• ASA(ALT) welcomes new military deputy

     
     
    Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson became the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and the director, acquisition career management on April 4, 2014 during his promotion ceremony. The Hon. Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition executive hosted the event, and was joined by the Hon. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, in welcoming the new (ASA(ALT)) principal military deputy. (U.S. Army photo by Jerome Howard)

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
     
     


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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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  • What Really Matters in Defense Acquisition

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

     

    My first inclination for this issue’s article was to discuss the newly released DoDI 5000.02. We recently implemented this new acquisition policy document as interim guidance. I provided a cover letter explaining why I had done a new version and outlined some of the features of this edition. I do recommend that you look at both the cover letter and the new document, but on reflection I decided to write about something else for this issue. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into designing our processes and implementing them, but at the end of the day it isn’t those processes or policy documents like 5000.02 that really drive our results. What really matters in defense acquisition is our people and their professionalism and leadership—so I thought I would start the new year by writing about that.

    This past year we’ve gone through a lot, and all of our acquisition professionals have been asked to put up with more than any workforce should have to endure. We’ve had continuing budget turmoil and uncertainty, furloughs, continuing resolutions, late-breaking sequestration, and most recently a government shutdown. We’re also living under pay freezes and the prospect of further budget reductions and staff reductions.

    I want to thank the whole workforce for the way you have all coped with these challenges. While other senior leaders and I have been asking you to improve our productivity and achieve ever greater results for our warfighters and the taxpayer, you’ve also had to work in very challenging circumstances. You’ve come through, and it has inspired me and your other senior leaders to see the way you’ve dealt with all these challenges in stride. Thank you. Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.

    Recently, I joined Dr. Carter in one of his last official acts as Deputy Secretary in presenting the Packard Awards to this year’s recipients. As I write this, I’m looking forward to going out to the Defense Acquisition University to present the USD(AT&L) awards for professionalism and developing the work force to some of our outstanding performers. I’m sorry that we can’t recognize more of our exceptional performers—there are so many of you, and you all deserve to be recognized for what you do. During the last few weeks, I also have had occasion to note the departure of some of our most capable people who are retiring or will soon retire from government service. We lose a lot of terrific people every year of course, and these individuals are just examples of the many fine professionals working in defense acquisition, technology and logistics. I decided that for this article I would note the contributions of some of these people with whom over the last few years I’ve had the chance to work. They are just examples, but they are especially powerful examples of what one can accomplish during a career in defense acquisition.

    I’ll start with Charlie Williams, the recently retired Director of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). Charlie led DCMA for the past several years. He started federal service in 1982 in Air Logistics Command in a Mid-Level Management Training Program. Charlie then rose through a series of contracting, program analysis and contract management positions with the Air Force both in the field and at Air Force Headquarters. He became Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting before taking the reins at DCMA. At DCMA, Charlie led the rebuilding of the organization after severe reductions in the 1990s. He kept his team together during the Base Realignment and Closure move from D.C. to Richmond, and he led the effort to ensure that our contracts in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were executed properly.

    “Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.”

    Next I’ll mention MajGen Tim Crosby, the soon-to-retire Army Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Aviation. Tim has led Army aviation programs since 2008. He was commissioned after graduating from the Citadel and started out as a field artillery officer. He moved quickly into aviation as a pilot before following his interest in research and development and flight testing. In acquisition, he worked in logistics, training and simulation, and test and evaluation before becoming a Product Manager, first for the CH-47 F and later Program Manager for the Army’s Armed Scout. His long tenure at PEO Aviation is marked by strong leadership in support of our deployed forces and in building the capability of the Afghan Air Force. Tim embraced the Better Buying Power principles and was implementing them well before Dr. Carter and I gave them a name.

    Rear Admiral Jim Murdoch retired recently after serving as the Navy’s first PEO for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Jim entered the Navy with an ROTC commission after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering. He moved between surface combatant assignments and acquisition positions. His acquisition assignments included program management for surface weapons and launchers and responsibility for integrated warfare systems as well as program manager for the Littoral Combat Ships. In 2011, Jim was handpicked by Sean Stackley to lead the new Program Executive Office for LCS sea-frames and mission modules. He stabilized and fully integrated one of the Navy’s most complex acquisition endeavors.

    Finally Scott Correll, our retiring Air Force PEO for Space Launch, also started his career as an intern. From the Pacer Intern Contracting Program at Robbins Air Force Base, where he began as a cost analyst and contract negotiator on the F-4 and F-15, Scott rose through the contracting, supply chain management and program management fields. Scott’s diverse positions include leadership positions at Military Sealift Command and TRANSCOM. I was able to take Scott in to meet Secretary Hagel recently so the Secretary could thank him personally for saving the Department billions of dollars in space launch costs—quite an achievement for our taxpayers and warfighters.

    The people I mention above have accomplished a great deal for their country during their careers. They’ve also had the opportunity to do exciting and fulfilling work. People who achieve this sort of success over their careers are what give us the best equipped military in the world. All of these people have a lot to be proud of. All of you have a lot to be proud of. I’m looking forward to 2014 with the hope that things will improve—and there are some signs that they will. But mostly I’m just looking forward to another year of working with this terrific team.
    Thank you again for all that you do.



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  • SPOTLIGHT: MR. JARED HIGGS

    FROM THE INSIDE OUT
    Higgs checks a 40 mm grenade launcher on a CROWS-equipped M1117 armored security vehicle. Since joining RRAD in 2004, he has worked on a variety of vehicles, including HMMWVs, Bradleys, the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles and several types of MRAPs as well. (Photos by Chase Shelton, RRAD)

     

    By Ms. Susan L. Follett

    Some of Jared Higgs’ earliest memories are of time spent with his father in his shop at the Red River Army Depot (RRAD), in Texarkana, Texas. So it’s no surprise that when the time came to determine his own career path, he followed his father and grandfather and became a heavy equipment mechanic. Altogether, three generations of his family have worked at the depot for a total of 60 years.

    “My dad has always been a mechanic, and since I was little, I was with him, working and watching. I can remember coming out to the depot to see his shop. I’ve always had some type of interest in it, and I enjoy working with my hands,” said Higgs, 30, a native of Texarkana.

    “When I was 8 or 9 years old, we came out for a Christmas event, and I got to take my first ride in an Army tank. That’s a day I’ll never forget,” he said. “When I was older, we had what they called a shadow day, and I was able to come out and spend a whole day with my dad, walking with him to all his meetings and seeing what his job at RRAD entailed day to day.”

    Higgs’ father, Eddie Higgs, recently retired from RRAD after a 37-year career that began in 1976. His grandfather, John Woodard, worked at the depot from 1974 until 1994. “He worked on Bradleys for as long as I can remember,” said Higgs. “It’s definitely a family affair. My great-grandfather worked for the depot, too, before I was born.”

    DETAILS, DETAILS
    Higgs closes the day sight lens on the M117 in preparation for an optical test. His job is to make sure that vehicles’ weapon systems have firing capabilities and that all the parts are functional.

    A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE
    The mission of RRAD, in operation since 1941, is to conduct ground combat and tactical system sustainment maintenance operations and related support services for U.S. and allied forces. RRAD repairs and rebuilds a variety of mission-essential combat and tactical vehicles and equipment, including the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and the Bradley fighting vehicle system. The depot is the Army’s only two-time winner of the Robert T. Mason Award for Depot Maintenance Excellence, given by the secretary of defense. The award recognizes outstanding achievements by field-level units engaged in military equipment and weapon system maintenance within DOD.

    In addition, RRAD is a Center for Industrial and Technical Excellence for several combat and technical vehicles, the Multiple Launch Rocket System, rubber products and Patriot missile recertification. Its HMMWV recapitalization facility can produce up to 40 vehicles per day, and its Rubber Products Division is the only DOD organization capable of remanufacturing road wheels and track.

    SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE
    Having joined RRAD in 2004, Higgs has worked on a variety of vehicles, including HMMWVs, Bradleys, the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles and several types of MRAPs. He currently works on the M1117 armored security vehicle. “I’m working on the CROWS, which is the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, checking the weapon systems out, making sure they have firing capabilities and that all the parts are functional.”

    Although Higgs’ tenure is short by comparison to those of his father and grandfather, he’s seen his share of changes in the past decade. “I think more than anything, the protective armor has progressed the most. When I first started on the HMMWVs, they were not outfitted with any armor at all, and as our involvement in Iraq continued, I saw things shift, first to up-armored vehicles and from there to the MRAPs.”

    In 2008, Higgs volunteered for overseas deployment and was deployed to Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq. Over the next three years, he would also see deployments to Forward Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit and Camp Stryker in Baghdad. “I saw it as an opportunity to help where it was needed, and to serve the warfighter. It was also a chance to serve along with my brothers, who were in the Air Force at the time.”

    PREPARING FOR ACTION
    Higgs inspects the mount and quick-release pins for the M117’s M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

    Since 2001, RRAD has deployed more than 3,000 personnel to various areas in Southwest Asia in direct support of war­fighters in the field. The facility, with a government civilian workforce of about 4,500, has deployed more employees than any other civilian organization in the world since the beginning of overseas contingency operations, staffing roughly half of all U.S. Army Materiel Command civilian deployments. It has spearheaded numerous depot-level logistics and maintenance missions in Southwest Asia, including Heavy Equipment Transporter, Stored Theater Provided Equipment – Iraq, Forward Repair Activity and Mobile Maintenance Team.

    “Being away from home is always a challenge. I missed my family and friends, and I realized that it was important to make friends quickly and find people there you can trust. Overseas, we’re around our co-workers day in and day out, 24 hours a day, so finding people you can rely on is vital,” he said.

    The work itself was a challenge, he said. “Every day, we’d have vehicles coming into us in all kinds of condition—convoys, blown-up trucks, you name it—and the challenge was to get them fixed and back out so the Soldiers could continue on their mission. During my time overseas, I really valued the ability to work directly with Soldiers—to meet them and talk with them, and to know that we were helping get them back out in the field,” he added.

    HARD OR EASY, ALWAYS GOOD
    “My dad and grandfather didn’t have too much advice when I started working here,” Higgs said. “They said that sometimes the work would be hard and sometimes it would be easy, but it was always a good place to work. Looking back over the past 10 years, I can definitely say they were right.”

    His own advice for anyone interested in becoming a heavy equipment mechanic is simple. “Stick with it and be knowledgeable about what you’re working on. Always go the extra mile to learn something more about the vehicle.”


    MS. SUSAN L. FOLLETT provides contracting support to the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center for SAIC. She holds a B.A. in English literature from St. Lawrence University. She has more than two decades of experience as a journalist and has written on a variety of public and private sector topics, including modeling and simulation, military training technology and federal environmental regulations.


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  • Army develops lightweight ballistic protection for aircraft

    The AMRDEC Prototype Integration Facility designed, qualified, fabricated and installed a prototype of an enhanced Ballistic Protection System for the cabin of the UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft.

    By Heather R. Smith

     

    “Advances in light-weight composites have allowed the Army to begin the integration of new lighter weight ballistic protection systems.”

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Army tactics and training are constantly changing to meet the threat on the battlefield, and one such example is the attack helicopter.

    Originally the AH-1 Cobras were designed to arrive on station quickly, eliminate the threat, and move on to the next target. But in today’s battlefield, attack helicopters like the AH-64 Apaches are providing air support to ground convoys, and often hovering over convoys to eliminate any sign of threats.

    These combat operations result in increased exposure to enemy ground fire and increased need for ballistic protection systems, and the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) has developed that expertise.

    Ballistic protection systems (BPS) typically consist of materials and techniques used to shelter personnel and materiel against projectiles. PIF Program Management Supervisor Jeff Carr said thick, heavy, dense material has historically been used for armor, so a major challenge for aviation is to provide ballistic protection in the lightest, most compact means possible.

    The PIF has a history of installing traditional armor on ground vehicles including the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS. Although armor steel is a very effective BPS, it is extremely heavy. The cab armor on the HIMARS weighs approximately 2,500 pounds.

    Carr said changes in the warfight have challenged the Army to effectively employ lighter-weight armor systems in aircraft while maintaining or increasing the ability to withstand advanced ground fire. Advances in light-weight composites have allowed the Army to begin the integration of new lighter weight ballistic protection systems.

    The PIF designed and integrated a BPS for a tactical variant of the Bell 407 aircraft. The Iraqi Armed 407 was an aircraft produced by the PIF and commissioned by the Department of State for the Iraqi government. This effort was particularly challenging due to space constraints associated with the small commercial-to-military converted aircraft. The installed system provides protection for the cockpit floor and crew seats.

    Lightweight ballistic armor is also being designed, qualified, fabricated and installed by the PIF on the CH-47 Chinook, and UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft.

    The current Chinook BPS system offers protection against small arms fire and weighs 3,500 lbs. The PIF was able to take advantage of advances in light-weight composite material and to reduce the weight of the original BPS by 2,000 lbs. The new BPS offers additional protection to both the pilot and cargo areas. Also integrated into the CH-47D/F is a floor kit, a passenger vertical kit, and a multi-impact transparent armor system for windows, which allows normal operations while reducing ballistic intrusion.

    The PIF-enhanced BPS for the Black Hawk will reduce the weight of the current BPS system by 500 pounds. The PIF will also deliver a technical data package to the UH-60 program management office, which will allow industry to compete for future BPS acquisitions.

    “The PIF continues to design, develop, and install new and improved ballistic protection on aviation and ground systems,” Carr said, “Their design capabilities, machine shop and advanced composites lab provide an extraordinary capability to create custom formed material BPS.”


    • AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

      RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.


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  • Army’s manufacturing improvements yield lighter body armor

    Dr. Shawn Walsh, Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader at Army Research Laboratory, displays a flexible sample that has been locally consolidated using a novel process method at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 14, 2013. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson, RDECOM)

    By Dan Lafontaine

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soldiers facing rugged terrain and extreme temperatures are continually searching for ways to reduce the weight of their gear.

    In a search for solutions to this persistent issue, U.S. Army scientists and engineers have preliminarily demonstrated body armor that is 10 percent lighter through new manufacturing processes.

    The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as RDECOM, along with its industry partners, has leveraged the Army’s Manufacturing Technology Program to spur the Advanced Body Armor Project.

    Dr. Shawn Walsh leads the project at RDECOM’s Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, where his team has reduced the weight of a size medium Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert plate from 5.45 pounds to 4.9 pounds.

    Dr. Shawn Walsh, Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader at Army Research Laboratory, compares the traditional one-piece ceramic body armor (right) and a prototype flexible armor concept made possible by ManTech processes at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 14, 2013. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson, RDECOM)

    While the Army leads the research, the new armor will also benefit the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and U.S. Special Operations Command, with similar body-armor requirements. In addition, highly novel technology initially identified by the Army has since been supported by SOCOM, pervasively benefiting lightweight body-armor goals overall.

    “The armor the Soldier is wearing right now is the best armor we can possibly give them,” said Walsh, the Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader within the Weapons and Material Research Directorate. “The one concern that we hear about it — can you make it lighter? That’s the number one request. We don’t want to compromise the protection, but want to reduce the weight. It’s a challenging problem, and ARL should take on high-risk programs like that.”

    The current weight-reduction technologies in the laboratory were impractical for mass production and fielding, Walsh said. The project focused on developing manufacturing methods that resolve these issues.

    To accomplish this weight reduction, researchers pushed advances in composites, ceramics and component integration. All the materials must work in tandem to provide the necessary performance characteristics — stopping the bullet, managing the bullet’s momentum, and preventing trauma to the wearer.

    Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, or PM SPIE, had requested lighter body armor several times but did not receive a satisfactory response from industry, Walsh said.

    Rob Learsch (left), a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student and Army Research Laboratory summer intern, and Dr. Shawn Walsh, Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader at ARL, are preparing to run the Dissimilar Materials Assembly System, a fully automated machine for assembling complex layers of materials to improve overall body-armor performance, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 14, 2013. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson, RDECOM)

    “That’s an indicator that there’s a technology gap,” Walsh said. “We realized there is something that the [project manager] wants for the Soldier, but can’t get from industry. Maybe it’s inherently not achievable, or maybe people haven’t tried an innovative approach. We assumed the latter. In our particular case, we used processing technology as a method for achieving these weight reductions.”

    ARL turned to the ManTech program and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology, or DMS&T, programs for this challenge that was “beyond the normal risk of industry.” The ManTech program provides funding for the Army’s research and engineering organizations to partner with the defense industrial base to overcome manufacturing obstacles and deliver new capabilities into Soldiers’ hands.

    “The ManTech and DMS&T programs give us a unique opportunity,” Walsh said. “We knew there were some untapped potential technologies, and manufacturing would be the integration step. ManTech offers industry a catalyst. This program allowed them to exercise some of their novel technologies they want to try. It’s an incentive to take a little risk.”

    “The armor the Soldier is wearing right now is the best armor we can possibly give them.”

    Because the Army does not manufacture equipment, it must ensure there are companies capable of meeting production demands, Walsh said. Researchers need a plan to transition novel technologies from the laboratory bench, to a manufacturer’s shop floor, and then to Soldiers in the field.

    “I treat industry as part of a team,” he said. “The power of ManTech is that we can prove that the thing we want to buy can be made. As simple as it sounds, that’s very critical. It costs a lot of money to put a new specification out there, only to be disappointed and find out that no one can make it.”

    Walsh emphasized that ARL partnered with PM SPIE; RDECOM’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center; and the six commercial manufacturers for these breakthroughs.

    Fred Racine (left), an Army Research Laboratory contractor technician, and Rob Learsch, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student and ARL summer intern, prepare ballistic targets from new materials supplied by ManTech contractors at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 14, 2013. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson, RDECOM)

    ARL initially worked with PM SPIE to demonstrate a solution was feasible, then to confirm technology transition paths. Walsh aims to insert the body-armor improvements into PM SPIE’s Soldier Protection System initiative.

    The strategy of the Advanced Body Armor Project has been to focus on transitioning the improved processes directly to the industrial base. This will ensure the body-armor companies are able to respond to requests for information and proposals based on manufacturing advances accomplished through ManTech.

    “We’ve created an environment for innovation and incubated some of these very promising technologies,” Walsh said. “They can take their own intellectual property and integrate it with ours to get the best solution. We’ve maximized technology transfer for each dollar we invested.

    “That was our strategy — to co-develop the technology with industry,Walsh continued. “It’s a direct transfer. They’re directly exercising our ManTech technologies in preparation for body-armor weight reduction goals like those defined in the Soldier Protection System.”
     


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  • Military, civilian medical experts emphasize investment in acute trauma care

    Advancement in acute trauma care and priorities for the future was the topic at a 2013 Military Health System Research Symposium roundtable discussion, Aug. 13, 2013, with panelists including director of the U.S. Army's Combat Casualty Care Research Program Col. Dallas Hack (right); Air Force Col. Todd Rasmussen, deputy director of the Combat Casualty Care Research Program (middle); and Navy Capt. Eric Elster, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery professor (left). Joining them via phone was Air Force Col. Jeffrey Bailey, Joint Trauma System director; and Dr. Margaret Knudson, Chief of Surgery at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

    By Ellen Crown

     

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — From battlefield blasts to plane crashes, major advancements in acute trauma care are being seen in both the military and civilian health sectors, agreed experts during roundtable discussion at the 2013 Military Health System Research Symposium, Aug. 13, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    Funding in research and rapid implementation of best practices are paying off, and people with serious injuries are surviving and rehabilitating, said director of the U.S. Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program, or CCCRP, Col. Dallas Hack. Joining him was Air Force Col. Todd Rasmussen, CCCRP deputy director.

    “It’s not an overstatement to say that trauma care has been transformed because of this investment,” said Rasmussen. “This transformation has resulted in the lowest fatally rate for service members we have ever seen, and this investment has translated to civilians, including those injured on the streets of this country.”

    Roundtable participants included Navy Capt. Eric Elster, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery professor; Air Force Col. Jeffrey Bailey, Joint Trauma System director; and Dr. Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

    Bailey, who joined the event via phone from Afghanistan, talked about some of the technologies, tools, and education implemented over the past decade of war, including battlefield tourniquets, hemostat bandages to reduce blood loss, and education on first-aid care. Bailey said now it’s time to “focus on the gaps.”

    “The greatest burden of death is not in the hospital; it is on the battlefield. So we have the greatest opportunity to make a difference in pre-hospital care,” Bailey said to the group.

    It was a point with which non-military doctors agreed. Knudson joined the group to share her recent experiences caring for victims during the San Francisco plane crash in July. Fifty-three of the plane crash patients were treated at San Francisco General.

    Knudson explained that she had previously trained with military health care combat casualty teams and how she used that training during the mass casualty triage.

    “We need to keep these collaborations going because it brings a value to both the military and the civilian sectors,” said Knudson.

    Elster added, “It’s how we train the next generation.”


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  • Research analyst named new workforce advocate

    USAASC Workforce Management Division Chief Tom Evans (right) is joined by PEO ACWA Conrad Whyne (left) in presenting an ACMA charter to Diane Bullis, a supervisory operations research analyst who will now serve as an advocate for the acquisition workforce in this $10.6 billion chemical weapons demilitarization program. (Photos by Miguel Monteverde)

    By Tara Clements

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 10, 2013) – Diane Bullis, a supervisory operations research analyst for Program Executive Office (PEO) Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), was appointed as Army’s newest Acquisition Career Management Advocate (ACMA) who will now serve as an advocate for the acquisition workforce among those who support the Army’s $10.6 billion chemical weapons demilitarization program.

    With more than 31 years of federal service, Bullis will serve as a key communications conduit for acquisition specialists assigned to PEO ACWA and to senior acquisition executives in the DOD and the Army.

    The acquisition of material and equipment to build and operate multimillion dollar chemical weapons disposal facilities requires a highly specialized and trained professional workforce. Helping to manage that workforce is newly-appointed ACMA, Diane Bullis, shown here reviewing the charter for her new role. Bullis is a Maryland native with more than 31 years of federal service who will now act as a key communications conduit for acquisition specialists assigned to the PEO, ACWA to senior acquisition executives in the DOD and Army.

    An ACMA is a senior acquisition leader appointed to be a lead resource to acquisition, logistics and technology (AL&T) workforce members as well as Army organizations and commands in many regions that have a large acquisition workforce population. ACMAs are chartered by the director of acquisition career management (DACM), who is also the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for AL&T. These individuals are responsible for command-specific issues and also serve as the communication link between the workforce and U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.

    There are currently 47 appointed ACMAs in 16 locations worldwide.

    Each ACMA is presented with a charter to confirm their appointment. The charter outlines the ACMA’s role and responsibilities to “serve as a principal advisor and assistant to the DACM” as well as “to perform as an advisor to the senior leadership within your command and surrounding acquisition communities for matters related to the execution and management of acquisition career development, policy, procedures and programs.”

    ACMAs were inititated in accordance with the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


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  • ACU-Alternate uniform offers more fit options

    By Spc. Danielle Gregory

     

    FORT SILL, Okla. – A new Army Combat Uniform with special consideration to the female form is now at Fort Sill, and it is being issued to new Soldiers going through basic combat training.

    The new uniform, several years in the making, was initially considered as being the first female-only uniform, but instead is now approved for both sexes and is being called ACU-A for Army Combat Uniform-Alternate.

    “We started issuing them slowly in April, and we’ve since been issuing them more frequently as our fitters get more comfortable placing Soldiers in them,” said Trevor Whitworth, central initial issue point (CIIP) project manager, where new Soldiers are first issued their uniforms here.

    “They were initially designed for female Soldiers, but we were told if we find male Soldiers that these would fit better than the ACUs then we can issue it to them as well,” Whitworth said. “It’s more about the fit and the body type.”

    The new uniform trousers feature: wider areas at the hips, waist and backside; elastic around the waistband instead of a pull string; adjusted pockets and knee-pad inserts; and a shortened crotch length.

    In the jackets, changes include: adjusted rank and nametape positioning; adjusted pockets and elbow-pad inserts; slimmer shoulders; a thinner and more fitted waist; and a longer and wider ACU coat bottom. Also, buttons are replacing the velcro pockets.

    “If it makes you more comfortable in wearing that, then I think it’s well worth it,” Whitworth said. “When you’re low crawling or doing a lot of physical training it’s nice to have a pair of trousers that have a little give-and-take in them. I think having made uniforms for a female body type, will make a big difference for female Soldiers.”

    Compared to the original ACUs, which were designed principally by males for males, the new ACU-As were created to fit a wider range of body types and now provides 13 sizes to choose from in both the jacket and trouser.

    “The old uniform was meant to be one size fits five sizes; these are more tailored,” Whitworth said.

    1st Lt. Beatriz George, Reynolds Army Community Hospital dietitian, said she thinks it’s great to have more sizes to choose from. She added when Fort Sill gets the uniforms at the Military Clothing Sales store she will try them on and consider buying a pair.

    “With our uniforms now, it’s like it’s either too tight or too big; it doesn’t feel right as they are now,” George said.

    Although interested in the new uniforms, she said if they were created to be noticeably different, she wouldn’t want to wear them.

    “What’s great about the military is that everyone is equal, and it’s one of the few professions where men and women are paid the same, but if you can’t tell, and they are unisex, then I’m OK with it,” George said.

    Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, the office that develops and improves military uniforms and equipment, developed the new uniforms using feedback provided directly from male and female Soldiers who wore the uniform. This came about after a 2008 focus group of female Soldiers showed PEO Soldier that ACUs have a non-female friendly fit.

    Many females in the focus group reported that the knee-pad inserts fell on their shins, that they didn’t have as much mobility because of the poor fit, and that they felt they had an overall unprofessional appearance.

    Maj. Sequana Robinson, who was one of many that tested the new uniform, said in a PEO Soldier press release that she was very skeptical when first hearing of the uniforms; she didn’t think women needed a uniform more fitted to their bodies, but after trying it on the first time; she was very pleased with the fit.

    PEO Soldier is also in the process of developing a female body armor and female flight suit, which are still in development stages.

    New black and yellow physical training uniforms are also in the development stages, and a new improved duffle bag, which includes a zipper, has just been released and is being issued to basic training Soldiers.

    ACU-As are now available for all Soldiers at posts including: Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Belvoir, Va.; and Fort Eustis, Va., but Fort Sill’s Military Clothing Sales Store does not carry them yet.

    “Clothing Sales at Fort Sill won’t have the uniforms available until sometime near the end of the year,” said Henrietta Haughton, a manager at the Fort Sill Military Clothing Sales Store.

    Although the ACU-A is not yet available for purchase brand new at Fort Sill, Whitworth recommends that Soldiers start coming to the reclamation sales they hold every month. The reclamation sell is where Soldiers can buy uniforms lightly used by trainees who do not complete Basic Combat Training.

    Because the CIIP here just started issuing the new ACU-As in April, Soldiers might start to see a few of these uniforms at reclamation sales starting in August, Whitworth said. He urged Soldiers to get to the sale early, because uniforms go fast.


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  • Army scientists research new technologies for rapid, accurate detection capabilities

    The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., evaluated the 3M Clean Trace Surface ATP technology, which met the criteria scientists were looking for: simple, compact and cost-efficient. The device tests for the presence of adenosine triphosphate, which can indicate the presence of a biological agent. Photo provided by ECBC Communications.
    ECBC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
    RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

    By ECBC Communications

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — First responders occasionally come across suspicious powders, requiring them to have technology on hand to screen samples and identify whether or not they are a chemical or biological agent.

    Current technology performs a test to determine whether or not protein exists on the sample, an indication that the sample is live, or active. With this technology, specificity is low, false positives are common and the cost is very high: one test costs $26.

    Researchers at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, are seeking alternate technology that is more effective and lower in cost. Originally funded by Section 219 funds, an ECBC effort designed to encourage innovative applied research, with additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the team evaluated existing technology to find a device that was close to field ready and determine what it would take to get it into the hands of a Soldier or a first responder.

    The ECBC team evaluated several pre-screening technologies and found that while many could be useful for detecting a biological threat, ongoing issues with low specificity and false positives require additional costly research to determine an accurate diagnosis. During their research of existing technology, ECBC scientists came across a Cara Technology Limited Report (report 30606) which discussed the use of adenosine triphosphate-based technology to look for contamination on food surfaces.

    Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is one of the main providers of energy to cells, and every reproducible organism has it. Historically, it was thought that spores do not have traceable amounts of ATP on their surface, but recent findings have indicated otherwise.

    “This is exciting because it gives us a new avenue to research technologies that can screen suspicious powders much more effectively than what’s currently on the market for first responders,” said James Wright, a chemist with ECBC’s BioSciences Division. “A lot of assumptions were made 50 years ago that aren’t holding up. We’re finding now that we can screen at several orders of magnitude lower than previously thought.”

    One of the systems the team chose to evaluate is the 3M Clean Trace Surface ATP technology, which meets the criteria they were looking for: Simple, compact and cost-efficient. Another key component is that the start-up costs are comparable to that of the current technology, but each test is only $3 a swab. That is 10 percent of the recurring costs of what is currently used, which is a significant long-term cost savings.

    The team will continue to evaluate other ATP-based systems. According to Wright, the goal is identify the right equipment that should be in the hands of first responders or Soldiers, and ATP-based technology could be the best tool to augment what is currently on the market. One of the most significant benefits of the ATP technology is that if a test is negative, first responders know the sample is not a threat. With the current technology, a positive result can occur if any protein is present, even if it is harmless.

    “That’s the issue with the current detector. If it’s an innocuous powder that contains protein, it will still read as positive so you have to shut down the area and send the sample to the reference lab — and the lab or office is shut down for this entire period of time,” Wright said. “Processed or highly refined biological products, like protein powder or powdered creamer, don’t have ATP but do contain protein. So if the ATP test comes up negative, we know that the sample is not active or alive and, from a biological standpoint, we don’t have to worry about it.”

    ECBC submitted a second proposal for this work, recently accepted by DHS, to continue to test the 3M technology against the strict ASTM International standards in a direct comparison to the current technology. The team is hopeful that after this one-year effort, the 3M technology will be fielded to first responders within one to two years.


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