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 about AL&T processes, procedures, techniques and management philosophy; it is also to disseminate information pertinent to the professional development of workforce members and others engaged in AL&T activities.
Weight Kills Programs, Too
John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.) In the famous Boeing 777 development program of the 1990s, United Airlines was contractually permitted to penalize Boeing at $500 per pound, per airplane, per year for the revenue-producing life of the airliner if Boeing exceeded its weight goal of about 297,000 pounds. For the 777, almost 0.25 of 1 percent of a 297,000-pound airplane can be the “stack-up variance”—caused by the randomness of small weight differences across 3 million or so parts in the airplane (over 740 pounds!). In 1999, the U.S. Army’s Crusader advanced field artillery program’s design-to-weight requirement was halved by then-Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki as the program was readying for passage of milestone B. The multibillion-dollar program was terminated soon after, before it could get very far into advanced development. Its weight requirement as a KPP was an outgrowth of force deployability concerns during the Army’s recent operations in Kosovo, driven by the intra-theater airlift restrictions of the C-130 Hercules cargo plane. (These same concerns gave rise to an “interim armored vehicle,” the Stryker combat vehicle, which would have to face the same C-130 payload limitations of weight and size before the invasion of Iraq.) On the heels of Crusader’s cancellation, the Future Combat Systems program could also blame at least some of its horrific cost growth and ultimate failure on striving to make its weight goals. Some of us saw it coming. coming in under the limitA Boeing 777 aircraft approaches the landing strip at Los Angeles International Airport. Requirements were incorporated into Boeing’s contract to produce the aircraft to ensure that weight issues were resolved, and similar issues affected several U.S. Military programs, including the Crusader and the Joint Strike Fighter. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Early in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, our High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles that were hastily “up-armored” experienced parts failure when using non-designed solutions for ballistic protection. Adding armor without changing drivetrain and suspension components increased weight and reduced mobility, speed, reliability and fuel economy. Later, when requirements grew for survivability against even greater threats from improvised explosive devices, we rapidly procured multiconfiguration Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles that were designed to better operate with the additional armored weight that was necessary for force protection. Perhaps one of the most recent and highest-visibility programs that long suffered from being overweight was the Joint Strike Fighter. Often criticized for trying to advance immature technologies during its engineering and manufacturing development phase, it was the somewhat mundane but far-reaching impact of weight that contributed to this program’s cost and schedule growth back in 2004-2006. The U.S. Government Accountability Office said it added almost $5 billion to lose 2,000 pounds in the developing aircraft that degraded its key performance capabilities. This article is published in the April – June 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Humans Out of the Loop Collaborative Autonomy: A Tactical Offset Strategy Been There, Done That: Think ready, be ready Start the fire
Been there, done that
Been there, done that: The weight thing Those ugly extra pounds—or even grams—can derail your program or product. by John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.) I can honestly say that just about everyone wants to lose weight. A multimillion-dollar weight loss industry attests to this. It’s no different in the armed forces. All defense products typically have that one thing in common: They’re too heavy. From missiles to radios, satellites to submarines, aircraft to land vehicles, heavy weapons to small arms—not just the man-portable items—they all need to weigh less. Over the decades, I’ve seen many system development efforts struggle to attain their weight goals. Often they have weight as a key performance parameter (KPP), among their many other technical performance requirements. FIGURE 2 – HALF THE WEIGHT, DOUBLE THE COSTIn an effort to reduce system weight, Javelin PMs redesigned system components. However, that reduction came at a cost: Estimates grew across the board, with the total estimate at twice the cost of the original. (Image courtesy of the author) WEIGHT IS A REQUIREMENT THING As a young acquisition officer, I wanted to carry that perspective forward into whatever programs I became involved with that developed Soldier-carried items. I was thrilled to be able to work on the M-4 carbine initiative at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, back in the 1980s—shortening the M-16 A2 rifle—along with more exotic technology base efforts involving mini-grenades and even caseless ammunition. In 1987, we contributed our concepts and early prototypes, along with the other Army research, development and engineering centers, to an advanced technology demonstration at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to show what the “Soldier of the Future” would look like. But on demonstration day, we were horrified when we all suddenly realized that everything Army labs were doing was collectively adding weight to the basic Soldier load—whether giving the Soldiers increased ballistic protection, new rations (which required water to hydrate), optical rifle sights, night vision, computerized radios and even a new bayonet (with sharpening stone). There was no doubt that Soldiers needed these new capabilities, but darned if we weren’t all adding weight to our warfighters with our individual high-tech advancements. Upon entering a major program management office with a portfolio of close combat munitions, I saw firsthand an early “bunker buster” munition development program that was canceled before it could even get off the ground—because no prospective contractor could honestly bid on our request for a 10-pound solution. The requirements community had stood firm on that one. It would cost them time. It was years later that they eventually had to accept several solutions in the 15- to 17-pound range (the FGM-172 Short-Range Assault Weapon and the Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon). Yep, when it comes to weight as a system or program requirement, it can be a real biggie for you to consider. Is it a measure of your product or program success? HOW TO TACKLE A WEIGHTY ISSUEBy keeping an eye on weight requirements early in a program, acquisition professionals can ensure that Soldier load remains bearable and program requirements stay on track, financially and schedule-wise. (Image courtesy of the author) WEIGHT AS DESIGN CONSTRAINT Of course, our materiel development team derives our users’ requirements and translates them into design specifications. So it’s especially important for you to know this: While weight is one of many possible technical performance parameters, it’s one that affects others to perhaps a unique degree. Just think about the trade-offs among performance parameters of range, payload, speed, mobility, fuel economy, survivability, lethality, transportability and even reliability (if stress-over-strength comes into play with various components). It might also factor into durability or robustness—not-so-often-used terms intermingled with reliability and utility. Weight can ripple through your system design like water, as second- and third-order effects are realized when things grow out of hand. Remember that complexity is defined basically as the known and unknown interactions of many different connected pieces, and our business is the business of managing complexity. People want us to do things fast, but it’s more important to do things right. The following examples illustrate some of the implications of being overweight. FIGURE 1 – LOOKING FOR A THINNER JAVELINAs part of an effort to comply with KPPs for the Javelin system, program officials looked for every opportunity to reduce the weight—down to the gram—of the system’s components. The hunt for lighter parts doubled the advanced-development cost for the missile and slowed the schedule. (Table courtesy of the author) ‘I ONCE HAD A WEIGHT PROBLEM …’ The highly successful Javelin anti-tank missile was a deeply troubled development program in the 1990s—and was almost canceled over its weight problem. Entering this program management office (PMO) in the middle of the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, I learned weight was one of our four KPPs. We had known it was a risky goal right up front, along with several others. But at milestone B, we said, “We can do it.” It was a much-needed capability to replace the legacy 72-pound (and highly unreliable) Dragon missile. We had conducted a 27-month technology maturation phase and had selected one prototype from three to take into advanced development. But we were a long way from anything that looked like a true configuration of the finished product. As EMD began, our preliminary design review had only been sufficient to map out the basic design and componentry to be “invented.” About 18 months into our 36-month EMD phase, approaching critical design review (and before actually building a representative engineering design model), we realized we were not going to be able to make the 35-pound desired (objective) or even 45-pound required (threshold) weight required by the user in the requirement document. During a typical system development, functionality, weight, cubic dimensions, interfaces and a host of other specifications are allocated to various producers. It may be quite some time before designs evolve, progress is realized and forecasting actual system weight is even possible. No excuses, though: We bit off more than we could chew. THOSE LINES ARE TOO HEAVYA line drawing of an early Javelin anti-tank missile. Halfway through the program’s EMD phase, program leaders realized it would not be able to make either the objective or threshold weight required by the user in the requirement document. The weight issue nearly canceled production of the Javelin, which was needed to replace the legacy Dragon missile. (Image courtesy of the author) STATISTICS ADD UP Also, there is an additional weight “stack-up” issue to deal with consisting of even the tiniest of screws, fasteners and other components. With the Javelin, we realized that there could be a statistically possible (though highly improbable) 2-pound difference between the lightest and heaviest possible assembled systems within the same production lot—assembled, of course, from many parts from many respective production lots. Makes sense, right? So, consider this: Before the design was complete—before the parts were assembled, with computerized data coming in from our subcomponent suppliers—we knew well in advance that we could not deliver, and that we would likely be in the range of 47 to 50 pounds. (See Figure 1.) So we went all the way up to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council to request a KPP requirement threshold increase to 49.5 pounds. Fortunately, our user friends supported us all the way. Trouble was, nothing on the Javelin weighed 5 pounds that we could do without—the reduction had to be accomplished by “salami-slicing” the weight “budget” for individual components—changing materials and redesigning to reduce weight without sacrificing durability or reliability for such environments as rough handling, loose cargo transport, water immersion and vehicle storage rack mounting. It actually took all of us in the PMO a while to fully realize that to get weight out of our system, practically every component would have to be redesigned. We went into “gram management mode” to monitor the technical performance measurement of the weight in each subcomponent. (Yes, there are 454 of those little grams in a single pound.) We spent millions of dollars in component redesign. Our little Javelin project slipped 50 percent in its advanced-development schedule and more than doubled its advanced-development costs—in large part because of weight-reduction redesigns throughout the entire system (though we did indeed have other technical challenges to contend with). (See Figure 2.) Naturally, that threw off all of the funding allocations tied to the program objective memorandum- and future years defense program schedule funding, and necessitated formal program re-baselining with congressional assistance to “re-color” the money. Eventually, redesigned components arrived for assembly. So along the way, as development moved to completion, we had a mixed bag of about seven different Javelin configurations with substantial differences among them—a complication for testing and evaluation, reliability analysis and scoring, etc. These all settled down to one final configuration by the time operational testing rolled around. We used the extra schedule to fully test these subcomponents as they came in, to be sure we hadn’t sacrificed other important properties when we shaved off the weight. As a result, system-level testing went off without a hitch. And we came in just under the 49.5-pound threshold. SHOULDERING THE LOADParatroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade move through a training event during Exercise Baree, conducted Jan. 18 at Monte Romano Training Area in Italy. As technology advances and Soldiers carry more gear, the acquisition community must address the challenge of reducing the weight of that equipment. (Photo by Elena Baladelli, Training Support Activity Europe) WHAT – AGAIN…? Later, as product manager of the Joint Advanced Special Operations Radio System, I inherited a radio program that also had weight as a KPP. And I once again found it to be a challenge. During the technology maturation phase, while receiving a briefing on a completed and functional 21-pound multiband transceiver prototype that was supposed to get down to 10 pounds in coming months, our prime contractor indicated that it was going to lose weight by making things more compact inside. The radio largely consisted of five densely populated Standard Electronic Module, Format E cards with a planned reduction to only two. Having the benefit of the Javelin experience behind me, I knew what question to ask: “How much do the three cards being eliminated weigh?” The answer was 2 pounds each—not at all adding up to the 11 pounds we had to lose—and eyes in the audience began to widen. “Great, now how are we going to lose the other 5 pounds?” I asked. For a moment—just a very brief one—I was the smartest soul in the room. It didn’t help much, though. We were already on our way. TIMING IS EVERYTHING, AND A WORD TO THE WISE For program managers, realizing that weight is an important parameter up front and early is important, but not nearly enough alone to alleviate weight’s programmatic perils. Even though contract incentives can be put in place for weight goals, the cost-reimbursable contract environment typical of most development efforts puts the government at significant risk if weight concerns are not fully identified and addressed before EMD. Stringent controls must be issued to subcomponent suppliers that will severely constrain their individual weight allocations if preliminary design reviews should reveal an issue. A weight problem may at first appear to be like many other technical performance shortfalls where specifications have simply not yet been met. And a program can often proceed with sub-spec prototype testing until the final configuration test articles eventually emerge. But as I’ve explained here, the implications can be significant. Since 2001, when technology readiness levels (TRLs) and assessment methodologies came more fully into use, I have found it curious and troubling that nowhere in the listing of levels 1 through 9, which range from glimmer-in-the-eye to fully ready to go, did the word “weight“ appear in the descriptions of tactical maturity or readiness. Even today, we seldom find mention of this important parameter of near-final design configuration. (However, descriptions including this parameter later become more specific and are now found in references like the Technology Readiness Assessment Deskbook, 2009, specifically in supporting information for consideration of TRL Level 6.) Corporately, we are finally beginning to learn the lessons. While it is easy not to expect early prototype hardware to be fully of “form, fit and function,” we do ourselves a disservice if we dismiss the challenges of weight and the many technical and financial implications it can have on a program. CONCLUSION Program managers would do well to heed the advice of those who have gone through the pain of weight reduction programs. Hopefully, those of us who have been there have touched upon implications of design costs versus programmed funding, configuration management, diligence in measurement, testing and the managing of requirements: PMs must watch out for over-optimism in the area of weight. Realize the cost and schedule implications of extensive component redesigns necessitated by weight constraints, along with their attendant configuration and reliability risks. Discover your weight situation early. Revisit the requirement if you must. Consider the following, for example: Does it have to be one-man-portable or could it be crew-served? Does it really have to be C-130 transportable, or would a C-117 be sufficient? Does it really have to fly a round-trip sortie of 400 miles? Users might not appreciate your questioning, but they’ll like even less your failing to deliver what was promised. We simply cannot promise to deliver things that violate the laws of physics, like a light tank, for instance, that is armed to a caliber required for lethality but with a chassis so light it cannot possibly sustain the recoil forces of mass times acceleration.Extensive modeling and simulation may curtail an imprudent investment and allow developers to “just say no” to the impossible.Early testing and evaluation is another real way of understanding things fully a bit later on, but that involves hardware investment up to the point of engineering design models and test article manufacture.Be cognizant of the stack-up phenomenon, and manage to the gram if necessary. Above all, whenever weight is mentioned in a development effort you are involved with, perk up your ears and look for the red flag. You might become the smartest soul in the room, if ever so briefly. JOHN T. DILLARD, COL., USA (RET.), managed major weapons development efforts for most of his 26-year career in the U.S. Army. He is now a senior lecturer in systems acquisition management at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He has also served on the faculty of the U.S. Army War College and as an adjunct professor of project management for the University of California, Santa Cruz. He holds an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California and is a distinguished military graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.A. in biological sciences. This article is published in the April – June 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Not quite reform, but it works Technically Speaking: You’re Saying What? The Jungle Boot Been There, Done That: Want A High Return?
From idea to front line in record time
How to speed acquisition timelines through the power of innovative thinking. by Lt. Col. Mark P. Henderson Through innovative thinking and process improvement, the Army Acquisition Corps successfully transformed airborne operations in just two short years, culminating on Sept. 30, 2017, with the fielding completion of the full Ku-band operational capability of Enroute Mission Command (EMC). Mounted on Air Force C-17s, this revolutionary capability turns aircraft into flying command posts, enabling the Global Response Force to conduct real-time continuous mission command from home station to the drop zone. Other network communications solutions making rapid debuts in 2017 included low-rate initial production for terrestrial radios that provide information superhighways; coalition enclaves to support the growing needs of our allied partners; secure Wi-Fi, making command posts significantly more survivable, agile and lethal; intelligence enclaves reduced to the size of a suitcase; and the first instances of 4G LTE enabling communications through smartphones—all delivered roughly within two years after their requirements were approved. These successes come despite news reports of long timelines in the development and fielding of new technologies and can help to answer the question lingering in the minds of Army and acquisition professionals over the past year: What innovative procurement methods can we use to deliver capability to Soldiers more rapidly? I have managed rapid acquisitions since I was a major, from the largest major defense acquisition programs to smaller, non-programs of record based on operational needs, at all phases of the acquisition life cycle. I have learned that all facets of acquisition can benefit from a little innovative thinking, especially in the networks and information technology realm, where technology becomes obsolete so quickly. By looking at six separate aspects of acquisition—policy, requirements, documentation, funding, programmatic considerations and testing—I offer possible approaches that apply broadly and could help some programs, when and where applicable, thus demonstrating the speed with which we as a community can and do deliver. I am not asserting that there are no challenges in the acquisition process or in the surrounding bureaucracy, only that we are empowered to shape our own destiny. HOME STATION TO DROP ZONEThe skies are filled with Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade as hundreds of paratroopers conduct a tactical airborne insertion onto Juliet Drop Zone, Pordenone, Italy. The case of EMC, which turns aircraft into flying command posts on the way to the paratroopers’ objectives, shows that acquisition can move fast—it took only two years to go from idea to complete fielding. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. John Hall, 173rd Airborne Brigade) POLICY We can and do move fast in the acquisition world. In fact, we are compelled to do so. DOD 5000.02 is the playbook that maps out acquisition rules and processes and contains multiple references that are consistent with the following: “Milestone decision authorities (MDAs) … will tailor and streamline program strategies and oversight.” It goes on to say that MDAs are authorized to tailor not only acquisition procedures, but also the regulatory requirements to cut through bureaucracy as efficiently as possible and rapidly deliver capability. In other words, DOD and senior leaders expect that stakeholders will work together to streamline processes to provide the latest capability in the shortest time possible. One creative solution to speed acquisition timelines is to brief an MDA before a milestone C or full-rate production decision on ways to reduce staffing processes, regulatory requirements, bureaucracy, schedule or anything else that may add unnecessary complexity. Gaining approval in advance to cut through these obstacles can save a great deal of time and effort up front. To support Soldier readiness based on a Soldier and product focus, the Army acquisition community and program managers must abandon risk-averse, process-based thinking. Rapid acquisition requires leaders who can and do take prudent risks within the law in an effort to speed antiquated timelines. SHOOT, MOVE, COMMUNICATESoldiers assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division advance toward a simulated objective during Decisive Action Rotation 17-08 at the National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, California, in August. During the rotation, the unit used the small-form-factor Modular Communications Node – Advanced Enclave (MCN-AE) to relay intelligence information across the network on the battlefield. MCN-AE was fielded, roughly two years after the requirements were approved. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gabriel Segura, NTC Operations Group) REQUIREMENTS The most recent edition of Webster’s International Dictionary contains more than 470,000 words in the English language. This allows a great deal of flexibility to describe a capability in performance-based language, taking care not to dictate specifically what that product should be. Flexible requirements and capability-focused language are powerful tools for an innovative acquisition leader to leverage. The more prescriptive the language, the less latitude industry partners and the acquisition community have to rapidly deliver the best product. That said, in some cases new and shiny is not always better. If a requirement can leverage aspects of an existing capability, avoid the lengthy process of developing new requirements. Instead, use that underlying capability or system as a baseline and add to or modify it. For example, modifications and upgrades to an existing system using a “mod-in-service” funding approach have enabled the product office to continually modernize the tactical network baseline of the Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 1b. With a fielded, standardized and stable baseline that meets program requirements, two things can occur: The baseline can itself be modified, and new products can be rapidly added as technology advances to boost the capability even more. Some of the network fixes involve concepts like using commercial off-the-shelf equipment, but that is only part of the answer. The view needs to be holistic. The equipment we are delivering is designed to work on all parts of the tactical network regardless of the WIN-T node so that it will be interoperable not only today within the Army, but into the future. Another consideration is to focus requirements on procuring smaller quantities of new capability more often. This enables a large network or technology to remain nimble enough to leverage newer technology as it materializes and continuously fosters competition. The key here is to develop technology that is interoperable instead of stovepiped. The art of acquisition lies partially in avoiding the elevation of new products or systems to major defense acquisition program status whenever possible. Similarly, delegate MDA responsibility from the acquisition executive or DOD component head to the program executive officer (PEO) level for adjudication—even down to the project managers—for as many programs as practicable. That will untether Army senior leaders from the unnecessary day-to-day management of these programs. Keep organizations postured to steer clear of large, long-term procurement models whenever possible. As technology changes or improves, procure the next iteration as a technology insertion or modification, always keeping interoperability in mind. While an operational needs statement or directed requirement can be an effective method to rapidly implement capability, it’s not the only way to get things accomplished. Think about using an integrated product team, working integrated product team or cross-functional team of representatives from appropriate functional disciplines to work together on devising innovative ways to improve processes, identify and resolve issues, and make sound and timely recommendations to facilitate decision-making. Ideally these forums will not become bureaucracies, but will enable movement through them. Additionally, look beyond the local applicability of a baseline requirement and talk to other services like the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or U.S. Special Operations Command and leverage mutual needs—in other words, work together. Doing so will naturally increase interoperability with little extra effort and drive economies of scale to reduce cost using better buying power concepts. Building relationships is as important as building things. As a final note on this topic, look at programs holistically to reduce complexity by considering redundancy, cost and interoperability. DOCUMENTATION Another fresh approach to speeding acquisition timelines is to gain MDA approval to tailor or streamline documentation to significantly reduce redundancy and the likelihood of errors in substantial amounts of paperwork. Even for Acquisition Category (ACAT) III programs, which are the bulk of Army programs, there can be as many as 39 information requirements, with 16 needing MDA approval and accounting for as many as 550 pages to read. My team and I have implemented a streamlined approach for ACAT III programs in the PEO for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical that effectively trimmed 39 information requirements to eight baseline documents through consolidation or reduction. The net result was a 79 percent decrease. MDA signatures were reduced by 50 percent to eight, and total page count fell 53 percent, from 550 pages of documentation to 256. Because senior leaders do not have limitless time, the MDA received the complete package plus a new executive summary that distilled all the key information needed to make a decision in a five-page rollup—a 99 percent reduction in reading material. This enabled the MDA to make a recent full-rate production decision more easily and rapidly. SUITCASE-SIZED INTELLIGENCEThe small-form-factor MCN-AE augments the existing intelligence network, enabling users to employ the Army’s tactical network to connect to all of the same resources they have when using the traditional Trojan Intelligence Network. MCN-AE is part of a suite of communications capabilities fielded in 2017, all of which better enable Soldiers to share information. The capabilities offer lessons for how acquisition can move fast with innovation and tailoring. (U.S. Army photo) FUNDING There are a couple of ways to increase the speed and flexibility of programs through funding. Some programs come with a dedicated funding line, while others do not. When managing a product without a dedicated funding line, things often move faster because there is inherently less regulation and bureaucratic oversight. For programs with dedicated funding lines, one recommendation is to consolidate as many products from a capability production document into a single line and product management office. This creates a natural ability to flex between those products within the consolidated line from year to year, swiftly and with little effort. Adjusting the purchase plan annually is easy because no additional processes, such as above-threshold or below-threshold reprogramming, are needed to move money between products. In this way, project or product managers have maximum flexibility in executing their programs. This approach is easiest to accomplish at the beginning of a program, though if needed it can be phased in over time. A word of caution here: Extending this approach to enable many requirements with funding to fall on several managers out of such a line can be high-risk. The failure of one or two managers to execute their funding on time can cripple the entire line through congressional marks, rescissions or other administrative actions. PROGRAMMATIC CONSIDERATIONS Be bold and unafraid. Teams delivering capability rapidly can be lean or understaffed, so seek help as needed to retain momentum. Keep in mind that there are many government and industry partners to go to for help. Use technically mature, commercial off-the-shelf products that can enter the acquisition process at milestone C, a decision point that enables the initial procurement of equipment and allows the program to move forward to initial operational test and evaluation. Actively manage and compress schedule to reduce risk by conducting as many events in parallel as possible to get things done in less time. By doing so, my team was able to get a new ACAT III radio product from a milestone C decision out to testing in two weeks. The entire process from milestone C to successful, full-rate production decision took just seven months. Remember: Be creative in how you tailor a program. For example, to deliver capability more rapidly, if possible leverage DOD 5000.02 Enclosure 13, a provision that allows for reduced acquisition timelines based on urgent operational need. The EMC program office leveraged this approach and was able to deliver capability in two years. Challenge convention and use nonstandard programs of record to accelerate the process where applicable. This approach gets capability into the hands of Soldiers rapidly while creatively meeting acquisition requirements and staying ahead of obsolescence. Get away from unique capabilities or designs where possible. In a previous assignment as an assistant product manager in the PEO for Enterprise Information Systems, I led a team that standardized strategic network architecture for long-haul communications by putting the engineering up front and standardizing the product selections on the back end, the reverse of traditional approaches. Car manufacturers know there is no sense in doing a custom design for each new vehicle. Similarly, this concept worked well for the Army in the delivery of modular network capabilities that connected countries across Southwest Asia. The concept is repeatable and can apply to any network by figuring out capability based on mission and scale and addressing it with basic configurations such as mini, small, medium or large, then working out the engineering in advance with room for à la carte, Lego-like additions. At that point, a commander simply needs to select a scalable package that best fits his or her situation. TESTING Though it sounds simple, think through the test strategy early in the process, well before testing begins. Ensure that testing is done in accordance with the requirements and does not extend into other factors outside of what is actually needed, adding little additional value. Make Soldiers, the end users, part of the process early and grow capability through user feedback in both laboratory and operational environments, to improve products using a test, fix, test approach. Don’t be afraid to find problems. Also, do not be afraid to use capabilities and limitations reports or operational assessments in lieu of formal testing where applicable. When a formal test is required, partner with the test community early and leverage development tests or operational assessments with Soldiers in conjunction with the testers to eliminate surprise and reduce overall test risk. Remember to leverage teams and relationships by working closely with the requirements generators as well as the test community. Testers want to see the best capabilities get into Soldiers’ hands, and are typically willing to work with a product office to help move the ball down the field. COMMANDING SKIESDuring a joint forcible entry training mission, the Army’s Global Response Force successfully used EMC to enable real-time joint intelligence, communications and collaboration capabilities as they flew cross-country to the objective in May 2017. The Ku-band-enabled suite of capabilities supported real-time continuous mission command throughout the flight. (U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Zachary Jacobson, 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade) CONCLUSION A little creativity and innovation can speed acquisition timelines, and despite recent news headlines, we as a community have been doing just that. DOD 5000.02 provides the authority to tailor the process, cut through bureaucracy, think holistically while leveraging relationships and apply creativity to get to “yes.” Rapid acquisition is real and can flourish with a little bit of innovative thinking. For more information, go to the PEO C3T website at http://peoc3t.army.mil/c3t/ or contact the PEO C3T Public Affairs Office at 443-395-6489 or usarmy.APG.email@example.com. COL. MARK P. HENDERSON is the product manager for Network Modernization, assigned to PEO C3T’s Project Manager for Tactical Network. He holds an executive MBA with emphasis in information systems management and a master of education with emphasis in counseling and psychology from Troy University, and a B.S. in political science and government from Kennesaw State University. He is Level III certified in program management and holds master’s certificates in Lean Six Sigma, negotiations, expert selling, applied program management and advanced program management. He is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps. This article is published in the April – June 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: An outsider’s take on acquisition Army AL&T ready to read Been There, Done That Preparation for Operational Testing Money to burn
FROM THE ARMY ACQUISITION EXECUTIVE BRUCE D. JETTE As the Army focuses on modernizing without delay in its six priority areas, the acquisition culture must change by embracing certain key principles Gen. Mark A. Milley, Army chief of staff, made clear the reason why there is urgency in modernizing America’s Army, stating, “We know over time that our competitive advantage has eroded and that our overmatch is being challenged in all domains. In today’s increasingly contested domains, the supremacy of our Army is being tested like never before.” It is for this reason that increasing the resources toward modernizing our Army is a necessity, along with changing the way we think, organize and execute our plans and programs. Our Army acquisition community is at an inflection point where we need to change from the previous industrial-age models of program management and materiel procurement. We must equip Soldiers with the most advanced capabilities possible, and do so as quickly as achievable. Our readiness must allow us to fight across multiple domains in order to deter potential adversaries and, if necessary, rapidly defeat them. Today’s modernization is tomorrow’s readiness. Modernization is an ongoing and evolving extension of our readiness. America’s Army has spent the better part of two decades at war. During this time, our adversaries have studied our successes and challenges, then mimicked many of those successes and avoided the challenges. In the case of Russia and China, they have invested heavily in their capabilities in an attempt to bring themselves to near-peer status. Our continuing fight and the constraints of sequestration have had an adverse effect on our ability to advance commensurate with our true technological and operational capabilities. Our “Big Five” remain our Big Five, and have only been incrementally upgraded over time. This approach limits the advancement of capabilities to an evolutionary scale and tends to preclude a revolutionary advancement. Our acquisition and modernization approaches must change to provide our leaders the flexibility to apply new operational concepts that can ensure unquestioned overmatch, now and at all times in the future. This requires aggressively pursuing technology approaches that may not fare from well-worn paths, as well as those offered by familiar industry. We must make it our culture to know about and pursue innovations that may be more associated with commercial application but which we can leverage for our benefit by applying them, with or without modification, to visionary operational applications. Paratroopers assigned to Echo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment conduct stinger missile training using the Virtual Stinger Dome (VSD) at Fort Bragg, N.C., Mar. 21, 2018. The VSD is a new training system that utilizes virtual reality technology to immerse soldiers into a digital world allowing for more realistic stinger team training. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, owns one of five systems across the U.S. Army. (Photo by Spc. Houston T Graham, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division) A FOUNDATION FOR CHANGE As the Army Futures Command comes online, we must form a close partnership with those working to develop these operational visions and contribute to them by leveraging our military insight, joined to our technical and programmatic knowledge. When I say our culture must change, at the core of that change is the need for the acquisition team to see itself as a significant contributor to military thought as well as the Army’s experts in providing material solutions. To that end, I will be providing a series of papers that outline my thoughts and guidance as the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)). I believe senior leaders must provide a clear picture of their vision. We are very fortunate to have like-minded leadership in the secretary, undersecretary, chief of staff and vice chief of staff. All agree that we must work together to quickly advance our overmatch capabilities. Let me, then, provide foundational concepts for achieving such an operationally oriented approach to acquisition and the culture into which we must transform. 1. Acquisition reform. Our secretary, Dr. Mark T. Esper, has outlined several initiatives to promote unity of effort, focused effort and measurable progress. Unity of effort drives the establishment of a single command structure that, in turn, drives modernization from concept to full DOTMLPF-P [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities and policy] delivery to the warfighter in a timely enough manner to make a difference. This is the objective of the Army Futures Command. The secretary and the chief of staff have made it clear that, for the remainder of their tenure, the top six priorities—long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the Army network, air and missile defense and Soldier lethality—will not change and shall be the focus of the Army’s modernization strategy. Cross-functional teams are the primary mechanism to ensure consistency of progress against known areas requiring development. Measurable progress on the acquisition component of these priorities has already begun as the ASA(ALT) implements an evolvable tracking system. My direction is to avoid any new requirement for data input and, instead, to leverage what exists and to consolidate the data in a manner that will provide insights necessary at the senior level. My objective is to enable our workforce to achieve, not to second-guess it. 2. Accelerated fielding. It is clear that we need a more responsive acquisition system to meet the needs of our Soldiers on time. Let me share with you my experience in this area. Following the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, the Army found itself fighting terrorists who effectively employed improvised devices and commercial technologies against our forces in Afghanistan. The formal acquisition process, still in place today and taking an average of 12 years to field a system, could not respond expediently. In May 2002, I was “afforded” the opportunity to take robots into combat by forming a small team that integrated Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency robots with government and commercial off-the-shelf items. In only 28 days, we took them into the caves of Afghanistan rather than sending Soldiers with grappling hooks and grenades. Robots are now broadly used in combat operations. Perhaps more importantly, this instigated the Army and DOD’s rapid acquisition model. There have been many years in which “rapid” acquisition was seen as an exception to “real” acquisition. We cannot afford “real” acquisition if it is going to take 12 years or even six years. Our adversaries have revised their Cold War processes to leverage the ever-increasing availability of technology. We must do so as well or lose our overmatch. Culturally, I want all those involved in the acquisition process to look for ways that we can expedite it. This includes eliminating time-consuming and wasteful processes and reports. If my policies cause you to slow down, tell me about them, the recommended action to take, and you will get a response from me. The PEOs have already taken advantage of this. 3. Accelerated technology. Technology is global, and we are in a competition to access both technology and technical talent. Our adversaries have access to much of the same technology that we do. To retain overmatch in an open and pervasive technological environment with a limited budget, we must apply our resources to employ or develop those technologies that will provide the greatest military advantage and, specifically, not spend resources on reinventing what we can buy. The Army must focus our science and technology (S&T) investments on those technologies that contribute to the greatest advancements, first in the six priorities and second in the underlying enablers. ASA(ALT) is developing a policy that will provide a means of funding allocation that requires an increasing degree of foreseeable relevance between a research project and potential military application but also provides clear flexibility for lab directors to look for leap-ahead technologies. A more disciplined approach to initiating and tracking development management, modeled on the commercial sector, will require that before a new project is started, the lead researcher show that the desired work is not a redevelopment of existing work, that the surrounding known work is well understood, along with the researchers and sources, and that the new work is an extension of the existing knowledge base, not being performed by anyone else. Finally, a project plan will allow for incremental goals, associated with funding and timelines at which leaders can determine if additional resources are needed, whether goals have been achieved, and if continued work in the area is warranted or an “off ramp” is necessary. Additionally, we are fencing funds specifically to bridge the “valley of death” between research and program application in a deliberate manner and are taking, at the senior leader level, the responsibility for transition rather than leaving it up to the wiles of researchers and PMs. 4. Accountability. We are working to improve the way we do business in order to make the Total Army more lethal, capable and efficient. In doing so, we must ensure that our organizations, policies, processes and tasks that consume time, money and manpower deliver real value. Today’s acquisition system is based upon an approach that encourages our professionals to follow a preset process and check appropriate boxes. One can complete a process and not have an outcome or product worth anything. This is unacceptable. It wastes time, money and talent. Process is there to facilitate achieving a product. It is NOT the product. An AH-64 Apache helicopter with 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, and M1 Abrams tanks from 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, secure an area during a combined arms live fire exercise (CALFEX) at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Mar 28, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) CONCLUSION We must train and develop our workforce to do their jobs in the best way possible, to empower them with the ability to find processes that fit and to influence and change processes that don’t. This will allow for greater flexibility and accountability in the final outcome. In future articles, I will explain in some detail how to manage the processes to achieve a product and what is acceptable risk. I believe that it is essential for senior leaders not merely to tell those executing to take risk, but then to provide the limitation and clarity on what is acceptable risk to take. Our people are the Army’s greatest asset. Managing talent is an enterprise-level effort to identify, grow and develop future military and civilian acquisition leaders to recognize opportunity, embrace new ideas, manage risk and realize their true potential. As we work to build a better, more responsive acquisition system, it is absolutely vital that members of the acquisition community have senior leadership guidance, encouragement and reassurance to innovate, understand and accept responsibility, and make smart decisions. I look forward to hearing your opinions, recommendations and ideas as we continue to improve the way we deliver cutting-edge capabilities to our men and women in uniform. This article is published in the April – June 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Zero to full manpower in 8 hours A new ‘FACE’ for aviation acquisition A strategy for success The Top Five Lessons I Learned While Working at Amazon.com, Inc.
Modernization issue of Army AL&T online now
By Mary Kate Aylward Fort Belvoir, Va. (April 17, 2018)—Modernization is the talk of the Army. The latest issue of Army AL&T magazine will catch you up on the details of the conversation. We hope it will also provoke thought about how each member of the acquisition workforce can strive to meet the challenge. Our April – June issue brings you more than 20 articles exploring critical aspects of Army modernization. We know you have questions about this huge undertaking. So we took them straight to the source: one of the architects of the Army’s modernization plan, Undersecretary Ryan D. McCarthy. Read what he had to say in “One Roof.” A CBRN reconnaissance sensor upgrade … Before, Soldiers scanning the field for contamination had to compile the information available from sensors into pictures like the one above: … is providing a much better picture “All Together, Now!” describes an approach that moved money from redundant testing to technology development. It suggests ways to break out of a model that doesn’t always keep the Army up to speed with modern technology. From your new Army acquisition executive When Dr. Bruce D. Jette was the first director of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, he brought some of the first robots to the Afghan battlefield in just under a month—an early example of rapid acquisition. In his first column as AAE, Jette argues that we can no longer afford “real acquisition” if it takes six or more years. Read “Advancing Acquisition” to learn more. A not-too-distant future battlefield On the future battlefield, it might not be medics or convoys delivering medical supplies to Soldiers. Army medicine is modernizing for the time when more Soldiers fight farther than ever from any support or medical facility, as “Between Yesterday and Tomorrow” describes. Vertical lift doesn’t just mean a new helicopter The Army needs a package of capabilities, including things like visual assistance so pilots can take off whether or not the skies are clear. In “Shifting Gears,” read how RDECOM has reorganized its efforts to better align research and development with the six modernization priorities. Army AL&T magazine has modernized, too. You can now read us in print or on your screen of choice. The e-magazine is full of online extras, or visit the archives to download the PDF version. For more information on how to publish an article in Army AL&T magazine, visit https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/ to check out our writers guidelines, upcoming deadlines and themes. Want to subscribe to the magazine or find out how to download the mobile app? Go to go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-magazine/. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Collaborative Autonomy: A Tactical Offset Strategy Ground Truth: Talent Management in Lean Times Technical Manuals That Work Riding the Experience Curve
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