From Concept to Delivery

By July 6, 2015September 4th, 2018Acquisition
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A Q&A with ARCIC’s MG Cedric T. Wins

Acquisition is all about requirements, and it’s the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) that is responsible for them—peering into the future through the lens of present-day circumstances to decide in what direction, and with which capabilities, the Army needs to go in order to continue being the best-equipped and best-trained force the world has ever known. But if requirements are the bricks of acquisition, then it’s the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), part of TRADOC, that provides the mortar by developing concepts and capabilities, evaluating proposed Army modernization solutions, and integrating these capabilities across the areas of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities.

MG Wins

MG Cedric T. Wins
Director, ARCIC Requirements Integration Directorate

That’s why Army AL&T magazine reached out to MG Cedric T. Wins, director of the ARCIC Requirements Integration Directorate. ARCIC has the job of figuring out what the Army needs to defeat future adversaries and how it needs to get from concept to capability to make that happen.

“Everything starts with requirements,” said Wins, who assumed his current position in May 2013. Before coming to ARCIC, he served as the deputy commander for police and the joint program executive officer for the Afghan Public Protection Force Advisory Group, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom.

During his 30 years of service, Wins has held command and staff assignments in field artillery units in the 7th Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 4th Infantry Division. Additionally, he has served in assignments with the HQDA and joint staffs. He holds an M.S. in management with a concentration in quantitative analysis from the Florida Institute of Technology, an M.S. in national security and strategic studies from the National War College, and a B.A. in economics from the Virginia Military Institute. He is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Operations Research Systems Analysis Military Applications Course.

We spoke with Wins during a June 5 interview that included the themes of discipline, collaboration and “the art of the possible.” Wins outlined the best way for the acquisition community to understand and execute the requirements that ARCIC articulates, and the mechanisms that ARCIC uses to support the acquisition community in interpreting them. One component of that is rehearsal of concept (ROC) drills—bringing together ARCIC, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and the G-8 and G-3 staffs at HQDA for a complete review of failed and successful programs to determine what mistakes were made, where they occurred and the role that policies and procedures played.

Wins also discussed the differences in developing requirements for materiel versus those for services and training, and the importance of involving the acquisition workforce in the requirements process, “to ensure that we have some of [the acquisition community’s] best and brightest come and spend a little time on the operational side.” Thus each side can learn from the other, and both can better understand how a decision made early in the requirements process affects the acquisition community later.

Wins noted the importance of ensuring continued modernization despite declining funds. He emphasized the need to be efficient and disciplined, saying that the Army has to figure out what it wants and how to deliver it, “because we can’t get everything.”

Army AL&T: Thanks for talking with us. A requirements-themed issue of Army AL&T magazine without ARCIC would be all uniform and no Soldier.

Wins: I appreciate the opportunity just to have a dialogue and talk to you all, and do what I can to answer some of your questions, to try to enlighten not only myself but perhaps some readers down the road. You know, having done this job over the last two years, it really has been an eye-opening and learning experience for me, particularly coming from the side of the Army that I was on previously, which has the responsibility to resource our requirements. So with that, I appreciate the opportunity. Hopefully, I can shed some light on some things based on what I’ve learned here over the last couple of years. And hopefully I can give you some answers that will be suitable.

Army AL&T: How can we, as the acquisition community, do the best job to understand and execute the requirements that the ARCIC articulates?

Wins: On all sides of the coin, we understand that everything starts with the requirement. That, then, leads to a discussion about how we resource it and then, of course, with the acquisition community doing the work that they need to deliver a material solution. It’s about delivery of systems—often material delivery of a system. And in that kind of triad, there are other folks integral in our ability to deliver capability as well—the test community, for example.

That type of work, building a capability from a requirement, probably only gets done best in a collaborative fashion. And so on our side, we’ve been trying to do some things to try to improve the requirement side of the process, and we have to work to continue to discipline ourselves on our requirements. We develop our requirements coming from learned experience from the operational community; also, from having dialogue and discussion with the acquisition community—the S&T [science and technology] side of the acquisition community to learn what’s possible—and then also with industry to gain a better understanding of what they’re doing that might provide solutions to our capability gaps.


COLLABORATION BLUEPRINT SSG Joshua Blake from the Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment briefs leaders of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) on the final day of the Soldier Innovation Workshop, held May 18-20 at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI. Soldiers collaborated with transportation design students from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies to develop ideas and designs that will inform the concept and requirements for future mobile protected firepower capabilities. Requirements don’t just specify how a system should be built and used; they can also be a blueprint for how government and other stakeholders will work together. (Photo by Jerome J. Aliotta, TARDEC)

But we still have to make sure we discipline ourselves in terms of how we write our requirements, discipline ourselves in terms of how we build our requirements. One key feature, as far as I’m concerned, is that as we build our requirements, we need to understand how much is enough to get us the capability we want. And [there may be] some areas where we say, “Hey, we’d like to stretch ourselves in terms of the capabilities we want to get. They [industry] are making some things that allow us to operate more effectively or that give us some additional key features in terms of lethality or mobility or some other type of ‘-ility.’ ” And then we have to be able to understand that those additional or enhancing things become tradable; otherwise our requirements will exceed our ability to pay for them.

So it’s collaboration, it’s discipline in the requirements, and then it’s making sure that we understand what’s most important, the must-have things to get a capability. And then we can say, “Hey, you know, if we get this it’s great, it will certainly give us added capability or enhance the capability.” But it’s also taking into account the fact of what can be designed, what can be developed, what can be done over time and what it’s going to cost you: That allows us to begin to think about scaling back to get to a more affordable solution.

So that’s in general terms how we go about getting that work done through collaboration. There are a couple of things that we have done in recent months, in this year, FY15, to just try to get the community as a whole to recognize. And one of the things we’re undergoing right now is a series of ROC drills—rehearsal of concept drills—going from capability development to materiel acquisition to delivery of systems.

And this has become a joint effort [involving] not only ARCIC but also the ASA(ALT) community with heavy participation from a lot of stakeholders, including the HQDA G-8 and G-3 folks. The ROC drill is intended to just walk us through the process from the requirements document to an approval, to the resourcing, to all the work that has to go on to define the real technical specification of what that requirement is, to make sure that we don’t overreach on those as well, and then get us to the materiel delivery.

We’ve already done one ROC drill on an existing capability. We wanted to really plow into something that we know that we’re going after, and we’d like to try to see if we can get to the right solution in an innovative way and see if we can get it more rapidly than the normal process typically allows.

But then we’d like to take ourselves through another series of ROC drills to perhaps look at a failed experience to see what were the lessons we were able to pick up and learn—one of our earlier efforts that didn’t yield the results that we wanted, that maybe got bogged down on the requirement side by writing them too rich, where, if we got what we described, it would exceed what we could afford. Maybe we got bogged down on the testing side because we couldn’t develop a system that could pass the test—because we over-prescribed the requirements, making it difficult to test—or maybe we got bogged down on the side of acquisition delivery because what we designed was not achievable because of technology, our inability to integrate the capabilities, etc.

And then lastly, take one program we know we had success with and look at it, and then bring out the best set of lessons learned and see how much of what we learned would require us to adjust our policies, our procedures on both sides, and within our AR 71-9 [“Warfighting Capabilities Determination”] or in making recommendations on the JCIDS [Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System] process or in the DOD 5000 [“Operation of the Defense Acquisition System”].

Army AL&T: In terms of the biggest change you’ve implemented in ARCIC to ensure that requirements are taken into account, has this ROC drill you’re describing been around before, or is this a new process that you’ve put in place?

Wins: We’ve done ROC drills before in ARCIC, but this is the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve done one focused on our requirements. This initiative is fairly new. But one of the things that we have done is, as we’ve gone through requirements, depending on where we’re going—where we are in a milestone decision—we had opportunities to bring together that same team and discuss making changes to the requirements: What changes need to be made? What’s in the art of the possible? What is causing us to have problems where we are coming up with unaffordable solutions?

And when we brought that team together and started having discussions, it was with the idea in mind of modifying the requirement. In doing so, we paid attention to the impact those changes would have on the overall timeline of delivery, be it for the requirements, the technical specifications necessary for the developmental systems or the system in production. We consider these changes as to how they would affect the resourcing and whether we’re pricing ourselves out of business if we’re not willing to be flexible in our requirements. We also considered how well we were applying the right measures in our requirements to get after something that could be tested and evaluated correctly.

A New Battlefield

A NEW BATTLEFIELD Soldiers from the 40th Special Troops Battalion prepare the Joint Network Node in preparation for a warfighter exercise. ARCIC has the job of figuring out how the Army can get from concept to capability to acquire what it needs to defeat future adversaries. (U.S. Army photo by MAJ Daniel Markert)

Army AL&T: In an article that Breaking Defense did about the Army changing how it does requirements, LTG H.R. McMaster, ARCIC director, said that the Army just did an initial capabilities document for mobile protective firepower. Some of the things you’re describing are milestones. Are you talking theoretically about a new system, or are you talking about looking at current systems and then picking and choosing and trying to apply those in the requirements for new capabilities—in other words, a better path to success?

Wins: It’s not just new requirements. It can in some cases be a requirement we’re making a modification to. The idea of the first ROC drill, as it turns out, focused on a new requirement. So we did one on a new combat platform we’re going after, which we believe is probably going to require development of an initial capabilities document. And so that was one we wanted to look at first. But we also want to go back and look at an example of where we were not successful or [had] a bad experience, and [also] one where we were very successful in delivering a capability.

I think we’re going to pick and choose ones we actually were successful at because we went from the requirement document all the way to the acquisition delivery. But it may turn out the requirements document for that successful developmental system didn’t start with an initial capabilities document. It’s kind of a little technical nuance, but the bottom line is, we’ll look at all of it in order to determine what our best practices were, but also where we might make changes to our internal or external processes.

Army AL&T: When ARCIC articulates a requirement, what’s the mechanism by which you ensure that the acquisition community is interpreting and executing it correctly? You put it out there, but what are the checks and balances as far as ARCIC is concerned?

Wins: For the requirements that get developed, first of all, it’s where they start. They start down in the centers of excellence within the CDID, the Capability Development Integration Directorate. And they typically have TCMs, TRADOC capability managers. Those TCMs should be very much in tune with, or very much committed to, collaborating and working with program managers [PMs] and product managers to properly understand and shape the requirements.

The idea is that as they’re writing the requirements and forming parameters and the attributes from the very beginning, they are having a constant dialogue about what’s in the art of the possible and what would amount to overreaching. They ought to be having a dialogue on what you can measure effectively or how it translates from a KPP, or key performance parameter, or KSA, a key system attribute, into the technical specifications that a PM will have to write, so that when he puts out the performance work statement to industry, they can say, “Oh, yeah, we understand exactly what it is that you’re looking for.”

So it starts at that basic level. The requirement gets written, but it still must be validated, and that is where ARICIC and my directorate become the first gate. And for that validation, my organization is that first line. But we don’t do that work in isolation either. We make sure that as a part of the collaboration we lead, we’re talking to HQDA from a resourcing perspective, we’re talking to HQDA in terms of overall Army priorities for modernization. And we’re talking to the ASA(ALT) people at the secretariat level to make sure that there is a common understanding of what we’re trying to get, when we’re trying to get it, and what the most essential and most important features are that we need in a system.

Army AL&T: As you describe it, it sounds like the capability portfolio review.

Wins: The capability portfolio reviews are a little different. What I’m really talking about is how we do things like participate in ASARC, the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council, configuration steering boards (CSBs) and requirements-to-resources forum (R2R) with the G-8, for example, where we discuss the status of requirements and how we ensure that the most important requirement documents can make it into the headquarters in time for a POM [program objective memorandum] deliberation. Because everything must run on that track, where at some point you’ve got to be able to match money to the requirement you need to deliver. So, for getting a validated requirement to resources, there is a General Officer Steering Committee to move Army requirements along.

Another vehicle that we use is what we call a JCIDS reconciliation, which is done in collaboration with the G3/5/7. It’s a similar approach to R2R, but it’s intended to make sure the Army requirements documents are also getting pushed through to the joint level when it’s needed.


SUM OF MANY REQUIREMENTS A training specialist, second from right, deployed from U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, observes Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment as they complete operator training on the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in January. CROWS can be mounted on more than 20 platforms and accommodate four different weapons, which means this system of systems is the result of a complex mélange of requirements for hardware, software, vehicles and more. (Photo by Summer Barkley, 401st Army Field Support Brigade)

Army AL&T: While a lot of acquisition focuses on materiel—the tank or the helicopter, for example—there’s also a lot of service and training embedded in the requirements to get the Soldiers up to speed or to create the test ranges and all the associated things. Do you take the same approach, or a different approach, to make sure that all those requirements are also attended to? Is there a new way of thinking about how we incorporate all those aspects into the process? It’s not just the weapon system in the end; it’s all these ancillary things that make it work. From a requirements perspective, do you take the same approach that you do with a weapon?

Wins: From a standpoint of determining how you build capability, the requirement for materiel, acquisition should be the last thing you look for, not the first. We have plenty of capability within the Army that we are able to provide to joint force commanders. But we build new capability when our existing set becomes obsolete, or when we see an opportunity to leverage advances in technology to expand our overmatch, or if that capability is insufficient to meet a need in a certain operational environment or versus a certain threat that has gained an advantage over us, thus limiting our ability to gain and maintain a decisive advantage.

That is what leads us to look across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities—DOTMLPF. But it is first looked at with an eye toward a small m. We first look within our existing capabilities to find out if there is a nonmaterial solution or one that can be solved with a modest improvement to our existing equipment. It’s sometimes possible there’s an organizational solution to solving a capability gap and it may not require the Army to go after a new material solution.

But having gone through that evaluation, if we determine that a material solution is required, then we begin the process of identifying the requirement and what other areas across DOTMLPF-P may need to be adjusted. And that’s when we have to work with the community across the board.

Often a new material solution requires us to look at different ways to train once that piece of equipment is fielded. If it’s a weapon system, we might need to modify our ranges, we may need to design additional ways to train and qualify crews on system-training aids and devices, or we may need to increase the size of our motor pools or bays to store, repair or perform services on that equipment.

So within TRADOC, we have to work with folks out in [the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center], we work with the centers of excellence, because they have the experts who can do doctrine writing. We have to work with the installation folks to understand how changes in requirements will need to consider those changes in our facilities. Organizationally, we work within my organization and we work with HQDA when changes to our requirements drive a need for changes in structure and our organizations, and so on and so forth.


NEW, MONEY-SAVING PROCESS Joseph Ward injects asphalt into a recovered projectile to cover the surface of the inert cement fill before loading the Insensitive Munition Explosive-101, which replaces TNT and Composition B and provides a more stable fill. Sometimes requirements focus on how to use cast-off parts in new ways. (Photo by Kevin Jackson, U.S. Army Materiel Command)

Army AL&T: Lastly, tell us what you think the Army Acquisition Workforce should know about requirements, their stake in how to do that right.

Wins: I have a number of service uniformed personnel who work in my organization who are part of the Army Acquisition Corps. And it doesn’t hurt to ensure that we have some of [the acquisition community’s] best and brightest come and spend a little time on the operational side, to make sure that we are learning from them and they are learning from us—what it means to have a requirement written in a certain way, what it means when we start talking about, “Hey, we want to go with a software solution,” or, “We think we need to go with an off-the-shelf solution.” We can work together to understand the actual impact our efforts have on you all [the acquisition community] once the requirement is approved, once the resources have been found and once you all have assigned it to a PM or product manager. I think that is pretty valuable.

I think that we need to continue to ensure that the education afforded to our acquisition officers and civilian corps, as well as our capability developers, remains current and informs both sides. We need to make sure there are sufficient blocks of instruction that cover both so that people, at least in a classroom settings, are being well educated so that when they get in the field, they can help us build what’s necessary for our force across the range of operations we are required to perform.

Army AL&T: Well, we’ll pass on your idea about a talent exchange to LTG Michael E. Williamson [Army director, acquisition career management]. But you’re right. If you don’t know what the other guy is doing, it’s hard to understand why they say what they do.

Wins: And I’m really talking about something that LTG Williamson and his folks have already been very good partners in. We recently had a very senior colonel with a great deal of acquisition experience working down in TRADOC, very much embedded in the work we’re doing as part of the Force 2025 effort. We had the opportunity to sit and discuss with him how this effort gets shaped appropriately, what we need to understand about when we can expect the delivery of capability, how you approach it best: Do you go after the whole thing, or do you kind of spiral it in or progressively build on the capability in order to not create significant cost problems for yourself? He was very valuable, and so the hope is that we’ll continue to do that. There’s a lot of good collaboration that’s going on at all levels.


REQUIREMENTS OVERREACH Well-considered and -developed requirements can lead to top-notch systems and programs. Requirements creep—taking a simple system and making it overly complex—can ultimately lead to systems that Soldiers simply cannot use. (Image by Rhett Stansbury, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)

Army AL&T: Sir, we greatly appreciate your time. Is there anything else you want to add?

Wins: In this day and age, when we know that the level of resourcing we received over the last 12 years—particularly the resourcing we received for combat operations—is being reduced so significantly, we’ve got to set ourselves up to ensure that continued modernization occurs for the force, and we’ve got to do it smartly and we’ve got to be efficient with it. We’ve got to be disciplined with it, and we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the right type of leadership oversight to make sure that, from start to finish we deliver on what it is that we’re saying are the most essential capabilities for the Army. You’re not going to be able to get everything, and at the end of the day, we’re really still interested in providing the best capability for the warfighter.

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