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.
Money to burn
Making sure your ‘burn rate’ doesn’t overheat can be the difference between a successful program and toast. by John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.) I still remember how it went that day in November. It was way back in the 1990s, and at the time I was a major serving as the assistant project manager for the development of the Javelin anti-tank missile system. We were right in the middle of our 36-month engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) effort. The boss assembled a few of us in the conference room. He said, “We have to call for a DAB [Defense Acquisition Board]—this program is going to need a formal re-baselining. I woke up at 3 o’clock this morning and did a quick calculation: At the rate we’re spending, we’re going to run out of money before the next fiscal year starts! And what’s worse is, I think we’re going to blow through our budget at completion.” I had just joined the program a month earlier and was pretty excited about getting the needed capability into the hands of my infantry branch “brothers.” They wanted and needed a true “fire and forget” anti-armor weapon to replace the less effective Dragon, introduced in the mid-1970s. I thought, “How could we be in so much trouble? And how could the boss know at this juncture that we were going to fail to stay within budget for the remainder of the program?” The DAB, marking formal notification of a major problem in need of senior leadership guidance, was a big enough crisis. It was going to get a lot uglier as we all began to realize this would also constitute a Nunn-McCurdy breach and need congressional approval to continue by moving the funds around to fix it. I got with our program analyst and started looking at the earned value management (EVM) figures and the prior monthly contractor performance reports. I knew EVM, as a program management tool, was a long-standing specification that we added to cost-reimbursable contracts and was rapidly becoming an industrywide standard for estimation of the true value of work performed to date, as opposed to simply a metric to show the difference between what was budgeted and what had been spent. If the “bean counters” were correct, our performance and schedule indices showed a pretty large jump in what would be the final tally for this program; just how large was to be determined. But to me it looked like they just used a ruler to extrapolate our current inefficiencies and overruns out to the end of EMD. Was there no chance for improvement? Could we not “get well?” We wanted to be optimistic, but we were falling behind schedule as we failed to meet our own specs. I helped prepare the information briefings as we went up the command chain to tell the bad news about the Javelin program. Once inside “the building”—the Pentagon— I found out we weren’t alone: Lots of programs were busting cost and schedule thresholds and needed more money and time. It wasn’t a good time to have our hands out, with a big drawdown underway—but it never is. The contract for EMD was bid and awarded at $170 million, but the government felt the program was still fairly high risk, so close to an additional $100 million was budgeted for it. Now, just 18 months into the program, we already could forecast that even that much money wouldn’t be enough. Members of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division fire an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile during a training exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, in May. In the 1990s, 18 months into developing the Javelin, the author recalls a meeting where he learned the program was rapidly running out of money. (Photo by Pvt. Nicholas Vidro, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) BURN RATE 101 For professional military officers, it certainly isn’t easy to admit failure, or to predict that you’re going to be a failure in 18 months or less. It took us the better part of a year and about four more meetings of the non-milestone DAB to formally re-baseline the program—recalculate and revise the costs and schedule for the remaining work—by deferring our production and recoloring the near-term money, etc. It was painful. One of the main difficulties was not only projecting how much more money we would need to finish development, but how much more time as well. Red teams, blue teams, tiger teams—the bureaucracy assigned any number of “experts” to help us figure it all out. The Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, back then called the Cost Analysis Improvement Group, was heavily involved in getting to the root causes of our troubles and identifying the resources needed to proceed. We had been spending about $10 million per month, and we were going to need about $180 million more. What no one seemed to be able to decide was how much more schedule should be added to the original 36-month effort. There were 40-month estimates, and 42- and 48- and finally 54-month versions of the revised EMD phase. We finally arrived at the 54-month estimate—18 additional months for the additional $180 million. How about that! We could’ve done some pretty simple math to arrive at that schedule figure once we got the latest revised bottom-up engineering estimate. But believe it or not, there weren’t that many people who even considered the burn rate in their estimates of the schedule needed. An important takeaway for me from all this was the idea of spending rate, or “burn rate.” Earned value management “gold cards,” provided by Defense Acquisition University, and their published instructions tell you all about various ways to figure out a new estimate at completion (EAC). But the EVM readings and formulas available to all of us don’t adequately teach us how to estimate schedule when they take us through these concepts of planned, actual and earned value. The squiggly lines and values typically guide us toward estimation of a new budget at completion (BAC), or EAC, but they don’t elaborate on how much more time might be needed. And time is indeed money. It’s possible, perhaps, to apply cost performance index and schedule performance index calculations against the original budget to project a new version of the program schedule. But current EVM instruction is really lacking when it comes to how to deal with the extra funds you receive if you’re unlucky enough to need them and lucky enough to get them. It turns out, as I discovered during the Javelin recalculations, that once development programs get underway, their staffs of various engineers burn resources at a fairly consistent rate. For us, we were involved with “knowledge work” at that point; no missiles had yet flown. But lots of chemical, mechanical, electrical and software engineering was in flow, as well as all the work of the business types: admin, scheduling, management and indirect costs, for example. LESSON WELL LEARNED Frequently, we work EVM problems here at the Naval Postgraduate School. I ask my students how much more money and time will be required for a program running behind schedule and over budget. Unlike common stock shares’ technical analysis charts, EVM is indeed a predictive tool. And as with an artillery shell just one millimeter off its deflection or azimuth, a cost or schedule variance vectors out over distance to become quite large depending on range (or time to go). Most often, students come up with a nice combined index formula for a pessimistic estimate—maybe the more pessimistic, the better—but then they expect to spend many more millions of dollars in only a few months added to EMD. It just isn’t likely to happen, because practically, industry cannot simply add staff to “crash” the program and finish it rapidly. They’ll most likely continue at their current systemic rate of cost and schedule inefficiency. Hopefully, the earned value you attain during the extension will be the same or better than what it’s been so far—but we can’t expect miracles. This knowledge would serve me well a few years later when I took over my own program. It was amazingly similar to the Javelin program in programmatic terms. At my change of charter ceremony, a nice lady came through the receiving line to introduce herself and shake my hand. “Hi, I’m Barb,” she said cheerily. “I’m your program analyst. It’s April,” she continued, stating the obvious, “and, if my projections are correct, you’re going to be out of money by July.” I stood dumbly, taking in what she said, before she added, “There’s cake in the conference room. Enjoy!” I was a bit taken aback—but I knew exactly what to do. A quick phone call to my industry counterpart, and we were soon developing a spend plan for the rest of the year—a contractor’s “diet” that he and his crew would have to adhere to strictly in order to get to Oct. 1 and a new supply of money. We published that spending plan to all program stakeholders to increase the pressure and have everyone stick to it. I also asked for a “manpower off-ramp” chart. Since we were nearing the end of development, I wanted to see design engineers rolling off my program and on to other work at their companies. Sure, there would be production and quality types coming aboard, but I wanted to see billings for design work taper off as the design was completed. We did a little scrub of scope that the government had requested two years earlier—a variety of unnecessary contract data requirements lists, mostly—and got back about six weeks of an eight-week slip situation, arriving on budget for that year. Whew! When available funding is projected to run out before the performance period ends, programs need to adjust their burn rates. (Graphic by U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center) CONCLUSION The moral of this little story is to know your burn rate in addition to all the other numbers floating around. As the PM, you have a lot on your mind financially: How much have I spent this fiscal year, internally to the program management office, externally to support contractors and government labs, test ranges, etc., and how much to the system prime contractor? How much is in the colors of money that I have in the Future Years Defense Program and program objective memorandum (POM)? What is my spend (burn) rate? How much of the fiscal year is left? When is the budget going in for next year and for how much? Does it reflect what I need, and does the POM fully reflect where we are event-wise in the program? There’s so much to be fully situationally aware of on the business side. If only that were all you had to worry about. … But maybe you can ask the question about “our current burn rate” next time the discussion rolls around to funds needed. You just might be the smartest person in the room! 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 at 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 Been There, Done That article is published in the January – March 2018 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: Rule No. 1 Been There, Done That Preparation for Operational Testing Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Humans Out of the Loop Communications readiness: ‘Can you hear me now?’
Start the fire
As it has done in the past, the Army needs to leverage innovation for modernization success. by Col. Joseph Capobianco A spark, fuel and oxygen. As simple as these elements are, if one is missing, fire won’t exist. Similarly, there’s a triad of elements that must come together for innovation to occur. The Army is now trying to leverage this “fire” of innovation to solve the modernization problems of the past two decades. Achieving innovation requires much more than looking at resource use, assigning prioritization or adjusting organizational constructs. It demands addressing the driving force (the spark), building talented teams (the fuel), and fostering a supportive environment (the oxygen). Real innovation also has a cost: change, internal conflict and often destruction of the present organization, processes and capabilities. Remember, for example, the tanks that replaced the Army’s beloved horse cavalry. One of the two counter unmanned aircraft system mobile integrated capabilities (better known as CMIC) vehicles is loaded onto a C-17 headed for Europe, Feb. 26 at Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport. (Photo by Keith Pannell, Fort Sill Public Affairs). MORE THAN A BUZZWORD Not a day passes without a discussion, an article or a speech that mentions innovation, and senior leaders have committed significant time and resources to boosting innovation within DOD. In August 2017, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced his plans to maintain several DOD innovation initiatives and organizations his predecessors established. At the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in October 2017, Ryan McCarthy, the acting Army secretary, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, announced that the Army will reform its approach to requirements generation and weapon system modernization by creating new organizational constructs and processes to maintain, or in some areas regain, operational overmatch. These efforts indicate that the Army is attempting to move beyond identifying and clarifying the modernization problem to actually leverage innovation to address it. It is one thing to announce change, claim its importance or provide top-level guidance to “innovate.” It is quite another matter to fund, educate and build organizational teams working in an environment that can make innovation a reality—and provide the U.S. Army the advantage in deterring, shaping or winning any conflict. Soldiers assigned to Bravo and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 147th Air Assault Helicopter Battalion, and 2nd Brigade, 149th Air General Support Aviation Battalion, conduct a deck landing qualification with a UH-60 Black Hawk on a U.S. Navy ship on Aug. 9, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. The Black Hawk is one of the military systems developed in the 1970s known as the Big Six. It remains a core element of the Army’s military power today. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Miller, 35th Infantry Division) OVERTURNING THE INDUSTRIAL AGE MODEL The Army modernization problem is clear. The major weapon systems developed in the 1970s and fielded in the 1980s are marking four decades in service, with dozens of upgrades and strapped-on fixes to maintain operational readiness and provide incremental, evolutionary improvements. During the past decade, near-peer competitors have worked to close the gap in our systems’ current advantages. As McCarthy wrote in a modernization priorities memo in October, the consequence of this modernization problem is the Army’s loss of competitive advantage against emerging threats, competitors and adversaries. Senior leaders trace the current modernization model to the Industrial Age, and cite the need to reform processes that are slow, overly bureaucratic and stovepiped. This top-level problem has three distinct parts: requirements generation, technology integration, and improvement of acquisition processes. The challenge is well-framed and understood, serving as the spark to leverage innovation as a solution. So what does it mean to innovate? Webster’s Dictionary describes innovation as “a new idea, device, or method, or the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods,” but it can be further broken down into two categories: evolutionary and revolutionary innovation. Evolutionary innovation is synonymous with incremental change, which builds upon known products or capabilities. It is relatively low risk with predictable and advantageous outcomes. Revolutionary innovation involves breakthroughs that address problems from a completely new angle. It is higher risk, often described as serendipitous, and produces greater rewards. These innovations are radical or disruptive and often change the landscape of currently accepted approaches or capabilities. The cost of this innovation is the obsolescence of today’s organizations, processes and capabilities. Revolutionary innovations are often seen early in capability development, while evolutionary innovations generally take the form of improvements that are identified and implemented as that capability is fielded and adopted for wider use. Revolutionary innovation, whether in the military or in the private sector, requires the triad of elements: a driving force, a talented, funded and supported team, and a viable environment. It’s simple to start a fire by lighting a gas grill on the back porch. It’s a lot harder at a windy, rainy campsite. Likewise, fostering innovation in organizations varies based on needs, people and culture. No matter the conditions, you need all three—spark, fuel and oxygen—at one place, at the same time for the fire of innovation to occur. The guidance is clear: “Go innovate!” What is less clear are the critical parts required to make that innovation happen and produce tangible results. FROM THE BIG SIX TO THE CFT The good news is the Army has a demonstrated history of success in leveraging revolutionary innovation to modernize. In the 1970s, the Army developed the major weapons systems that came to be known as the “Big Six.” They include the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System; the M1 Abrams main battle tank; the Bradley Fighting Vehicle; the AH-64 Apache and the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; and the Patriot Air Defense System. In the 1980s, the Army fielded these six modern weapon systems to achieve operational overmatch in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the Cold War against the Soviet Union. No shots were fired in Europe in part because of the known overmatch of our formations and their weapon systems. The Big Six also facilitated overmatch in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The keys to the success of these systems were clear: threat-based requirements documents, maturation of technologies, prioritization, adequate funding and, most importantly, patience to see the systems to fruition. This modernization happened over decades that included failed air defense, tank, aircraft and artillery efforts. As successful as the Big Six fieldings were, however, the past two decades have not been so kind. Lawmakers, senior leaders and Soldiers have been frustrated with the Army’s inability to modernize and field new capabilities. After repeated failures that ranged from the RAH-60 Comanche helicopter to Future Combat Systems—the most ambitious acquisition program in the service’s history and central to its modernization efforts from 2003 to 2009—the Army’s answer became to take steps, not leaps. Instead of new systems that would usher in the next revolutionary generation of capabilities, leaders chose the path of evolutionary upgrades to the Big Six. However, the recent resurgence of near-peer threats in Russia, North Korea, China and Iran have demonstrated the need to modernize on a larger scale. One positive step toward meeting that need came from Congress in the form of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which assigned the service chiefs a greater role in weapon system development and modernization. Using that expanded role, Milley and several Army secretaries took action on three key initiatives. First, they placed a renewed emphasis on the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) by focusing all requirements on technical feasibility and affordability. Secondly, in concert with the AROC, the G-8 developed the strategic portfolio analysis review (SPAR), which became the de facto program objective memorandum guidance and prioritization, with three clear categories—accelerate, maintain or stop—across the Army’s 15 portfolios. The third effort was the establishment of the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), which is based on the Air Force’s successful RCO construct and charged with rapidly developing and delivering prototypes to combatant commands to close high-risk, strategic operational gaps. The AROC, SPAR and RCO are serving as the foundation in addressing the modernization problem. Army leadership also announced other modernization initiatives at AUSA: Creation of a new modernization or futures command; Publication of the Army’s six modernization priorities and acquisition reform plans; Establishment of eight cross-functional teams (CFTs). The CFT pilot, outlined as “an innovative organizational construct to integrate and synchronize processes across multiple stakeholders,” will use teams to transition leader-approved capability requirements to the Army acquisition system, allowing faster and more affordable capability development. The need for technology integration is addressed through the CFTs’ requirement to leverage experimentation and technology demonstration to inform and mitigate risk to the longer-term programs of record. Soldiers with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, call on the radio while conducting a live-fire exercise during Network Integration Evaluation 17.2. The Army Rapid Capabilities Office assessed mounted and dismounted electronic warfare systems that provide new electronic detection, support and attack capability in contested and congested environments during NIE 17.2, held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Maricris C. McLane, 24th Press Camp Headquarters) FUEL AND OXYGEN The Army is great at creating organizations, such as the RCO, CFTs and the new modernization or futures command. But to fuel innovation, such organizations have to be led and staffed by curious people who question the status quo and are not averse to risk. The acting secretary’s acquisition reform directive specifically addresses the need for talent management within the acquisition formation. This emphasis needs to carry over to the CFTs and modernization or futures command to ensure that the right people are in the right roles to support the revolutionary innovation that’s needed. The last and most critical piece to consider is the environment—the oxygen for the innovation fire to start and thrive. Starting with the secretary and chief of staff of the Army, to the Army acquisition executive, to program managers and on down the line, the Army must foster a culture that celebrates risk acceptance, early failure and frequent experiments. Incubating informal networks that work in parallel with well-defined Army processes promotes cross-pollination and idea generation. The Army Rapid Capabilities Office has forged such a network through its Emerging Technologies cell, which focuses on assessing capabilities such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and counter-unmanned aerial systems, and coordinates with nontraditional innovators and organizations like the Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental and the DOD Strategic Capabilities Office to potentially apply their technologies to Army needs and programs. Of the three components required for revolutionary innovation, the environment, or oxygen, is the most crucial, and is often not specifically addressed in memos, constructs or conversations. The Army can provide the oxygen for innovation through greater risk tolerance and an increased emphasis on prototyping and experimentation—allowing us to place “lots of little bets” with the understanding that many will fail, but one might be revolutionary. The Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle was part of the canceled Future Combat Systems (FCS). The ambitious FCS program could have ushered in new generation of capabilities, but instead ended up as a big failure for Army acquisition, after which the acquisition enterprise preferred incremental improvements to existing systems over risky, larger-scale innovation. (U.S. Army photo) CONCLUSION The Army has a plan to leverage the fire of revolutionary innovation to address the modernization problem. We have the spark: The modernization problem is well understood, with emphasis on requirements generation, technology maturation and integration, and acquisition process improvements. We have the fuel: The formation of new and innovative teams, through the RCO, eight planned CFTs and the modernization or futures command. The area that requires the immediate and continued emphasis is the oxygen, environment. The leadership must create and foster an innovative environment that tolerates risk, accepts failure early and often, and promotes teams and individuals who further the fielding of near-, mid- and long-term modernization capabilities. The cost of innovation—change, organizational conflict and destruction—is the price to proceed. The Army has a long and proud, though sometimes sporadic, modernization history over its 240-plus years of existence. It must and will undoubtedly modernize again, fielding revolutionary capabilities that win back dominant overmatch against emerging threats, competitors and adversaries. For more information, please visit http://rapidcapabilitiesoffice.army.mil COL. JOSEPH CAPOBIANCO is the chief of staff for the Army RCO. He previously served as the program executive officer for Special Operations Forces – Warrior at the U.S. Special Operations Command. He holds an M.S. in national resource management from National Defense University’s Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Norwich University. He is Level III certified in program management and Level I in test and evaluation. He is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps. This article will be published in the January – March 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. ONLINE EXTRAS: Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy’s memo on modernization priorities: https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN6101_AD2017-24_Web_Final.pdf Cross-Functional Team Pilot memorandum: https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN6101_AD2017-24_Web_Final.pdf M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/538510/mlrs-fort-mccoy M1 Abrams main battle tank: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/552034/cavalry-troopers-promote-partnership-interoperability-bright-star-2017 Bradley Fighting Vehicle: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/533284/bradley-fighting-vehicles AH-64 Apache helicopter: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/537852/sc-guard-apaches-conduct-annual-training UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/561533/10th-combat-aviation-brigade-10th-mountain-division-li-uh-60-black-hawk-helicopters-departs-katterbach-army-airfield-ansbach-bavaria Patriot Air Defense System: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/562072/exercise-artemis-strike-promo Related posts: Rule No. 1 Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Army Challenges Collaborative Autonomy: A Tactical Offset Strategy Communications readiness: ‘Can you hear me now?’
Holding all the ‘ACE’s
How one Army product office used strategic acquisition to drive competition and improve readiness in a specialized market dominated by two vendors. by Ms. Kimberly Davidson and Mr. James Christophersen Late on a January afternoon in Texas in 2015, gunfire shattered the typical silence and echoed through the halls of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinic at Fort Bliss. In a scene too familiar to Americans today, active shooter alarms sounded in the William Beaumont Army Medical Center and two nearby schools—thousands of innocent people were suddenly in danger. Within two minutes of the first shots, a handful of first responders entered the building. Behind the scenes, multiple 911 calls poured in and the computer automated dispatch system aided coordination of a swift and decisive response. Within 30 minutes, more than 300 first responders from Fort Bliss’s Military Police, the El Paso Police Department, the El Paso SWAT team, the El Paso Independent School District Police Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies and the FBI had responded. Equipped with interoperable land mobile radios (LMRs), the diverse team coordinated actions under the direction of a single incident commander. Acting with the efficiency that comes from good communication, the team evacuated more than 3,000 civilians and secured the crime scene in less than seven minutes. Two people were killed. The fast and effective actions of first responders, however, prevented a terrible situation from becoming much worse. Timeliness is critical during active-shooter incidents to minimize casualties. The ability to communicate in a disaster is one of the most overlooked factors in maximizing the efficiency of response and minimizing damage. LMR is the first line of communication for first responders at all Army installations. First responders are the heroes; LMR makes the heroes more effective. Ralph Edmonds, left, showcases a portion of Fort Belvoir’s LMR equipment to Brig. Gen. Patrick W. Burden, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems (EIS). In 2014, PEO EIS’ LMR Product Office began developing a plan to address a handful of threats to the readiness of Army LMR systems in the U.S., including a complex requirement, only two suppliers, and a shrinking pool of appropriated funds. (PM DCATS photo by James Christophersen) BEYOND THE ‘BRICK’ Colloquially known as “bricks” for their iconic appearance, the subscriber unit radio is the most visible asset of an LMR system. Most users take no interest in how the system actually works—just as most people don’t think about what goes into making their cell phone work. But unlike a firearm, flashlight or other tool on a first responder’s duty belt, the radio requires a vast behind-the-scenes network to provide state-of-the-art communications capability at the push of a button. Looking “beyond the brick” reveals the LMR system as a true system of systems, typically consisting of handheld portable radios, mobile radios, base stations, radio towers, software and other network components to extend the range and capability of each radio. Part of the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, the LMR product office’s responsibility encompasses the whole system——managing, engineering, acquiring, delivering and supporting the total architecture of the LMR system on Army installations worldwide. In just the continental United States (CONUS), that amounts to 68 stand-alone systems at 68 installations in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The nontactical LMR systems they field support installation management and force protection, public safety and homeland security. The 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) conducted an active-shooter exercise in September 2017 at the command’s headquarters on Fort Shafter, Hawaii. First responder communications are supported by LMRs, now supplied through an innovative arrangement involving two contractors and two enterprise LMR locations. Each contractor supplies the primary core for one location and the secondary core for the other location. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin, 8th TSC) A STACKED DECK In 2014, the LMR product office recognized two mounting threats to the future readiness of Army CONUS LMR systems: a complex requirement and minimally competitive industry base; and a widening shortfall in appropriated funds to procure and sustain aging systems. Similar to many segments of the U.S. defense industrial base, the industry for Army LMR is narrow because few commercial LMR suppliers meet the Army’s information assurance and cybersecurity requirements. Just as Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin dominate military aircraft manufacturing, and General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries dominate the Navy shipbuilding market, Harris Corp. and Motorola Solutions Inc. are the dominant competitors for Army LMR. Although two industry partners generate more competition than one, the modularity and uniqueness of systems for each individual post, camp and station meant that one company would sometimes enjoy a competitive advantage over the other. For example, if the Army used Motorola products at Camp A, it would make the most sense to use products from the same vendor for replacements and upgrades at Camp A for ease of compatibility. That left Harris with an uphill battle to win the contract—as the saying goes, often making the juice not worth the squeeze. In such cases, the competition for a contract evaporated and left one company with a corner on the market. In a cash-strapped Army, resources directed away from operations and maintenance to meet more urgent readiness requirements and fight existing conflicts left many systems in “break-fix” status, meaning systems were only fixed and restored as they failed. Information assurance accreditations expired at numerous installations, putting long-term operational readiness in jeopardy. Without sufficient funds to maintain all 68 CONUS systems, the LMR product office and their customers, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the U.S. Installation Management Command, had to look for alternative solutions. Equipment and infrastructure like radio frequency towers, this LMR tower at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and repeaters, which retransmit low-level radio signals at a higher level so the signal can cover longer distances without weakening, enable first responders to communicate clearly when it matters most. (Project Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS) photo by James Christophersen) THE ARMY’S ‘ACE’ To solve both issues and ensure readiness for LMR systems, the product office introduced the Army CONUS Enterprise (ACE) LMR System. ACE consolidates 68 localized LMR core systems into two enterprise LMR systems. The ACE model provides fully redundant LMR systems throughout CONUS with a core infrastructure hosted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and Fort Drum in upstate New York. Here we come to the acquisition “card trick.” The LMR product office designed the ACE acquisition as a limited-source, dual-award contract with both major contractors—Harris and Motorola—supplying the primary core for one location and the secondary core for the other location. The result? A Motorola primary and Harris secondary at the first location, but a Harris primary and Motorola secondary at the second. The ACE LMR system will provide an enterprise-level LMR system while maintaining competition at the installation level on each delivery order for new radios, towers, dispatch consoles and other infrastructure. With ACE, both major contractors enjoy the same incentive to compete for every LMR procurement for every Army post, camp and station in CONUS, while the Army reaps the benefits of competition. ACE architecture will reduce the Army’s total cost to maintain state-of-the-art communications capability for first responders at all CONUS Army installations, by reducing the number of operations and maintenance contracts from more than 70 to two and by eliminating redundancy in site surveys, operations, information assurance accreditation, software updates and maintenance. (Image courtesy of PM DCATS) LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH IMPLEMENTATION In designing the ACE architecture, the LMR product office developed a new contracting model that may prove useful to other network efforts facing challenges with competition. The product office also learned many valuable lessons that are applicable to any office on any effort. Challenge 1: Communication No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and no request for proposal (RFP) survives first contact with industry partners. RFPs are prepared deliberately, thoughtfully and thoroughly, but they represent only the government side of the conversation. Government acquisition teams and industry partners both have phenomenal people with brilliant ideas and different perspectives. That often produces different ideas on how to solve the same problem. By communicating first, frequently and openly, government and industry partners can better complement each other’s efforts. When issuing its RFP, the product office was confident that its industry partners would repurpose existing core systems from current installations to the new ACE sites to save on costs. They were then shocked to learn through initial industry proposals that none of the fielded cores were technically suitable to handle the volume of traffic required for a regional core. Both government and industry partners were in sync on the big picture, but they found key differences in proposed solutions. Going forward, the LMR product office plans to mitigate confusion on task orders for individual site installations by using face-to-face initial proposal meetings with industry to discuss, clarify and shape proposals through dialogue. Rather than asking the companies to prepare their proposals in a vacuum as with the initial RFP, the product office is putting the “partner” back in “industry partner” and collaborating to provide best-value solutions. Challenge 2: Acquisition Agility In a joint statement Sept. 27, 2017, to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer, Maj. Gen. James Mingus, director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence, and Gary Martin, program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical, stated, “Our current acquisition process does not allow the Army to rapidly acquire and integrate emerging capabilities, allowing the warfighter to keep pace with technology and stay ahead of the evolving threat.” Although their statement was directed to tactical networks, the same challenge is aptly illustrated by ACE LMR. Building newer, more resilient and reliable systems requires time, especially for modern communications systems. To go from concept to contract for ACE took three and a half years. Now in post-award, the product office projects another 18 months to deliver the first installations. Updating all 68 CONUS LMR systems will continue incrementally over the next five to 10 years as funding priorities permit. That totals 10 to 15 years from concept to completed fielding. As ACE LMR illustrates, the Army acquisition machinery is a battleship that cannot abruptly change direction. Major network improvements do not happen overnight. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has identified readiness as his No. 1 priority and devoted specific attention to the Army’s communications networks. Time and long-range planning are necessities to achieve Armywide readiness. As it plans regionalization efforts for Army installations in Europe and the Pacific, the LMR product office is applying lessons from ACE to streamline those acquisitions. Wisconsin law enforcement personnel from several counties participate in a training scenario in September 2017 at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. LMR is the first line of communication for all first responders, and recent efforts by PEO EIS will make the system easier to maintain—an important improvement since support for fielded LMR systems is not a primary duty on most Army installations. (U.S. Army photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office) CONCLUSION Through it all, the LMR product office demonstrated that a small—six people in all—dedicated team of acquisition experts accustomed to the routine of cookie-cutter acquisitions can adapt to create something completely new. Without adding any new staff, the team drew on its familiarity with the product and the industry to develop and implement innovative solutions that will fundamentally alter the Army’s future LMR acquisitions. Their dedication and focus will produce three distinct benefits for the Army. The Army will enjoy immediate cost savings: At a unit price of $800,000 to $1 million per core, a reduction of 64 cores suggests a conservative cost savings estimate of $51.2 million for the cost of the systems alone. The Army anticipates additional life cycle savings through reduced operations and maintenance costs: Acquisition theory teaches program managers to plan for 60 percent of the cost of a product over the life cycle to fall into operations and maintenance. The bulk of the savings is realized years after installation. The Army expects to realize a cost avoidance by reducing the number of operations and maintenance contracts from 75 to two. Additionally, operations and maintenance costs will be further reduced by decreased redundancy in site surveys, operations, information assurance accreditation, software updates and maintenance. ACE LMR reduces workload and improves readiness: On many Army installations, support for fielded LMR systems is not a primary duty. The system manager typically has one, two or even three other primary duties. The burden of programming radios, updating software and other operations and maintenance efforts for LMR often competes with unrelated duties, leaving resources strained. ACE reduces the workload for system managers by centralizing many tasks and assigning them to dedicated system managers based at the two core sites. Reducing the hands-on labor required to manage and maintain the fielded systems improves readiness and resiliency for first-responder communications. For more information about LMR, go to http://www.eis.army.mil/programs/lmr or contact Brandy Jackson at email@example.com or 703-806-9713 KIMBERLY DAVIDSON has been the product lead for LMR since 2011, managing the acquisition, management, installation and delivery of the Army’s LMR systems worldwide. She holds an M.S. in program management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a B.S. in secondary education with a specialty in mathematics from Nova Southeastern University. She received a Commander’s Award for Civilian Service in 2011 and 2014 and was nominated for a C4ISR Ten Outstanding Personnel of the Year award in 2005. She is Level III certified in program management. JAMES CHRISTOPHERSEN is a contractor and public affairs professional supporting the Project Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems within PEO EIS. He has supported various offices in the Army acquisition enterprise since 2014, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. He holds a B.S. in psychology from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, and a Project Management Professional certification. This article will be published in the January – March 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: Communications readiness: ‘Can you hear me now?’ Modernization of Enterprise Terminals Program: A True National Asset Developing Afghan Force Managers One acquisition process at a time
Harnessing the sun
AMSAA looks at advances in solar energy as a way to maintain the batteries powering infrequently-used Army vehicles. by Mr. Kevin Guite and Mr. Brian Frymiare For those holding onto a restored 1968 Camaro in the garage or that old Ford F100 inherited from your uncle and sitting under the backyard tree, it should not be a shock to find that the batteries in those vehicles exemplify the axiom “use it or lose it.” The Army faces a similar challenge, though one of far greater magnitude, with its vast fleet of tactical wheeled vehicles (TWVs), which make up nearly 65 percent of the Army’s total vehicle inventory. The TWV category—approximately 400,000 vehicles—includes everything from lighter vehicles like the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and its variants all the way up to massive, multi-ton vehicles like the Palletized Load System. Most of these vehicles stand by until needed, which means that nearly 75 percent of the TWV fleet can be characterized as low-usage, or operated fewer than 3,000 miles each year. Low-usage TWV systems have proven to be a big part of the Army’s battery failure-and-replacement cycle. These vehicles are critical components of the global sustainment mission, needed to transport supplies and equipment to and around the battlefield. But the reality of a “use it or lose it” approach to battery life quietly attacks the readiness levels of the fleet. The 488th Military Police Company held their annual training this week at Plymouth Training Site in Plymouth. The training lasted over a week during which they conducted events such as vehicle recover, patrolling, security measures, Humvee operations, and vehicle maintenance. The training was also host to their annual event, the Best Military Police Squad Competition. This put nine squads from the unit head to head in a physical and mental test lasting 12 hours. The competition tested each squads, physical training, ruck march a, medical skills, radio communication proficiency, and much more. Data acquired through the Army Sample Data Collection and Analysis (SDC&A) program highlights the accelerated battery replacement rate for the TWV fleet. The SDC&A program, established through DOD Directive 4151.18, collects and analyzes data to support cost, reliability, availability and maintainability studies; special requirements; and Army staff programs. The U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA), as the Army’s responsible official, administers the program as prescribed in Army Regulation 750-1, Army Materiel Maintenance Policy. Based on SDC&A information, the Army is replacing some batteries only one-third into their expected minimum life and one-sixth of their expected life with proper maintenance. For example, SDC&A data showed that over the past three years, the absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery used in the TWV fleet was being replaced every 13 months on average, when maintenance technicians detected the failure of the vehicle batteries. The expected minimal life of the AGM battery is three years as per manufacturer warranty, with an expected full life of approximately six to eight years when treated properly. The Army chose the AGM as its standard vehicle battery for its improved performance and spill-proof design based on the use of highly porous microfiber plates that absorb the battery’s electrolyte. Replacing batteries has become a tremendous burden for the Army logistics enterprise. Maintenance personnel expend time assessing and recharging batteries, removing and replacing spent ones and managing temporary storage locations for batteries that are no longer useable. Removing the batteries from the site requires involvement of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office or local contractors paid to remove and recycle the batteries. During FY16, DOD spent more than $80 million replacing more than 373,000 vehicle batteries. The cost and effort being expended on low-usage batteries begs for a better way to manage this challenge. A buoy equipped with solar panels monitors for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Solar panels today are lighter and more efficient than previous generations of the technology, requiring fewer panels to generate a given amount of electricity. (Photo courtesy of SOLARA) A SOLAR SOLUTION DAWNS Now engineers with AMSAA’s Operational Sustainment Analysis Team (OSAT), in coordination with other Army organizations, are exploring the possibility of using modern solar charger technology to solve the problem of prematurely replacing Army batteries. OSAT engineers, charged with detecting systemic materiel readiness issues in fielded systems and influencing improvements using data-driven analyses, are studying small solar panels that when attached to the hood or roof of TWV platforms can provide from 20 to 60 watts of power to charge and maintain batteries on those vehicles. Once attached, the solar panel can remain with the vehicle wherever it travels and requires no interaction or maintenance from the vehicle’s operator. By converting the sun’s power into electricity, solar panel solutions have the potential to increase the readiness of low-usage vehicles while reducing maintenance costs and the logistics burden caused by excessive battery management. Solar panels are an old but still evolving technology that have gone though many advancements over the years. Bell Labs introduced solar cells for space activities in the 1950s that boasted 6 percent efficiency in converting light to power. Today’s panels, capitalizing on years of design and manufacturing improvements, are capable of converting sunlight into power at an efficiency level of about 20 percent. AMSAA’s analysis of previous efforts from as early as 2004 seeking to introduce solar chargers to Army vehicle maintenance programs uncovered problems stemming from design and implementation issues. At that time, the solar panels selected were too small for the load placed on them, and the panel controllers needed to govern battery charging voltages were not watertight or fused to protect electrical components in case of an electrical short. Multiple-battery configurations required for Army vehicle loads became unbalanced and were not properly regulated. Panels were not shade-tolerant, so the whole system stopped working when part of a cell was blocked from the sun. In addition, the panels were ultimately found to be too large, too heavy, too fragile and too expensive. The latest generation of solar panels and controllers has been able to resolve many of the problems and concerns of earlier models. The solar panel industry has studied the problems experienced in the past, noted lessons learned and applied them to today’s products. Newer, lighter, flexible, more durable and less expensive panels are now operating with greater efficiency, reducing the size and number of panels required for the amount of power produced. Such panels can be found on rooftops, cars, street signs, buoys, remote communication equipment and even recreational vehicles. Waterproof controllers, proven during marine applications, with well-designed voltage regulators, are now available. Additionally, panels now include bypass diodes that can route power around shaded or damaged cells, allowing a solar panel to even incur multiple gunshots and continue to produce power without shorting out. A battery disposal yard at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. In fiscal 2016, more than 373,000 vehicle batteries were replace at a cost of more than $80 million to DOD. (U.S. Army photo by Chip Herrell, AMSAA) CAN IT POWER THE ARMY? The unique requirements of the Army’s military vehicle platforms pose challenges to fully maximizing solar panel advances. First, the Army uses batteries connected in strings of 12 and 24 volts. These series and parallel strings of batteries are similar to the 12-volt batteries found in automobiles; however, Army vehicles combine multiple batteries for its more robust vehicles, which require more voltage and power. For example, some TWVs require a configuration of four large 120-amp-hour AGM batteries. These vehicles require both 12- and 24-volt power to accommodate legacy and newer electrical components that have specific requirements for those voltage levels. The differing electrical loads they place on the vehicle’s battery bank often leads to large battery voltage imbalances. Research has shown that a one volt difference between the two 12-volt battery strings is not uncommon, but that one volt difference in an AGM battery is the difference between being 100 percent charged and approximately 20 percent charged. The huge discrepancy can cause many problems for military vehicle platforms. AMSAA engineers, in coordination with other Army organizations, are leading an 18-month analysis initiated in June 2017 that will research, configure and test various solar panel and controller options for onboard vehicle battery charging of Army AGM battery configurations. The objective of the analysis is to identify requirements for a system that can cost-effectively charge, maintain, balance and restore Army TWV batteries. Research efforts to date have uncovered a number of products that appear to be suitable for the evaluation. The analysis will assess the various solar product configurations against a collection of new and discharged AGM batteries representing differing states of charge to determine if today’s solar panel products are able to maintain new batteries, remove sulfation from the battery plates that limits battery power capacity, and restore undercharged or dead batteries. AMSAA will study controllers for their ability to govern power distribution to banks of batteries and to operate in adverse weather conditions. The analysis also will consider panel size, flexibility and survivability in a variety of Army operating environments. The ultimate goal is to be able to produce requirements that the Army could adopt for a solar charger system that could be installed easily on fielded and future TWV platforms to extend vehicle battery life. Not even the weight of a forklift can damage some of today’s solar panel products. The solar panel industry studied past problems, noted lessons learned and applied them to today’s products; AMSAA engineers are now working to develop requirements for a solar-powered charger system to mount on the Army’s light tactical vehicles. (Photo courtesy of SOLARA) CONCLUSION Given the recent advances in solar technology, the time is right for the Army to consider the use of solar charging systems. By properly using efficient and robust solar charger systems, the Army will be able to maintain vehicle batteries within their low-usage TWV fleet so that they will not need to be replaced until their full expected lifetime of six to eight years. The current generation of solar products is considerably less expensive than those from just a few years ago. The Army stands to benefit greatly from that cost reduction, by identifying and implementing a cost-effective solution to solve a historically challenging maintenance concern. For more information on this and other AMSAA OSAT efforts, contact the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or go to https://osat.amsaa.army.mil. KEVIN GUITE is a lead operations research analyst for AMSAA at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He holds an M.S. in computer science from the University of Maryland Graduate School and a B.S. in computer science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He is Level III certified in engineering and Level I certified in program management. He has been a member of the Army Acquisition Corps since 2008. BRIAN FRYMIARE is a general engineer for AMSAA. He holds an M.S. in management from the Florida Institute of Technology and a B.S. in general engineering from Widener University. He is Level II certified in test and evaluation and in engineering. This article will be published in the January – March 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: JUST CAALL Technical Manuals That Work On The Right GTRAC The importance of keeping track
Sign me up, Coach!
by Joyce Junior Eighteen colleagues from the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) recently completed the first ever Coaching Pilot Program, offered by the Army Director of Career Management (DACM) Office and launched in June 2017. The participants were partnered with experienced and certified executive coaches and met regularly through the end of September. This pilot and talent management initiative is in accord with the AAW Human Capital Strategic Plan (HCSP), and participants included AAW members from the Army DACM Office, the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Soldier and the PEO for Enterprise Information Systems. The pilot included both group and individual sessions. Eighteen people participated in individual coaching and 15 participated in the three group coaching sessions. The three group coaching sessions focused on emotional intelligence, trust and the challenges of being a leader. The one-on-one individual coaching focused on meeting the participant “where they are” and assisting in the development of goals, strategies and personal action plans to meet their leadership objectives. At the end of the four-month coaching pilot, a survey was administered to all participants, with an 83 percent response rate. Results highlight the program’s positive impact: 100 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the outcomes of their coaching experience and believed their coach helped them “move the needle” on the leadership challenges that were addressed during coaching. 93 percent of the respondents felt they are more prepared to lead and manage having participated in the coaching program and that their organization will benefit from the results of their coaching experience. 93 percent of the respondents would like to see a leadership coaching program continue to be offered for the AAW. The pilot is being assessed by the Army DACM Office and the AAW HCSP Council for wider-scale implementation across the workforce. Leadership coaching complements other leader development programs offered to the AAW through the Army’s leader development opportunities and acquisition-specific career development opportunities. The proven benefits for coaching to leaders and organizations include increased employee engagement, increased performance, improved leadership skills, better teamwork and increased job satisfaction. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: A Ready Acquisition Workforce Career Navigator: A Plan for Achieving Certification Owning your battlespace No time to lose
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