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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
 US Army Modernization Focuses on Soldier


April 04, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: U.S Army; issued April 2, 2014)


Modernization Strategy Soldier-Focused In Lean Years


WASHINGTON --- Research, development and acquisition investments have declined 37 percent since the fiscal year 2012 budget planning cycle, said the G-8.


Historically, the research, development and acquisition, or RDA, account averaged about 22 percent of the Army's obligation authority. But for fiscal year 2015, the RDA account is at 17 percent or about $20 billion, Lt. Gen. James O. Barclay III told members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, today.


Yet, despite slashing RDA, "it's essential that the Army ensure every Soldier deployed is equipped to achieve decisive overmatch," he said, outlining the steps being taken.


To achieve decisive overmatch without much money, the Army is using incremental improvements to modernize critical systems, he explained. And new systems will be built "only by exception."


Additionally, he said the Army is divesting older systems like the Kiowa helicopter and "niche capabilities to decrease sustainment costs and generate more resources to invest in modernization and readiness."


In the area of science and technology, the Army is funding research on key areas that commercial corporations are ignoring, while reducing funding where private-sector S&T gains are being seen.


And finally, to maximize every dollar, the Army is procuring smaller quantities of systems and components.


Barclay admitted to lawmakers that the Army "is taking risks in its near-term modernization program," as it tries to balance that with readiness and modernization.




Lawmakers expressed their concern that the organic industrial base would stagnate and lose workers as a result of the Army procuring smaller quantities of materiel, divesting systems and not buying new systems.


Addressing their concerns, Maj. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, enumerated steps the Army is taking as lawmakers tighten the purse strings.


Foreign military sales could keep some of the assembly lines running and talented professionals employed, he said, but that will only go so far.


"Not all sales come through," Williamson said, adding foreign sales can at times be unpredictable.


Acquisition reform is another area where improvements could be made, he said, pointing out that there are too many statutes and rules of where money can or cannot go and that adds to overhead costs associated with running facilities within the industrial base.


Army Materiel Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, are now locating greater efficiencies, identifying "cost drivers," determining overhead and looking for opportunities, Williamson said.


Another way to save costs, while procuring in less quantities, he said, would be to team up with other agencies, not just sister services. For example, he said the Army might look at partnering with police and other security forces to procure body armor. Buying in quantity would drive down costs of the research as well as the procurement. Also, with more money in play, competition among vendors would be more likely.


Something else that could benefit the Army as well as the industrial base, he said would be using more multi-year programs. Depending on how the contracts are worded, multi-year might allow savings by creating leverage in negotiations.


Multi-year programs, of course, would need a predictable funding stream, which is something that hasn't been too predictable in recent years.




Barclay said the Army remains committed to continued funding of its mission-critical systems such as the Paladin Integrated Management System, double-V-hull Strykers, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.


He added that despite "a rocky start, [the Paladin Integrated Management System] is performing very well now."


If WIN-T is so important, why has the Army lowered funding for it and the Joint Tactical Radio System's Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit, asked a lawmaker.


Williamson replied that both WIN-T and HMS radio are critical to the warfighter but because of the declining budget, the Army has accepted some risk, "but not excessive risk."


Lower funding of those systems, he said, will mean fewer coming off the production lines, but those that do will be fielded first to the "most critical units" that are or could deploy.


Besides slowing production, he said some capability in the networks are being delayed, such as the WIN-T Increment 3 package which would have had enhanced bandwidth capability.


With respect to the networks, Barclay added that low funding is pushing the dates of procurements and deliveries to the right, but the Army is "not backing away from its commitment to the network and its overall importance."


One lawmaker commented that with the removal of the Apache helicopters from the National Guard, the Reserve Component is losing its teeth.


Barclay replied that active-component Apaches will still be "aligned with the National Guard" and its combat aviation brigades.


Why would the Guard's combat aviation brigades be called "combat" aviation brigades if the Apaches are being removed, the lawmaker pressed?


Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, which the Guard has in its fleet, can and do perform combat missions, Barclay replied, adding that the decision to divest all of its Kiowa helicopters and remove Apaches from the Guard was done in consultation and after much analysis and that it's the "best we could do given the dollar amount given."

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21 janvier 2014 2 21 /01 /janvier /2014 08:20
Pentagon Still Scaremongering on Budget Cuts


January 20, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued January 17, 2014)


Kendall: Military Technological Superiority Not Assured


WASHINGTON --- The decline in research and development brought on by budget cuts is contributing to the erosion of the U.S. military’s technological superiority at an alarming rate, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said.


“Technological superiority is not assured,” Frank Kendall told a conference yesterday sponsored by the Center for a New American Society. “The United States came out of the Cold War, and demonstrated in the first Persian Gulf War, a very significant superiority in military technology and the application of those technologies. And we’ve sort of had an assumption [during] the last 20-plus years that that {American] technological superiority would be a fact of life in the world.”


The Defense Department has “a big part of sustaining the levels of [research and development] investment that I think we need,” Kendall added.


Despite the relief provided by a trillion dollar plus spending bill approved by Congress for 2014, Kendall said the department still faces heavy budget cuts.


“We’re still taking substantial cuts, and [2015] is much worse than ’14 is,” he said. “And then we don’t know what will happen to us after that.


“So with budgets heading in that direction,” he continued, “and all the uncertainty we’re dealing with, the Department of Defense has a very difficult planning problem.”


Part of that planning problem, according to Kendall, is the uncertainty of how much force structure DOD will be able to retain.


“There’s always a tendency to hang onto force structure in order to do to the things we need to do in the world,” he said. “But if we do hang onto that force structure, the consequence of that is R&D has to be cut,” in order to pay salaries and readiness.



“And that’s what you’re seeing even with the appropriations bill the Senate just passed,” Kendall said. “And it gets much worse as we go further out.”


Eventually, “if we know where the [budget] is going, we can get our force structure down to where we can get in balance between those different accounts that I mentioned,” he said.


The undersecretary laid out three points supporting his concern for the erosion of U.S. technological superiority.


“[Research and development] is not a variable cost. There’s a tendency in the Defense Department, when we cut budgets, to kind of cut everything.


“But what drives R&D is the rate of modernization that we desire,” Kendall continued. “[It] is really not dependent on the size of the force structure.”


Kendall’s second point is time is not a recoverable asset. R&D really buys that time in something of a race for technological superiority, he said.


“I can buy back readiness, I can increase force structure, but I don’t have any way to buy back the time it takes me to get a new product,” Kendall said.


That timeline in the acquisitions business is relatively long, Kendall said, noting how often he gets remarks about the length of an acquisitions process which hasn’t changed much over the years.


Essentially, Kendall said, it takes about two years before the department can get a budget to spend serious money on an idea.


“Then we have two or three years to four years of risk reduction where we develop the technology to where we’re confident we can put it into a product,” he said. “Then we have five or six years of development of making the product ready for production.”


Combine that with the “few years of buying enough numbers to make a difference militarily,” Kendall said, and the timeline easily becomes 10 or 15 years.


“So for that reason as well, I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m trying to do a lot of things now to hedge against these [challenges] and make people aware of these things and do more about them.”


Kendall reiterated how important he believes research and development is to maintaining DOD’s edge in technological superiority.


“It’s critical to the department, it’s critical to our future,” he said. “It is not ‘the wolf closest to the sled’ right now, necessarily. But I think it is absolutely paramount that we keep our R&D budgets funded.”

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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 11:20
Should Pentagon Adopt An Industrial Policy?

September 24, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Lexington Institute; issued September 23, 2013)


Time to Add A Pinch of Industrial Policy to the Defense Department’s Recipe for Acquisition


Through good times and bad, one near-constant in the Department of Defense (DoD) is its refusal to consider an explicit industrial policy. On occasion, the Pentagon’s leadership will make a rather hesitant foray into the world of industrial planning and policy as in the 1990s when there was an attempt to make performance-based logistics common practice in sustainment contracting or in 2009-2010 when insourcing was prescribed as the solution to rising O&M costs. The only concrete example of industrial policy in recent memory was the so-called “Last Supper,” when then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin told the assembled titans of industry that with the fall of the Soviet Union and planned decreases in defense spending there would not be enough money for all of them to survive. Consequently, Aspin announced, they needed to merge.


It is long past time for DoD to get serious about its industrial policy and to tie the maintenance of critical parts of the aerospace and defense industrial base to its acquisition policies and programs. The leadership of U.S. companies, regardless of sector but particularly in the defense space, are neither suicidal nor stupid. It does no good for the Pentagon to urge private companies to be more innovative and spend more of their own resources on R&D for products that the military will not have the money to procure. DoD needs to realize that they will have to take concrete steps to maintain a viable, modern and responsive defense industrial base.


Rather than the Pentagon jumping into the deep end of industrial policy, what about taking a baby step? This would be like adding a little salt or pepper to the old family recipe just to spice it a bit. I am thinking specifically about maintaining the C-17 production line which is due to close in the next few years absent major foreign contracts.


The end of C-17 production means that this nation will not be producing a large body military aircraft for the first time in some 70 years. Another large body, purpose-built military aircraft will not come along until such time as the Air Force begins acquiring its new strategic bomber. DoD should seriously consider buying a minimum sustaining number of these aircraft to replace older models. Because these airframes still have life left in them, they could be sold internationally.

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9 juillet 2013 2 09 /07 /juillet /2013 17:20
Pentagon Releases First Annual Acquisition Report

July 8, 2013 Source: U.S Department of Defense

WASHINGTON --- A recently completed defense acquisition program report, which is now before Congress, is part of a data-driven effort to find out what’s working best in equipping the nation’s military and to fix what isn’t, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics said in an interview with American Forces Press Service.

Frank Kendall said the report, the first in what’s expected to become a series of annual reviews, evaluated major programs across the department. The study is a step toward mastering the mountain of data military acquisition generates.

“Even our best performers have room for improvement,” the undersecretary said. “Figuring out what to do to improve, I think, is the next question.”

Kendall often references the large, engraved wooden sign outside his office door bearing a quote from the late American statistician and professor W. Edwards Deming: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.”

“I’m a firm believer that improvements to policies and processes must be driven by data and objective analysis rather than conjecture and opinion,” Kendall said, adding the report “begins to share [that] kind of objective analysis.”

Kendall said an institutional-level view of defense acquisition -- a field that includes research and development, testing and evaluation, fielding and maintenance of virtually all U.S. military equipment -- is important because “our processes tend to come from our institutional cultures and norms.”

Acquisition underlies all military operations, he noted, adding, “If you’re serving out there and you’re waiting for the next generation of whatever piece of equipment, this is the system that’s producing that for you. … There are a lot of very hard-working people in government and industry trying to do that.”

The point of the report, Kendall said, “is to help us all figure out ways to do a better job with [acquisition]” and ultimately to ensure more and better products.

The report doesn’t make judgments or excuses, he noted.

“I want each institution to look at how well they are performing compared to others and ask themselves how they learn from one another to improve performance,” he added.

Kendall said the report shows that, in some measures, program and organizational performance across the department has improved, but more progress is needed.

“Very recent data show statistically significant improvement, but only time and further analysis will tell if these trends continue into the future,” he said. “For example, comparing the last two decades, the Army and Air Force have reduced total cost growth on contracts, and the Army has reduced contract costs-over-target. The Air Force also has lowered contract schedule growth.”

Kendall said despite such trends, “The magnitude of absolute performance issues leaves considerable room for additional improvement. Due to the nature of pushing the state-of-the-art in weapon systems, we will never have zero cost and schedule growth. But, we can certainly do better and have recent indications that this is possible.”

One major finding from the report is that “a lot of the things we thought were important may not be as important as we believed,” he said. “Fixed-price versus cost-plus contracting, for example.”

Fixed-price contracts are let at a set price for the work, while cost-plus contracts reimburse the contractor’s expenses and also add other funds, which can include award, incentive and performance fees.

Statistics for the two kinds of contracts were more similar than he expected, Kendall said. He added he’s never thought fixed-price contracts were “a panacea,” and while conventional wisdom is that fixed pricing solves a lot of problems, “I don’t think that’s the case, and the data shows that.”

Unsurprisingly, the review found that undefinitized contracts show the highest cost growth, the undersecretary said. The department can use these types of contracts to meet urgent needs, as they authorize contractors to begin work before contract terms are set.

“We tend to over-run our development programs … by about 30 percent,” Kendall said. “We tend to over-run our production programs by about 10 percent. So there’s a lot more variability and uncertainty and risk on the development side of the house.”

If the buyer hasn’t defined requirements or projected costs, he said, “You’re going to start a lot of people doing a lot of work that they’re not really ready to do, and that leads to huge inefficiencies. … The data shows that very strongly.”

Kendall added that the data also surprised him by showing that “undefinitized contract actions do not generally correlate with total cost growth on early procurement contracts. We found that it is a factor in development, but we were worried that the effect was also statistically measurable in procurement but is, in fact, not.”

Kendall said he wants to do more work on understanding which factors matter and how they correlate, but that all analysis to date points to the importance of good management.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me,” the undersecretary said. “I’ve been emphasizing the professionalism of the acquisition workforce … it’s been a constant theme of mine.”

Any project benefits from better management, Kendall noted. “We could avoid a lot of our disasters, and we could do much better in the margins in all of our programs, the better we are at managing programs and making sound decisions,” he added.

Examining factors in cost growth always leads to “a whole host of additional questions you have to ask,” Kendall said. Future reports will examine more and different defense acquisition data and institutions, both government and industry, he noted.

“It will also expand on the analysis,” he said. “I’m very open to ideas about how we get at understanding what’s really going on in the acquisition system.”

Two key take-aways from the report, Kendall said, are first, that the United States has a decisive strategic edge in its military, which is the best in the world; and second, that “the fact that it may cost us too much and take us too long to get there shouldn’t be neglected, either.”

Kendall said he had expected many of the report’s findings.

“We knew that cost growth has been high and that the recent wars have placed a premium on technical performance and schedule at the expense of cost growth,” he said. “The report reinforces the importance of our Better Buying Power initiative that [Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter] and I began in 2010 and I have continued to expand.”

Kendall told reporters during a Pentagon briefing in May that Better Buying Power 2.0 is a step forward in “a very, very complicated business.”

Kendall said Better Buying Power 2.0 covers a wide range of products and services that defense acquisition requires. There were 23 initiatives in Better Buying Power 1.0, 34 in 2.0 and “another 100 things, at least, that we’re working on,” he said during that briefing.

This new report, Kendall said, offers an analytic basis for further action. “For example, the finding that fixed-price contracts are not a ‘magic bullet’ to controlling cost has reinforced my experience that we need to consider and select the most appropriate contract type given the maturity, system type and business strategy for each system,” he said.

The report’s findings should help “reinvigorate cost consciousness in our culture,” Kendall said.

“This is especially important now that we are winding down the wars and have such intense fiscal constraints on the department,” he said. “We all must weigh not just the benefits of a particular capability, but also its benefits given the cost to the taxpayers.”

Click here for the full report (126 PDF pages) on the Pentagon website./i>

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16 juin 2013 7 16 /06 /juin /2013 07:20
Does Competitive Defense Contracting Make Sense?

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Lexington Institute; issued June 13, 2013)


Competitive Defense Contracting: When It Makes Sense (and When It Doesn't)

Competition has become the mantra of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) acquisition corps. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Mr. Frank Kendall has gone on record saying “I think that nothing, nothing, works better than competition to drive cost down.” DoD has established metrics for competition, sort of like a quota system. Many more prime contracts are being competed. The idea is to the greatest extent possible to replicate the commercial marketplace.

Unfortunately, the defense marketplace does not resemble the ideal free market where competition produces optimal market efficiency. Indeed, there are reasons to believe that the competition goals set by DoD and the policies implemented to encourage competition are not contributing to acquisition cost savings. A recent study of the defense industrial base by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concluded that efforts to increase competition based on the presumption “that the defense industry operates like a normal free market is not only unlikely to improve efficiency, but have often made things worse.”

The defense sector is really a state monopoly and should be treated as such. There are approaches to improving performance and reducing costs such as performance-based contracts. But to pretend that this sector can be a mirror of the commercial marketplace is wrong and ultimately counterproductive to the goals of reducing costs for defense goods.

There is a natural place for competition in the defense marketplace. In the early phases of a major program – concept definition, technology development and risk reduction – there is value in competition. DoD has experimented with continuing a second contractor through later program stages, including into full-rate production, with mixed results. Also, there are a range of goods and services that are commoditized and can be treated the same in the defense market as they are in the commercial world. Hence, the defense customer can use competition to achieve reduced price for a specified level of performance. This kind of competition is inherent in the products themselves and in their use. It is natural.

But for platforms, major weapons systems and networks, products that are likely to be in the force for decades and undergo repeated upgrades, certainty, reliability, quality and effectiveness must be the considered. Beyond a rather obvious point, competition for this set of goods and services is not natural but forced.

Click here to download the full study as PDF (24 pages)

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