ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya reinforced the need for U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) to have at its fingertips the ability to draw upon the most up-to-date detailed maps and imagery of any given region at a moment’s notice.
Project Manager Mission Command (PM MC) is helping to streamline the delivery of maps and imagery through the use of specialized geospatial products that work with the Army’s primary mission command information system, known as Command Post of the Future (CPOF).
Although CPOF users have an initial set of digital maps at their disposal, there is usually not enough storage space to keep the latest and most detailed maps for every contingency across the globe. For combatant commands such as USARAF, which covers most of the African continent, sometimes the need arises where they must request customized map sets.
Within days of the flare-up in Libya, PM MC coordinated the creation and installation of a specialized map set providing the most recent imagery and detailed maps of that area in support of USARAF.
“When the incident happened we identified the need and got the maps out to them,” said Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, the Army’s product manager for Tactical Mission Command (PdM TMC), part of PM MC. “We recognize there’s use for both broad map coverage and detailed map imagery of specific areas of interest. When a new area of interest emerged in Libya, we were able to build a CPOF map set to cover it.”
The maps sent were of several countries in northern Africa, including Libya, and offered sub-meter imagery that was orthorectified to allow for terrain displacement.
“The maps are used on the Soldiers’ CPOF systems to plan, fight and coordinate the common operating picture,” said Matthew Tessier, map manager for PdM TMC and who developed the map sets in response to the flare up in Libya. “Without this technology and the accuracy of it, we could be putting our fighting forces in harm’s way. Getting them the most up-to-date maps for their mission was and is essential to saving lives.”
To continue supplying detailed map data sets in shorter turnaround times, PM MC, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, is building an expanded map library. So when conflicts arise, like the recent situation at the Amenas gas plant in Algeria or the clash in Mali, USARAF has detailed imagery if needed.
Tessier works closely with the Army’s Geospatial Center and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to gather map data, then using specialized software converts it for CPOF users.
CPOF allows units to plot real-time operations like firefights on a three-dimensional map, and instantly see updates.
A recent switch by PdM TMC from proprietary software to a commercial mapping capability for the CPOF system has allowed more options when it comes to the data resources used to pull together maps and imagery. For example, PdM TMC can now take an online, commercially available map of a building or site of interest, such as a university or office complex, and combine it with existing military map sets.
“We switched over to commercial software that allows us to be more flexible with raw data,” said Tessier. “We can now gather different types of data available either through military channels or civilian, and have the flexibility to incorporate that onto our map sets.”
PdM TMC is also working with Army terrain teams within USARAF to equip them with the same ability to build maps based upon their tactical needs, significantly shortening the amount of time needed to convert and ship the map sets.
Leslie Call, a PM MC field service representative with USARAF, said the new technology allows the unit to load five times more data onto each hard drive and equips USARAF geospatial engineers with the ability to quickly convert additional imagery for CPOF as hotspots arise.
“We are effectively cutting out the middle man and giving ownership of the maps where it belongs, with the unit,” said Call. “The unit can accomplish in hours what used to take a week.”
As CPOF continues to evolve, it is embracing the next generation of mission command technology with Command Post Web, a web version of CPOF offering similar capability to users with access to the Army’s tactical network. This will also allow CPOF users to pull feeds from other map-based, mission command systems such as Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR), Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) and Joint Battle Command — Platform (JBC-P).
“One of our goals is to have the best maps out there,” said Bentzel. “So in addition to deploying our own map servers we’re making it possible to access other map services like DCGS-A and TIGR. Every commander wants great maps because they help visualize the battlefield and make better decisions. The tools we’re building make great maps the norm, not the exception.”
WASHINGTON – Army acquisition officials are pursuing an effort to identify solutions able to help aircraft crews navigate through a Degraded Visual Environment (DVE), a circumstance wherein weather, obscurants or obstacles thwart the ability of a crew to see properly or accurately know where they are in relation to surrounding terrain, service officials explained.
Army officials view potential DVE solutions through what could be called a three-pronged approach; solutions include improving the existing flight controls systems and handling characteristics to assist the pilot in managing workload when vision or situational awareness is challenged or obscured, examinations of “queuing” technologies able to give pilots needed information to make decisions regarding the aircraft, and various sensors able to help aircraft crews see through obscurants.
“One of the key efforts from Program Executive Office Aviation (PEO AVN) is to make sure we take a holistic approach within DOD, so that we fully understand all of the ongoing efforts that are contributors toward a DVE solution,” said Mike Herbst, Assistant PEO, Engineering and Technology,
The Army’s strategy for approaching DVE emerged, in part, from the services participation in an Office of the Secretary of Defense-led Helicopter Survivability Task Force which launched a rotorcraft survivability study in 2009, Herbst explained.
“One of the results of this effort,” Herbst added, “was that the individual services were asked to conduct their own studies to see where and how helicopter mishaps occurred.”
“The Army brought Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) together and assembled a working group to dig into accident circumstances. Many turned out to be DVE-related, and this has helped shape the Army’s resolve in addressing this problem,” Herbst explained.
“This working group included experts from the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence and the Army Combat Readiness Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., and the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., as well as program safety officers across the service,” Herbst said.
“Various technological capabilities and “sensor” solutions are a critical component to the Army’s DVE strategy. The approach is to create a common set of technical standards so that different sensing solutions can more quickly and easily be integrated within a common architectural backbone,” said George O’Boyle, Aviation Network & Missions Planning DVE Project Lead, Aviation Systems Project Office.
“With any type of future capability, we want to use commonality to leverage software solutions in a modular fashion,” said O’Boyle.
In fact, the overall effort to build hardware and software to a specific set of common Internet Protocol (IP) standards is a large part of what Program Executive Office Aviation calls Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), explained Col. Anthony Potts, former Project Manager, Aviation Systems and current Director, Plans, Programs and Resources, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.
According to Potts, the FACE effort involves a collaborative effort between government and industry to identify an established set of technical standards so that new software and hardware can seamlessly connect with existing systems on aviation platforms.
The FACE effort has already resulted in substantial savings; it is a key portion of the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE) approach, a method of identifying and implementing a common set of IP standards as a way to better facilitate integration of emerging capabilities, quicken the developmental cycle and lower costs wherever possible, Potts stated.
“The common set of standards for FACE has to do with the process by which software is built and documented. Previously we had to do a lot of code re-writing for every platform because each one had a different operating system,” Potts said.
As a result, the Army’s DVE sensor plan is to establish a common software architecture that is “sensor agnostic,” meaning it will be engineered with a “plug-and-play” capability to accommodate a wide range of sensor applications. This plan will create an open architecture backbone able to keep pace with rapid technological change and quickly integrate new solutions as they emerge, Potts added.
In response to an U.S. Central Command Operational Needs Statement issued in 2011, the Army is acquiring a limited number of sensors. These sensors are designed to help crews navigate through “brown-out” or DVE-type circumstances. The Helicopter Autonomous Landing System (HALS) sensors use 94 Gigahertz millimeter wave radar technology to provide helicopter crews with an ability to see through obscurants, O’Boyle explained.
“The millimeter wave radar technology provides a known penetrating capability,” O’Boyle said.
Over the longer term, however, HALS and other millimeter wave radar technologies will be evaluated by Army developers alongside a wide range of other sensing capabilities. Some of these capabilities may include Forward Looking Infrared technologies as well as Laser Detection and Ranging sensors which use applications to “paint” or provide a detailed picture of a given landing area.
“Our concept is to move forward with a sensor integration program, depending upon resources and technology. The first phase of the DVE sensor program will be to study all these alternatives once a Materiel Development Decision is completed. We will then turn to the Project Manager to develop solutions. We’ve got technology in the pipeline to execute a program like this,” Herbst explained.
Various “queuing” technologies can also help helicopter pilots by providing air crews with key navigational information designed to greatly assist efforts to address DVE conditions.
“For instance, Program Manager Air Warrior, with Program Executive Office Soldier, is currently developing a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) technology able to provide air crews with a 3D symbology,” said O’Boyle and Herbst.
“This symbology, which provides aircrews with information from inertial navigation and GPS sensors, is designed to assist pilots in flying the aircraft to the ground,” O’Boyle said.
“This helmet mounted display is an upgrade to the current heads up display system. The current system is a single monochrome display fixed to the helmet, whereas the new one has a color display so the pilot will get a clearer picture and be able to see the symbology much better,” said Fred Reed, DVE SME from the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.
“Also, drawing from inertial navigation as well as information from a Digital Terrain Elevation Database which contains maps of most of the earth’s surface, pilots using this new helmet mounted display are able to see where they are in relation to the ground and surrounding terrain,” O’Boyle said.
Overall, the Army’s approach to DVE is oriented toward leveraging the best available sensor technologies while simultaneously engineering a technical environment wherein next-generation capabilities can easily be integrated at lower costs. At the same time, the approach is multi-pronged, meaning it will emphasize sensor technology solutions alongside advanced flight controls, and key advances in “queuing” technologies.
In total, this integrated approach is, quite naturally, aimed at increasing air-crew safety and survivability while also hoping to help provide them every conceivable tactical and operational advantage, service officials emphasized.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then aggravation is the father of process improvement.
Undocumented methods for in-processing were so frustrating to Maj. Marty Jackson, he leveraged his Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training to find a solution. It took the former assistant product manager for Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) 15 days to set up his e-mail when he in-processed.
Jackson, now the Executive Officer to the Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), refused to let his experience be the norm. He completed a Green Belt LSS project to increase in-processing efficiencies within Project Manager JBC-P.
His LSS team made two recommendations. First, send new employees a welcome letter and any forms that can be completed prior to their start date and request that they take training that can be completed prior to arriving.
The second recommendation was to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for new employees. This in-processing checklist applied to new military, civilian and support contractor employees for PM JBC-P. The checklist covers security, human resources and computer accounts.
“We’re changing what we can change,” Jackson explained. “The Garrison’s Network Enterprise Center (NEC) still has its own process and timeline; however, we can get our new employees’ paperwork to the NEC sooner.”
With the recommendations accepted and in-processing checklists in place, PM JBC-P will see $340,000 in net cost avoidance over six years.
Cumbersome Process Revamped
A time-consuming process prompted Maj. Charles F. Faison, product director for Tactical Ground Reporting, part of JBC-P, to complete a software distribution project. The problem was that JBC-P software needed to be sent to various vendors and customers. The tracking process was paper-based and averaged 51 days from start to finish.
Faison’s team used LSS to analyze why it was taking so long.
“The LSS training I received gave me an array of tools to streamline my software distribution process,” Faison said.
LSS training advises team members not to focus on solutions too early during the LSS project. Fully analyzing a problem elicits better solutions.
“My initial thoughts for a solution would not have gained as much efficiency as attacking the root causes of the problem,” Faison said. “It’s human nature to want to fix a problem right away. But you really have to analyze the causes.”
Faison’s team created a process map of the software distribution process as it was, and then the team identified steps that had limited or no value. The team also found there was no database of information—the ‘database’ was a manila folder containing past requests from customers for software.
“Keeping our customers serviced with new software upgrades by leafing through papers was highly inefficient,” Faison said.
The team recommended creating a database and an automated process, both of which were adopted. Since then, delivery time has decreased from 51 days to three days. Because the process is more efficient, JBC-P did not need to hire an additional person to coordinate this process. An employee now does this as an additional duty. The cost avoidance is $11,000 per year for JBC-P.
“This is not a high monetary metric,” Faison explained. “But we did not have to hire an additional person and the whole process is much smoother for everyone involved.”
From Chaos to Order
Confusion while trying to deploy prompted Maj. Michael J. Williams, assistant product manager for Product Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 1 (PdM WIN-T Inc 1), to undertake an LSS project to improve the deployment procedures for Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) military personnel.
“When I deployed on temporary duty to Afghanistan in 2011 it was a chaotic process,” Williams said. “There was no definitive source from Aberdeen’s perspective nor visibility at the PEO level.”
PEO C3T military personnel are expected to comply with APG policies. At the time Williams deployed, the PEO was at only a 75 percent compliance rate.
Williams’ LSS team created SOPs for deployment by combining the Garrison’s policies and the PEO’s policies. One new procedure involves the Military Human Resources specialist tracking Soldiers in the PEO suspense tracking system as they complete the deployment process and sending in completed paperwork on behalf of Soldiers.
“This SOP makes it easier for people to deploy and the suspense system provides visibility for people down range,” Williams said.
Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) at PEO C3T
PEO C3T’s CPI program’s mission is to improve the efficiency of operations by optimizing key processes and identifying and executing CPI projects, with the ultimate vision of driving value to the Soldier and the citizen. Program Executive Officer Maj. Gen. N. Lee S. Price requires all PEO C3T majors to undertake LSS training and complete their Green Belts and encourages all workforce members to undertake the training.
“We always need to be finding efficiencies and quantifying them,” Price said. “It’s up to us to save taxpayers’ money by consolidating or stripping out unnecessary processes.”
In FY12, the Army certified 22 Green Belts and four Black Belts at PEO C3T, including 13 majors and one captain. The PEO’s 26 gated projects and 10 non-gated projects resulted in $23.5 million in cost savings and $116 million in cost avoidance across FY12-18, surpassing the PEO’s goal of 2 percent of its total obligation authority, or $72.5 million.
“We are raising the bar for FY13,” said Thom Hawkins, chief, Program Analysis Branch, and CPI program director for PEO C3T. “The PEO has set a goal of 3 percent of its total obligation authority, or $87.4 million. The PEO also plans to re-deploy its certified belts on PEO-level enterprise projects.”
The FY13 LSS Training schedule is on AKO at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/doc/36722897. Contact your training coordinator or LSS deployment director to register for a course in the Army Training Requirements and Resources System.
The tongue is an amazing organ.
Thousands of nerve fibers in it help us eat, drink and swallow. Without them, we would not taste. The tongue helps us speak. Quietly, its surface defends our bodies from germs.
Yet for everything the tongue can do, perhaps one of its most exciting roles is to serve as a direct “gateway” to the brain through thousands of nerve endings.
Now, researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation are leveraging the power of those tiny nerves. They are aiming to restore lost physical and mental function for service members and civilians who suffered traumatic brain injury or stroke, or who have Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.
The treatment involves sending specially-patterned nerve impulses to a patient’s brain through an electrode-covered oral device called a PoNS™, a battery-operated appliance placed on the tongue. The 20-30 minute stimulation therapy, called cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation (CI NiNM) is accompanied with a custom set of physical, occupational, and cognitive exercises, based on the patient’s deficits. The idea is to improve the brain’s organizational ability and allow the patient to regain neural control.
NeuroHabilitation Corporation is funding the commercial development of the device, and has more than just financial investments in PoNS. The company was created with support by Montel Williams, a celebrity and military veteran who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Williams was originally introduced to the research through an American Way magazine an attendant gave to him while he was on an American Airlines flight. The magazine included an article about work being done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shortly after reading the article, Williams joined a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Tactile Communication & Neurorehabilitation Lab, which is in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
“The third day there I said we need this in the mouths of our Soldiers,” recalled Williams, who said he has always kept his ties with the military after serving in the Marine Corps and graduating from the Naval Academy.
The PoNS prototype and associated therapeutic use were developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists Yuri Danilov, Ph.D., Mitchell Tyler, M.S., P.E., and Kurt Kaczmarek, Ph.D. Their research is driven by the principle that brain function is not hardwired or fixed, but can be reorganized in response to new experiences, sensory input and functional demands. This area of research is called neuroplasticity and is a promising and rapidly growing area of brain research.
Preliminary data from University of Wisconsin showed CN-NiNM to have great potential for a wide variety of neurological issues. Remarkably, the therapy doesn’t only slow functional loss, but also has the potential to restore lost function. That’s why researchers are saying that it “breaks the rules.”
“When we talk about a brain changing itself, this is what we mean,” said Danilov.
Because of its possible application for service members, especially those returning from combat with blast-related traumatic brain injuries, the USAMRMC signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with NeuroHabilitation Corporation (founded by Williams and his colleagues, including the University of Wisconsin scientists) on Feb. 8 that allows the Army to further evaluate the device.
“This exciting agreement leverages a unique private-public partnership,” said Col. Dallas Hack, director of the USAMRMC Combat Casualty Care Research Program. “By collaborating with University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation, we maximize our resources to explore a potential real-world treatment for injured service members and civilians with a variety of health conditions.”
Testing will include a collaborative study with researchers and clinicians at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Ky., slated to start this month as the result of a year-long coordination effort led by Capt. Ian Dews, deputy director of CCCRP. The hospital is home to the Warrior Resiliency and Recovery Center, which is dedicated to the treatment of Soldiers with physical and neuropsychological problems due to service-related trauma.
Additional patient testing will be conducted at other Veteran facilities and civilian medical institutions. Concurrently, the USAMRMC, in collaboration with its subcommands, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, will conduct environmental testing, such as temperature and humidity limitations for the device, to better understand potential constraints. At the conclusion, the USAMRMC hopes to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for PoNS.
WASHINGTON – As the Army matures its Agile Process, steps are being taken to align systems engineering and integration in an effort to project and synchronize trends in technology and standards across Army programs now and in the future. An outcome of this alignment is that the system of systems engineering community is now shaping the Army’s network infrastructure to be more capable and efficient, enabling industry to build devices and applications to standards and align research and development with the Army’s acquisition roadmap.
To support this effort, the Army acquisition community is implementing the Common Operating Environment (COE). The COE is an approved set of computing technologies and standards that enable secure and interoperable applications to be developed and executed rapidly across a variety of computing environments (CEs), Army officials explained.
“COE is essential to standardizing the computing infrastructure fundamental to Army network modernization, as the current strategic modernization approach stretches across a 30-year time span with a focus on identifying and leveraging emerging Commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology,” said Terry Edwards, Director of the newly formed System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate.
COE, which includes an effort to synchronize a number of computing environments, was established, in part, to support a 30-year strategic modernization approach outlined by the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, ASA (ALT), Heidi Shyu. The concept informing this effort hinges upon the need to integrate promising emerging technology into established programs of record. At the same time, a key portion of this effort relates to the importance of linking modernization efforts with the Army’s Science and Technology (S&T) community.
“Bringing the 30-year plan and COE together, we are going to identify a roadmap for each of the portfolios so that we can tailor our approach to address specific capability gaps,” said Edwards.
With the initial implementation plan unveiled in early 2012, the thrust of COE consists of a set of technical standards and computing technologies with specified layers designed to facilitate integration and interoperability among software applications and hardware , said Phil Minor, Chief, COE Division, ASA (ALT). “COE is aimed at selecting and integrating a set of standards and protocols in order to achieve an open architecture, where protocols are not proprietary to a specific vendor,” he added.
Now underway, COE implementation is aligning Army programs into six Computing Environments (CE) based on mission and environment (size, weight, power, and bandwidth) limitations. Each CE will be baselined on a common foundation (hardware and software) to facilitate reuse of common components. Each CE will be designed to interoperate with the others, thus forming the COE. The interface between CEs will be enabled through the establishment of Control Points, i.e., tightly controlled technical specifications that act as the blueprint for how data will be exchanged between CEs. Implementation will be in a phased approach expected to be executed over the next several years. The idea is to stop developing systems within different stove-pipes or silos of capability, but rather to allow applications and emerging technologies to rest upon a common computing architecture or foundation, Edwards explained.
The open architecture concept upon which COE is based is fundamental to the ongoing development of a number of significant Army modernization programs which are currently making substantial technical progress. A few of these are: Nett Warrior – a hand-held digital display device for dismounted units, Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) – a fixed-wing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft and Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A) – an integrated intelligence database, explained Edwards.
COE is fundamental to the Capability Set management approach currently being pursued by the Army, a method of capability development designed to integrate promising emerging technology with effective existing systems. The technologies which comprise these Capability Sets are engineered with the System-of-Systems approach to integration and development, designed to lower costs and facilitate interoperability.
Many of these COE standards are currently being identified, integrated and evaluated through the Army’s Network Integration Evaluations (NIE), a series of ongoing operational assessments of technologies and capabilities taking place in the realistic, combat-like environment of White Sands Missile Range, N.M. In fact, two upcoming NIEs will help validate Mission Command COE software.
WASHINGTON – Award-winning former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation, Mr. Keith B. Webster, will build upon his many successes as he transitions to a new role with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
Webster, who now serves as Director, International Cooperation, OSD, is in charge of managing a host of key issues for Mr. Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Issues within his purview include international partnerships with key global allies, significant acquisition and technology-related matters affecting U.S. global military development and coordination with OSD policy personnel.
“Inside Mr. Kendall’s portfolio of AT&L and inside the broader context of OSD, we will decide our priority activities and examine how we should be organized and engaged globally. Within AT&L, we are here to inform the requirements process with the J8 and ensure timely consideration of foreign technology opportunities and foreign product opportunities. We want to make sure that the JCIDS [Joint Capabilities Integration Development System] process is well-informed—to include international cooperation,” said Webster, while expressing enthusiasm for his new role.
In particular, Webster’s role will call upon his considerable expertise in technology- and acquisition-specific international cooperation issues, Foreign Military Sales, Direct Commercial Sales and international policy issues, among other things.
“I am chartered to advise him [Kendall] on all international matters and to be knowledgeable of global political military events–and to be in contact and in touch with those in OSD policy who have a pre-eminent role in international policy formulation here in the Pentagon,” Webster added.
That means advising Kendall on the international aspects of key programs like the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) effort and the acquisition of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. In many instances such as these, Webster will examine the possibility of connecting with foreign research and development during the developmental process to further collaborate with allies and improve the development of next-generation capabilities.
In fact, international developmental partnerships can be a key to sustaining production capacity for significant U.S. programs and technologies, Webster added. Along these lines, Webster’s duties will include research and academic pursuits aimed at examining industrial base issues in partnership with those in AT&L chartered with working industrial base matters.
“FMS and Direct Commercial Sales programs are critical as they address potential gaps in production. How do we appropriately generate international interest in a product so that we don’t have a break in production? We will partner with our OSD policy colleagues to see where we can leverage engagement to help Mr. Kendall and help the industrial base,” Webster added.
Webster’s expertise is informed by a distinguished career, spanning a range of high-profile, high-responsibility assignments. Most recently, he managed the Army’s Security Cooperation programs as the DASA (DE&C), the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology’s deputy for international acquisition. This involved policy generation and execution oversight of Army security assistance, direct commercial sales, and international armaments cooperation. In this role, Webster supervised more than $18 billion in annual sales, managed programs that involved more than 2000 Army civilian and military personnel, and worked to identify those critical capabilities which will need to be sustained into the future.
In addition, Webster oversaw the development and maturation of significant large-scale U.S. Army Foreign Military Sales cases, many of which helped build partner capacity and solidify important relationships with important international coalition members—to include sales of CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Patriot missiles, Excalibur 155mm precision artillery shells and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, among others.
These efforts were recognized by some of his foreign counterparts, and Webster was awarded the rank of Chevalier (Knight) in the French Order National du Merite. The ceremony took place June 8, 2012, and was officiated by the Ambassador of France to the United States, Francois Delattre.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Director General Lena Erixon presented the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration’s Medal of Merit (Silver), specifically recognizing Webster’s efforts on behalf of Sweden in acquiring UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters through FMS, and for being instrumental in obtaining training seats for Swedish pilots and maintainers. The entire process from Sweden’s submission of a formal Letter of Requirement to initial operating capability was completed in record time, resulting in the helicopters being deployed to Afghanistan. His continued efforts to develop strong relationships and support the overall mission will continue to be remembered.
Before joining ASA(ALT), Webster held several positions with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), including Principal Director for Business Operations and head of the agency’s Policy, Plans and Programs Directorate.
Webster has an MA in International Relations from Catholic University, a BS in Business/Finance from Towson State University, is a Level 3 Certified Acquisition Professional and is a Fellow of the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army has achieved significant cost savings and cost avoidance as result of its implementation of Better Buying Power (BBP), an initiative led by the Office of the Secretary of Defense aimed at improving the management of acquisition programs, incentivizing competition, eliminating redundancy, and achieving the maximum amount of savings, senior service officials explained.
In place since 2010, BBP is also geared toward incentivizing innovation and productivity while improving the capabilities of the acquisition workforce and strengthening the tradecraft of acquisition services, among other things.
“Better Buying Power has produced large savings. We’re continuously looking to optimize the use of the Army’s money,” said Mr. Tom Mullins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army – Plans, Programs and Resources.
Some of the key tenets of the program include specific efforts to craft and implement policies that build affordability and competitive procurement strategies into the structure of acquisition programs, said Mr. Wimpy Pybus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition Policy and Logistics.
An integral part of the achieved savings can be directly attributed to a portion of BBP referred to as the Should-Cost/Will-Cost program; this effort encourages Program Managers to explore enterprising and innovative program management methods and strategies designed to gain the maximum value from dollars invested. The “Will-Cost” is the initial baseline or expected cost of a given program or technological development, whereas the “Should-Cost” is, in essence, a lower cost achieved through successful implementation of efforts designed to improve developmental efficiency.
The available data from the Army’s Should Cost FY12 Closeout highlight substantial successes with the BBP program since its inception. For instance, the Army achieved millions in savings with the procurement of the Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) by lowering the production unit cost of the M855A1/M856A1 lead-free 5.56mm ammunition.
“For years we built 5.56mm ammo with a lead core with brass wrapped around the outside. It will have less impact on the environment than lead in the long run, lower cost material than lead and an improvement in performance of the round,” Mullins explained.
Finding and executing the proper contracting mechanism for each program is a considerable part of establishing greater efficiency through BBP, Mullins explained. In fact, the Army’s multi-year helicopter procurement contracts for the CH-47 Chinook and the UH-60 Black Hawk are expected to result in savings. Multi-year contracts improve acquisition efficiency by allowing vendors to establish a stable supply and production schedule – all while securing a lower unit price, he added.
“BBP is taking a look at all of your tool kit of things you can do — and then assessing which ones are applicable to the program. We’ve seen success in aviation with Black Hawk and Chinook. The potential savings there are enormous,” Mullins added.
Other instances of BBP success include millions saved on programs such as Excalibur 155m artillery rounds, modifications to Abrams and Stryker procurement contracts designed to reduce costs, and competitive acquisition strategies with the Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) program.
BBP also plays a role when it comes to the Army’s Science and Technology development. S&T influences a number of the tenants of BBP 2.0 — specifically achieving affordable programs, controlling costs throughout the product lifecycle, and promoting effective competition. Much of what we do within the S&T community can help achieve system affordability. By designing technologies with reliability and manufacturability in mind, we can reduce the cost and time associated with redesign when these technologies transition from the S&T domain into formal Programs of Record. This results in lower developmental costs and potentially faster acquisition, said Ms. Mary Miller, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army – Research and Technology, ASA (ALT). By engaging Program Managers early in the technology development process and collaboratively defining technology, performance goals and acceptance testing, we can facilitate a more successful insertion of mature technology for emerging capabilities, she explained.
“When developing new capabilities, one of the key things we need to do is make sure we reach technical maturity prior to integration. This is an essential element of reducing risk and eliminating excess costs,” Miller said.
Better Buying Power 2.0
The Army, which has had great success thus far with the BBP program, is both cataloguing billions in cost savings since the program’s inception while simultaneously preparing to implement the next iteration of the initiative — referred to as BBP 2.0.
“Better Buying Power is not a one-time event and you can be assured that neither is BBP 2.0 – we must make it part of our culture. We have more reason than ever to believe that the efficiencies we seek can be realized based on the successes we’ve accomplished to date. It is imperative that we stay the course in order to deliver even greater value to our taxpayers and essential capabilities to the Warfighters,” wrote Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in a Nov. 6 Memorandum for the Defense Acquisition Workforce.
BBP 2.0 seeks to build upon and advance the core tenets of the initial BBP effort and further instill a culture of cost-consciousness, increase procurement opportunities for small business and more efficiently execute affordable acquisition programs.
In addition to its many other components, BBP 2.0 is also focused on sustainment and life-cycle management, meaning PMs are encouraged to consider the entire life or span of a technology or program’s maturation such that they account for its entire life-cycle.
BBP 2.0 also aims to build upon the initial program’s emphasis upon incentivizing industry by aligning profitability with contractor performance; in fact, this effort speaks to one of DOD’s broad BBP goals which is to emphasize that the program is designed to increase productivity and by no means reduce industry profits.
WASHINGTON — The Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, acquisition strategy was modified, Jan. 17, to further reduce risk and maintain an affordable program.
The decision by the Department of Defense extends the current technology development phase of the program by six months to allow industry greater time to refine vehicle designs.
These efforts will support a full and open competition at milestone B in 2014, the next major decision point in the program. The revised strategy calls for selection of a single vendor for the engineering and manufacturing development and production phases of the program.
The six month extension to the technology development phase will provide contractors an opportunity to mature vehicle designs, while the Army finalizes GCV requirements, prior to the upcoming milestone B decision. This milestone marks the point where the GCV program will initiate critical design and testing activities in anticipation of vehicle production.
The Army’s prior strategy called for competition among two vendors during these phases of the GCV program. Citing projected budgetary pressures over the fiscal 2014-2018 period, the department’s decision to revise the development strategy ensures an affordable program that meets the Army’s critical needs for a new infantry fighting vehicle.
Since milestone A was approved two years ago, the Army has vigorously refined GCV requirements to provide industry the maximum range of flexibility in developing vehicle designs while constraining cost and technical risk.
Contractor efforts have informed the Army’s understanding of planned technical capabilities and the Army has formally assessed existing and alternative developmental vehicles. These measures have confirmed the Army’s need to develop GCV based on affordable and executable requirements. The changes in the GCV strategy reflect a continued emphasis on long-term affordability within the program.
The Army remains firmly committed to the success of the GCV program to provide needed protection and mobility to Soldiers. The new direction allows the Army to take positive steps to ensure delivery of this much needed capability to the force.
FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The employees of the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) outdid themselves in generosity this year, contributing more than $15,000 to the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and far exceeding fundraising projections.
USAASC employees donated $15,830 to the CFC, the only authorized charitable-giving drive for federal employees. That total surpasses this year’s goal of $9,146 as well as last year’s donations of $12,826.
Keith Butler served as USAASC’s CFC campaign manager. “I’m very proud of the support our community has shown to the CFC,” he said. “We kicked off our fundraising effort in October with a four-part campaign, and had a steady level of giving throughout. I think our email blasts were key in reminding people of the importance of donating.”
Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the CFC gives donors the option to direct their donations to more than 4,000 local, national, and international charities that provide a range of services, including health care, disaster relief, housing, and youth development.
“Our donations will do a lot of good for a lot of people,” said Butler, who joined USAASC just eight months ago. “It’s very impressive to me, as someone who’s new to this community, to see how generous this organization is when it comes to helping those who need it,” he added.
ACC public affairs
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Contracting professionals will begin to converge onto Fort Bliss, Texas, starting Jan. 15 to participate in what military officials are calling the premiere Department of Defense contracting readiness exercise.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Army Contracting Command is conducting a contracting readiness exercise for military and civilian personnel. Formerly called Joint Dawn, the Joint Contracting Readiness Exercise or JCRX-13 will be conducted at Fort Bliss Jan. 15-31.
“We’re expanding the scope of this year’s training,” said Col. Timothy Strange, commander, 412th Contracting Support Brigade, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. “Participants can look forward to working on more than 100 contracting actions, not to mention some hard-to-handle injects.”
The 412th is the lead organizer for the exercise.
The number of exercise participants has increased each year. In 2010, 34 contingency contracting officers attended the training held at Fort Riley, Kan.; in 2011, training at Fort Campbell, Ky., included 115 participants; and the 2012 training at Fort Bliss had 159 military and civilian trainees. Exercise coordinators expect more than 200 participants at this year’s exercise.
“We’re anticipating visits from a lot of senior leaders,” said Lt. Col. Joshua R. Burris, commander, 905th Contingency Contracting Battalion, and JCRX-13 officer-in-charge.
“We’re set up to handle visits from senior DOD and DA officials. Last year, Mr. (Kim) Denver, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (procurement); and Rear Adm. Allie Coetzee, executive director, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (acquisition and procurement), came by. This year we’re planning visits from the Hon. Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army acquisition, logistics and technology and Army acquisition executive; the Hon. Dr. Sally Matiella, assistant secretary of the Army financial management and comptroller; and Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, deputy commanding general, Army Materiel Command.”