• Army advances Better Buying Power

    Six UH-60L Black Hawks and two CH-47F simultaneously launch a daytime mission Jan. 18 from Multinational Base Tarin Kowt. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Scott Tant, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade)

    Kris Osborn

    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.

    The Enhanced Performance Round fired at Camp Perry, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Eric Kowal, RDECOM)

    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.


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  • Army Ground Combat Vehicle acquisition strategy revised

    NOTE - Generic representation of a combat vehicle only. The final Army Ground Combat Vehicle may bear little to no resemblance to this representation. There is no requirement for the vehicle to be either tracked, or wheeled. (Photo Credit: Courtesy)

    Todd Lopez

    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.


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  • USAASC Employees Donate $15,000 to Charity

    Sue Follett


    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.


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  • JCRX-13 expected to draw more than 200 contracting professionals

    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.”


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  • ACC integrates contracting Soldiers into stateside operations

    Valerie Tipton provides Staff Sgt. Wallace Newton some advice on a contract. Newton is a member of the 626th Contingency Contracting Team, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and has been a contracting specialist for four months. Tipton is a contracting officer in the Base Operations Division, Army Contracting Command-Redstone Arsenal. (Photo by U.S. Army)

    Edward G Worley

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.–In an effort to streamline command and control of its military contracting Soldiers, the Army Contracting Command is attaching portions of its Expeditionary Contracting Command forces to several of ACC’s stateside organizations.

    The action reduces the ECC span of control from the day-to-day oversight of Soldiers executing their stateside contracting mission, allowing the ECC commander to focus on overseas installation and contingency support, explained Lt. Col. Kevin Nash, ACC Integration project officer.

    It also gives the Mission and Installation Contracting Command and ACC contracting centers direct supervision of Soldiers supporting stateside operations within their organizations, he said.

    Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general, said her intent is to “streamline mission command, better manage our military contracting Soldiers’ workloads and enhance contracting Soldier professional development.

    “This action provides greater predictability for our civilian contracting leaders in assigning work to Soldiers in their offices,” she said. “It also provides greater professional development opportunities for contracting Soldiers as they are offered increased contracting experiences.”

    Nichols said it also allows ECC to focus on the day-to-day overseas contracting mission and operational contract support tasks associated with Army Service Component Commands.

    Brig. Gen. Ted Harrison, ECC commanding general, said the realignment will help 51C contingency contracting Soldiers develop their contracting skills.

    “Future military operations will continue to demand expeditionary contracting Soldiers who are trained and ready to meet Army Service Component Command needs,” Harrison said.

    “ACC integration allows the Expeditionary Contracting Command’s 51Cs to hone their skills in day-to-day contracting missions in Mission and Installation Contracting Command installation contracting offices as they support the Army’s generating force. This ‘work as they fight’ strategy will prepare them to deploy and support Army operational forces anywhere in the world. ECC is confident that the MICC civilian contracting experts will equip our contracting Soldiers with technical knowledge and provide hands-on experience through coaching, teaching and mentoring.”

    Brig. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, MICC commanding general, said the integration improves both the civilian and military contracting workforce.

    “The synchronization and integration of uniformed members across the Mission and Installation Contracting Command provides indispensable technical, hands-on contracting training and experience for Army contingency contracting Soldiers,” Vollmecke said.

    “Soldiers and contracting civilians working alongside one another drives positive change and brings balance, skill and depth to the acquisition workforce. This unified teamwork and collaboration with ACC and our Army customers is a key to continued success.”

    Nash said the operation will occur in four phases. It began in December with the realignment of MICC contracting offices under four field directorate offices. MICC FDOs are aligned at sites with their major customers, and the 34 MICC subordinate contracting offices are grouped by customer to bring consistency to operations and improve contract administration and oversight.

    Phase 2 begins in February, Nash said, attaching MICC-associated contingency contracting battalions, senior contingency contracting teams and contingency contracting teams to the MICC. ACC contracting center-associated contingency contracting teams will also be attached to their corresponding contracting centers during Phase 2.

    “Attaching a unit to another unit means that, while the attached unit still ‘belongs’ to its higher headquarters, it takes its daily taskings from the unit to which it is attached,” Nash explained. “The units we’re attaching still ‘belong’ to ECC, but they are working directly for the organizations they are attached to.”

    Phase 3 begins in April, he said. ECC will add two contracting support brigades that will be attached to the MICC headquarters. The 418th CSB will be headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas, and the 419th CSB will be headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    The final phase calls for the 412th CSB, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to be attached to the MICC headquarters on Oct. 1.

    Nash said ECC will retain assignment of the CONUS-based CSBs and continue to be the ACC lead for operational contract support activities.

    In the event of a mission requiring CONUS-based ACC units attached to the MICC or centers, Nash said ACC will publish an operation order that detaches those selected units back to the ECC for execution of the required mission. Upon completion of the mission, units would redeploy and be re-attached to the MICC or centers as required, he explained.

    ECC will continue to be the ACC lead for all contingency contracting Soldier individual and unit training functions, he said.


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  • Automated chemistry system enhances lab results

    Army Capt. Karen Thomas, core lab chief, checks samples for testing on the new automated chemistry system recently acquired by Walter Reed Bethesda's Department of Pathology. (Photo by Bernard S. Little).

    Bernard S. Little


    BETHESDA, Md. — To better serve Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) beneficiaries, staff members of the Department of Pathology have started using a fully automated chemistry system in its lab.

    Army Capt. Karen Thomas, who was instrumental in acquiring the new multi-million dollar system and bringing it online at WRNMMC, explained it will further ensure an efficient workflow and reduce turnaround times for STAT (Short turn-around time) and routine work requiring a high rate of production.

    “The College of American Pathologists (CAP), considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance by lab professionals, recently inspected the WRNMMC lab, including the automated Chemistry Section. Even though this new major system was implemented only shortly before the inspection, the inspectors nonetheless confirmed that Capt. Thomas and her staff had validated all elements of system performance and completed numerous quality assurance checks to ensure safe and effective function,” according to Navy Capt. Larry R. Ciolorito, assistant chief of the Department of Pathology.

    He added the lab performs approximately 3.5 million tests annually, and transfuses approximately 9,000 units of blood products each year. “Of the 3.5 million annual tests, over half will be performed on the new analyzer.”

    Thomas explained the new automated system should result in more reliability in lab results because its pre- and post-analytics eliminate the need for manual manipulation of samples prior to analyzing and automated storage of samples occurs once they are loaded on the system. “Automated de-capping and re-capping also make the instrument safer for staff to use.”

    She added the new system integrates pre-analytical elements such as centrifugation and aliquoting, a very large inventory of automated testing, and post-analytical data analysis and reporting.

    Thomas explained the prior chemistry system had reached its life expectancy, necessitating routine service calls and causing downtime and delays. The multi-year, multi-million acquisition placed similar systems and capabilities at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH) are in line with the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region Medical’s guidance for standardization of services throughout the joint operating area.

    “Having the same platforms at FBCH and WRNMMC has enabled the National Capital Area to provide consistent results between the two hospitals – methods for analytes, reference ranges, standard operating procedures, and lab test files are the same,” Thomas said. “Therefore, if a patient is drawn at one hospital on one day and another hospital another day, the results will be comparable.”

    Training for employees who currently use the new system was initially conducted on site and is on-going, Thomas continued, adding approximately 25 staff members currently use the system on a 24/7 basis.

    She said the initiative is part of an effort by the Department of Pathology to move the lab to total automation.

    “This was an enormous undertaking for our staff at a time when we were still absorbing and managing the effects of integration,” Ciolorito added. “This was a multi-year process that included requirements development, significant facilities modifications, extensive staff training, and numerous adjustments to staffing and shift assignments. It would not have been possible without a truly joint and unified approach on the part of our staff, whose goal is the delivery of world-class patient-centered care,” he concluded.


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  • Army medical advancements highlighted in industry journal

    In an effort to document military trauma medical advancements made in the last 10 years of war-time experience, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research has published three articles in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery related to pre-hospital care, deployed hospital care, and trauma systems and restorative medicine.

    Steven Galvan


    SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) has announced the release of a capstone publication in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that summarizes key medical advances from the U.S. military’s war-time experience over the last 10 years. The publication, which is comprised of three articles, describes military medical revolutions in three key areas of military trauma medicine: pre-hospital care, deployed hospital care, and trauma systems and restorative medicine.

    As a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Md., the ISR strives to be the nation’s premier joint research organization planning and executing registry-based and translational research providing innovative solutions for burn, trauma, and combat casualty care from the point of injury through rehabilitation.

    “The goals of this publication are twofold: to document the landmark medical advances from this war and the gaps along the continuum of combat casualty care from a historical perspective so that in the future, medical personnel can bridge these gaps and save lives,” said senior editor of the publication and former ISR Commander, Col. (Dr.) Lorne H. Blackbourne. “Documenting the revolutionary advances from these wars can also help with the translation of military advances to civilian trauma care so that all Americans can benefit in addition to our wounded warriors.”

    Director of ISR Combat Casualty Care Research Directorate David G. Baer, Ph.D added, “This publication documents the extraordinary progress in saving lives on the battlefield that combat casualty care research has affected during the last decade.”

    To ensure the widest distribution possible, the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery has made these three articles available on an open-access basis at http://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/toc/2012/12005.

    These articles are based on focused reviews of tactical combat casualty care as well as analyses of peer-reviewed combat trauma literature, burn care, coagulation monitoring, causes of death on the battlefield, amputations, blood product use, head and neck injuries, trauma training programs, innovations in treatment for pain, and moderate to severe brain injury.

    “The best way to optimize and direct research and trauma system efforts for the greatest good is to review evidence-based information on the burden of injury and capability gaps extrapolated from outcome data. The articles in this publication provide the data to help guide all future efforts in these areas,” said Blackbourne, who also serves as the current director of the U.S. Army Trauma Training Center in Miami, Fla.

    Together, these articles document extraordinary progress in saving lives on the battlefield and highlight areas for continued innovation.

    “We’re dedicated to optimizing combat casualty care,” said ISR Commander, Col. (Dr.) Michael A. Weber. “The research that we are conducting at this institute is saving lives—on and off the battlefield.”


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  • Future looks bright for Redstone Test Center

    Ashley Crick


    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Redstone Test Center celebrated a successful 2012 with new capabilities, facilities, and a committed work force.

    In 2012, the center improved its test capabilities by adding more than $13 million in new and modified facilities. These include a new Climatic Multi-Chamber Test Facility, an aviation parts storage facility, an aircraft parking area, a reconstruction of the Tactical Test Facility, entry control point facility, a transient test facility and an aircraft towpath just to name a few.

    Additionally, the center worked with the Garrison Department of Public Works by inspecting more than 300 RTC-managed facilities and participated in two Garrison Area Development Plans and three Military Construction Projects. The center also worked with the Naval Construction Battalion Two-Four to provide valuable training opportunities on more than a dozen projects which in return provided $150,000 of services to sustain RTC facilities.

    The five subordinate directorates of RTC continued to provide outstanding support to the war fighter in 2012.

    The Aviation Flight Test Directorate continued to ensure safety and reliability for the Army’s aircraft inventory. AFTD provided more than 350,000 maintenance man-hours in support of approximately 2,000 test events that included in excess of 5,500 aircraft flight hours with 200 highly trained and experienced personnel.

    The Flight Test Control Center, which supports the tracking of two separate and simultaneous flight tests, was completed in April 2012 and represents the final major project to be completed as part of the BRAC relocation from Fort Rucker. AFTD also designed and developed a highly automated and mobile Field Equivalent Bar Target and successfully tested the most recent version of the Common Missile Warning System aircraft survivability equipment.

    The Systems Engineering Directorate continued to establishing their role as “force multipliers” for the RTC test mission. A number of highly qualified systems engineers provided horizontal coordination and integration for more than 473 test projects including leading Integrated Project Teams for critical programs such as Aviation Survivability Equipment and Force Protection Systems. SED also provided program support and technical expertise for more than 50 test customers.

    The Environmental & Component Test Directorate, responsible for developing and conducting environmental testing on weapon systems, completed two new facilities — the Tactical Test Facility and the new Multi-Chamber Facility. ECTD supported multiple tests which included the Orbus 1A motor qualification test, Shadow Unmanned Aerial System E3 Qualification Test and participated in the Coalition Attack Guidance Experiment II Coalition-Level Test Experiment.

    The Missiles & Sensors Test Directorate continued to be the source of the many “booms” on Redstone Arsenal. The Propulsion Test Division coordinated with the Air Force Research Lab to conduct static firing tests of four ATACMS rocket motors. This test required coordination between several teams, including the RTC Propulsion Division static firing crew, RTC Missions Operations and Control Center, the AFRL sensor engineers, the AFRL satellite engineers, and AFRL headquarters. According to AFRL, this test series was “a rare confluence of events (i.e. weather, rocket, satellite) unique observations that have never been done before in military history, and potentially ground breaking for national defense and missile warning.”

    Although the center’s mission is testing, 2012 was a great year for community support and employee wellness. In August, employees across the center enjoyed RTC’s third annual Safety & Wellness Day. Employees participated in a wide range of sports activities while visiting exhibitor booths emphasizing healthy eating, exercise and safety. As the holidays approached, staff members showed support for RTC’s first Alabama/Auburn Can-a-thon by donating about 1,524 pounds of canned goods to the Food Bank of North Alabama and pet food and supplies to the Ark Inc. The center also supported the Salvation Army Angel Tree by selling T-shirts with proceeds going to support a local child.

    Even in this tough economic climate, the future continues to look bright for Redstone Test Center but changes are imminent. The center, along with the Army Test and Evaluation Command, will both undergo changes in leadership in the coming year. Col. Steve Kihara, the first commander of Redstone Test Center, will retire after 29 years of service, His successor will undoubtedly take this world-class test center to the next level.

    The Redstone Test Center is a subordinate unit of the Test and Evaluation Command headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. RTC is the premier Army agency for testing military aircraft throughout the acquisition, modernization and sustainment life cycle in support of America’s war fighters.


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  • Iowa Army Ammunition Plant professionals earn Lean Six Sigma belts

    Transportation via railroad was seen as vital in decreasing excessive transportation costs to ship ammunition with no, or a long, lead-time required-delivery date to storage facilities. (Photo Credit: Annette Parchert)

    Annette Parchert


    MIDDLETOWN, Iowa — Staff members with the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant recently completed a Lean Six Sigma black belt project designed to decrease excessive transportation costs to ship ammunition with no, or a long, lead-time required-delivery date to storage facilities.

    Previously, the process relied on a single mode of transportation, which may not have been the most-efficient mode of transportation. The project title was “IAAAP Improves Transportation Mode Efficiencies.”

    In early 2011, former commander, Lt. Col. Tommie Hewitt, asked for cost-cutting ideas from IAAAP staff. Ideas were gathered from a focus group and IAAAP Installation Transportation Officer Robert Brewster presented an idea that was selected as a Lean Six Sigma project.

    Debbie Wirt, who is a contract price/cost analyst and an LSS green belt at IAAAP, led the LSS project in an effort to earn an LSS black belt. Brewster participated as a subject matter expert on the team in an effort to earn an LSS yellow belt. In addition to working on the project, both were required to complete additional training on LSS concepts.

    The goal of the project was to improve the efficiencies and reduce cost for transportation of munitions out of IAAAP, bound for any of four ammunition depots. Additionally, the goal to reduce annual cost per short ton by five percent was a major focus.

    The project used the Electronic Transportation Acquisition® system to pull historical transportation data from previous years for analysis. Some of the changes that were implemented included the use of integrated applications such as Defense Connect Online®.

    The nine-member team assembled to carry out the project along with black belt coach, William “Tad” Holburn, from Joint Munitions Command headquarters, was made up of personnel from JMC headquarters, IAAAP, American Ordnance and Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

    American Ordnance is the operating contractor at IAAAP.

    Improvements made included regular scheduling of meetings via DCO and establishing a rail-car pool. Communication and time management was essential in this project. The pilot lasted six months, allowing the test team to conduct analysis of historical data to new data gained during this test.

    “These improvements did not come without challenges,” said Wirt. “All of our weekly communication was done via telephone or email. This additional element was very difficult. My only regret is that I never got to meet Coach Holburn in person. He passed away October 21, before I had a chance to thank him.”

    The project, when finished, was a great success because the original goal of five percent cost reduction was exceeded. The pilot resulted in a reduction in cost per short ton by 13.4 percent and a cost avoidance of $176,514.59 over six months.

    JMC’s continuous process improvement office awarded an LSS yellow belt certificate to Brewster, Oct. 23, 2012. The award citation states, “In recognition of Mr. Brewster’s contribution and participation as a core Team Member on the Black Belt Project: Iowa Army Ammunition Plant Improves Transportation Mode Efficiencies.” Brewster’s knowledge as the subject matter expert had a significant impact on the success of this project.

    Wirt was awarded a black belt and is the only black belt in a government-owned, contractor-operated installation. Her guidance as a facilitator kept the 17-months-long process on track.

    “She takes great pride and ownership of the improvement process and focuses on recognition of team members. She used her own resources to travel to Scott Air Force Base, near St. Louis, to recognize a team member with a certificate and a commander’s coin. She went that extra mile for her team,” said Julie Solinski, chief of contract management.

    IAAAP is a subordinate organization of JMC, and responsible for producing tank practice rounds, artillery rounds and 40 mm grenades, and for pressing missile warheads.

    From its headquarters in Rock Island, Ill., JMC operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC’s customers are U.S. forces of all military services, other U.S. Government agencies, and allied nations.


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  • Army deploying service-wide intelligence system

    On Dec. 14, 2012, the Distributed Common Ground System - Army, or the DCGS-A, as Soldiers call it, was approved for full deployment by the Defense Acquisition Executive. However, DCGS-A was used extensively in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, then-Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III (right), commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, Col. Jeffrey L. Bannister (center), commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Iraqi Brig. Gen. Abdulah (left) discuss intelligence on an operation near Baghdad in 2007. (Photo Credit: Spc. Nicholas A. Hernandez)

    David Vergun


    WASHINGTON — The Army has been given the green light to fully deploy a combat-proven intelligence system to globally network forces with mission-critical information.

    On Dec. 14, the Distributed Common Ground System – Army, or the “DCGS-A,” as Soldiers call it, was approved for full deployment by the Defense acquisition executive, also known as DAE.

    DAE is the highest approving authority in the Department of Defense for new systems.

    “Previously, DCGS-A was a quick-reaction capability used successfully and extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management. “DCGS-A is now approved for use across the entire Army, which will allow standardized training, programs and future upgrades.”

    “Quick-reaction capability” refers to a system that is rapidly deployed to meet the most immediate and urgent needs of the Army, such as in a combat operations environment, but it is not necessarily approved for service-wide deployment.

    DCGS-A is designed to task, process, exploit and disseminate intelligence throughout the Army, with other services, federal intelligence agencies and coalition partners, according to Greene.

    DCGS-A replaced nine different legacy systems, he said, adding that it “is a critical component of the Army’s modernization program.”

    Life before DCGS-A could be difficult at times, according to Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commander, Intelligence and Security Command.

    Use of legacy systems developed before DCGS-A sometimes resulted in “intelligence snow fights,” Fogarty said. Each had “proprietary formats and protocols which were managed differently across the services and even within each service.

    “They were hard to understand, databases were incompatible with one another and could not be shared across the enterprise,” he continued. “A lot of intelligence was lost because of that. The majority of time was often spent trying to find data rather than analyzing it.”

    Fogarty used the smartphone analogy in explaining how DCGS-A works. He said users of smartphones are able to communicate with other smartphone users who are on other networks, say Verizon or AT&T.

    But he said DCGS-A goes even further. Users can share apps, text documents, diagrams, photos, maps and more.

    The system “gives Soldiers and commanders the intelligence they need for enhanced situational awareness,” he said.

    The DCGS-A technology was Soldier-tested and was developed by the best minds in government, academia and the private sector, according to Greene. He said there were 40 business partners working on the software development alone. They and others will be consulted in years to come, he said, for new solutions as capability gaps are identified.

    Deployment of DCGS-A will result in cost savings, according to Greene. He said having one system reduces the hardware and software that needs to be purchased. The DCGS-A efficiencies will result in about $300 million in savings from fiscal year 2012 to 2017, he said, and about $1.2 billion from FY 2012 to 2034, the expected lifetime of the system.

    DCGS-A is now being deployed to all brigades going through the Army Forces Generation cycle and will eventually be the de facto intelligence network for the entire service, according to Greene.

    ARFORGEN is a model the Army uses in its unit deployment schedule. The ARFORGEN cycles are: reset, train/ready, and available for any mission.

    The DCGS-A is not a magic bullet, however, according to Col. David Pendall, Army War College fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the former division intelligence commander of the 1st Cavalry Division.

    “You still need human judgment,” he said, meaning that it takes a well-trained Soldier to mine the intelligence, analyze it and derive useful information from it.

    Also, he said DCGS-A “must be integrated into the demands and processes of the organization and its mission and intelligence requirements.”

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