Make sure you packed a lunch before you start this post. Follow me down the rabbit hole and, hurry. We are already late!
A veritable alphabet soup of acronyms and agencies were represented at the “Net Zero to the Tactical Edge” conference at Arizona State University this week. My goal in this post is to toss out the bread crumbs that might possibly lead business along the path to find the holy grail of the defense industry: adoption as a (fanfare of trumpets) “Program of Record” .
Before I go through the litany, here is a quick program reminder. There are two sides to the Army: Civilian and Military. The Secretary of the Army is over all in charge and civilian leadership reports to him. The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA, ALT) reports to the Sec Army. ASA, ALT’s job is to turn requirements in to things for the Army. On the uniformed side, the Chief of Staff (CSA) of the Army is the senior soldier in the Army, but not a commander. The Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Operations is the G3 and the DCS, Logistics is the G4 and they report to the CSA. The Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is responsible for translating warfighter needs into requirements documents that allow the acquisition world to program money in order to buy stuff to meet the requirements. TRADOC reports to CSA. Questions?
The various groups who presented represented each of these three constituencies. The key groups were the REF, LIA, TRADOC, BMC, and Program Managers for the following areas: Mobile Electric Power, Soldier and Force Sustainment Systems. All the presentations are here. Here are the players.
1. REF – Rapid Equipping Force working for the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (G3), reports to Vice Chief of Staff, Army
a. Finding technology solutions to commanders’ immediate battlefield needs. The REF does not have a public facing website so they can only be reached when they come out of their burrows to see if there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Will keep you posted.
b. Interests: Any system not already under consideration.
2. LIA – Logistics Innovative Agency, a Field Operating Agency of the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G4)
a. LIA's mission is to continually examine the Army's logistics capabilities, and find ways that might make it more effective and/or efficient. LIA identifies logistics solutions that address emerging and future needs. They also have the operational energy portfolio. If you have an energy good idea, send it to LOIA-ZXI.NCLT@conus.army.mil . They will point you in the right direction.
b. Interests: Any system not already under consideration.
3. NIE/BMC - Network Integration Experimentation is a program under the Brigade Modernization Command. BMC works for the Army Capabilities Integration Center which is part of TRADOC. The BMC works closely with System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate which is part of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
a. The NIE is the first in a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network and is a key element of the Army’s emerging Network Strategy.
b. On 11 Jan, 2012, the U.S. Army, through the System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate, announced that it is seeking interested industry and government sources with mature solutions to enhance existing network systems capabilities to participate in the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 event, scheduled to occur in Oct/Nov 2012 at Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M. The NIE is a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to further integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network, and accelerate and improve the way network technologies are delivered to Soldiers.
c. The purpose of this Sources Sought notice is to identify emerging capabilities to be evaluated against a set of entrance criteria for an opportunity to participate in NIE 13.1. This Sources Sought seeks solutions with a narrow focus
d. Interests: Any system not already under consideration.
4. TCM, Soldier Warrior – TRADOC Capabilities Manager, Fort Benning, GA
a. TCM-Soldier provides intensive system management of everything worn, consumed or carried for individual Soldier use in a tactical environment to maximize lethality, command and control, survivability, sustainment, and mobility, and training.
b. Interests: Soldier Power.
5. AEWE – Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment run by Maneuver Battle Lab, Fort Benning GA, TRADOC
a. TRADOC’s AEWE provides capability developers, the science and technology community and industry a repeatable, credible, rigorous and validated operational experiment venue to assess possible solutions for capability gaps in concepts and materiel development efforts. AEWE is focused on the Squad and soldier capability.
b. Interests: Soldier Power.
6. CBITEC - Contingency Basing Integration Technology Evaluation Center - Army G4 Logistics Innovation Agency and Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, IL.
a. Army G4 Logistics Innovation Agency provided funding to USACE (CERL and Kansas City District) to design, construct and operate a full scale contingency base at Fort Leonard Wood, MO to conduct demonstration, assessment and evaluation of contingency basing capabilities and technologies (power, environmental, sustainable construction, force protection) that support Army requirements and future acquisition decisions. This facility will also provide a training venue to military units and Engineer School students to learn sustainable base operations. CERL supports the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence by preparing a CBITEC master plan, technology evaluation plan, and providing a project manager, to be located at FLW, for the longterm operation of the facility.
b. Interests: Basing Power.
7. PM-MEP – Project Manager, Mobile Electric Power (PM-MEP)
a. PM-MEP’s mission is to provide standardized tactical electric power and environmental control capabilities to the Department of Defense in support of National Security. For the Acquisition community, PM-MEP provides modernized, technologically advanced, tactical, diesel fueled, lightweight, portable, reliable, rugged, power generating systems in a variety of sizes from 2 kilowatts (kW) to 840 kW. They also are responsible for power distribution hardware. They will be the ultimate arbiter of energy systems for adoption by all of DOD.
b. Interests: Acquiring products as required by TRADOC. 2kW and larger.
8. BCIL – The Base Camp Integration Lab, operated by PM, Force Sustainment Systems in Fort Devens, MA. The BCIL works for Acquisition Corps.
a. The 10-acre BCIL features a pair of Force Provider 150-person Expeditionary Base Camp modules modeled after forward operating bases in Afghanistan. One module is designated as the baseline control module set in the current configuration. The other module is designated as the new technologies test bed in an operational environment. Service members training at Ft. Devens will occupy the BCIL’s base camp, allowing for the integration and evaluation of immediate and future integrated expeditionary CB solutions in a realistic environment. The BCIL will provide data to substantiate and support all aspects (technologies, training, installation, maintenance, etc.) for the rapid fielding of solution sets integrated into currently deployed, developmental, and future expeditionary force sustainment and basing solutions.
b. In order to participate in the process, vendors must first find a government partner who can access the BCIL website to download the application that the vendor then submits. Really? So now I have to do business development twice? And does it have to be someone in the acquisition community that sponsors me or can I go find a buddy in the Department of Education to download the forms. Typically, when I see something that appears to be stupid, I assume I don’t understand it and then go to school to educate myself. If, after I do that, it still appears stupid, it is probably stupid. I am still studying this one.
I appreciate how byzantine this all appears, but I assure you it is light years ahead of the situation that existed five years ago when there was little or no energy related cross talk. In my one on one meeting with the REF, I complained loudly (if tongue in cheek), that they were putting me out of the business of helping people understand this system. Looking back over this, I am not changing my business model anytime soon! Dan Nolan