“But as Alpha kicks in doors, rounds up terror suspects and peals off automatic fire in deafening six-shot bursts, not one of the soldiers bothers to check his radio or look into the eyepiece to find his buddies on the electronic maps. “It’s just a bunch of stuff we don’t use, taking the place of useful stuff like guns,” says Sgt. James Young, who leads a team of four M-240 machine-gunners perched on a balcony during this training exercise at Fort Lewis, Wash. “It makes you a slower, heavier target.”
Land Warrior was deployed to Iraq anyway in a slimmed down version, with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division based in Fort Lewis, WA. Now, it appears that the program is set to return, in modified form…
On Sept 4/07, “$5B in CENTCOM Contracting Under Scrutiny” discussed ongoing investigations related to the wartime staple of contracting fraud. In mid-September 2007, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren appointed the “Special Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations” to review contracting linked to the war effort. The 6-member commission was led by former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Jacques Gansler, and now the report is in. Its blunt assessment? Many people have gone above and beyond the call of duty – but in the end a spiral of not enough people, too little training, and an antiquated system, equals serious problems managing contracting and fraud in Iraq. [Full report – PDF | Army article w. link to briefing video | Release: Army accepts report’s conclusions]
Secretary of the Army Geren pointed to post-Cold War cuts to the Army acquisition budget as one of the principal reasons behind the shortage of trained people, since it takes a number of years to restore that; at present, only 36% of those with contract oversight in Iraq and Kuwait are certified. Dr. Gansler, however, noted that the Army had 5 generals on the contracting force, and now has none. He recommended establishing an Army Contracting Agency and adding 5 generals to the Army contracting force, adding another 400 Soldiers and 1,000 Civilians, plus another 583 Army personnel to fill positions in the Defense Contract Management Agency.
Gansler acknowledged that “expeditionary contracting” is more demanding, because the needs of the operational commander are often immediate. This has been true since Wellington sent a reply to London from Spain, asking if they wanted him to oversee accounting or fight Napoleon. The question is how to implement valid shortcuts, while remaining within the law. In addition, products must often be purchased quickly from host-nation countries – indeed, involving host-nation businesses, who may have very different cultural standards and training, can be vital to military success. Making all of this work poses new challenges to military contracting, and success may require specific Congressional relief from statutory provisions such as Buy American, the Berry Amendment and Specialty Metals, and some civil service provisions. Not least of which is the proviso that contracting officers who volunteer to go to a war zone may lose their life insurance and medical benefits.
Overall, there is little question that the standard DoD contracting system is inadequate for dealing with the needs of expeditionary contracting in the modern world: too slow, too bureaucracy-laden, too nativist. The question is whether existing approaches to resolving that problem can be considered adequate either, and what should be done. The Gansler report is a first step toward offering answers.
Case studies sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT) are working to present hard evidence that networked forces are far more effective in high-intensity conflict missions, and also point out how even less-than-perfect networks can be valuable. In all, more than 15 case studies examine the behavior of networked military organizations during exercises, combat operations and/or peacekeeping operations.
RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, CA received a $210.6 million cost-reimbursement plus fee-for-need contract to provide for RAND Project Air Force, Research of Air and Space Power. Originally known as Project RAND (an acronym for research and development), PAF was established in 1946 by General H. H. “Hap” Arnold as a way of retaining for the United States Air Force (USAF) the considerable benefits of civilian scientific thinking that had been demonstrated during World War II. Since its founding, PAF has focused entirely on studies and analyses rather than systems engineering or scientific laboratories. Publications include the F/A-18 E/F and F/A-22 program lessons learned report that DID covered earlier today.
This is a five-year option period, which extends the contract to a ten-year period. Solicitations began August 2005 and one proposal was received; work will now be complete in September 2015. The Air Force District Washington in Rosslyn, VA issued the contract (FA7014-06-C-0001). For more information, contact the 11th WG/PA at 202-767-7561.
Since the late 1980s, the U.S. Air Force has pursued the F/A-22 Raptor supersonic stealth fighter that incorporated numerous breakthrough technologies, while the US Navy developed the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet based on the existing F/A-18. Unsurprisingly, the F/A-22 program has experienced significant cost growth and schedule delays and is still in the testing stage. In contrast, the Super Hornet completed its development on cost and without significant delays, and has already been used in combat.
RAND’s Project Air Force looked at both programs with the intent of understanding how each project’s history turned out the way it did, what underlying factors might be at work, and what lessons might be learned.
The Interceptor OTV body armor vests DID has been covering lately have proven very effective at reducing injuries; indeed, we’ve heard several reports of soldiers who only realized they’d been hit when they got back to base and noticed the bullets their armor had stopped. One side effect has been a big increase in the proportion of arm injuries, however, often damaged beyond repair due to burns and shrapnel penetration from roadside bombs et. al.
Recording knowledge learned through battle-tested situations is more important than ever. To improve Marines combat effectiveness the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned (MCCLL) has created an online Lessons Management System to ensure this information will be readily available. This web-based system contains documented experiences from before Operation Desert Storm, including some from Vietnam.
“One of the things we are finding new with the current MCCLL is we are relearning lessons again and again,” said Maj. Kevin Mooney, liaison officer, II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD) and reservist from Hercules, CA “If we go back to World War II and look at an after action report, you can see the repetition over the years. We’re doing the same things wrong now that we were doing back then. We are also doing the same things right that we were doing back then, but the lessons learned usually come hard.”
The units come pre-loaded with maps and databases for those specific locations. These units have the ability to display Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), in addition to latitude & longitude coordinates.
Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control in Orlando, FL received a $262.4 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for Arrowhead units with accompanying initial spares. Arrowhead is an advanced electro-optical & fire control system that AH-64 Apache helicopter pilots use for combat targeting of their Hellfire missiles and other weapons, as well as safe flight in day, night, or bad weather missions. It is the successor to TADS/PNVS. Arrowhead’s forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors use advanced image processing techniques to give pilots the best possible resolution to avoid obstacles such as wires and tree limbs during low-level flight.
While the number of units was not disclosed, a $247 million contract issued on February 17, 2005 provided for 97 Arrowhead units. The Army’s first unit equipped with Arrowhead will be fielded in June 2005, and the U.S. Army intends to buy 704 Arrowhead systems to outfit its AH-64 Apache fleet by 2011.
Federal Computer Weekly profiles Kevin Carroll. The Army’s top information technology official runs the Army’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS). This office will manage almost $36 billion in information technology contracts in upcoming years, including: