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.
USAASC director details new advanced degree programs
Mastering acquisition The DACM Office and the Naval Postgraduate School realign degree programs to boost technical education of civilians and officers. Earlier this year, I was in beautiful Monterey, California, to help put the final touches to a new effort for the Army Acquisition Workforce at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Starting this fall, the civilians that the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office sends to NPS will be pursuing an M.S. in systems and program management. Officers will pursue an M.S. in systems engineering management starting this summer. Previously, the professionals we sent to NPS were seeking an MBA. The new programs that we’re sending our students through—Curriculum 522 for officers and Curriculum 722 for civilians—will focus on getting them greater exposure and training across multiple career fields with added emphasis on critical thinking across domains; however, the curriculum has much of the same content as the previous master’s program. In addition to their master’s degree, civilians in a distance learning program will earn training equivalent to Level III Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training in program management and in engineering, Level II in test and evaluation and at least Level I in contracting. Any time you can get training and education simultaneously, you’ve got a greater opportunity to employ them in the experiential environment. Sailors approach Herrmann Hall. NPS’ new curricula in systems and program management and in systems engineering management for students from the Army Acquisition Workforce support its overall mission as well as the specific needs of Army acquisition professionals to understand the technical aspects of their jobs. (Photo courtesy of NPS) Eligible resident officers completing the 522 degree program also will obtain their Joint Professional Military Education and Level III training in program management, engineering and contracting, plus Level II training in test and evaluation. The impetus behind the change is Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski’s belief that if you want to be a great program manager or a great contracting officer, you have to thoroughly understand the technical acumen that’s needed for both parts of our business. If you’re running a program and haven’t been trained in contracting, when your contracting officer starts reeling off contracting jargon, you’re just going to agree to whatever they say and maybe not make the best choices for a program. And if you’re on the contracting side and you don’t have a solid understanding of engineering and program management, a contractor can overwhelm you with details and you might not make the best decisions for the government. The push for the change began with Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, Ostrowski’s predecessor as the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and director of the Army Acquisition Corps. This change is about exposing more of our professional workforce to greater technical education. The key word here is “technical.” We’re very confident that throughout their careers, our civilians and our officers have a variety of opportunities to get leadership and management training and experience. But technical training is probably the most difficult to achieve. And so we’re trying to focus a lot of our education programs, NPS being one of them, to increase the number of people that have a greater exposure to technical content. A key component in this change is NPS. The true power that NPS can provide, and needs to focus on providing in the future, is its operational relevance. When you get an MBA or an M.S. in systems and program management, an M.S. in systems engineering management or any other graduate degree from NPS, you should have been exposed to enough experienced operators to flavor it so that a lot of what you’re getting is real-world practical experience that you can apply to DOD. We can send anybody anywhere for a systems engineering degree or an MBA. There are great institutions all over the world. But there are very few accredited institutions that can provide real-world practical operational experience from practitioners who have walked in the shoes you will be walking in as an acquisition professional. The faculty understands the pitfalls that you will face. They’ve worked inside the DOD system. Very few schools of higher education and learning can offer that. That’s the power that NPS has, and that’s the focus it needs to maintain. The faculty’s operational relevance is what sets NPS apart and makes it unique. If NPS strays from that, then it’s forced to compete with every other college and university in America. If it loses track of that niche, NPS will be of less value to us as the sponsor of these programs. Craig A. Spisak, left, the Army DACM, and Professor John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.), NPS senior lecturer in systems acquisition management and technical representative for the new curricula, hold the memorandum of agreement signed by Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski and NPS President Ronald A. Route, Vice Adm., USN (Ret.), on May 18 at the Pentagon. The memorandum cements a partnership to provide relevant education to the Army’s military and civilian acquisition workforce. (Photo courtesy of John T. Dillard) We’ve had a longstanding relationship with NPS, and we look forward to continuing that through many, many years. NPS will face, as any college or university does, the difficulty of adjusting its curriculum to changing times. But the fact that NPS is a DOD institution allows it to translate our real-world needs into viable education programs. In the future we may have another emerging requirement for our students who go there to understand at the graduate level. And we will need to be able to transmit that requirement to NPS as the sponsor of the programs and have it adapt and adjust the curriculum in real time. We need that kind of responsiveness and partnership. They’re the professionals at educating people. We have to see the world today and into the future to determine what skill sets should be embedded in the NPS curriculum. The 411 on 522 and 722 at NPS Curriculum 522 Systems Engineering Management System Acquisition Audience: Army acquisition officers. Description: An interdisciplinary program combining systems engineering with acquisition management knowledge and skills. Intended to broaden the technical competence of officers with nontechnical backgrounds so that they can manage and lead acquisition programs for complex combat systems. Students learn the systems engineering process, from establishing system requirements through test and evaluation; and how to manage, schedule and budget programs and work with DOD suppliers through contracts to meet program obligations. Requirements: A baccalaureate degree with above-average grades is required. Completion of at least two semesters of college algebra or trigonometry is considered the minimum mathematical preparation. Program start dates: January and July. Program length: Six quarters. Training method: Resident. Degree: Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management. Certification training included: Joint Professional Military Education; Defense Acquisition University equivalencies for Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training for Level III in program management, Level III in engineering, Level III in contracting and Level II in test and evaluation. Curriculum 722 Systems Engineering Management Systems and Program Management Audience: Army acquisition civilians. Description: An interdisciplinary program combining systems engineering with program management knowledge and skills. Intended to broaden the technical capabilities of acquisition workforce members with nontechnical backgrounds so that they can successfully manage and lead programs or projects in support of the defense acquisition system. Students learn the systems engineering process, from establishing system requirements through test and evaluation; and how to manage, schedule and budget programs and work with DOD suppliers through contracts to meet program obligations. Requirements for entry: Candidates for the program must have a baccalaureate degree. This program is available only through the Army DACM Office. Program start date: September. Program length: Eight quarters. Training method: Distance learning. Degree: Master of Science in Systems and Program Management. Certification training included (for civilian students already Level II certified in program management): Defense Acquisition University equivalencies for Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training for Level III in program management, Level III in engineering, Level II in test and evaluation, Level II in production, quality and manufacturing, and Level I in contracting. This article will be published in the July – September 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: Advocate for Innovation Building A Better Mirror A different way of doing business Career Navigator: Where is the What?
‘Burn-Off’ brings Army RCO, SOCOM together to test PNT systems
RCO joins SOCOM in early assessments of new or emerging technology from defense industry, tech startups and academia. by Ms. Nancy Jones-Bonbrest On a rainy afternoon in March, technology developers gathered to show their latest position, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions. There were no traditional marketing brochures, trade show booths or giveaway trinkets. Instead, these developers—from big industry, tech startups and academia alike—were there to demonstrate emerging capabilities and get feedback directly from the operators who may one day use the technology on the battlefield if their GPS is ever jammed, tricked or dropped. To carry out the event, organizers found a former Indiana state hospital, now a National Guard base with a 1,000-acre urban training complex that developers could use to assess their PNT technologies. They trekked through concrete subterranean tunnels, filled with several inches of water, weaving for 1.5 miles under structures that were both abandoned and still in use. They drove across rocky terrain, on paved roads with traffic circles and overpasses, and through mock villages. They navigated their way on foot through an old prison complex, a collapsed parking garage and a five-story hospital. A variety of scenarios brought the technology to life, providing the next step in assessing it beyond a PowerPoint presentation or white paper. Dubbed a technical experimentation, this event was one of several that occur throughout the year to rapidly assess the technical maturity and possible use of new or emerging technology based on specifically identified areas of need. While technical experimentations are business as usual and have been for more than a decade at the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), for the Army it marked a pivotal first, with its Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) leveraging the event to lead the PNT excursion. This is just one of many avenues the Army is looking at through the eyes of SOCOM to gain insight into streamlining acquisition processes. (For more on the SOCOM acquisition model, see “Aggressive. Innovative. Fast.”) “The Army participated in these events in the past as assessors or evaluators, but this is the first that we know of where we were able to lead a portion of the event, in this case PNT,” said Rob Monto, director of RCO’s Emerging Technologies Office. “SOCOM took a leap of faith and partnered with us because it was a technology they were interested in as well. So it set up this unique collaboration that was beneficial for both, and we hope will lead to future joint efforts.” Among the more than 200 buildings, abandoned cars and rubble that make up the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Indiana, the Army RCO led the PNT portion of SOCOM’s Technical Experimentation 18-2, which took place March 26-29. While the RCO evaluated PNT technologies, the SOCOM event was much larger, evaluating such things as optics, biometrics, advanced sniper rifles and cognitive enhancement as well. The technical experimentations bring together the users, the program offices and the technology developers to evaluate promising new capabilities in a flexible, unclassified, operational environment. These events, which SOCOM holds a few times each year, allow for detailed user feedback and discovery of new or emerging technologies while also promoting information exchange and risk reduction. “I talk about this three-legged stool, where, if you don’t have all three players involved, you’re going to have some level of disappointment,” said Dan Bernard, the SOCOM acquisition, technology and logistics lead for the technical experimentations. “The technology developers are essentially showing their kit to the user and the program offices at the same time. We’re looking at early development. It does no good to do this with finished products. That’s just shopping.” Mounted special operators drive through a village center at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex during the SOCOM-led technical experimentation event in March. The Army RCO was a partner in the event, assessing PNT technologies that operate in a GPS-denied environment. Nine technology developers participated in the PNT assessment with capabilities for both mounted and dismounted Soldiers. ‘LOW THRESHOLD OF ENTRY’ Falling under the Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Center, the technical experimentation events take place at military sites across the country. They focus on various technology areas of need, identified by the SOCOM service components and program offices. Having identified a need, SOCOM posts a request for information (RFI) for the experimentation event on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Anyone interested in participating simply responds to the RFI. After the event, the participating companies receive detailed assessments of how their technologies performed. “We treat everyone like they are our customers and we want everybody to go home satisfied, feeling like they got something out of it,” said Bernard. “We’re doing this early in the development process. So if there’s a company pursuing a technology and they get this sound bite from an operator—that can really help to shape their thinking. “Feedback could be, ‘It needs to be lighter,’ or, ‘This is great, but if I have to carry that, then something has to come out of my rucksack,’” he explained. “That’s news to a lot of people. If you are a tech developer, you’re thinking, ‘This is a cool thing, and I don’t understand why they don’t want to carry it.’ But they have to understand that it is going to have to be good enough to replace something [Soldiers] are already carrying.” This feedback, combined with the three-pronged approach of having the program offices, users and developers working together in one place at the same time, is what attracted the Army RCO to participate, Monto said. “This is a low threshold of entry, where you have very small tech companies standing shoulder to shoulder with traditional defense companies, and you can assess the technology in an operational environment with the actual users,” he said. “Being able to participate in this SOCOM-led event meant the Army could determine if the capabilities were tangible now, while also giving us a better understanding of what technologies are out there.” The SOCOM technical experimentation provided the ideal venue to host an initial RCO “burn-off” event. Both the SOCOM event and RCO burn-offs emphasize the value of bringing together commercial capabilities or emerging technologies in an operational demonstration to size them up against a set of criteria with a very low barrier to entry and without the pressure of a formal test. By being able to use the SOCOM event, the RCO can better prepare for its first solo burn-off, expected later this year. Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex in Butlerville, Indiana, offers an urban environment complete with more than 200 structures, subterranean tunnels, downed aircraft, a church and a bus station, among other useful features. The site served as the location for a SOCOM technical experimentation event March 26-29 in which the Army RCO led an assessment of new technologies to keep warfighters mobile and safe in environments where GPS doesn’t work. (U.S. Army photos by Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Army RCO) ‘DOES SOMEBODY … WANT TO USE IT?’ Technologies demonstrated during the PNT portion of the technical experimentation included radio-frequency range finding, atomic clock systems and inertial navigation unit technology. Each presented innovative ways to overcome jamming, which occurs when an adversary overpowers signals from GPS satellites so that receivers in certain areas cannot operate, and spoofing, or tricking a GPS receiver into calculating a false position. In the driving rain at Muscatatuck, mounted operators attempted to keep their vehicles on course without GPS while moving through various scenarios and settings. The different scenarios helped the Army measure technology performance and run comparisons, since one solution might do well driving around a planned course but drop in performance on a rough patch of road or an unplanned detour. Similarly, while a dismounted system could perform well for Soldiers climbing the stairs of a parking garage, it might not do as well within an enclosed concrete tunnel. Yet for a Soldier using the technology, all situations are relevant. To track the results, the RCO provided a GPS logger that recorded the ground-truth data to compare against the log files of the demonstrated systems. Additionally, they took distance and location measurements for the buildings and tunnels where GPS was not available. In all, nine developers participated in the PNT portion of the technical experimentation at Muscatatuck. They demonstrated technology that included, for example, a mounted device with a PNT-reliant system that can operate despite GPS disruption by using inertial measurement units and precision timing technology. The device combines PNT functions typically achieved through multiple independent systems. Another company demonstrated a dismounted system that uses an inertial navigation unit that users wear on the foot. It communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth and uses robust algorithms to communicate during failures and dropouts. A third showed how three antennas prepositioned on the rooftops of nearby buildings provided triangulation to enable radio-frequency ranging for both mounted and dismounted operators. The Georgia Tech Research Institute assisted in developing the various demonstration plans and provided quantitative analysis of the data collected. “At an event like this, you get two things. On one side, you get the quantitative analysis that we are doing, and that answers, does this system really work? Does it actually provide position with some reasonable amount of accuracy?” said James Perkins, principal research scientist with the institute. “But I think the other side you get is the operational side: So, does somebody who is a boots-on-the-ground Soldier actually want to use it? Seeing the operational perspective and seeing what real operators think about a system is important early in the development.” Having navigated to the top of a partially collapsed parking garage, an operator uses a dismounted device to check position and time. The scenarios for those demonstrating dismounted systems also incorporated a subterranean tunnel and multilevel jail. The technologies for dismounted service members included one that uses an inertial navigation unit worn on the foot and communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth. CONCLUSION As the RCO uses different burn-off events throughout the year to determine if a new technology can be used to meet a specific need, it has gained important experience from the Muscatatuck event and anticipates partnering again with SOCOM. For industry, the burn-offs provide a chance to showcase capabilities and receive formal and informal feedback. For the Army, they yield a greater awareness of what promising new technology is available now and how it performs under different conditions. The PNT project manager and the Army Futures Command’s cross-functional team also participated at Muscatatuck to facilitate potential future capability efforts, which can help build unity of effort to enable faster, more streamlined modernization efforts. “Bringing the Soldier and developer together early on allows the Army to speed up the requirement development process,” said Benjamin Pinx, product director in the Emerging Capabilities Office of the Project Manager for PNT. “During this particular event, we received immediate feedback from our dismounted operators and learned a lot. What we learn in these early experiments will influence how the Army continues to modernize the force and enable faster development and fielding of enhanced PNT capabilities for Army platforms and the Soldier.” “This event allowed vendors to demonstrate both dismounted and mounted PNT capabilities our warfighters need today to fight and win against near-peer threats in an electromagnetic-warfare contested environment,” said Lt. Col. Brian Mack, the emerging technologies coordinator for the Army network cross-functional team. “Equally as important, it demonstrated a commitment of Army modernization change agents like the Rapid Capabilities Office, the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team and the Army’s Position, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team to come together, collaborate, team and solve some of our most challenging capability gaps facing the warfighter.” For more information on the technical experimentation events, go to http://www.socom.mil/sof-atl/pages/technical-experimentation.aspx. For more information on the Army RCO or its Emerging Technologies Office, go to http://rapidcapabilitiesoffice.army.mil/ or http://rapidcapabilitiesoffice.army.mil/eto/. NANCY JONES-BONBREST is a staff writer for Data Systems Analysts Inc., providing contract support to the Army Rapid Capabilities Office. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has covered Army modernization for several years, including multiple training and testing events. This article will be published in the July – September 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: Strengths and myths of what makes special operations forces acquisition special Solidifying the base Been There, Done That: Acquisition Reform The heat is on: Burn-offs move ideas to the field for assessment
Faces of the Force: How important relationships are to building a successful career
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology POSITION AND OFFICIAL TITLE: Department of the Army system coordinator YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 13 YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 12.5 DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in program management and Level I in engineering EDUCATION: M.S. in engineering management, Missouri University of Science and Technology; master’s certificate in program management, Villanova University; B.S. in mechanical engineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Project Management Professional AWARDS: Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service; Army Meritorious Service Medal (3); Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal; Field Artillery Honorable Order of St. Barbara; NATO and Kosovo Ribbons for Operation Joint Guardian; Federal Executive Board Excellence in Federal Career Bronze Award for Outstanding Para-Professional (Non-Supervisory) Technical, Scientific and Program Support – Team by Ms. Susan L. Follett You can think of Anthony Taylor’s 12-plus years on active duty almost like noise-canceling headphones: The experience he gained helps him identify and eliminate the chatter that often drowns out the more important information. Taylor is a DA system coordinator (DASC), supporting the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and serving as primary acquisition staff officer for several programs of record, including Excalibur, the Gator Landmine Replacement Program, the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program’s Home Station Mission Command Center initiative, Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care and the Reserve Component Automation System. As a DASC, Taylor advises ASA(ALT) senior leaders on the oversight, management and execution of the programs he’s assigned to, serving as the focal point for the justification and defense of programs before the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress. “Along with the program offices, DASCs ensure that warfighter capabilities are provided in accordance with baselined cost, schedule and technical performance parameters,” he said. “As a former Soldier, my greatest satisfaction is knowing that Soldiers in the field receive quality products that enable them to win.” Taylor, who served in the Army for 12 1/2 years, leans on his military training as a critical thinker and problem solver. “When things get hectic, it’s important to sift through the noise to find the real issue, address it and move on to the next issue,” he said. “In the military, leaders are often put in chaotic situations and we must isolate the issues from the chaos—by that, I mean break down a problem as simply as possible and then resolve it. Anything that does not directly relate to the problem is just noise.” He added, “As a DASC, the pressure is on me to be the acquisition expert in the room. We have to distill issues from a program manager’s perspective and nest them within the ‘Big Army’s’ mission. To do that effectively, we must sift through the noise and ensure that the crux of the issue is presented to leadership so that sound decisions that help the warfighter can be made.” Taylor was commissioned in May 1998 as a field artillery officer. “My high school guidance counselor introduced me to a recruiter—I just happened to be in the library researching an engineering project and the Army ROTC recruiter was there giving a presentation. He convinced me to apply for a four-year ROTC scholarship. I had less than 24 hours before the deadline. ‘Being in the right place at the right time’ sounds cliché, but that’s how it all worked out.” It’s a recurring theme for Taylor: He got his start in acquisition by attending a change of command ceremony for a fellow company commander, where he met a newly assigned acquisition officer. “He told me that if I wanted to make a difference in the quality, functionality and type of equipment provided to Soldiers and put my engineering degrees to use, the acquisition career field was a good fit.” His first acquisition position was in 2005 with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Army Capabilities Integration Center, where he served as a combat developer. “I found the fact that I could influence the design, development and procurement of the very equipment I used as a field artillery officer appealing,” said Taylor. “So if the equipment didn’t work, I was at the forefront of the effort to ensure that didn’t happen again.” In March 2018, he completed the Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF), a three-year developmental program that provides members of the Army Acquisition Workforce with expanded training through educational, leader development and broadening assignments. Similar to his decision to join Army ROTC, Taylor had just 24 hours to apply for the program once he heard about it. Despite his last-minute start in the program, he has plenty of good things to say about his participation. “The CDG program came along at the right time in my career to broaden my experience, and the ASA(ALT) rotation allowed me to meet a host of people from different backgrounds. It taught me that networking and timing are crucial to one’s success in the government. Exposure to the people I met through CDG expanded my network and helped me realize how important relationships are to building a successful career.” That networking has become extremely valuable as he works through what he sees as “cultural differences” in how acquisition gets done. “Occasionally I encounter people who aren’t aware of what I have to offer because they don’t know about my combat arms background or they think I’m not as experienced in acquisition as I am,” he said. “But once the people I’m working with learn about my background, they’re interested in the different perspectives I can bring to a project. In one rotation with a contracting shop, for example, the people in that organization realized I had program management experience, and asked for my insight on approaching a particular issue.” He hopes more people take advantage of the CDG/AAF, either through participating or through working with program participants. “I encountered a lot of people who hadn’t heard of the program. I would think agencies would jump at the opportunity to develop aspiring acquisition professionals through rotational opportunities at no cost to the organization.” Related Links: Faces of the Force “Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-664-5635. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: What kind of innovation do you want? Divest and prosper It’s all in the delivery SHARED VISION
PEO Ammunition, ARDEC and the Army Rapid Capabilities Office come together at Picatinny Arsenal
Long range, short term PEO Ammunition, ARDEC and the Army Rapid Capabilities Office come together at Picatinny Arsenal with near-term plans for improving long-range precision fires. by Capt. Steve Draheim and Maj. Paul Santamaria Of the Army’s “big six” priorities driving its new modernization strategy, long-range precision fires is at the top of the list. The ability to execute accurate strikes at significant distances is critical to ground operations in any theater, against any adversary—especially a near-peer threat that can restrict U.S. maneuver through anti-access and area denial systems and techniques. Now, the experts at Picatinny Arsenal, known as the Army’s Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition, and the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), which is the service’s acquisition shop for quickly addressing critical capability gaps, have joined forces to deliver a suite of technologies that can extend the range of cannon artillery and are mature enough for a system-level assessment in less than three years. This effort, termed the long-range cannon project, focuses on a specific subset of fires capability and is complementary to the broader initiatives pursued by the new long-range precision fires cross-functional team. The project’s objective is to assess long-range cannon capability by rapidly prototyping and equipping an artillery battery with the M777 Extended Range (M777ER) howitzer, a new projectile tracking system, survey device and rocket-assisted projectile in under three years. If successful, the long-range cannon will nearly double the range of cannon artillery for the Army and Marine Corps, thus providing an interim solution that bridges a critical capability gap while informing the development of future long-range precision fires systems. RAPID ALIGNMENT The RCO is a key participant in the long-range cannon effort. The RCO executes rapid prototyping and acquisition to deliver urgently needed capabilities to the field, bridging strategic gaps against rapidly modernizing adversaries. Since its founding in August 2016, the RCO had focused primarily on expediting electronic warfare and position, navigation and timing systems to address operational needs. However, in February 2018, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley elected to prioritize long-range cannon among all RCO efforts. The Project Manager for Towed Artillery Systems (PM TAS), part of the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Ammunition, and the Army and Marine Corps center of excellence for cannon artillery took on the lead integrator role for the long-range cannon project, with RCO providing oversight. This organizational model may carry over to similar efforts in the future, especially as the RCO branches out beyond its initial focus areas to take on projects of increasing scope. A towed radar similar to what the future Projectile Tracking System radar might look like. The long-range cannon team is reusing this system developed for a now-discontinued artillery project. The tracking system follows projectiles in flight to predict where the rounds will hit, allowing Soldiers to make corrections for subsequent shots. (Photo courtesy of the authors) MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS The mature products that the RCO is interested in adapting, accelerating and fielding vary as to their position in the acquisition life cycle. Some are poised to become programs of record in their own right, while others exist only as science and technology demonstrator projects. This spectrum of capability is reflected in the components of the long-range cannon project. PM TAS manages the M777A2 howitzer, a combat-proven artillery system in use by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Australian and Canadian militaries. Through a close-knit partnership with U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) engineers at Picatinny Arsenal and Benét Laboratories in Watervliet, New York, the PM TAS team developed an extended-range variant, the M777ER, which has only five major components requiring modification. The cost to retrofit an M777 is comparable to that of a standard depot reset, and the weight increase is minor. With few changes to the howitzer’s operation, it offers the warfighter enhanced lethality at a cost the Army can afford. The Projectile Tracking System Radar began in ARDEC as an element of the now-defunct Crusader and Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon projects. It provides enhanced accuracy and new capabilities for artillery. By tracking projectiles in flight, it predicts an impact point, allowing the fire control system to make corrections for subsequent shots. Circular error probable, an inverse measure of artillery accuracy, decreases substantially. The Projectile Tracking System can also communicate with a round in flight. The Location and Azimuth Determining System (LADS) program serves as a single survey device replacement for two systems: the Improved Position and Azimuth Determining System and the Gun Laying and Position System. Already under development, the LADS will enable survey teams to register more accurate survey control points in a smaller form factor. Soldiers and Marines can use the man-portable LADS in a wider variety of conditions than the vehicle-based Improved Position and Azimuth Determining System. Another program in advanced stages of development before its inclusion in the long-range cannon project is the XM1113 rocket-assisted projectile. As a replacement for the M549A1 rocket-assisted projectile round in inventory today, the new projectile can be fuzed with a Precision Guidance Kit for improved accuracy. The XM1113 will provide a range increase in this class of projectiles with legacy artillery systems and offer an even greater capability with the M777ER armament. The PM for Combat Ammunition Systems is taking the lead on the XM1113, making it an integral part of the projectile and propellant work on the long-range cannon project. The RCO developed the idea to integrate these capabilities, some already with a distinct strategy or funded by another source, into the overarching project. This integration will provide not only the basis for an operational assessment but also the potential to assess other cross-functional team initiatives related to extended-range cannon artillery, thereby reducing risk for the cross-functional team. In the case of the M777ER howitzer, the long-range cannon project is the primary focus, but the operational assessment will add value for the other products by generating additional feedback on their individual capabilities. The M777A2 and M777ER side by side at a test site. Retrofitting an M777A2 howitzer into an M777ER—the “ER” stands for extended range—only requires changing five components, which add little additional weight or cost. The long-range cannon project team is evaluating whether equipping artillery batteries with the extended-range howitzer plus new radar and tracking systems can increase their firepower while the Army develops more significant modernization solutions for long-range precision fires. (Photo courtesy of the authors) STREAMLINED STRATEGY The project and its emerging organization benefit from the relationships that PM TAS and the Picatinny Arsenal team already have with industry partners and the government arsenals. Today’s acquisition reform efforts seek to mitigate the sources of program delays, including contracting lead times and challenges in beginning new relationships with vendors. The initial long-range cannon acquisition strategy avoids these pitfalls through a combination of innovative acquisition strategies and government prototyping capability. Government arsenals—including those in Rock Island, Illinois, and Watervliet—will manufacture several M777ER components. Final integration will leverage government-operated facilities. The arsenals and depots offer funding flexibility, enabling program managers to re-prioritize resources faster than in a commercial contracting environment. Additionally, existing contracting vehicles will provide an efficient means to execute delivery orders for prototype components. Rapid prototyping and procurement of usable equipment for the operational assessment may also employ other transaction authority (OTA) agreements. One OTA-focused organization, the Department of Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC), originated at Picatinny Arsenal as a partnership between DOD and the National Armaments Consortium. Operating outside of typical Federal Acquisition Regulation norms, DOTC contracts use a faster single-point contracting process for prototyping and research and development. The long-range cannon project’s schedule fits between the acquisition of commercial off-the-shelf items in under a year and traditional program schedules, as law and regulation still dictate numerous requirements before a materiel release. The planned operational assessment will address many of these requirements. The project team continues to plan the scope and details of the operational assessment. The assessment will be warfighter-focused but will include evaluation tasks typical of an urgent materiel release. It will try to answer a fundamental question: Will the long-range cannon system, first envisioned sitting around a table at Picatinny Arsenal, meet the urgent needs of combatant commanders? The RCO is focused on operational engineering, the gist of which is that allowing Soldiers to interact with the system under development sooner in its life cycle will get the system to technical maturity more efficiently. Instead of delivering the final product, only to find that users are dissatisfied, operational engineering seeks user feedback early and often. In line with this focus, the assessment will look not only at the materiel solutions offered but also at how operators employ them in the field. The user is the best evaluator. The event also will offer the field artillery community an opportunity to learn how its force structure and doctrine could adapt to the new capability. As the Army’s enhanced long-range precision fires capabilities continue to emerge, this interim long-range cannon system may illuminate challenges and offer solutions for the way in which forward observers communicate with artillery firing batteries. Questions include: How does this new capability affect maneuver force planning? How must the architecture of cannon-delivered indirect fires and the fire direction center adapt to the ability to shoot farther? The long-range cannon project is working to give artillery batteries longer range and the ability to communicate with rounds in flight and track their accuracy in less than three years. This gives the Army better range while the Futures Command and modernization cross-functional teams choose and field a more lasting solution to the long-range precision fires puzzle. (Graphic courtesy of the authors) CONCLUSION Before the Army delivers the major long-range precision fires systems under development, the long-range cannon project offers this interim solution to help the operating forces prepare to face near-peer threats. The project’s innovative technical and organizational approach and the teaming across distinct organizations will provide flexibility and valuable feedback to stakeholders. The rapid development and integration of this affordable system offers Soldiers and Marines a powerful tool as they stand ready against our adversaries. CAPT. STEVE DRAHEIM serves as the M777 assistant product manager for PEO Ammunition’s PM TAS at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. He is pursuing an M.A. in procurement and acquisition management and holds a B.S. in kinesiology from the College of William & Mary. He is Level I certified in program management. MAJ. PAUL SANTAMARIA serves as the deputy director of acquisition for the Army RCO at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He holds an MBA in systems acquisition management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a BBA in management information systems from Loyola University Maryland. He is Level III certified in program management and is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps. This article will be published in the July – September 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: Col. Michael Thurston, Project Manager for Mission Command, lays out the essentials Solidifying the base Area Denial Network Marketplace: Open for Business and Growing
Innovation in the Army needs to come from the top down and the ground up
Culture as an offset Innovation in the Army needs to come from the top down and the ground up, and Soldiers at all levels need freedom, time and equipment to make it happen. by Col. John P. Cogbill Maintaining overmatch against any and all potential adversaries—known as an offset strategy—places a premium on new, potentially disruptive technologies. However, technology alone will not maintain the offset. An effective and enduring offset will require a culture of innovation that enables critical thinking and the application of the myriad emerging military and commercial technologies to address the full spectrum of national security challenges that exist in an increasingly hostile and complex world. In these times, the Army has an opportunity to look to Silicon Valley—where startups vie for position in a do-or-die environment—not just for emerging technologies, but for the organizational culture of innovation that allows entrepreneurs to flourish and ideas to become realities. WHAT IS INNOVATION? Innovation is a critical component of the offset strategy, but the word is used so often today that it risks losing meaning. The U.S. Army Operating Concept, published by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), defines innovation as “the result of critical and creative thinking” and “the conversion of new ideas into valued outcomes.” Innovation can be incremental and continuous, as an adaptation of an existing idea or technology; or it can be, as serial entrepreneur Steve Blank labeled it, disruptive in a way that turns the status quo on its head and creates a new paradigm in a market or field of study. Col. John Cogbill conducts physical training with Brig. Gen. K. Todd Royar, the 101st Airborne Division Deputy Commanding General, Support, and officers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding). WHY INNOVATION MATTERS Historically, the culture inside the Army was the antithesis of the creative, collaborative, meritocratic and risk-taking culture of Silicon Valley startups. Creativity is essential to achieving a culture of innovation. In the past, the Army has not placed a premium on creativity, nor has it created an environment for it to thrive. According to Milan Vego, a professor of operations at the U.S. Naval War College, the main impediments to military creativity are the “military’s inherent hierarchical command structure—and authoritarian and bureaucratized system—and its thinking, which is exemplified by conformity, group-think, parochialism, dogmatism, intolerance, and anti-intellectualism.” Although the Army previously had creative leaders or episodic moments of tactical, operational or strategic brilliance, it will not be able to bring those discrete moments of creative genius to scale in a way that will allow the Army to guarantee U.S. competitive advantage on future battlefields unless it can address the obstacles that inhibit a culture of innovation. CORPORATE ENTREPRENEURSHIP MODELS Just as the Army Operating Concept addresses strategic, operational and tactical levels of war, so, too, must the models for creating a culture of innovation in the Army. The Army is not a monolithic institution, and a standardized solution to organizational culture challenges will not work. Different models for cultural change exist for organizations of varying size, specialization and scope. Col. John Cogbill pins the coveted Air Assault Badge on Capt. John Bergman, from 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. Capt. John Bergman was the Honor Graduate and Ruck March Champion of his Air Assault School Class, on Fort Campbell, KY. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding – taken April 10, 2018). STRATEGIC LEVEL In many organizations, change starts at the top. It most certainly cannot survive without the promotion, and protection, of top management. At the strategic level, the Army can set the tone and create conditions to inspire innovation throughout the rest of the organization. That said, senior Army leaders must avoid efforts to control the pace or direction of innovation within this complex and uncertain operating environment. Just as governments have learned the power of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” in coordinating economic activity in free markets and the perils of command-and-control economies, the Army should take a similar approach in creating conditions for innovation by allowing individuals to maximize their utility, or that of their teams, by having the freedom to make decisions in a market that is both informed and unrestrained. To successfully use this enabler model, senior management must clearly state the corporate entrepreneurial objective. As stated in the Army Operating Concept, the objective for the Army is to create a culture of innovation that “drives the development of new tools or methods that permit Army forces to anticipate future demands, stay ahead of determined enemies, and accomplish the mission.” With that objective in mind, the Army must capitalize on innovative initiatives within subordinate units and reinforce success until innovative excellence becomes a hallmark throughout the Army at all levels. Strategic Action Plan: Incentivize. During the past decade, there has been a modest increase in the number of thought-provoking and creativity-inspiring broadening opportunities within institutional (non-U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM)) Army organizations. However, these opportunities are often not pursued by the Army’s top performers because of the high opportunity costs associated with time away from “muddy boots” assignments. According to the “Fashion Tips for the Field Grade” study by Dr. Leonard Wong of the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, the percentage of officers selected for brigadier general who had also attended full-time graduate school dropped from 31 percent in 1995 to 8 percent in 2005. Until education and broadening assignments demonstrate real and visible advantages for career progression, and are valued as reinforcing or supplementing time spent in tactical units, the Army will have a hard time attracting the most talented service members to these programs. Educate. TRADOC can advance an entrepreneurial culture by adding Lean Startup techniques and Army Design Methodology—an effort focused on improving the critical and creative thinking abilities of leaders and teams to understand and solve problems—to the current professional military education curriculum for all ranks. Internalizing these techniques helps minimize the need for bureaucratic controls, destroy barriers between compartmented hierarchies, and connect senior managers with consumers and customers to accurately identify problems and rapidly develop innovative solutions through an iterative process of experimentation and validated learning. This foundational education should be coupled with a purposeful increase in opportunities for Advanced Civil Schooling and Training with Industry for officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs), to maximize the military’s exposure to a diversity of ideas while simultaneously increasing opportunities to better connect society to an all-volunteer Army that’s increasingly isolated from it. To permanently affect the Army culture, the same educational opportunities and training events must be afforded to the Army civilian workforce, those long-term civil servants who provide continuity, institutional memory—and sometimes inertia—within the institutional Army. Proliferate. TRADOC must create a digital forum to share ideas among communities of interest, to create synergistic effects between Soldiers, units and installations and to eliminate redundancy of effort. TRADOC has created military “wiki-like” websites to increase shared consciousness through online Army Warfighting Challenges discussion groups. However, most Soldiers outside TRADOC do not know these sites exist and will never access these forums. Idea-sharing portals must become marketplaces for ideas, reinforced with senior leader participation, that showcase innovative solutions to capability shortfalls. OPERATIONAL LEVEL Creating cultural change at the operational level requires a slightly different approach. Brigades, divisions and corps serve as the hierarchical connection between strategic guidance and the day-to-day business of manning, equipping and training tactical units. As the name implies, leaders at this level are intensely focused on operational matters and do not have the luxury of focusing exclusively on innovation, nor can they create new organizations or funding sources to pursue internal innovation initiatives. In his book “Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World,” author John P. Kotter advocates for a dual-operating system comprising diffuse networks working in a symbiotic relationship with the traditional management hierarchies. These networks are staffed with volunteers from existing business divisions (the Army equivalents to battalions, brigades and divisions), and are charged with finding innovative solutions to the organization’s most challenging problems. This approach allows traditional hierarchy elements to remain unencumbered in managing routine operations in the most efficient manner. These ad hoc, agile networks are grass-roots movements, manned with true believers rallying around a guiding coalition that has articulated a sense of urgency, actively seeking innovative opportunities—even while circumventing institutional barriers—to achieve quick wins. The deliberate accumulation of these victories eventually builds momentum toward the long-term innovation objective and leads to the desired institutional change without undermining or threatening management hierarchies. Operational Action Plan: Resource. A common complaint among Soldiers and leaders is the tyranny of the training schedule. Acknowledging the importance of setting aside time to think, Google implemented a policy that encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time at work on a personal project about which they feel passionate. This protected time has led the company toward new technologies and new markets that the senior managers would have never anticipated. The Army should adopt a similar approach. “Thinking Thursdays” would be the new take on “Sergeant’s Time,” providing small unit leaders the flexibility to work on their most important problems or develop solutions to battalion, brigade or division priorities. The opportunity to prototype and experiment should be further developed by setting aside resources for this purpose. Brigades might establish collaboration spaces, complete with dry erase boards, post-it notes, movable furniture, computer workstations and basic prototyping materials, to encourage teams to experiment and display ideas and innovations. Installations could build fabrication laboratories, including 3D printers and basic machining equipment, where Soldiers might build more advanced prototypes to take to the field to test. Challenge. Division commanders should challenge units to enter their most innovative ideas in installation-level competitions (or hackathons) to crowdsource ideas and develop rapid prototypes to solve challenging problems. Winners of corps-level innovation challenges could present their ideas during quarterly competitive symposiums involving entrepreneurs and academics from surrounding communities. This interaction would give credibility to the process, raise industry awareness of important DOD problems, and give Soldiers valuable experience communicating their ideas and skill sets to civilians who might later be future employers. Experiment. The Army can increase its capacity for testing and experimentation by welcoming (or directing) new experiments by FORSCOM units at the battalion or brigade level. TRADOC should leverage the agility of brigade combat teams and divisions, incorporating them into the experimentation enterprise. This expansion would drastically increase the Army’s experimentation capacity and have the added benefit of making operational headquarters the champions of the new capabilities instead of program managers and requirements writers. Using FORSCOM units to experiment, instead of TRADOC units whose sole purpose is conducting testing and experimentation, will result in better user feedback because the interests of the unit are more aligned with the programs or concepts being tested. Reward. Innovation is primarily a human endeavor. Leaders, especially at the operational level, must reward innovation in their formations. Commanders can offer coins, certificates, time off based on performance, or public recognition in formations to Soldiers who make meaningful contributions during “Thinking Thursdays” and competitive innovation challenges. Soldiers who see the fruits of their labor will recognize the importance of contributing to the innovation process and be more likely to proactively participate in the process. Col. John Cogbill and Jeff Monken, the coach of the Army ‘Black Knights’ football team, talk with Rakkasan leaders at the BUSHIDO training event about leadership, teamwork, and winning in the face of adversity. The BUSHIDO training event was conducted at Camp Buckner and the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and served as an innovative training exercise to build readiness and resilience throughout all of 3rd BCT’s Command Teams. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding – taken on April 17, 2018). TACTICAL LEVEL Creating a culture of innovation must also happen at the tactical level. Innovation is not the exclusive purview of general staffs or the Army’s officer corps. Too often, the Army isolates creativity and deep thinking exclusively to senior officers. To harness the entirety of its corporate intellect, the Army must exploit the inherent creativity and ingenuity inside tactical formations. The small teams within the Army (squads, platoons and companies) most closely resemble, in size and demographics, many early-stage ventures in Silicon Valley—startups that are raising billions of dollars in venture capital every day because of their disruptively innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems. Empowering squads, platoons and companies with Lean Startup methodologies for prototyping new equipment or reimagining small unit training will vastly increase the number of ideas generated and concepts validated, or dismissed, at the lowest echelons, with successful approaches gradually making their way through the Army’s middle management and up to senior decision-makers and resources. Tactical action plan: Identify. To identify appropriate talent to support innovation, the Army must be more scientific in its approach. Commanders could administer simple personality tests to see which Soldiers, NCOs and officers most strongly demonstrate characteristics of creativity and collaboration. These Soldiers might volunteer or be handpicked to compete in unit hackathons or work on specific projects as a special duty assignment or additional duty. These innovative Soldiers are likely the best candidates for advanced educational opportunities. Focus. While the future of warfare is unknowable, creative leaders can use multiple media sources, such as forward-looking movies or books like “Starship Troopers,” “Ender’s Game” and “Ghost Fleet” to help Soldiers visualize the nature of, and their potential roles in, future warfare. Military professionals have consistently advocated the study of military history as essential to building learning organizations. Looking to the future is equally important to help Soldiers conceptualize future threats and potential problems that can be addressed with innovative solutions. Train. Education and inspiration alone will not win wars. The Army must continually train Soldiers so that the ability to solve complex problems and take necessary action in combat becomes second nature. Broader implementation of the Asymmetric Warfare Group’s Adaptive Soldier Leader Training Education at the tactical level can reinforce classroom instruction with hands-on training and practical examples of adaptive thinking and problem-solving from academia and industry. Col. John Cogbill (right) and Brig. Gen. K. Todd Royar, the 101st Airborne Division Deputy Commanding General, Support, discuss 3BCT training inside the 3BCT Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The TOC is the location where the 3BCT Headquarters and Staff conduct battle tracking and mission planning when deployed during training events and tactical operations. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding – taken May 10, 2018). CONCLUSION The character of warfare has never been more complex, more unpredictable or more influenced by the exponentially increasing velocity of technological change or the diffusion of dual-use technologies and asymmetric adaptations to U.S. military superiority. While the stakes are too high for DOD to outsource innovation to the dreamers and engineers in Silicon Valley, it can import the Silicon Valley culture of innovation. To create a culture of innovation and ensure success on future battlefields, the Army must change from within at every echelon to remain agile, forward-thinking and prepared to overwhelm the capabilities of peer and near-pear competitors in the future. By teaching Lean Startup techniques and identifying and rewarding innovative thinkers and actors across the force, the Army can exploit their efforts in creative ways to visualize and participate in innovation initiatives. Agile and adaptive leaders have shouldered the responsibility of maintaining the U.S. Army as the most powerful and capable land force in modern times, but it will require a culture of innovation guided by an invisible hand—a hand that is creative, meritocratic, tolerant of risk and inclusive—to guarantee success in future wars. This article is condensed from a paper written by the author in 2016, while he was a U.S. Army War College Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute in the Center for International Security and Cooperation. To read the full paper, and to access multiple online extras, go to the online version of this magazine at http://usaasc.armyalt.com/#folio=1. COL. JOHN P. COGBILL is commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was a U.S. Army War College Fellow at Stanford University, and holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University and a B.S. in environmental science from the United States Military Academy at West Point. 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
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