• Army Announces ACC Senior Leadership Changes

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.—Two of U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC’s) senior leaders have been selected for reassignment, the Army announced June 28.

    Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general (CG), has been selected for assignment as deputy CG for support and chief of staff, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), San Antonio, Texas.

    Brig. Gen. Theodore “Ted” C. Harrison, CG, U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command (ECC) has been selected to succeed Nichols as the ACC CG. The change of command date has not been set. ACC and ECC are both headquartered on Redstone Arsenal.

    “It has been an honor to serve in the ACC,” Nichols said. “The Soldiers and civilians are inspirational in their total commitment in support of our Army. I thank them all for their unconditional support and know they will give Brig. Gen. Harrison the same. There is no better choice to replace me than Ted!

    “I have been blessed in my career to be able to serve our Soldiers and their families and look forward to joining the great IMCOM team so I can continue to serve our Army and this great nation,” she said.

    Nichols became ACC’s first CG on May 17, 2012. She previously served as program executive officer, PEO Soldier, at Fort Belvoir, Va. She enlisted in the Army in 1975 in her home town of Niagara Falls, N.Y. She was commissioned as an engineer officer upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1981.

    Harrison assumed command of ECC in April, 2012.

    “I am deeply honored to have been considered for this critical position,” Harrison said. “I’m very humbled and excited by the opportunity and look forward to helping the command continue its growth and development. Contracting is a key enabler and extremely important to every single warfighting mission.

    “At the same time, it is with a heavy heart that I depart ECC,” he added. “The ECC team is in a great place with very talented and dedicated people. I know it will continue to succeed. I will not be far away and will continue to assist in ECC’s success.”

    Before assuming command of ECC, he was the deputy director, National Contracting Organization, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He entered the Army in 1980 as a distinguished military graduate through the ROTC program at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and was commissioned in the Air Defense Artillery.

    Harrison’s successor has not been announced.


    Read more »
  • Army AL&T magazine now “mobile-ized”

    Fort Belvoir, Va. — The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) announced today the release of the app version of its award-winning trade publication, Army AL&T magazine. The app is now available for Android and iOS devices on the iTunes Store and Google Play.

    “We found from our reader surveys that a significant portion of our audience reads the magazine online and that many would like to be able to read it on-the-go too,” said Army AL&T Editor-in-Chief Nelson McCouch. “Now it’s available as a free download for mobile devices.”

    The app resembles the online version of the magazine that readers are familiar with, and issues are available beginning in 2011. Readers can download and store up to ten issues using the app, and customize their viewing experience. Each new issue will be available on the app soon after it’s published online.

    “We’ve been working on this app for some time, and we’re pleased to be able to provide the Army Acquisition Workforce the news they need and want in the form that’s most convenient for their busy lives,” said McCouch.

    Army AL&T—the app—is now available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play:

    iPhone and iPad
    Android Devices

    Army AL&T magazine is USAASC’s quarterly professional journal, comprising in-depth, analytically focused articles. The magazine’s mission is to instruct members of the Army AL&T community relative to AL&T processes, procedures, techniques and management philosophy, and to disseminate other information pertinent to the professional development of workforce members and others engaged in AL&T activities. The magazine is available in both hard copy and digital formats on the USAASC website (http://asc.army.mil/)—and now on tablets and smartphones.


    Read more »
  • New DASA for Procurement Announced

    Harry P. Hallock will take the reins of responsibility as the new DASA-P on July 15. (U.S. Army photo)

    The Hon. Heidi Shyu assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology announced on June 14, that Harry P. Hallock, executive director of the Army Contracting Command (AAC)-Warren, Mich., will be the next the next deputy assistant secretary of the Army (DASA) (procurement), effective July 15.

    “Mr. Harry Hallock has more than 20 years of acquisition, logistics and contracting experience, most of which has been in direct support of our war fighters. His leadership and contracting expertise will make him an invaluable asset to our team,” said Shyu.

    Hallock leaves his position as the executive director of the Army Contracting Command-Warren, Mich., after six years at the helm.

    “I am deeply honored to have been considered for this critical position in our Army. At the same time, it is with a heavy heart that I depart ACC-Warren and the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command,” said Hallock.

    “I’m very proud that Harry has been selected for this very important position,” said Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general. “Harry is an innovative leader who cares deeply about his people and has done much to advance the Army acquisition career field. As one of the founding leaders of ACC, he has helped shape and establish our command as the DOD’s preeminent provider of decisive edge contracting solutions and practices. Although I will miss Harry’s wise counsel and leadership, we look forward to working with him in his new position to provide America’s Army the tools it needs to fight and win.”

    Hallock began his career in Army contracting as a 22-year-old intern at the Detroit Arsenal and has been a Michigan resident for the past 33 years.


    Read more »
  • Security cooperation for the future: opportunities, challenges, and transformation

    Ann Cataldo, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation, addresses attendees at the 2013 Security Cooperation Workshop.

    By Chris Mewett

     

    Members of the security cooperation (SC) community gathered in Arlington, Va., last month to share ideas about how their organizations can continue to provide effective support to both international partners and national strategic objectives in a time of austerity and change.

    The 2013 Security Cooperation Workshop, hosted by the Office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation (DASA (DE&C)), brought together people from across the Departments of State and Defense – from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the military departments, the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management, and other organizations – to communicate best practices, exchange lessons learned, and discuss strategic initiatives and adaptations designed to meet the challenges facing the SC workforce.

    U.S. Navy Vice Adm. William Landay, director of DSCA, set the tone for the workshop by challenging participants to think critically about how their organizations can improve performance as both foreign military sale (FMS) case-load and associated administration funds level-off. The security cooperation community has enjoyed a surge in resources over the last several years and has performed well in turn, but this situation cannot be expected to continue indefinitely, he said.

    Landay emphasized the gains the community has made in recent years by emphasizing customer satisfaction, cost reduction, improved responsiveness, and increased partner visibility and involvement in the process. The time is right – before possible cuts are implemented – to consider ways to further shorten case processing times, to improve customer focus yet more, and to be more responsive at every phase of implementation and execution.

    These efforts must complement a broader initiative to integrate SC activities more closely with interagency capacity-building efforts and other tools of foreign policy through a comprehensive strategic approach to partner nations, something that Dr. Kathleen Hicks, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, highlighted in her keynote speech. The recent release of a new presidential policy directive on security sector assistance indicates that this requirement is recognized across the interagency community. Only by approaching the capability requirements of our partner nations as part of a broader, interagency look at improving security capacity, can we ensure that our SC efforts are both effective and sustainable.

    Maj. Gen. Frank D. Turner III, commanding general of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, delivers a briefing during the 2013 Security Cooperation Workshop.

    Gregory Kausner, recently named deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security and arms transfers, spoke about needing closer cooperation between the departments of state and defense. Kausner also offered his perspective on congressional views of security assistance, urging the community to improve not only its responsiveness to customers, as emphasized by Landay, but also its efforts to communicate SC’s successes.

    Representatives of each military department’s lead organization for SC also briefed the audience on service-level initiatives, including Ann Cataldo, in her first week on the job as the new DASA (DE&C). Cataldo spoke briefly on challenges stemming from strategic and budgetary uncertainty, emphasizing that the SC community can capitalize on what she described as an opportunity for new and challenging ways of thinking. The Army is already working to satisfy the intent of last year’s defense strategic guidance, which emphasized the need to “develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives.” As our overseas posture changes and fewer troops are permanently stationed abroad, SC engagements and the relationships they sustain will be increasingly important.

    Cataldo told the audience about several DASA (DE&C) initiatives that have been undertaken to ensure that those SC activities are targeted and effective. The Materiel Enterprise International Engagement Strategy (MEIES) will help tailor security assistance efforts to meet partner nation capability requirements while providing support to Army acquisition programs and the U.S. defense industrial base. The Army’s International Catalogue will complement the work done through the MEIES by giving security cooperation officers (SCO) the information they need to find the right Army solution for their partner nation. And the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command’s common operating picture will help to ensure that personnel across the Army have access to the data they need to manage security assistance cases effectively for the mutual benefit of the U.S. and the partner nation.

    The workshop’s second full day kicked off with a discussion of theater security cooperation objectives, led by a panel comprising representatives of the geographic combatant commands and the joint staff. This was followed by presentations from a range of speakers offering several different perspectives on SC: one focused on the challenges of working as an SCO, another on efforts to consolidate information technology (IT) systems under the security cooperation enterprise solution, and a third on SC training activities administered by the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management.

    “Community Focus” breakout sessions each afternoon offered attendees the opportunity to focus more deeply on subjects of interest, from public affairs and communications to technology security and foreign disclosure reform to logistics and transportation issues. The workshop also included briefings on the security cooperation information portal and the security cooperation management suite to improve attendees’ understanding of the benefits offered by those IT systems, as well as an update on the stand-up and early operation of the special defense acquisition fund.

    On the workshop’s final day, representatives of each service’s international training organization participated in a panel dedicated to that subject. The remainder of the presentations were focused on the future: one on the work of the security cooperation reform task force; another on the way the SC community is resourced; a third on legislative proposals pertaining to SC; and a final brief on DSCA’s efforts to improve customer visibility and participation in the FMS process.

    The consistent focus of the workshop, throughout the various presentations and discussions, was the opportunity to learn, adapt, and improve. In her closing remarks, Cataldo encouraged the attendees to return to their organizations with a commitment to spread what they’d learned, to implement the best practices they’d absorbed from others in the community, and to re-commit themselves to demonstrating the importance and value of the work done by the SC community.


    Read more »
  • Acquisition partnership to roll out new improved Sentinel Radar

    AN/MPQ-64 A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar System is the only 360-degree coverage air defense radar in the Army’s current inventory and features a 3 D X-Band phased array antenna that provides an instrumented range of 75 kilometers. ( U.S. Army photos)

    By Michael A. Wilson and Michael J. Glenn

     

    Embracing the Army agile process, the Cruise Missile Defense Systems (CMDS) Project Office’s Sentinel Product Office (SPO), went from early planning, to prototype and then qualification testing of a new Enhanced Sentinel Radar in just over 12 months.

    Sentinel will showcase this latest evolution enhancing force protection and Soldier survivability in a roll-out of the AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar first production unit on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) in October at Letterkenny Army Depot, Pa. (LEAD).

    Sentinel is the only 360-degree coverage air defense radar in the Army’s current inventory and features a 3 DX Band phased array antenna that provides an instrumented range of 75 kilometers. The Army previously procured 143 basic Sentinel Radars on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) but through incremental upgrades, the radar has evolved to a more robust system with greater capability.

    In FY11, the Army procured 56 additional Enhanced Sentinel A3 radars that will be mounted on the M1082 Light Medium Tactical Vehicle Trailer (LMTV) with support equipment loaded onto the M1083 FMTV. The A3 radars are being produced by Thales Raytheon Systems (TRS) at the Raytheon Consolidated Manufacturing Center at Forest, Miss., while the FMTV truck and LMTV trailer will receive Sentinel specific modifications at LEAD.

    Sentinel will roll-out the AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar first production unit on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) in October 2013 at Letterkenny Army Depot.

    The new FMTV platform replaces the current HMMWV that has been in use with the Sentinel radar since 1997 and is capable of hosting an enhanced armor protection kit that signifies a major step forward in providing increased Soldier survivability. The armored FMTV will meet all Sentinel maneuverability and transportability requirements while providing greater protection to the Soldier against today’s battlefield threats. The improved platform also has a larger area for the installation of new equipment that will allow Sentinel to be fully integrated with the Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) systems.

    The Enhanced Sentinel Radar also has a modernized Radar Control Terminal (RCT) with a Linux-based RCT operating system, adding an Ethernet router for integration with the IAMD architecture. This will integrate the Identification Friend or Foe Mode V capability to prevent fratricide and the need to replace obsolete processor cards.

    Design to first production was accomplished at amazing speed and efficiency by using the Army agile process. The SPO at CMDS pursued a government acquisition and development approach using an integrated product team (IPT) that significantly reduced cost and development time. The FMTV Sentinel prototype effort was led by the Aviation & Missile Research, Development & Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. along with the IPT.

    This IPT partnership comprised members from the PIF; designers from Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation and Yulista Management Services (subcontractors to the PIF); manufacturing engineers and tradesmen from LEAD; safety engineers from the Army Research Laboratory and CMDS; maintenance personnel from the Fire Center of Excellence; system engineers and logisticians from TRS (the developer and manufacturer of the radar); and representatives from CMDS in various engineering disciplines, logisticians and program management. By using this unique method, the Sentinel team went from the early planning stage to having a completed prototype and moving into qualification testing in just over 12 months. This approach reduced the manufacturing lead time and cost by allowing LEAD to input required changes in the design tailored to their processes and process capabilities, input to material and vendor selection, and plan for life-cycle support requirements.

    The new FMTV platform replaces the current HMMWV that has been in use with the Sentinel radar since 1997 and is capable of hosting an enhanced armor protection kit that signifies a major step forward in providing increased Soldier survivability. Fielding 56 new systems is scheduled to begin in FY14.

    The IPT partnership approach allowed for quick incorporation of changes resulting from development and test activities to be optimized and integrated into the production line in substantially less time and at significantly less cost than previous development efforts. In addition, this reduced the number of design changes since major stakeholders were encouraged to provide input on the design on a weekly basis rather than at traditional preliminary and critical design reviews. This process also allowed the Sentinel product director to identify and abate program risks much quicker than in a normal program execution. Overall, the Army agile process has allowed the SPO to develop, build, test, and transition into production, an FMTV-based Sentinel in less time, with fewer redesigns and at less cost to the government than a typical Army system acquisition.

    Fielding the 56 new production systems is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2014, and an effort to replace the current HMMWV platform with the new FMTV for the entire Sentinel fleet is planned from fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2018.

    The October roll-out of the AN/MPQ-64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar’s first new-production radar will be another step in the Sentinel Radar evolution. This signifies a major step in providing enhanced surveillance data to shooters in the IAMD architecture, increased Soldier survivability, and proven viability of the Army’s agile acquisition process.


    Read more »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Unexpected experience shapes a logistician’s career

     

    By Tara Clements

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: Working “above your pay grade”? For Carrie Caldwell Clinard, that phrase quickly became a reality three years into her Army Civilian career when she deployed to Iraq. When she arrived in Iraq, instead of the job she thought she was going to, she was slated for a different position two pay grades above her own and in a different location. She rose to the challenge, finding herself responsible for all logistics functions for an entire base to include transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. Consequently, that leadership experience has had a dramatic impact on her career and how she tackles problems and finds solutions “with a sense of urgency” to ensure our Soldiers are equipped to accomplish their mission.

    No stranger to a challenge, Clinard’s current job requires a great deal of fire-power as a logistics management specialist responsible for ensuring the Army’s principal air-to-ground missile weapon system, HELLFIRE, is maintained and operational for Soldiers and service members alike.

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    Soldiers sacrifice so much and put themselves in harm’s way continually to protect this country. It is important for us as DoD civilians to do our job and provide them the needed equipment, so they can carry out their missions and succeed on the battlefield.

    CLINARD: Currently, I am a logistics management specialist and manage any spare parts (launcher rails, circuit cart assemblies) needed to fix and maintain the M299 Longbow Launcher which shoots HELLFIRE missiles. The HELLFIRE missile weapon system is used on many aviation platforms, such as the OH-58 Kiowa, AH-64 Apache and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System, Special Operations aircraft and supports not only the Army, but Air Force, Navy, Marine and foreign military sales customers. I forecast and manage the inventory of spare parts, plan ‘spares’ requirements, initiate procurements and track contract deliveries, manage repair programs at organic and contractor depots and many other logistics functions to support and sustain the weapon system. I also work heavily with the RESET team and submit and track their requisitions. When a unit returns from a deployment, this team is responsible for assessing and fixing the weapon system which includes ordering any spare parts required for repairs.

    During her deployment, Clinard worked closely with Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard. Master Sgt. Richard Bailey, 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion, Idaho National Guard served as the Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of the logistics cell working side-by-side with Clinard. Courtesy photo provided by Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

    I feel my job is important because these actions ensure the warfighter receives his/her needed parts to maintain ‘weapon system readiness’ and support their mission. HELLFIREs are used heavily in theater and contingency operations, so it is vital the soldier has the parts available when needed to fire that missile at the target.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like so far? What has surprised you the most?

    CLINARD: I have had a great experience thus far working with the Army. There was a learning curve in the beginning with becoming familiar with Army culture and way of doing business, as well as learning a thousand Army acronyms. However, the career training the Army has provided has made things easier and helped me to learn my job. I’ve even been able to earn my master’s degree through the Army.

    Working here [Redstone Arsenal, Ala.] has provided many opportunities and experiences. I have traveled to various Army installations and witnessed Soldiers using the equipment that I support. In 2011, I had the opportunity to deploy to Iraq and provide logistical support with the drawdown. That was an invaluable experience that I will always carry with me. Although work can get stressful and busy at times, I feel continuously blessed to have the job that I have.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most?

    Clinard and two colleagues from FOB Prosperity gather together at Viejo Lake, a water reservoir by the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq. From left to right: Carrie Clinard, Brian King and Vernell Sample. Courtesy photo provided by Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

    CLINARD: What surprises me most is the dedication and commitment of the Army Civilian workforce to get the job done and support the warfighter. I think my job as a logistician for the Army keeps the fact that we are still engaged in a war at the forefront of my mind; and that’s what drives me to successfully and quickly complete my tasks each day. When an issue arises that affects the field, everyone is engaged and committed to finding a solution. Soldiers sacrifice so much and put themselves in harm’s way continually to protect this country. It is important for us as DoD civilians to do our job and provide them the needed equipment, so they can carry out their missions and succeed on the battlefield.

    FOTF: You mentioned your deployment to Iraq in 2011. What was it like?

    CLINARD: I deployed in support of Operation New Dawn from March – September 2011 and provided logistical support for the drawdown in Iraq working closely with coalition military, contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and local Iraqis. I was located at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Prosperity in Baghdad, Iraq serving as the director of logistics over the base and was responsible for all logistics functions including transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. I was heavily involved with logistics support contracts and initiated new project requests, developed project planning estimates, and assisted with contract development, performance and completion tasks. In addition, I was also the logistics lead at my FOB for Base Operating Support – Integrator which was poised to take over logistics functions from the military as they departed. A part of those functions included facilitating the closure and transition of bases to the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Department of State.

    A Task Force Saber, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade OH-58D Kiowa Warrior patrols the skies near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, March 2, 2012. The Kiowa is the Army's scout and reconnaissance aircraft, often called upon to provide close security for ground troops. The Kiowa is capable of carrying a two-man crew and a variety of weapons, such as 2.75 inch rockets, hellfire missiles (pictured) or a .50-caliber machine gun. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon)

    It was a very challenging and difficult deployment, given the complex missions and the ‘melting pot’ of people, agencies and organizations from around the world I worked with. But, it was also very rewarding to be a part of that chapter in American history. It was a very humbling and a career-changing experience that I will always carry with me.

    FOTF: What was your most memorable day?

    CLINARD: One of the more memorable moments from my deployment is of a barbeque. I worked side-by-side with Soldiers from the 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion, Idaho National Guard for months. Shortly before they redeployed, we got together for a cookout. I remember sitting around the table laughing, taking several pictures and soaking up the moment because I knew I wouldn’t get to see those guys again. It was a rare moment to have some down time. I still keep in touch with a few of them—especially during football season.

    FOTF: Why did you decide to work for the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    CLINARD: I became an Army Civilian in June 2008 after meeting a recruiter and interviewing at a college career fair. I wasn’t even aware of the opportunity to work for the Army as a civilian, especially in Alabama. My grandfather was an Army veteran and I have always had pride in that and had great patriotism for the military and my country. I joined because it was a great career opportunity, as well as a career that I felt had great purpose and fulfillment.

    My greatest satisfaction is knowing that I directly support the warfighter by supplying them with a weapon system that can help achieve their mission, when called upon.

    FOTF: What are your career aspirations?

    CLINARD: I think I’ll stick here. My coworkers poke fun at me because I have a retirement poster on my desk that gives me my retirement date – June 8, 2046. Just a few more years to go!

    For more information on the HELLFIRE Missile, JAMS Project Office or Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, visit http://www.msl.army.mil/Pages/JAMS/default.html.


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

    Read more »
  • Army proving ground, academia partner to improve Soldier communication networks

    The Deputy Director of SDSI at ASU, Mark A. Giddings, points out data to Pat Kerr (middle), a computer scientist at USAEPG and his ASU counterpart, Kevin Buell, Ph.D., a research scientist at SDSI, during a meeting May 2, at USAEPG Headquarters, Fort Huachuca. (U.S. Army photos by Ray K. Ragan)

    By Ray K. Ragan

     

    FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (USAEPG) recently started work with an academic partner at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Security and Defense Systems Initiative (SDSI) in Arizona to assist USAEPG in its mission to test the Army’s networks.

    “We [USAEPG] wanted to team up with someone in the academic world and take advantage of the latest research and see if we could apply that to our mission,” said Pat Kerr, a computer scientist at USAEPG.

    The Fort Huachuca-headquartered USAEPG found a willing partner in ASU’s SDSI, who was looking for just this sort of partnership, to bring academic knowledge and research to solve real-world problems, explained the director of SDSI at ASU, Werner J.A. Dahm, Ph.D.

    “Obviously the T&E [test and evaluation] mission that USAEPG has is critical for the warfighter,” said Dahm. “Helping USAEPG execute its mission has tremendous benefits for the nation and the warfighter.”

    SDSI wanted to focus on assisting USAEPG to modernize test and evaluation methods, tools and fundamental approaches to improve the quality of technology for Soldiers and reduce the cost to American taxpayers.

    Data produced by network traffic during large-scale test events like the Network Integration Evaluation quickly becomes terabytes of data, and figuring out what data is important and what data is not, is increasingly difficult. The increasing amounts of data also comes with additional cost. The longer an event runs allowing testers to capture data, or the longer it takes to analyze that data, all requires additional time, which results in greater costs.

    “We’re looking for the big ideas,” said Kerr. “We need those.”

    Pat Kerr (right), a computer scientist at USAEPG and his ASU counterpart, Kevin Buell, Ph.D., a research scientist with ASU’s SDSI, discuss ways of assessing of Army communication and data networks more efficiently on May 2, at USAEPG, Fort Huachuca.

    The partnership has already produced a “big idea” with an early and important success.

    “We’re focused on doing things cheaper, faster, better,” said Kevin Buell, Ph.D., the lead researcher working with USAEPG at SDSI.

    USAEPG, like other Army test centers, approached the challenge of growing volumes of data by adding more resources like people, computers and various systems for analysis. However, the approach of adding such resources simply did not scale adequately to meet the growing needs of test events. USAEPG needed a new approach; SDSI provided that approach.

    The engineers from both groups evaluated the problem of unmanageable data volumes from network traffic analysis. The researchers at SDSI realized that there were some practical approaches to summarizing the data, which reduced the total amount of data to a manageable and usable amount.

    Buell explained the SDSI team’s approach to the challenge as, “we focused on providing network traffic analysis more efficiently – ‘faster,’ using open-source tools –‘cheaper’ and providing more advanced capability, and that’s ‘better.’ ”

    This approach developed through the partnership allowed the Army testers and engineers to focus on other critical variables of testing the Army’s next generation of communication and data networks. This efficiency gain allows test engineers and technicians to turn their attention to other aspects of the test, rather than wrestling with data, explained Kerr.

    The partnership plans to work together on finding better ways of looking at data. Rather than viewing data as raw numbers on a spreadsheet, they want to find better ways for analysts to assess the data and understand it. They also plan to address the problem of the growing amount of data from other aspects of test to find better ways to manage this data. Lastly, they plan to work together on better ways to manage software used in testing, called instrumentation, to be less costly and more flexible.

    “We’re now looking at networks differently; we can now find out things we didn’t know before that will really allow us to assess how these things [networks] will work when they are actually fielded and accessible to the warfighter,” said Kerr.


    Read more »
  • The evolution of Trail Bosses, a one-stop shop for acquisition enterprise integration into the NIE

    NIE 13.2, which kicked off this week, is the fifth in a series of semi-annual, Soldier-led evaluations designed to further integrate and rapidly progress the Army's tactical network. As the NIEs have evolved over the past two years, so has the concept of Trail Bossing, and the Trail Bosses themselves. (photos by Claire Heininger)

    By Lt. Col. Keith Taylor

     

    One of the things that makes the Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) so valuable is that the Soldiers judging equipment are not part of a so-called “test unit,” but an operational brigade combat team, but that’s also one of the things that makes the NIEs so difficult.

    The 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) still has all of the responsibilities of a typical BCT: arms proficiency, physical training tests, developing the junior enlisted into noncommissioned officers and carrying out all of their standard training. At the same time, the Army requires them to learn and evaluate dozens of sophisticated communications systems, which happen to change every six months.

    It is a lot to ask— so to help ease the burden, the acquisition community provides Trail Bosses who embed with the unit. Trail Bosses are acquisition professionals who serve as a link between 2/1 AD and government and industry organizations that contribute equipment to the NIE. Trail Bosses explain the operational intent of the systems being evaluated and make sure the unit has the proper equipment and training to conduct the NIE mission, as well as its other tasks.

    Soldiers should be spending the NIE fighting the enemy, not the network. With the network remaining a cornerstone of Army modernization, the Trail Boss Team that ensures successful NIE execution is an integral part of the acquisition workforce.

    A main focus of this NIE is executing the Follow-On Test and Evaluation for WIN-T Increment 2, a major upgrade to the tactical network backbone that introduces mission command on the move and extends the network to the company level. Here, Soldiers from 2/1 AD, drive vehicles equipped with WIN-T Increment 2 during preparations for NIE 13.2.

    This unique position in the NIE process is also a benefit to the larger acquisition enterprise. Once systems are approved for participation during decision point 2 of the NIE cycle, the Trail Boss Team becomes a one-stop source for all information regarding how to integrate into the NIE. As the acquisition community uses the NIE to gain valuable Solider feedback on systems, they have a team of acquisition professionals on the receiving end of that feedback to ease the process.

    As the NIEs have evolved over the past two years, so has the concept of Trail Bossing, and the Trail Bosses themselves. Several officers have signed up to be Trail Bosses as their gateway to the Acquisition Corps, after joining from the test community, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and even 2/1 AD. In their new roles, they gain a skill set and “system of systems” perspective that will be valuable as they advance in their careers, as well as subject matter expertise on a variety of different network technologies. They learn a more “agile” approach to acquisition, in which the Army can revise requirements to more realistically meet Soldiers’ needs.

    In turn, their diverse perspectives strengthen the support the acquisition community is able to provide to the unit and the Army. Armed with operational experience and the ability to “speak the Soldier language,” the Trail Bosses now essentially serve as the third field-grade officer for each battalion, a critical force multiplier for the unit. Building upon lessons learned and after-action reviews from previous NIEs, their role has also become the overarching coordinator of standing up the NIE network and sustaining it during the evaluation.

    During the intense preparation period of each NIE cycle, when hundreds of vehicles are integrated with new network equipment, Trail Bosses are constantly in contact with their battalion staff and external stakeholders regarding integration and training schedules, property accountability, field support representative tasking and synchronization, unit requirements and project manager support. They follow standardized processes for each of these responsibilities and publish detailed schedules two weeks in advance after vetting them through the unit to ensure the plans are executable. Once the NIE itself is underway, Trail Bosses now operate right in the battalion footprint with their assigned units. When something goes wrong, the trouble ticket to resolve it goes through the Trail Boss.

    As the Trail Boss Team has become more integrated with the NIE process, that has helped the acquisition community to forge a strong, trusting relationship with all levels of 2/1 AD. That, in turn, opens the feedback channels that foster continuous improvement.

    Soldier feedback from the NIE has been incorporated into the makeup of the CoCPs that are being fielded as part of CS 13, the Army's first fully integrated communications package to emerge from the NIE process. Two Brigade Combat Teams of the 10th Mountain Division are now training on CS 13 in preparation for potential deployment to Afghanistan later this year. 2/1 AD Soldiers set up CoCPs in the Integration Motor Pool at Fort Bliss, TX, in preparation for NIE 13.2.

    A significant area of focus for future NIEs is maturing the connection between the NIE Trail Bosses and the Trail Bosses assigned to each BCT being fielded with Capability Set (CS) 13. CS 13, the mobile communications network vetted through the NIEs, is the Army’s first integrated fielding effort for network technologies that provide connectivity across the entire BCT formation. The challenges the embedded Trail Bosses face – synchronizing equipment deliveries, vehicle touches, training and other elements – are similar to what the NIE Trail Bosses encounter. Sharing more information between the two groups will further reduce the burden on units operating in a time-constrained environment.

    Through the Trail Bosses, the Army has struck a balance between what 2/1 AD is required to do for its own mission and its support for the NIE mission. The acquisition community contributes subject matter expertise on the array of systems they must evaluate, while translating acquisition lingo into operational-speak and vice versa. To that unit, the Trail Bosses are the acquisition corps, and we will continue to evolve to live up to our task.

    Lt. Col. Keith Taylor oversees the NIE Trail Boss Team as product manager, capability package integration for the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate. He holds a B.A. in criminal justice from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in acquisition and contract management from Florida Institute of Technology. Taylor is Level III certified in contracting and project management as well as a certified project management professional.


    Read more »
  • Army wins top award for innovation

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers) (Photos by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller).

    By Claire Heininger

     

    ARLINGTON, Va. (April 30, 2013) — The U.S. Army has been named one of the world’s most innovative research organizations, after earning more than 300 patents for new technologies in a three-year period.

    The Army joins the ranks of private companies such as 3M, Apple, AT&T, Dow Chemical, DuPont and General Electric as one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators named by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. The U.S. Navy was also named, making the two service branches the first government agencies to make the list.

    “This recognition is shared with the members of our Army Science and Technology community who perform research relevant for the Army and our important mission, and provide the innovation that contributes to a strong national security posture,” said Heidi Shyu, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), who accepted the award on behalf of the service during a small ceremony at the Pentagon. “Nearly 12,000 scientists and engineers perform their work daily knowing that it will benefit our Soldiers by providing them with the best technology available to successfully accomplish their mission.”

    The award focused on all organizations having 100 or more “innovative” patents, defined as the first publication in a patent document of a new technology, from 2009-2011. Thomson Reuters then used its proprietary methodology to measure the organizations’ success on a variety of metrics, such as “influence” — how often their research was cited by other innovators in their subsequent inventions — and “success,” the conversion rate of patent applications to granted patents.

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Mr. Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); Mr. Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory; Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers); and Ms. Mary Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.

    The Army scored well in both of those categories, with more than 8,500 citations of its inventions published from 2007-2011, and 327 granted patents out of 436 published inventions from 2009-2011. The service also stood out for the broad range of subject matter covered in its inventions portfolio, ranging from training software that uses virtual robots to dispose of simulated explosives, to a folding shield that protects the operator of a tank weapon station, to a vaccine guarding against infection by the Ebola virus.

    “This illustrates how we attack many Army-unique problems, yet also contribute in wide-ranging areas,” said Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “Our portfolio was heavy in weapons, ammunition and blasting, but also pharmaceutical products, polymers and computing.”

    More than 900 individuals contributed to the Army’s patents, including personnel from RDECOM, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, as well as some of their partners from industry, government and academia. Three of those individuals, representing all the Army innovators, were honored at the award ceremony, including Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory, who was the top innovator with 11 patents; John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Bartley P. Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center, Corps of Engineers.

    The recognition by Thomson Reuters illustrates the depth, skill and dedication of the Army science and technology community and the impact of their efforts both within and beyond the military, leaders said.

    “Our people operate in the space between the state of the art and the art of the possible where innovation is paramount and focused on addressing needs unique to the Army,” Ormond said. “We also develop technologies that have a major impact once they leave the military world. It’s an incredible value for the taxpayer.”

    In a constrained budget environment, deliberate investment in science and technology is essential to drive continued innovation, Shyu said. The Army is developing a strategic plan that will protect and facilitate science and technology efforts that are essential to Army modernization, addressing the state of emerging and evolving threats; trends in commercial technology; current and emerging equipment requirements; and research in core priorities that address Army-unique challenges.

    While it is difficult to predict future technology developments, leaders expressed confidence in the Army workforce to continue accelerating innovation to give Soldiers the decisive edge.

    “Army Science and Technology cannot survive without innovative scientists and engineers,” said Mary J. Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “We are lucky to have an amazing group of scientists and engineers to invent, innovate, mature and demonstrate technology that provides increased capability to the Warfighter.”


    Read more »
  • Army acquisition executive visits contracting students

    Hon. Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, speaks April 3 to students at the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, located on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Photo by Skip Vaughn

    By Skip Vaughn

     
    The Army acquisition executive looked out over the classroom of contracting student Soldiers and told them how valuable they are.

    “Thank you for what you guys do every single day,” Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said. “You guys are the future of our acquisition work force.”

    Shyu visited the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence on April 3 at its building on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The center is under the Acquisition Support Center, out of Fort Belvoir, Va.; and its classes fall under the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Va. The 47 students, most of whom are military, represent three classes which last from 3-4 weeks. The center has been located on the UAH campus since 2006 and in Madison Hall, 301 Sparkman Drive, since January 2011.

    Before addressing the students, Shyu met briefly with the staff and faculty. She called the three classes – including Project Management, Contracting Level-2 and Contract Pricing — very important. “What they’re learning is valuable, it’s incredibly marketable,” she said.

    She gave an overview of the international environment, her role as the Army acquisition executive and the need to take lessons learned from the last decade of war.

    The Army’s spending reflects the declining budget. In fiscal 2011, the Army did 470,000 contracting actions and obligated $124.3 billion. That declined in fiscal 2012 to 412,000 contracting actions and $107.5 billion obligated.

    Shyu pointed out that 64 percent of the Army’s contracting actions are competed. Last year 27.2 percent of contracts went to small businesses and “that’s huge,” she said.

    She told the students that contracting or acquisition isn’t a job they can do by themselves. It entails the requirements, the money and an acquisition plan. “It’s got to all come together,” Shyu said.

    She invited questions from the students; and the first dealt with the budget and sequestration. “We’re trying to make the smart decisions,” she said.

    Among the students was Staff Sgt. Trevor Dodge, 27, from Windsor, N.H. He is midway through the four-week Army Basic Contracting Course. At the end of April, he will be leaving Fort Hood, Texas, for Fort Belvoir, Va.

    “I thought it was great,” Dodge said of Shyu’s presentation. “She gives a view we don’t get very often. She hinted at things that are coming in the future so that kind of gives you a purpose in your job.”


    Read more »