Technically Speaking: You’re Saying What?

Technically Speaking: You’re Saying What?

Writing in plain language saves time and money while earning trust from taxpayers, Soldiers and businesses. Plus, it’s the law. by Ms. Mary Kate Aylward Writing in plain language is: (a) Easy: Say what you mean to say. Type. Proofread. Run spell check. Hit “send.” (b) Hard: Choose from among the 171,476 words (according to the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition) of the English language and arrange them according to seemingly arcane rules. (c) Your duty: Government regulations require you to explain what you spend the taxpayers’ money on and why, and an explanation that the taxpayer can’t understand doesn’t count. (d) The law of the land since the passage […]

Been There, Done That: Strategic Acquisition

Been There, Done That: Strategic Acquisition

Does DOD set PMs up for failure with impossibly complex mega-programs built on immature technology? After a career in uniform supporting Army acquisition followed by a second career teaching acquisition, a former PM takes a final pulse check and outlines four best practices for keeping programs big and small on track. (The fourth in a series of commentaries by former program managers on the faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School) by Michael W. Boudreau, Col., USA (Ret.) I am recently retired from government service, after 28 years in the Army and then 20 years of teaching at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). I have been fortunate to see acquisition from […]

Rule No. 1

Rule No. 1

The first principle of any defense acquisition must be the welfare of the warfighter, more than the program’s future, although it isn’t always so.   by John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.) In any career, military or civilian, of any significant time span, one will have the misfortune to work for at least one world-class jerk. I had one who was that for me and many others, and his actions personified for me the reason for Hippocrates’ oft-quoted principle of medical care—in English, “First, do no harm.” In the early 1980s, he commanded the brigade in the 82nd Airborne Division that had proponency for all things tactical and operational about parachute […]

Acquisition as a Team Sport

Acquisition as a Team Sport

From the Director, Acquisition Career Management Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson To deliver complex capabilities to the warfighter takes a lot of different players, all focused on the same mission. We often hear that “people make a difference” and “relationships matter.” Well, in Army acquisition those statements are the very foundation of successful programs. Strong leadership, clear communication, focused teamwork and the resulting bonds of trust—within the program office and with stakeholders—are vital in procuring and fielding capabilities that enable our warfighters to fight and win decisively. There are many success stories about meeting the needs of our warfighters through teamwork. One that comes quickly to mind is the Joint […]

Small change, big difference

Small change, big difference

One-size-fits-all spending rules don’t always serve the unpredictable needs of contingency contracting. Here’s one simple fix. by Lt. Col. William C. Latham Jr. (USA, Ret.) “You may ask me for anything you like except time.” Napoleon Bonaparte With more than half a trillion dollars in defense spending at stake each year within the U.S. government’s budget, defense acquisition policy receives enormous attention in our nation’s capital, from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon to the lobbyists, scholars, think tanks and publications (including this one) devoted to national security. This attention is well-deserved, given the stakes. Better equipment provides American military forces with a critical technological edge while giving pause to would-be […]

Not quite reform, but it works

Not quite reform, but it works

Integration, both a process and a mindset, holds the key to addressing a range of threats to the U.S., from the near-peer to the low-tech. by Dr. Richard Nabors and Mr. Nathan Burkholder In the past century, the U.S. military met the developing threats of modern warfare with solutions such as increasing mechanization, nuclear arms and precision-guided missiles, using a deliberate, intentional acquisition process. This process involved highly focused programs typically decades long and often executed by a single large defense contractor. These programs began several years after the establishment of requirements and could take 10 to 15 years of development before implementation. However, today’s dynamic and rapidly changing technological […]

Where our rubber meets their road

Where our rubber meets their road

The new ASA(ALT) sergeant major’s first 90 days Change seems to be an everyday occurrence within our Army. At the helm of Army change is the Soldier, led by very capable noncommissioned officers. From the very beginnings of our Army, senior leaders have recognized the value and importance of NCOs. In 1776, GEN George Washington established the position of sergeant major as part of our first standardized regiments. Later, during the winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, PA, Inspector General Friedrich von Steuben first defined the duties and responsibilities of NCOs in a regulation historically known as the “Blue Book.” Although the Army no longer has a “von Steuben” to […]

Industry Insight

Industry Insight

Looking beyond the ‘bathtub’ toward 2025 and beyond By Mr. Mark Signorelli Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series of viewpoints from industry on how it can work with the Army and DOD to preserve essential capabilities for the warfighter. As the defense industry experiences the most challenging environment of the past three decades, we are forced to look to the future. We see the bottom of a sizable bathtub directly in front of us. A mere eight years ago, the defense industry was at its peak; today, our combat vehicle industrial base is at its lowest levels in our production history. In 2008, during the war […]

Opportunities to Deliver

Opportunities to Deliver

Talent management strategy seeks to grow, develop future acquisition leaders By LTG Michael E. Williamson, Director,Acquisition Career Management Force 2025 and Beyond is a comprehensive effort to develop concepts into capabilities that will ensure that our Army continues to deliver professionally trained and ready forces as the most decisive land power in the world. It is about people building the future Army, a complex undertaking based on lessons learned, threat assessments, promising technologies, strategic plans and other critical factors. It is about identifying the Army’s best talent to seize the future. As the director of acquisition career management (DACM), my plan for the nearly 38,000-member Army Acquisition Workforce is to […]

Promises to keep

Promises to keep

Lasting bonds based on trust, respect and confidence are the foundation of the future By Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, Director Acquisition Career Management Ninety days have passed since I assumed my duties and responsibilities as the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and the director of acquisition career management. I am humbled by this great honor, and especially appreciate the opportunity to serve again with the Hon. Heidi Shyu. I am also grateful for the ability to work with the first-rate professionals of the Army AL&T Workforce, whose dedication to duty and commitment to excellence are without equal. Most […]