Decades to ‘ZAP’

Decades to ‘ZAP’

Everybody—at least, every branch of the military—wants a laser gun. The theoretical possibility of a silent beam of energy that turns enemy weapons to toast has been explored in the pages of AL&T magazine for decades. With high-energy lasers on Stryker combat vehicles and an Apache helicopter downing drones in tests, it now seems a matter of time before lasers are in use on the battlefield. by MS. Mary Kate Aylward Lasers, synonymous with precision from eye surgery to targeting, have long held out the possibility of an elegant and cheap solution to some of the messier, more expensive problems of war. A bomb is a single-use weapon; a laser […]

Design and engineering sleuths uncover time, cost savings

Design and engineering sleuths uncover time, cost savings

By Daniel Smith and Kathryn Bailey It’s possible that this is the most expensive phrase in the English language: “We have always done it this way.” For Army programs of record (PORs), “this way” may be to contract exclusively with industry partners to refresh, upgrade or redesign their systems rather than turning to the government organic base. However, keeping that work in-house can yield substantial cost and time-to-field savings—important drivers for Army force modernization and readiness—often because the government explores commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) options before diving into a custom design. The government’s prototype integration facilities (PIFs) are positioned to help PORs determine the most cost-effective, streamlined solution available. PIFs perform […]

HIGH-EXPLOSIVE VERSATILITY

HIGH-EXPLOSIVE VERSATILITY

The AMP tank round would give M1A2 Abrams tanks more lethality while combining the functions of four existing rounds—anti-armor, breaching and anti-personnel capabilities—in a single piece of ammunition. by Mr. Corey D. Hall The M1A2 Abrams main battle tank and its current suite of ammunition exist to defeat the hardest targets on the battlefield, normally enemy armored vehicles. The Army’s focus on counterinsurgency operations over the past decade presented mainly softer targets. In response, the Army developed and fielded the M1028 canister round, providing some increased short-range capability against enemy personnel. Still, the nature of operations did not provide significant opportunities to bring the Abrams’ lethality to bear in combined […]

Pentagon unveils plan to restructure USD(AT&L)

Pentagon unveils plan to restructure USD(AT&L)

By Michael Bold FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Aug. 3, 2017) — DOD on Tuesday released its plan for restructuring the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L), envisioning two smaller organizations—an undersecretary of defense for research and engineering (USD(R&E)) “to drive innovation and accelerate the advancement of our warfighting capability” and an undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (USD(A&S)) “to deliver proven technology into the hands of the warfighter more quickly and affordably.” The reorganization, part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, must be implemented by Feb. 1, 2018. However, the plan could be changed by Congress. The restructuring also […]

A forcing function for integration

A forcing function for integration

A look at the systems, participants and firsts from more than a dozen NIEs. by Ms. Nancy Jones-Bonbrest The Army rolled out its new network modernization strategy with a flourish. On a Monday in May 2011, no fewer than 12 stars assembled for a news conference with the Pentagon press corps. Led by Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, then the vice chief of staff of the Army, the generals made the case for a new paradigm called the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), described by Chiarelli as “a revolutionary new approach.” Because of wartime necessity and the culture of the acquisition system, the Army had been developing and delivering individual components of […]

Tailored training

Tailored training

USAMMDA’s highly specialized workforce needs training to match its mission. It’s getting it, thanks to DAWDF funding. by Ms. Kathleen L. Berst and Ms. Judy L. Holian As the premier developer of world-class military medical capabilities, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is responsible for developing and delivering critical products for the nation’s military forces. USAMMDA requires a particular type of workforce to accomplish this mission, with skills not only in acquisition but also in very specialized areas of medical product development. These highly skilled personnel enable USAMMDA to supply products that protect and preserve the lives of warfighters worldwide. The products include drugs, […]

Zero to full manpower in 8 hours

Zero to full manpower in 8 hours

Predictive Resource Staffing Models make staffing a program office easier and faster. A model for the program management community is available now; models for contracting, R&D, T&E and logistics are in development. by Ms. Rebecca Meyer You’ve just been selected as the program manager for an up-and-coming system. Congratulations! Its capability promises to revolutionize the way the Soldier operates on the battlefield. It checks all the buzzwords: Lean Six Sigma, cost efficient, auditable. There’s just one problem—a program management office (PMO) has not yet been established to carry out the mission, and you’ve been charged with developing the workforce requirement. Where do you start? How many people will you need? […]

Center of the storm

Center of the storm

‘Trail bosses’ in evolving NIE, JWA seize the chance to grow professionally as their roles expand in planning and executing the large-scale exercises. by Ms. Nancy Jones-Bonbrest The Army’s Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) and Joint Warfighting Assessments (JWAs) were meant to be fluid and flexible, adaptable to current demands. In keeping with that design, both events are undergoing sweeping changes that will improve the integration of emerging technologies and meet the call for readiness in an ever-changing global threat environment. As the Army shakes up the process, the people who conduct the NIEs and JWAs are also adapting their roles and responsibilities—and making the most of the opportunity to burnish […]

Then and Now: Not Your Daddy’s (or Granddaddy’s) Tactical Vehicle

Then and Now: Not Your Daddy’s (or Granddaddy’s) Tactical Vehicle

JLTV, Army’s and Marines’ newest wheeled asset, follows in the venerable tracks of Jeep, HMMWV Mr. Robert Coultas Over the past few decades, the character of military conflict has changed substantially as “front lines” and “rear areas” have blurred into a single, full-spectrum operational environment. That increasing complexity is reflected in the tactical vehicles that commanders need to address that spectrum of operations. When the Army looked to replace the venerable Jeep, the July-August 1981 issue of RD&A magazine, Army AL&T’s predecessor, described the new vehicle it sought to acquire, the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), this way: “The HMMWV will be diesel powered and have an automatic transmission. It […]

Riding the Experience Curve

Riding the Experience Curve

There’s a proven way to drive down defense acquisition costs, and it works especially well for the complex, high-tech platforms prone to big cost overruns. You’ve heard of it: the learning curve. It drives down defense acquisition costs the old-fashioned way. by Mr. Sudhakar Arepally Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs waited 108 years to finally win the World Series championship in 2016. It has not been that long—30 years or so—since the Army launched a major combat ground vehicle program, but the drought is conspicuous and frustrating nonetheless. The Army’s “Big 5”—the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the UH-60 Black Hawk, the AH-64 Apache and the […]