisition Education, Training, and Experience (AETE) programs or DAU Training, please contact the the AETE Branch Chief Scott Greene @ firstname.lastname@example.org
By U.S. Army Research Laboratory public affairs
ADELPHI, Md. (March 10, 2014) — The Pentagon Channel’s pilot episode of Armed with Science is airing at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. (ET), today, and will delve into Army Research Laboratory and Naval Research Laboratory science that shapes the future of defense.
The show takes viewers inside the minds of military scientists who improve national defense with infrared imaging, robotic satellite repair and novel weapons design during its debut.
Defense producers from the Defense Media Activity conceptualized the program to shed light on the “seed corn of science and technology,” or basic and applied science.
“‘Armed with Science’ tells the military’s story about scientific discovery and innovation that begins decades before an application reaches the military market,” said Thomas Moyer, U.S. Army Research Laboratory public affairs director. “The pilot will be successful if it gets people thinking about technological advances for our nation’s warfighters.”
The best kept secret in innovation is the scientists and engineers behind the military’s scientific breakthroughs, Moyer said. “The American public often has no idea of the research and development that military scientists tirelessly put into a single application to protect men and women in uniform.”
The pilot episode explores the Army’s super materials that operate across a spectrum of extreme environments to protect Soldiers against threats they haven’t seen yet. The materials that scientists and engineers design at an atomic scale will make up game-changing electronics, munitions and armor for the military of the future.
In the show’s second segment, host George Zaidan visits the NRL Space Robotics Laboratory where scientists are developing robotic technology that can help repair, reposition, or update satellites that are beyond human reach, about 20,000 miles higher than the Hubble Space Telescope. These satellites are critical for Navy and Marine Corps operations, but cannot be repaired in orbit currently.
The show wraps up with “super vision,” or enemy detection made easier and faster with infrared radiated light that gives Soldiers the capability to see when there is zero visibility. It took countless hours and the aid of the Army’s super computers to make thermal image detection good enough to detect very cold objects and fast-moving targets. The Army scientists behind the technology talk about how the discovery was made.
The Pentagon Channel will show encore airings of the pilot episode March 13, at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/LiveStream.aspx.
ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY RESEARCH LABORATORY
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command is the Army’s corporate laboratory, consisting of more than 1,900 federal employees (nearly 1,300 classified as scientific and engineering) and is headquartered in Adelphi, Md. The laboratory’s in-house experts work with academia and industry providing the largest source of world-class integrated research and analysis in the Army. For more information, visit the ARL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness – technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment – to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.
ABOUT THE U.S. NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy’s full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,800 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for more than 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today’s world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
ABOUT THE PENTAGON CHANNEL
The Pentagon Channel is the Department of Defense’s satellite television channel, and broadcasts military news and information programs to about 2.6 million members of the U.S. armed forces – active duty, National Guard and Reserve. It airs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Pentagon Channel is available to more than 1.3 million service members on more than 370 military bases, camps and installations in the U.S. The channel is also available to the 800,000 service members and their families serving overseas in 177 countries via the American Forces Radio and Television Service.
The Pentagon Channel reaches more than 30 million households through commercial distribution on satellite and cable systems nationwide. DISH Network, Verizon FiOS and divisions of Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Mediacom, RCN, Armstrong, Midcontinent, Knology, GCI, and a number of smaller cable companies and local access channels in communities around the country carry the Pentagon Channel. In addition, Pentagon Channel programming is streamed live 24/7 at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil, and its programming is available on video-on-demand, and podcast from this website.
By Audra Calloway
ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (March 10, 2014) — Picatinny scientists and engineers have established a pilot production facility to create the Army’s only in-house process for scaling up chemical compounds, a move that could save money by not having to rely on costlier compounds from outside suppliers.
The Picatinny engineers are manufacturing tetranitrocarbazole, or TNC, the compound that serves as the “first-fire” composition for pyrotechnics, such as illumination rounds, signal grenades, mortars and artillery rounds.
The “first fire” is what starts ignition within the system.
“This is the only pilot facility like it in the Army, and ARDEC is trying to leverage its expertise for developing manufacturing processes,” explained Stacey Yauch, chemical engineer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.
“Most of the military’s explosive manufacturing processes are developed by the contractors,” explained Yauch.
“An ARDEC engineer might develop the compound, but the manufacturing process is typically developed by the contractor,” Yauch explained. “It’s difficult for the government to find competition between sources to get a better price because the contractor who develops the process always has an upper hand in the competition.
“If we develop the process here, we can then provide it to industry to attract potential manufacturers, which would mitigate risk to manufacturers on process development cost and time.”
Development of the process to produce TNC scale up is being done by ARDEC and the Program Executive Office Ammunition’s Project Manager Joint Services.
The pilot-scale production process will be developed in the Flexible Nitration Facility at ARDEC. The production process will be optimized, documented, and transitioned to a full-scale facility to produce TNC at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Crane, Ind.
The pilot “scale up” first began in a lab with chemists creating grams of TNC initially, eventually working up to two pounds of the substance. While in the lab, the engineers recorded data such as heat rates, reaction times and temperature, and optimized the process as best they could.
Next, ARDEC transitioned the lab scale process to the pilot manufacturing facility that includes crystallization and nitration equipment.
“At this point it’s not a lab anymore,” Yauch said, “You’re not working with beakers and test tubes. It’s regular equipment used in industry, but at a smaller scale. Once it leaves this stage it evolves to full-scale production.”
So far, Yauch and her team have successfully produced small quantities of TNC. The next step is to reproduce a couple of batches at the 10-to-20-pound scale.
“Right now we’re in 20- or 30-gallon reaction sizes,” Yauch said. “When you’re at a 10 or 20-pound scale you can start modeling what will happen at full scale when you’re making thousands of pounds.”
However, the process at the pilot production facility is different than the process working in a lab due to the nature of the different equipment.
“You have a general optimization of your temperatures and times, but it will change when you bring it up to this scale,” Yauch explained. “There’s a learning curve. Initially we didn’t get amount of TNC expected, so we stopped to determine the cause we were able to determine the reaction was not complete due to low temperature and short residence time. Once the problem was identified, we were able to obtain purer product on the second trial.”
The TNC process created by ARDEC could be ready to transition to manufacturers by the end of March 2014.
Once the TNC production process is completed, it will be transferred to the Project Manager Combat Ammunition System for use in mortar and illumination rounds.
- ARDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
- ARDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
By Amy Walker and Claire Heininger, PEO C3T
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 10, 2014) — With drastically reduced startup and shutdown times, a new, easy to use graphical interface and improved troubleshooting tools, the Army’s mobile tactical network backbone system recently completed a key test.
In line with the Army’s overall effort to simplify the network so it more resembles technology that Soldiers operate in their daily lives, the changes to Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 2 reflect a network that is easier to operate and maintain.
“We want an ‘on’ switch for the network — we want it to be absolutely transparent to Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, which manages the WIN-T program. “When you pick up a cell phone, how much training do you need to make it work? It’s intuitive, and that’s how the Army network should be.”
WIN-T Increment 2 enables deployed Soldiers operating in remote and challenging terrain to maintain voice, video and data communications while on the move, with connectivity rivaling that found in a stationary command post. The reduced complexity and increased reliability provided by the system’s latest improvements are also expected to increase its utility on the battlefield and reduce dependence on Signal Soldiers to operate and maintain the equipment. Any Soldier can now take greater advantage of the new WIN-T Increment 2 network status and troubleshooting capabilities that provide them with a more robust and reliable network.
The WIN-T Increment 2 enhancements, based on Soldier feedback from theater and the Network Integration Evaluations, or NIEs, are being assessed during two intensive developmental tests executed at the Aberdeen Test Center, or ATC, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. The first of these tests was completed in late February, with Soldiers putting a large part of a brigade’s worth of equipment through its paces in a tactical environment. The event was conducted over a 27-day period including five days of dry runs and eight days of record test, approximately 800 training hours and 21 network nodes, including 16 mobile nodes that drove 8,000 miles during the test. The second developmental test is scheduled for June 2014, and a follow-on operational test and evaluation is planned for the NIE 15.1 in October-November 2014.
Efforts to enhance the system began immediately after NIE results confirmed the need to improve WIN-T Increment 2 usability, and officials described the improvements as an ongoing process involving user juries and human machine design experts. While the nature of the system — it combines a number of routers, switches, modems, software, encryption devices, radios and antennas typically found in a command post and installs them as one package in a tactical vehicle — means it will never be as fast and easy as a commercial smartphone, the Army will continue to drive the technology to be more intuitive, easier to use and more effective for the Soldier.
“We took a hard look at the system at the engineering level, every component in great detail, to see where we could reduce complexity,” said Lt. Col. LaMont Hall, product manager for WIN-T Increment 2. “We reduced things like the time it takes and the number of steps required to start up the system, the time it takes to conduct operational tasks, the number of logins and clicks — all in an effort to simplify everything as much as possible to reduce the burden on the Soldier.”
WIN-T Increment 2 provides enhanced capabilities over the previously fielded WIN-T Increment 1 and its upgrades, including network-equipped vehicles that provide the on-the-move communications and situational awareness that commanders need to lead from anywhere on the battlefield. The changes to the system enhance the capabilities of the WIN-T Increment 2 Soldier Network Extension, or SNE, vehicle, which provides network communication and extension capabilities at the company level, and the Point of Presence, or PoP, which provides mobile mission command at the battalion level and above.
As part of these improvements, the Army automated the startup for the PoP and SNE, significantly reducing the complexity and length of the startup process. More than a dozen buttons and switches were reduced to a single startup switch, dropping the total time to get a networked vehicle up and running from over 12 minutes to four and a half minutes.
On the battlefield, commanders and Soldiers use WIN-T Increment 2 to quickly access mobile communication applications such as Tactical Ground Reporting, chat and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) calls. The new upgrades cut in half the time it takes to launch these applications, while increasing the performance of Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P, the friendly-force tracking and messaging application Soldiers rely on for situational awareness.
“We also spent a lot of time looking at the user interface and what we could do to improve it so it is easier for the Soldier to operate,” Hall said. “It’s much more intuitive now, more of the smartphone mentality, easier to understand and use, with larger buttons that are easier to see.”
The SNE’s Combat Net Radio, or CNR, Gateway takes advantage of the vehicle’s on-the-move satellite communication systems to help extend lower tactical internet radio networks and keep them connected. To improve capability, CNR Gateway operations were simplified and automated; operational steps to start it up were reduced from nearly a dozen manual steps to a single log-in and a click. Now Soldiers merely select and connect, with mere seconds to execute.
Among the most important improvements to WIN-T Increment 2 are simplified and streamlined troubleshooting capabilities for the PoP and SNE, moving from an in-depth interface designed for the Signal Soldier to one more suitable for a general purpose operator. During the first developmental test, Soldiers were so eager to troubleshoot faults using their new tools that they fixed an antenna problem before data collectors could diagnose it.
Prior to these improvements, when a general purpose user or company commander had an issue, they could only troubleshoot approximately 20 percent of system issues themselves, and 80 percent of the time they have to call a field service representative, or FSR, or S6 [communications officer] to resolve it, officials said.
“We want to completely reverse those percentages,” Hall said. “Our intent now is let the general purpose user troubleshoot and resolve 80 percent of those issues.”
The Army is also working to ensure that it is providing the right network capabilities to the right echelons, so Soldiers are not asked to do things beyond their trained abilities, and to develop the right tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTPs, for communications equipment. This is especially true in lower echelons such as companies, which don’t have dedicated Signal Soldiers assigned. With the network serving as a key enabler for a smaller but still highly capable future force, the Army will continue to make changes to simplify the network, so commanders and Soldiers can focus on the fight.
“We have aggressively examined and tested every component of the WIN-T Increment 2 system,” said Col. Ed Swanson, project manager for WIN-T. “We will continue to improve both ease of use and reliability in advance of the next operational test and then beyond that; we’ll never stop improving this system for our Soldiers.”
At warfighters’ request, Army delivers award-winning ration enhancement to help them in extreme conditions
By Mr. Joseph Zanchi and Ms. Alexandra Foran
Warfighters in extreme, demanding operational environments need additional sustenance to complete their missions successfully—they simply need MORE. In this case, MORE is the Modular Operational Ration Enhancement, developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) as a direct result of requests from warfighters deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We received feedback from the field that some warfighters were losing weight and they needed extra calories,” said Julie Smith, a CFD senior food technologist. Smith, along with Jim Lecollier, chief of the Individual Rations Branch, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Troop Support, worked with their respective teams from 2008 through 2013 to develop the MORE family of ration supplements specifically to meet this need.
MORE provides additional nutrition to warfighters operating in high-stress environments when their caloric requirements exceed those provided by their daily operational rations. MOREs are designed to augment the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE), First Strike Ration (FSR) and Meal, Cold Weather/Long Range Patrol, as well as the family of Unitized Group Rations.
The MRE satisfies the Army surgeon general’s strict requirements for nutrition in operational rations. Each MRE provides approximately 1,300 calories. An FSR, which replaces three MREs, has an average of 2,900 calories per ration. The MORE has an average of 1,110 calories per package.
Army Regulation 40-25, “Nutrition Standards and Education,” a joint regulation of the surgeons general of the Army, Navy and Air Force, establishes nutritional standards, termed “military dietary reference intakes,” for military feeding. Among these are nutritional standards for operational rations and restricted rations.
When warfighters conduct dismounted operations in challenging terrain, carrying more than 100 pounds of equipment up and down the mountains of Afghanistan with elevations as high as 12,000 feet, they can burn significantly more calories than when operating at sea level.
The MOREs are designed to provide the additional calories and nutrients to supplement their MREs or FSRs and give them the nutrition they need.
MORE, HOT AND COLD
Currently, there are two types of MOREs targeted for the different extremes of operational environments—high altitude and cold weather, and hot weather. Each type has three different varieties, for a total of six different MORE packs.
CFD collaborated with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine to understand the unique nutritional needs of warfighters in these operational environments, said Smith.
“We reviewed literature and conducted focus groups to identify food preferences of warfighters when conducting missions in high altitude and cold weather, and hot weather environments.”
Three MREs a day provide warfighters with a minimum of 3,600 calories, satisfying their nutritional needs for most missions. “However, there are some instances during exceptionally heavy activity where warfighters will need between 4,500 and 6,000 calories per day,” said Smith. MORE provides that additional nutritional “oomph,” giving warfighters approximately 1,000 extra calories in a balance of carbohydrates, caffeine, electrolytes and vitamins for these operational environments.
The first MORE enhancement pack developed by CFD was the MORE – High Altitude/Cold Weather. At the time, military service representatives tasked CFD to develop an enhancement pack to counter weight loss and fatigue, and to improve the cognitive and physical performance of warfighters operating in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Increased energy requirements during high-altitude operations, coupled with symptoms of acute mountain sickness, made this a challenging requirement to meet.
Acute mountain sickness, with symptoms including anoxia, headache, nausea and vomiting, is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes. The faster you climb to a high altitude, the more likely you are to get acute mountain sickness. “The MORE is designed to be high in carbohydrates to combat acute mountain sickness. Research has shown that consuming a diet high in carbohydrates can lower the symptoms,” said Smith.
In hot weather environments, hydration is particularly important, which is why the MORE – Hot Weather includes two carbohydrate-and-electrolyte beverages. These two drinks are similar to sports drinks, providing not only pure energy in the form of carbohydrate, but also electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that warfighters sweat out. The electrolyte beverages are energy gels that come in mixed berry, orange and lemon-lime flavors. The carbohydrate beverages come in mixed berry, fruit punch and lemon-lime flavors.
MORE RESEARCH, TEST AND DESIGN
During the course of research and development on MORE, CFD conducted several focus groups and field evaluations. NSRDEC’s Operational Forces Integration Group and the Consumer Research Team collected feedback and input. Small focus groups involved warfighters from the 10th Mountain Division’s Light Fighter School at Fort Drum, NY, units that had deployed to Afghanistan and Army medical personnel.
Additional component selection and survey participation on the design selection, acceptability, convenience and benefit involved warfighters from the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare Training School at Camp Ethan Allen, Vt., and the Connecticut National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment Mountain Training Group.
CFD received an urgent-need request from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in 2009 for 10,000 units of MORE – High Altitude/Cold Weather to support the increase in troops deployed to Afghanistan.
MORE – Hot Weather prototypes were field-tested with the 75th Ranger Regiment at the Pre-Ranger Course at Fort Benning, Ga.. MORE prototypes were also provided to special operations forces during high-altitude training in Colorado; deployed units of Combined Joint Task Force 82 in Afghanistan; and to Engineer and National Guard Scout units at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom.
“We assessed results from individual ration field evaluations to identify ration components with the highest acceptability and consumption rates,” said Smith. “Feedback from warfighters indicated they preferred ration components that were easy-to-consume, eat-on-the-go, snack-type foods, rather than meals that would require time to heat and prepare.”
Each pack is calorically dense and weighs only three quarters of a pound. Packs are filled with popular items including caffeinated pudding, energy gels, carbohydrate-enhanced beverages, First Strike bars, nut mixes, crackers, caffeinated gum and Zapplesauce, which is applesauce fortified with maltodextrin, an energy-dense carbohydrate and a source of energy to help maintain physical performance.
“Zapplesauce and First Strike bars provide the warfighter with essential complex carbohydrate,” said Smith. Each food item serves a specific purpose for the warfighter. As with other operational rations, the goal is for the warfighter to consume every item to meet appropriate caloric needs.
For their work in developing MORE, Smith and Lecollier received the prestigious Col. Rohland A. Isker Award in 2013 for leading their respective teams in developing, transitioning, acquiring and fielding MORE. The award is an annual honor from the Research and Development Associates for Military Food and Packaging, better known as R&DA, to recognize civilian employees of the federal government or military personnel for outstanding contributions to national preparedness. Isker, a pioneer in Army food service research and development, founded R&DA in 1946.
“Our review board at R&DA felt the MORE project and the ultimate fielding of the ration supplement itself had the most beneficial impact on warfighters (Soldiers, Marines and special operators) of any recently introduced operational ration product,” said John McNulty, executive director of R&DA.
“MORE met a very compelling need to introduce much-needed calories and other nutrients into the diets of these warfighters during particularly stressful situations on the battlefield during extreme weather conditions. It was a success story that worked and received very high accolades from the field,” McNulty said.
MORE also provides warfighters with important enhancements to improve mental alertness and physical endurance and, like all CFD products, is “Warfighter Recommended, Warfighter Tested, and Warfighter Approved.” MORE is currently available for procurement through DLA Troop Support at http://www.troopsupport.dla.mil/subs/.
For more information, contact Joseph Zanchi at email@example.com
MR. JOSEPH ZANCHI is a logistics management specialist assigned to CFD at NSRDEC. He has a B.S. in business administration from Babson College and a certificate in project management from Boston University. Zanchi is Level III certified in life-cycle logistics.
MS. ALEXANDRA FORAN is a public affairs contractor at NSRDEC. She holds a B.A. in writing and journalism from Eastern Nazarene College.
- Previoulsy published in Army AL&T magazine (Jan-March 2014 edition).