… acquisition productivity is at an all time low for command and control and information systems…
Warfare has always been a tactical activity designed to coordinate large groups of people and weaponry to better the opposing forces. Those who win do so using superior warfare operations built upon advanced knowledge of enemy location, tactics, weapons, and plans. Such knowledge is obtained through forward sensors or scouts able to accommodate the commanders needs and communicate obtained information back to the commander in sufficient time to make a difference; i.e. Command and Control (C2) the battlefield.
Modern command and control remains dependent upon best knowledge of the opponents location, tactics, weapons, and plans, now supported by an elaborate array of remote and local sensors tied together with communications used to quickly move and evaluate sensed information. Through computer automation we are able to store, analyze, and display information designed to augment the commanders knowledge, and hence advantage, before and in time of battle.
…The problem is that our enemies have access to the same commercial information technology used within the DoD. If they become agile with this technology, our operating forces could be at a disadvantage despite our Country’s confidence that our high technology weapon our high technology weapon systems will always prevail.
Today’s information technology is dominated by the convergence of:
- Very dense integrated circuit chips;
- Packet switched communication networks; and,
- High speed computation in small physical packages.
The application of this technology has shifted the source for the bulk of command and control system technology from DoD “created” to “adoption” of commercial systems and software packages. Our current and future command and control system capabilities fall short of commanders needs because the complex DoD acquisition system has not adequately adapted to pace commercial technology advances and best practices, despite bureaucratic proclamations to the contrary.
DoD Directive 5000 is the policy “bible” for acquiring material systems and infrastructure for the Department which is designed to provide timely systems by definition.
“3.1. The Defense Acquisition System is the management process by which the Department of Defense provides effective, affordable, and timely systems to the users.”
According to DoDD 5000, five key areas describe the primary policies that govern the Defense acquisition system:
“4.3. The following policies shall govern the Defense Acquisition System:
4.3.1. Flexibility. There is no one best way to structure an acquisition program to accomplish the objective of the Defense Acquisition System. MDAs [milestone decision authority] and PMs [program managers] shall tailor program strategies and oversight, including documentation of program information, acquisition phases, the timing and scope of decision reviews, and decision levels, to fit the particular conditions of that program, consistent with applicable laws and regulations and the time-sensitivity of the capability need.
4.3.2. Responsiveness. Advanced technology shall be integrated into producible systems and deployed in the shortest time practicable. Approved, time-phased capability needs matched with available technology and resources enable evolutionary acquisition strategies. Evolutionary acquisition strategies are the preferred approach to satisfying operational needs. Spiral development is the preferred process for executing such strategies.
4.3.3. Innovation. Throughout the Department of Defense, acquisition professionals shall continuously develop and implement initiatives to streamline and improve the Defense Acquisition System. MDAs and PMs shall examine and, as appropriate, adopt innovative practices (including best commercial practices and electronic business solutions) that reduce cycle time and cost, and encourage teamwork.
4.3.4. Discipline. PMs shall manage programs consistent with statute and the regulatory requirements specified in this Directive and in reference (b). Every PM shall establish program goals for the minimum number of cost, schedule, and performance parameters that describe the program over its life cycle. Approved program baseline parameters shall serve as control objectives. PMs shall identify deviations from approved acquisition program baseline parameters and exit criteria.
4.3.5. Streamlined and Effective Management. Responsibility for the acquisition of systems shall be decentralized to the maximum extent practicable. The MDA shall provide a single individual with sufficient authority to accomplish MDA-approved program objectives for development, production, and sustainment. The MDA shall ensure accountability and maximize credibility in cost, schedule, and performance reporting.”
Given the millions of professionals from both within the DoD and from across the contractor community struggling to provide effective command & control and information systems for the DoD, one has to wonder what has become of the policy to provide “effective, affordable, and timely systems to the users.” Even more intriguing is what has become of the five strategic policies of flexibility, responsiveness, innovation, discipline, and streamlined and effective management. For information based systems characterized as “software intensive,” it is even more curious where the notion of evolution and best commercial practices has gotten lost.
The answer lies in the bureaucratic creep of the thousands of well intentioned military, civil service, and political appointed personnel engaged in the acquisition practice of “program oversight” which is designed to prevent program failures and the misuse of taxpayer revenue. If one could easily count up the number of people engaged in program oversight in software intensive C2 or information system programs relative to the number of people actually creating software and supporting system infrastructure, it would be easy to see that we are operating from the upside down triangle approach to resource allocation. That is, we have far more people engaged in program oversight than we have actually writing computer programs and assembling system capability.
If this were only about effectively spending tax payer dollars and delaying command & control capability to the war fighters it would not be as serious. The problem is that our enemies have access to the same commercial information technology used within the DoD. If they become agile with this technology, our operating forces could be at a disadvantage despite our Country’s confidence that our high technology weapon systems will always prevail.
- Today’s military warfare commanders and business leaders share a common need
- Both must dynamically access the environment and create an effective response
- Rapidly evolving information technology provides the basis for assessment of the environment and coordinating the organizations response
- Success for both is tightly coupled to the effectiveness of their information systems and the related obtained knowledge
- Those that adapt to the changing environment succeeded over those that fail to adapt
- Our Nations’ risk adverse military acquisition system is strangling military information systems and jeopardizing our over tasked military commanders