There are going to be trade-offs and all this and the reporting lines may change to make sure we get the optimisation. Everybody recognises we have reached a point that we’ve got to just — it’s time to move from this industrial age system to a 21st-century-age system.”
Design Teams are a small group of individuals focused on defining, building, and testing solutions within a short time frame. A Release Train is a self-organizing, long-lived group of Teams, a team of teams, whose purpose is to plan, commit, and execute solutions together. Built around the organization’s core Value Streams, a Release Train exists solely to deliver on promised value by building beneficial solutions for the customer.
Using tools like a common Vision, Roadmap and Program Backlog, aims to complete goals within a specific period of time,.
Program Level is another key concept within design. Simply put, the Program Level is where development teams and other resources are applied to an important, ongoing development mission. Most Program Levels — such as teams, roles, and activities — revolve around a specific Release team, ensuring a constant flow of incremental, value-generating releases.
The first step is to understand and document user requirements and Constraints for system capability so acquisition process can meet requirements.
Availability/reliability parameters must be explained and guide trade-off studies of mission capability and operational support, defining baseline against which the new system will be measured.
Performance factors need to be matched up with user’s needs into clearly defined system parameters and allocate/ integrate parameters to relevant disciplines needed to realise
Systems engineering attempts to optimise effectiveness and affordability as the capability is created. The systems approach makes sure the question What are the user needs and constraints? is answered before designing the answer.
The top-level programme plan for achieving required available/reliable is executed in manner to ensure requirements are achievable. Through understanding user needs and constraints, new capabilities begin to be defined.
Must establish the case for a materiel approach to resolve gaps in capability. The primary focus is to acquire quality products balancing process of satisfying user needs while improving mission capability and operational support, also adhering to scheduling constraints and justifiable acquisition costs.
During capability assessments, time and resources need to be set aside to measure and characterise current operational experience, organise metrics and supply line performance to reach conclusions about the causes of shortfalls.
It is also imperative to understand subsystem design complexity and influence on availability/reliability. Capabilities-based approach leverages the expertise of all service directorate activities defining new capabilities.
Primary focus is to ensure that joint force is properly equipped and supported to perform across disciplines to identify improvements to existing capabilities and crate new warfighting capabilities.
Process defines needed capabilities through characterisation of doctrine, organisation, training, materiel, leadership, and Labour at Job SItes. Availability/reliability levels are defined within this framework, principally in the category of materiel.
So Goal is to inform and share information among decision makers tasked with design, buy, use, and system support. Information to be shared includes user requirements, and how system will be used or potentially miss targets.
Key to any assessments is description of use/support location, constraints on what support is available for system, what information will be available to decision makers, and how that information will be verified.
Army needs to identify what might be missing, and if there is something, they will need to potentially initiate a new program within that portfolio.
In some cases, like the Future Vertical Lift portfolio, it is easier to see the path forward. And the Army is already heading toward using flight demonstrators to help define requirements for a future vertical lift aircraft.
By building and flying demonstrator aircraft, it gives the opportunity for the service to fail early and fail cheaply, and to learn from mistakes and get to a higher level of technical readiness earlier in the program.
But for other portfolios within the new modernization command, more work has to be done, in part due to the nature of the technology involved.
“The network is hard, it’s really, really hard because it’s complex because those types of capabilities or the technology is really in the commercial sector more than the military sector, and it’s moving quickly and yet you can’t just take it from industry and put in the military world because you have to make it secure, it has to be ruggedized and it has to be able to operate in certain environments, and so that is the challenge.
Making a tougher job for future command lead in charge of the network, the Army decided to curb the cornerstone capability of its tactical network, the Warfighting Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, system, in favor of other capabilities. The service said it needed to entirely reboot its tactical network to operate against emerging threats on the battlefield.
With all of this, you do have to understand you have to get your requirements right, and for the network … the key, or part of the key going forward, has to be to understand the architecture and to map it out so we have the plan going forward.”
“It’s like building a house — you have to have a blueprint.” Having a blueprint doesn’t necessarily mean deciding who will supply the fixtures or materials or what will be used, but it defines what is needed.
Leadership wants to see the services get away from the idea of filling capabilities with interim, gap-filler solutions that would be scrapped once a next-generation capability comes online.
Leadership does not want to make perfect to be the enemy of the better. Let’s not think as much about interim capabilities. If we made the requirements so high, if we raised the bar so high that we think we need to have an interim, maybe we need to kind of lower that bill, those requirements.
It’s not perfect but it’s better than what we have now. And then we build a system that we can scale, that we can modularize, that is kind of open architecture that we can kind of build upon.”
Congressional spending has become so unpredictable, the defense industrial base is shrinking and the weapons systems of tomorrow are not being developed today.
Defense spending cuts in recent years caused a dramatic number of defense industry suppliers to leave the market while chilling industry’s research and development activities.
“Though the defense budget had been declining in the years leading up to sequestration in FY 2013, the enactment of sequestration and budget caps marked a severe market shock that had a considerable impact on the defense industry.
The cyclical nature of department budgeting, including delays in getting new spending approved, is a problem for all but the largest vendors. With annual unsteady funding, DoD has been unable to “send demand signals to industry.”
“The reality is that the Defense Department does not exist for the purpose of taking care of the industrial base. it’s the other way around, So, what the Department of Defense has to do is to ensure, to the extent that it can while doing its mission, that there is a healthy industrial base to support it.
“In terms of keeping the industrial base healthy, our design teams and capabilities to build cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, ten-years beyond state-of-the-art programs is essential in great power competition. “And it’s been allowed atrophy too much.”
Decades ago Army introduced the M109A1 155mm turreted self-propelled howitzer (SPH), called the Paladin. An artillery piece that could keep up with mobile armored formations and survive counterbattery fire was essential to the Army’s mission of deterring high-end conventional conflict. The Paladin is currently the primary fire support system for the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs).
The Paladin was not one of the U.S. Army’s iconic “Big Five” modernization programs. Nevertheless it, along with other major platforms such as the Multiple Launch Rocket System and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or Humvee, has defined the character of the Army’s combat capabilities for decades.
The M109 today is nothing like the system that first saw service in the Army more than fifty years ago. It has been almost continually upgraded. Improvements were made to virtually every Paladin component including the howitzer itself, fire controls, engine and drive train, armor and communications.
Currently, the howitzer is undergoing yet another major upgrade, which is more of a modernization effort. What was called the Paladin Integrated Management program and is now the M19A7 SPH and M992A3 Carrier Ammunition Tracked vehicle (CAT), is intended to provide major improvements to the system’s mobility, reliability and performance.
Both vehicles are essentially being rebuilt, using major components of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle inside a new hull. Commonality of parts between the Paladin and Bradley will improve overall sustainment in the ABCT.
In addition, the M109A7 will incorporate a state-of-the-art digital backbone, enhanced power generation system and electric gun drive and rammer. Notably, several of these new technologies were originally developed under the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) program that was part of the now-canceled Future Combat System.
The Paladin upgrade program is being conducted through a special DoD/Industry partnership splitting skilled labor as well as critical facilities, with engineering support, components and supply chain management.
,Army is looking to leverage this latest set of improvements to the Paladin as the base for another round modernization. The newest Paladin variant can support a larger caliber howitzer that will be able to send projectiles out to 70 km, nearly triple the howitzer’s current range. Even greater ranges are possible with the new artillery rounds being developed for the Army. The improved Paladin, were it also equipped with a longer-range cannon, could help meet the Army’s critical shortfall in long-range fires.
To an Army determined to change the way it pursues modernization, the history of the Paladin program is a cautionary tale. Two efforts at replacing the Paladin, the Crusader and NLOS-C, foundered due to a combination of requirements mess, technology overreach, high costs and changing international threats. Paladin remains and, when upgraded, will operate as an effective part of the ABCT for decades to come.
The Paladin represents both what is right and wrong with the Army’s approach to modernization. What is right about its approach is the ability to continually improve existing platforms and systems. This minimizes technological risk as well as the opportunity costs associated with major changes in equipment.
Through a process of incremental modernization, the Army could soon have a self-propelled howitzer that in virtually all respects is an entirely different system than the one deployed decades ago.
Add to the new platform the latest artillery projectiles, themselves the product of incremental advances, and the result is a major new military capability.
What is wrong with Army acquisition is the penchant of that same system, or at least some of its leaders, to become fixated on the goal of inventing something new, even transformational.
Sometimes this is a function of requirements in search of capabilities to justify a particular vision of future combat. In other cases, it is a reflection of the mistaken notion that technological change demands a response by the acquisition system.
Truly groundbreaking technological change is a rare event. Exploiting technological advances to create a new weapons system or military platform is even rarer. Many things we consider technological revolutions, such as the mobile phone, are the result of a series of incremental advances that are brought together over time in a new piece of hardware.
The leadership of the Army’s new Futures Command must guard against taking their organization’s title literally. They will need to draw a clear line between modernization as a leap ahead and the same outcome resulting from continual technological improvements. Which is the future? The answer is both.
Congress, the defense industry, and Army all believe the Pentagon must fundamentally change the structure and performance of its acquisition enterprise after decades of tweaks and inertia.
Numerous institutional adaptations and reorganizations have been initiated in the past, many of which have led to familiar conditions: cumbersome spans of control; complex communication and procedural structures; difficulty prioritizing competitive programs and budget requirements; decreased accountability and effectiveness; and, disconnects between futures and acquisition procurement strategies, to name a few.
For the Army those conditions materialized into “a lost decade of procurement” marked by, “reductions in modernization, procurement, and RDTE funding”; and a “wave of OSD requirements.
Recent acquisition enterprise efforts to coordinate and create a shared visualization stem from a current state assessment that “acquisition’s underlying problems are exacerbated during conflict, when warfighters are in harm’s way, so natural tendency has been to work around the system rather than fix it.
Army has determined that now is the time to fix the system, as “wartime adaptation against a peer adversary will require capability generation to be exponentially faster than it was for recent operations.
Are we in need of “incremental” or “disruptive” reform? If “disruptive” change is in the cards, the alignment of forces, sustainment, training, combat developments or modernization functions within streamlined commands is one potential course of action. However, what the Army is ready for, what the specific content of the reform will be, and its tolerance levels for disruption while heavily engaged in current operations are yet to be determined.
It is clear that any new modernization command must demonstrate value to industry, research and development unit within and external to the U.S. Army, but, even more so to the warfighters whose equipment readiness is essential to the future of the force.
The new command will be challenged to:
1. Streamline the requirements process and major weapons systems development
2. Simplify current command structure currently designed to approve requirements
3. Overcome a risk-averse acquisition culture optimized for individual and organizational outcomes within stove-piped organizations,
4. Provide a vision-to-victory or futures strategy that alleviates tensions between present requirements and future readiness
5. Improve integration of operational concepts into acquisition strategies, presently determined and developed by multiple unorganized multi-star commands.
6. Create point of contact command with ownership of futures to formulate consensus on a long-term procurement strategy
7. Overcome the usual reforms and existing R&D structure by leverage industries advanced technologies and modernization
8. Increase innovation, improve balance and contrast in approaches to R&D
9. Establish conditions for a “succeed-fast” and “fail-fast” strategy throughout the defense acquisition life cycle.
10. Establish a wartime acquisition enterprise capable of rapid adaptability to threat capabilities today and in the future.