Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc. in San Diego, CA won a $23 million firm-fixed-price task order under a multiple award construction contract to design and build a 100-room Wounded Warrior Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The facility will include modified sleeping rooms with private bathrooms, specifically modified for its Wounded Warrior Battalion – West occupants. Community and service areas are also placed within the quarters in order to provide one-stop services to the extent that this is possible, and this task order contains an option that could raise the contract’s value to $24 million. Work will be performed in Oceanside, CA and is expected to be complete by March 2010. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest in San Diego, CA received 4 proposals for this task order (N62473-06-D-1059, #0003).
Other task orders under this contract have not involved the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment, which stood up in April 2007 (see video). During their own treatment and recoveries, 24th MEU Lt. Colonel Tim Maxwell and Master Sgt. Ken Barnes realized that a place where wounded could recover together and help each other heal was a missing element in the traditional treatment approach. A support group grew into a barracks, which was renamed “Maxwell Hall” in November 2005. As the program expanded, it evolved into the current regiment, with an established battalion on the east coast and a newer battalion on the West Coast at Camp Pendleton. The goal is a comprehensive program that tracks and supports ill or injured Marines/Sailors, providing assistance to them and their families until they have been returned to duty, or have been medically discharged and have successfully reestablished in civilian life. Efforts include cutting edge medical treatments and rehabilitation, to personal and family counseling, to assistance with the military bureaucracy. Master Sgt. Barnes:
“It allows them to share ideas about healing… he’s not alone, he’s not the only guy in the world that this is happening to… We’re not just saying, ‘We helped you up to this point.’ We’re not leaving it at that. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Always a Marine.”
The August 2008 issue of the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings Magazine includes “Admiral Allen’s Blue Tsunami,” by Art Pine. The $25 billion Deepwater meta-program has undergone significant changes during Allen’s tenure, and is not out of the woods yet. The Proceedings article deals with the flip side of an acquisition effort that will define the Coast Guard’s future for a generation, placing it within the context of a larger set of structural and operational changes.
The on-line version of this article includes Commandant Allen’s recommended music playlist, but does not include the listing and current status of his 10 Commandant’s Intent Action Orders (CIAOs) issued in May 2006. The PDF version does include the CIAOs and status; Allen’s CIAOs were:
# Set Up Deployable Operations Group for rapid reaction
# Develop USCG Maritime Strategy
# Revamp Logistics System with centralized Coast-Guard-wide structure.
# Adapt Numbered Staff System For HQ, to bring them into line with the systems used by other services.
# Revamp Acquisition Systemwith new directorate, retake control of Deepwater
# Revamp Financial and Accounting Systems, replacing them with a centralized arrangement to improve transparency
# Revamp Command And Control framework
# Set Up New Human Resource Strategy
# Strengthen Reserve Component
# E-CG Version 2.0 to improve the use of information technology for C4 (command, control, communications, and computers)
If the rising cost of fuel is pushing you to change some of your transportation habits, you’re not alone. The US military started to focus on energy efficiency and alternate energy sources several years ago, as a response to the triple threat of future strategic supply concerns, rising costs that eat into service budgets, and the vulnerability of their fuel supply lines to IED land mines or mine-based interdiction at sea.
In addition to moves like installing wind power at Guantanamo Bay, solar-generating parking lot shaders at NAB Coronado, etc., the US Navy has a pair of key energy conservation programs that are expected to save 1.14 million barrels of oil, and about $157 million, in FY 2008.
Walsh Construction in Chicago, IL received a $71.6 million firm-fixed price contract to build a 4-story addition to the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, IL. The work also provides for some demolition and renovation work for tie-in connections to the VA Medical Center in North Chicago, IL.
The new center is the result of merging the North Chicago VA Medical Center and the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. The USA’s first joint Veterans Affairs (VA)/Navy care facility is scheduled to open in 2010, and will care for nearly 100,000 veterans, sailors, retirees and family members. The project was originally a $130 million joint initiative, and is named after astronaut and Chicago native Jim Lovell. Most people know him as the commander of the “Houston, we have a problem” Apollo 13 mission, but he was also the command pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit. Lovell is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Work will be performed in North Chicago, Ill., and is expected to be complete by July 2010. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 3 proposals received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Midwest in Great Lakes, IL (N40083-08-C-0059).
For years, Special Operations forces were the unloved stepchildren of the American military community, owned but not understood very well, or given priority. After the failed Desert One raid to free American hostages in Iran, however, the need to do better became apparent. Eventually real changes were made, and US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) stood up as its own independent command with contributions from the Army (“Green Berets”, 75th Ranger Regiment, civil affairs & psyops, helicopters), Navy (SEALs), and Air Force (Pararescue, specialty aircraft). As the events of September 11, 2001 made the nature of the current global war clear, SOCOM stepped into a leading role – first in Afghanistan, then in the war as a whole. Current plans call for a 33% increase in American special forces numbers by 2013. This will be a challenge given the limited pool of applicants who can make the grade, and the continued lure of higher-paying private sector jobs as security contractors.
Who was missing from this picture? The Marines. Why? Because to the Marines, every Marine is special. After all, what higher honor could there possibly be than to say you were a US Marine? None. Which is why the USMC had Force Recon personnel, and whole Marine Expeditionary Unit – Special Operations Capable formations. They had no special forces. Until November 2005, when the US Marines agreed to stand up MARSOC with 2,500 Marine special forces – even as they managed to remain true to their credo. MARSOC was formally established on February 24/06.
Of course, a service that has never had any special forces doesn’t really have any facilities for them. Then again, separate facilities pose a problem. To square this circle, the Marines are building the new facilities at Camp LeJeune and now at Camp Pendleton, right alongside their fellow Marines…
Veterans Enterprises Technology Services, LLC in Knoxville, TN received a $9.8 million firm-fixed price contract for the construction of a Center of Standardization program and dining facility. Work will be performed at Fort Sill, OK and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/09. Web bids were solicited on Oct 4/07, and 4 bids were received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, VA (W91236-07-D-0043).
Centers of Standardization is an important part of the US Army’s base construction program, which could reach $40 billion between 2004-2013. The idea is to have facilities of the same type share the same design standards across all US Army bases, even if they look a bit different from the outside. The intent is to lower costs and speed up construction, and the new approach is also linked to recent Army Corps of Engineers process improvement efforts. One aspect of that approach is to begin making use of “Building Information Modeling” (3D computer models) as a regular part of its construction processes. Another is the removal of needless overhead like specifications for particular bolt sizes in construction contracts. Taken together, these and other improvements can cut the expected time to build new facilities from 5-7 years from initial planning through completion to 2-4 years. See the March 2006 issue of the US Army’s official “Soldiers” Magazine [PDF format] and the March/April 2007 issue of US Army IMCOM’s Public Works Digest Magazine [PDF format] for more.
Cpt. Jones & the Mayor in Karmah, Iraq (click for interview)
Twentynine Palms, CA has hosted one of the Marine Corps’ most unique assets: battlefield foreign language specialist role players. Iraqis who play D&D? No, Iraqis who can help the Corps simulate life and cultural norms in Iraq. In recent days, the Marines have handed out over $400 million in contracts to keep that capability running – and extend it to Camp Lejeune. Characteristically, Alaskan firms have won both awards, just as they have taken a significant share of Special Operations Command’s foreign language PsyOps support contracts.
These role player awards seems like large but inconsequential outlays, a sort of upside-down Disneyworld for Marines. In fact, they are more critical to current military effectiveness on the front lines than just about any piece of equipment DID covers. An example of how critical this work is can be found in journalist Michael Totten’s reports from the front lines. “Builders of Nations” noted the contrast between prior military training, and the civil administration work that characterizes current deployments to Fallujah. Totten writes:
The US Department of Defense’s prescription drug spending alone is estimated to reach $15 billion by 2015. GAO examined DOD’s prescription drug spending trends from fiscal years 2000 – 2006 and DOD’s key efforts to limit its prescription drug spending at retail pharmacies, military treatment facilities (MTF), and the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP). That spending more than tripled to $6.2 billion in 2006 from $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2000, and retail pharmacy spending drove most of this increase with a $3.4 billion. Part of the issue is that more people arer using more costly retail pharmacies instead of MTFs or mail order, and so the US DoD has used a variety of techniques to try and slow that cost growth.
Good car owners take their vehicle in for maintenance after a certain number of months, or a certain number of miles, whichever comes first. Depending on the vehicle’s age and mileage, the dealer’s mechanic will have a list of standard systems to check and/or replace. It’s the same for the military, with the added pressure that vehicle breakdowns in a combat zone are not acceptable. So the inspections and rebuilds take place regularly, and it’s considered better to replace a working part with a new one than risk problems later. Unless, of course, land vehicles included the same sort of proactive diagnostics (“prognostics”) that are making their way into aircraft and helicopters. Maintenance could then take place only when necessary, keeping a higher percentage of vehicles in service, saving some money, and creating faster turnaround time for real problems.
That’s the aim of the US Marine Corps’ Embedded Platform Logistics System…
At present, F-35 Lightning II/ Joint Strike Fighter production is led by Lockheed Martin, with BAE and Northrop-Grumman playing major supporting roles, and many subcontractors below them. F-35 main production and final assembly is currently slated to take place in Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, TX plant, though Italy and Britain may end up getting Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) plants of their own.
In order to cut F-35 production cycle time, and hence production costs, the team currently produces major sections of the aircraft at different feeder plants, and “mates” the assemblies at Fort Worth. This is normal in the auto industry, but it’s a departure from the usual fighter-building process which has raw materials and individual parts or small sub-assemblies feed into production lines, then rolls finished fighters out the other end. The precise tolerances required for a stealthy fighter, however, are much more exacting than even high-end autos. To cope, Manufacturing Business Technology reports that the team has turned to an integrated array of back-end IT systems in order to manage this new process, from CATIA CAD, to Visiprise MES, TeamCenter PLM, SAP ERP, and even a locally-designed Production & Inventory Optimization System (PIOS) for manufacturing resources planning and supply chain management.
This ‘digital thread’ has been very successful for the team, with part fits showing incredible precision, and successful coordination of plants around the end schedule for key events like the Dec 18/07 F-35B rollout. The system’s ultimate goal is to cut a plane’s production cycle time from the usual 27-30 months to about a year, and lead time from order creation to printed, matched manufacturing orders from 15-20 days to 6-8 days. Read MBT’s “Fly high on a thread” to learn more.