Competitive Development Group welcomes 2014 fellows

    The Director, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC), Craig Spisak, welcomes seven new Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF) fellows during an orientation meeting at Defense Acquisition University on April 1, 2014. The three-year fellowship program offers developmental assignments in program executive offices, assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics and technology offices, U.S. Army Materiel Command Headquarters and functional organizations providing expanded training and leadership development for future Army acquisition leaders.

    From the left: Walter Hamm, U.S. Army Contracting Command; Maurice Stephens, Engineering Center and Communications Electronics Command; Kyle Bruner, Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T); Monica Clemons, U.S. Army Contracting Command, Chandra Evansmitchell, CDG/AFF program manager; Craig Spisak, USAASC director, Lauren McNew, PEO C3T; Kelly Courtney, PEO Combat Support & Combat Service Support and David Oatley, PEO Ammunition. (Photo by Bob Coultas)

    For more information on the CDG/AAF program go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/competitive-development-group-army-acquisition-fellowship/

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  • Network After Next

    Staff Sgt. Shelby Johnson, a squad leader with the 4-10 MTN, observes the area around Forward Operating Base Torkham, Afghanistan. Johnson is wearing the new CS 13 communications suite, which was integrated and validated through the Army’s NIE. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav, 4-10 MTN Public Affairs)

    CS 13 TEST BED
    Lt. Col. James DeOre watches the 4-10 MTN command team leave Nangalam Base. The unit was the first to deploy to Afghanistan with CS 13, which introduces mission command on-the-move and extends the network to the Soldier. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class E.L. Craig, 4-10 MTN Public Affairs)


    By Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, Col. Mark Elliott and Col. John Zavarelli


    Just weeks after deploying to Afghanistan last summer, the commanders and Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (4-10 MTN) christened the Army’s new tactical communications network their “digital guardian angel.” Capability Set (CS) 13 became critical to their daily operations in Afghanistan, enabling them to cover more ground safely and providing a considerable tactical advantage. Their experience shows why the Army pushed so hard over the past two years to deliver CS 13, our first integrated package of communication systems that supports mission command on-the-move and brings the Soldier into the network.

    But we owe it to the 10th MTN—and the units next in line for new network technologies—to go further. How do we continue to enhance and refresh the network with each capability set? How do we make the network more capable but less complex to use, train, maintain and sustain? How do we focus innovation on capabilities that could be transformative for the network of 2020 and beyond?

    The answers rest in our partnership with industry. Examine Moore’s Law—that the number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months—or simply look at your own cellphone: When the pace of progress is exponential, the Army cannot keep up by itself. To field the latest tactical communication technologies to Soldiers, we know we need industry’s agility, innovation and investment, especially in a fiscally constrained environment. Our approach to driving industry involvement in the next phase of network modernization is built on two principles: consistency and competition.

    Consistency is aimed at making the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) a more productive venue for businesses of all sizes to demonstrate their capabilities. While the Army is procuring commercial routers, antennas, network operations tools, operational energy solutions and other items as a result of the NIE process, it has taken several NIE cycles to refine the supporting processes for this new way of doing business. During that evolution, we have listened to feedback from our industry partners and are now implementing a new construct for NIE 15.1 and beyond.

    This new construct will give industry additional time to respond to more focused capability gaps. It will also be synchronized with Army program objective memorandum (POM) planning so that successful systems can transition smoothly into our portfolios.

    The other way we plan to engage the network industrial base is through more frequent competition. Government-owned waveforms and a standardized Common Operating Environment (COE) set the conditions for the Army to conduct more competitions for radios, apps and other network components—putting the “buy fewer, more often” acquisition philosophy into action.

    Testers from the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground roll down a road near Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on July 25, 2013, as they evaluate the MNVR system in a test involving more than 80 nodes throughout Fort Huachuca and the surrounding area. In September 2013, the Army awarded an initial contract for MNVR using a competitive non-developmental item acquisition approach designed to procure lower-cost, commercially available radios that meet the Army’s requirement for a mid-tier tactical network solution. (U.S. Army photo by Douglas Smith, LRC Communications Security Logistics Activity)

    This approach will give more vendors the opportunity to participate in building the network and give the Army the flexibility to choose from multiple technologies. By structuring contracts to facilitate competition among qualified vendors on a regular basis, we will also reduce system costs and ensure that we encourage the innovation that will lead to progress with each capability set. For example, Company A could win a delivery order competition one year and Company B could win the following year, but both would have an incentive to propose improved, affordable products for the year after that.

    The Army remains committed to the NIE process, which has proven its value within the Army and industry since its launch in 2011. Driven by Soldier feedback, lessons learned in past NIEs have allowed the Army to mature certain programs, restructure or terminate others and reallocate resources to new priorities. CS 13 was integrated, refined and validated through the NIEs—reducing the integration burden on the 10th MTN and 101st Airborne Divisions while helping develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for using the gear in the field.

    Industry partners who submitted their systems for assessment not only have received invaluable feedback from ­Soldiers and Army laboratories, but also have demonstrated the breadth of available commercial technology, informing the Army’s acquisition strategy for several key programs. The Army has spent $39 million to procure non-program of record, NIE-tested radios to field. Recently, Congress provided funding that gave the Army $9.3 million to procure several systems under evaluation from previous NIEs. The Army also has begun to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) as a formal mechanism for streamlined competitive procurement of non-program of record systems that show promise at the NIE.

    The first RFP process resulted in six contract awards to different vendors for their vehicle tactical routers to be evaluated at NIE 14.1 in fall 2013.
    While there has been great success, we have also hit some speed bumps in ramping up the NIE process. Frustrated vendors told us that the government’s capability gaps were too broadly defined, the funding was too scarce and the schedule too unpredictable. We understand industry’s challenges, and we are adjusting the NIE to better facilitate vendor participation while meeting the needs of the Army within budget constraints.

    Beginning with NIE 15.1 in fall 2014, the Army will add periodic network baseline assessments to pinpoint capability gaps that industry can zero in on for near-term network modernization. NIE 15.1 will assess the integrated network baseline to evaluate the performance of existing network capabilities and identify remaining gaps. This effort will be informed by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Network Capability Review, an ongoing study that aims to identify the proper mix of systems and their requirements to provide integrated tactical network capabilities within various formations.

    PEO C3T is training “super” digital systems engineers on vehicles equipped with components of CS 13, the Army’s first integrated network fielding effort that spans the entire brigade combat team formation, connecting the fixed command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. (Photo by Edric Thompson, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center)

    The capability gaps identified at NIE 15.1 will be fixed in place and released to industry so that their proposed solutions can be evaluated over the following two NIEs, 15.2 and 16.1. By identifying consistent gaps for two consecutive NIEs rather than releasing a new set with each exercise, the Army will increase industry’s lead time in developing and submitting mature capability solutions. NIE 16.2 will include another network baseline assessment. Then the updated gaps will be fixed in place and released to industry for two more NIEs, and the pattern will repeat for subsequent cycles.

    While the original NIE process was built to meet theater needs quickly, with the transition out of Afghanistan, the refined process will allow us to be more deliberate in determining and filling our network capability gaps. The new schedule and fewer, better-defined gaps will also allow the Army to better align NIE results with POM planning to inform procurement and fielding decisions for future capability sets.

    With these positive changes, it is still important to reiterate that the value of the NIE goes beyond acquiring systems. As the Army transitions from fighting two wars to preparing for future threats, the NIE will provide the operational laboratory to incrementally enhance the network, respond to the emerging needs of regionally aligned forces and assess dynamic “leap-ahead” capabilities—not just from industry, but also the Army science and technology community.

    NIEs will continue to integrate capability sets before fielding, refine TTPs, evaluate force design options and non-materiel requirements such as training, and give Soldiers a “vote” by collecting their feedback on all of these areas. NIEs remain a vital component of the Army’s modernization efforts.

    Since the advent of DOD’s Better Buying Power initiative, there has been increased attention to the benefits of competition. The rationale is clear: An environment in which multiple vendors compete to satisfy the same requirement can reduce cost, spur innovation, cultivate the industrial base and eliminate the single points of failure that come with dependence on one vendor. But to make a competition as effective as possible, the strategy must be tailored to the specific product and the current market. Fortunately, we are now hitting that “sweet spot” with a key part of the network—tactical radios.

    The current marketplace is primed for the Army to competitively procure advanced networking radios. The technical maturity achieved in the commercial, software-programmable radio field over the course of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) developmental effort has enabled industry to develop effective hardware solutions—radio “boxes”—more easily. Meanwhile, the Joint Tactical Networking Center (JTNC) maintains a data repository of secure networking waveforms and applications that adhere to open standards set by the government. The repository, along with the JTNC laboratory and accreditation resources, are accessible to vendors, allowing the waveforms to run on multiple hardware models that industry produces. Through our engagement with industry, including at the NIEs, we know that the technology now exists for a competitive marketplace of interoperable, affordable radios.

    Thus, the foundation is in place to execute the Army’s tactical radio strategy. In September 2013, we awarded an initial contract for Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radios (MNVR), using a competitive non-developmental item acquisition approach designed to procure lower-cost, commercially available radios that meet the Army’s requirement for a mid-tier tactical network solution.

    Now the Army is focused on executing full and open competitions, in which all industry partners can participate, for the full-rate production phases of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit Rifleman and Manpack radio programs. The goal is to decrease costs and drive down size, weight and power requirements while increasing system functionality and simplicity.

    While the details are still being finalized, the Army will conduct a full and open competition for each radio, and award contracts to qualified vendors meeting the Rifleman and Manpack radio requirements. Qualified vendors then will compete for delivery orders as needed by the Army, after qualification and operational tests to confirm compliance with technical and operational requirements.

    This constantly competitive environment promises to promote an active, engaged industrial base that has an incentive not only to lower prices but also to innovate for each capability set, ultimately improving the radios we deliver to Soldiers.

    Such multilayered, multiple-vendor- competition has shown success before, such as with the Consolidated Interim Single Channel Handheld Radio (CISCHR) contract, executed under the JTRS program. Initiated in 2007, CISCHR provided a contract vehicle for the joint services to procure government off-the-shelf and non-developmental, software-defined tactical handheld radios. While not a perfect comparison, CISCHR illustrates the potential advantages of a multiple-award contract that allows for delivery order competitions among vendors.

    Capt. Jonathan Page of the 4-10 MTN uses the Nett Warrior device connected to a Rifleman Radio at Nangalam Base, Afghanistan. The Army is conducting a full and open competition for the full-rate production phases of the Rifleman and Manpack radio programs. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class E.L. Craig, 4-10 MTN Public Affairs)

    Although this type of strategy can require more effort to manage, the money saved through competition far exceeds the administrative costs. CISCHR yielded an average savings of more than 40 percent, compared with the contractual ceiling prices over the life of the contract. It is also noteworthy that the radio technologies and features improved as a result of the vendors’ own investments.

    Radios aren’t the only network component for which the Army stands to benefit from increased competition. With the COE providing a comprehensive, standards-based open architecture, the Army can leverage industry’s state-of-the-art capabilities and best practices for other computing environment technologies.

    For example, many mission command systems previously developed by a single vendor as stovepiped boxes will be delivered instead as software applications, with multiple third parties competing to build and rapidly enhance them, broadening the market. The COE will also facilitate greater interoperability among various manufacturers’ systems, creating possibilities for common interfaces and common training as we work to simplify the network for the end user.

    The network remains a critical Army modernization priority. It is a core element in enabling the Army to produce a future force that is smaller but still highly capable. As we build on lessons learned from the first CS 13 brigades to deliver these essential technologies to more units across the force, the Army will engage industry through consistent NIEs and frequent competitions in order to improve and simplify network capabilities. Working as partners, we will continue to provide our Soldiers with the information they need to change the game.

    For further information, go to http://peoc3t.army.mil.

    Brig.Gen. DANIEL P. HUGHES is the Program Executive Officer Command, Control and Communications – Tactical. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington, an M.B.A. in business management from Oklahoma City University and an M.S. in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Hughes is Level III certified in program management. and is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC).

    Col. MARK ELLIOTT is the director, G-3/5/7 LandWarNet – Mission Command. He holds a B.A. in physics from the University of Alabama, an M.S. in telecommunication from Southern Methodist University and an M.A. in national security strategy with a concentration in information operations from the National Defense University’s National War College. Elliott is a certified information systems security professional and is certified in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.

    Col. JOHN ZAVARELLI is the director, system of systems integration (SoSI) in the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. He holds a B.S. in management from the University of Colorado and an M.B.A. in business management from the University of Texas at Arlington as part of the Industry-Grad program that included training with industry at Lockheed Martin Corp. Zavarelli is Level III certified in program management and is a member of the AAC.

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  • What Does It Mean to Be “a Defense Acquisition Professional”?

    From the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
    Frank Kendall


    One of the seven goals of Better Buying Power 2.0 is to improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce. I thought it might be useful to provide some specificity about what I have in mind when I talk about professionalism. The following is based on various experiences over my career, including some formal education on the nature of professionalism in the military, including at venues like West Point and the Army War College, in my on-the-job training in program management and systems engineering by various Air Force colonels in the Ballistic Missile Office, and by mentors in the Army’s Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command. I don’t intend this to be an academic discussion, however, but a hands-on practical application of the term “professional” in the context of defense acquisition.

    Defense acquisition professionals have a special body of knowledge and experience that is not easily acquired. Other professions such as attorneys, physicians, and military officers also have this characteristic. The situation for defense acquisition professionals is analogous. This characteristic applies equally to professionals in program management, engineering, contracting, test and evaluation, and product support, to name our most obvious examples. One should no more expect a lay person to make good judgments about something in these acquisition fields—be it a program structure, a risk mitigation approach, or the incentive structure of a contract—than one would expect an amateur to tell a lawyer how to argue a case, or a brain surgeon how to do an operation, or a brigade commander how to organize an attack. No one should expect an amateur without acquisition experience to be able to exercise professional judgments in acquisition without the years of training and experience it takes to learn the field. Like these other highly skilled professions, our expertise sets us apart. Defense acquisition professionals set the standards for members of the profession. One of the reasons we are establishing “qualification boards” for our various key senior leader fields is to infuse a greater element of this characteristic into our workforce. Our senior professionals should know better than anyone else what it takes to be successful as a key acquisition leader. A professional career-field board will make the determination, in a “peer review” context, whether an individual has the experience, education, training, and demonstrated talent to accept responsibility for the success of all, or a major aspect of, a multibillion dollar program. This is not a minor responsibility. These new boards are an experiment at this stage, but I am hopeful that they will take on a large share of the responsibility for enhancing and sustaining the expected level of preparation and performance of our key leaders. The boards will be joint, so that our professional standards are high and uniform across the defense Services and agencies. Setting standards for other members of the profession also encompasses the development and mentoring responsibilities that leaders at all levels, including AEs, PEOs, and other acquisition leaders, take on to strengthen and maintain the profession. They know that their most important legacy is a stronger—and more professional—workforce than the one they inherited.

    Defense acquisition professionals know how to deal with complexity. The problems we have to solve are not simple—we are developing and fielding some of the most complicated and technically advanced systems and technologies in military history. It is therefore an illusion to believe that defense acquisition success is just a matter of applying the right, easily learned “cookbook” or “checklist” approach to doing our jobs. There are no fixed rules that apply to all situations, and as professionals we know that a deeper level of comprehension is needed to understand how to make good decisions about such issues as technical risk mitigation, what incentives will best improve industry’s performance, what it will take to ensure that a product is mature enough to enter production, or how much testing is needed to verify compliance with a requirement. It is not enough to know acquisition best practices; acquisition professionals must understand the “why” behind the best practices—that is, the underlying principles at play. Many of our products consist of thousands of parts and millions of lines of code. They must satisfy hundreds of requirements, and it takes several years to bring them into production. Understanding and managing complexity is central to our work.

    “No one should expect an amateur without acquisition experience to be able to exercise professional judgments in acquisition without the years of training and experience it takes to learn the field.”

    Defense acquisition professionals embrace a culture of continuous improvement. The concept of continuous improvement should apply to our own capabilities as individuals, to the teams we lead, to the processes we create and manage, and to the acquisition outcomes we seek. Better Buying Power is built on the idea of continuous improvement, of measuring performance, of setting targets for improving that performance, and striving to reach them (“should cost” for example). We are willing to examine our own results and think critically about where we can achieve more, and we have the courage and character to learn from our mistakes and to implement constantly ideas for better performance. As leaders we encourage these behaviors in the people who work for us and who collaborate with us.

    Defense acquisition professionals practice and require ethical standards of behavior and conduct. Our ethical values guide how we interact with one another, with our supervisors, with industry, and with stakeholders including the public, media, and Congress. An Under Secretary whom I worked for decades ago told me once that when you lose your credibility you have nothing left—and you won’t get it back. We must speak truth to power about problems within our programs and about ill-advised guidance that will lead to poor results. Successful acquisition requires a culture of “telling bad news fast,” and that values accountability without a “shoot the messenger” mentality. Finally, it is particularly important that we treat industry fairly and with complete transparency.

    I hope that this doesn’t all come across as either preachy or aspirational. I believe that these are realistic expectations for defense acquisition professionals. I believe that they go a long way to defining what being a professional really means. My West Point class (1971) motto is “Professionally Done.” I have always thought that this is a pretty good motto, and a pretty good way to look back on a successful career or a completed project, including in defense acquisition.

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  • THE WRITE STUFF: Army AL&T Magazine Announces Annual ALTies Winners

    Army AL&T magazine Senior Editor Peggy Roth talks about working with contributors to shape their stories to fit an issue’s theme at the magazine’s second annual writer’s workshop. At right is Claire Heininger, editor/lead writer for PEO C3T, who was guest speaker at the workshop. (Photo by Catherine DeRan, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)


    By Steve Stark


    FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The award-winning Army AL&T magazine announced the winners of its annual “ALTies” awards, celebrating the best article, commentary, graphic, ad and photograph from 2013. Editor-in-Chief Nelson McCouch III presented the awards here today, following Army AL&T magazine’s second annual writer’s workshop at the U.S. Army Acquisition Service Center (USAASC) headquarters.

    “Each issue of Army AL&T is a collaborative process, a team effort,” McCouch said. “Without our contributors, who help us continually raise the bar on quality, we would not have a magazine. But we have a great one that gets better with every issue.” Claire Heininger, editor/lead writer for Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), and a regular Army AL&T contributor, was guest speaker at the workshop.

    McCouch also announced the new online version of Army AL&T, available at http://usaasc.armyalt.com/. The new online version of the magazine offers a significantly improved interface, simpler navigation, and enables users to share stories with friends and colleagues and through social media.

    This year’s ALTies went to:

    Writers workshop guest speaker, Claire Heininger, receives her ALTies runner-up award for best photograph from Editor-in-Chief Nelson McCouch III at the second annual Army AL&T writer’s workshop, March 27. (Photo by Uri Bombasi, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)

    BEST ARTICLE (tie)
    Wired for Success, by Lt. Col. Jeffery T. Yon and Mr. Jeffrey C. Faulkner, Reserve Component Automation Systems, Program Executive Office (PEO) Enterprise Information Systems, October–December 2013 issue.

    Path to Success, by Ms. Kelly Courtney, PM Force Projection, PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support, January–March 2013 issue.

    First Runner-up
    It Takes a Team, by Col. (now Brig. Gen.) William E. Cole, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (OASA(ALT)), July–September 2013 issue

    Speaking of Savings, by Mr. Thom Hawkins, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, and Mr. Vince Dahmen, PEO Ammunition, October–December 2013 issue

    First Runner-up
    Driving Competition, by Lt. Col. T.J. Wright, Product Manager for Precision-Guided Missiles and Rockets, PEO Missiles and Space, April–June 2013 issue

    Total Logistics Integration, Product Director, U.S. Army Logistics Modernization Program, January–March 2013 issue

    First Runner-up
    Introducing Capability Set 13, by Ms. Claire Heininger, OASA(ALT), January–March 2013 issue

    The Five Phases of the Unit Set Fielding Process, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, April–June 2013 issue

    First Runner-up
    Tiered Technical Knowledge, C4ISR Integrated Process Team, July–September 2013 issue

    U.S. Army Logistics Modernization Program, PEO Enterprise Information Systems, October–December 2013 issue

    First Runner-up
    Connecting Tomorrow’s Warriors, PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, October–December 2013 issue

    Army AL&T Magazine Writers Workshop Slide Presentation

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  • Security Cooperation – A Case Study

    Members of the CSTC-A NET team receive U.S. M224 60 mm mortar systems at Kabul, Afghanistan. The last 92 weapon systems were delivered to Afghanistan in Sept. 2013, two months ahead of schedule. (Photos courtesy of Program Executive Office Ammunition)


    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.

    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.

    CSTC-A, composed of a mix of active-duty and former Soldiers, and all graduates of the Army’s Infantry Mortar Leader Course, conducts U.S. 60mm mortar training with ANA soldiers, allowing them to train their own soldiers in the proficient use of the weapons.

    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.

    The ANA learns how to operate the U.S. 60mm mortars during a training exercise.

    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.

    CSTC-A, composed of a mix of active-duty and former Soldiers, and all graduates of the Army’s Infantry Mortar Leader Course, conducts U.S. 60mm mortar training with ANA soldiers, allowing them to train their own soldiers in the proficient use of the weapons.

    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.

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  • Unmanned vehicle demonstration showcases leap-ahead technology

    VIP's watched the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System demonstration from the top of a building in the BOAZ Military Operations in Urban Terrain training site at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Bruce J. Huffman)


    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.

    During the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System demo, VIP's saw autonomous vehicles negotiate live traffic, follow the rules of the road, recognize pedestrians and avoid various obstacles in both urban and rural test areas. (Photo by Bruce J. Huffman)

    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.

    A Soldier from 3rd Cavalry Regiment programs an autonomous convoy using the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System. (Photo by Bruce J. Huffman)

    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.

    The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center and Lockheed Martin partnered with U.S. Central Command, Army Capabilities Integration Center, Combined Arms Support Command, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, to demonstrate an autonomy-enabled technology that can help distance our warfighters from dangerous threats during convoy operations. On Jan. 14, 2014, they demonstrated the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System and conducted an autonomous convoy at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Glenn Helm, Lockheed Martin)


    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.

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  • Tobyhanna lands Gray Eagle Ground Control Station repairs

    Repairs on the Ground Control Stations for Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) UAS are scheduled to begin at Tobyhanna Army Depot in FY16. (U.S. Army photo)


    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.”

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  • Securing the Base

    Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment perform a routine inspection of a Patriot missile battery at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep, Turkey, Feb. 27, 2013. Past DOD investment and FMS have been invaluable to the health of the Patriot program and IB, as well as to the security of allies such as Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Sean M. Worrell)

    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.

    Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Arellano, center, and Sgt. 1st Class David Stegman of U.S. Army Europe’s 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment review targeting information using a Defense Advanced GPS Receiver during a multinational artillery live-fire exercise in Baumholder, Germany, June 20, 2013. DOD has invested in a number of areas to preserve critical capabilities, including GPS-related technologies. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Cole, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs)

    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.”

    The Abrams tank IB is the focus of Army assessments related to modernization at the Lima Army Tank Plant, Ohio. The Army looked at how to maintain needed production capacity as well as engineering and manufacturing expertise. (Photo by Spc. Christen Best)

    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.

    Harrow Miller, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic in the Turbine Drive Train Division at Anniston Army Depot, Ala., assembles an AGT 1500 engine. Maintaining specialized skills in the IB, both organic and commercial, is a central concern for DOD. (Photo by Jennifer Bacchus, U.S. Army Materiel Command)

    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.”

    “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.

    Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Renneker grinds a blank flange for a seawater cooler on one of the diesel engines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island in the Arabian Sea, March 1, 2012. The Army works closely with the other services and Pentagon leadership to coordinate IB efforts. If one of the services is producing a given technology, that may help another service maintain production capacity for a desired system. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David McKee)

    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.

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  • Education key for contracting certification

    Sgt. 1st Class Oswald Pascal graduated in December 2013 from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio where he received a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences. He is in the process of accomplishing his remaining two classes to achieve his Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level II certification in contracting. (Photo by Daniel P. Elkins)

    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.

    Earning certification
    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.

    Key discriminator
    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.

    Demanding duty
    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.

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  • Acquisition Education and Training Corner

    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 @ scott.greene4@us.army.mil

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