The INSIDER - September 4, 2012
The Army is working on its future via the network integration evaluation process, which -- as Inside the Army reports this week -- is growing in size, scope and importance:
Army Considers New Partners, Remote Participation For Upcoming NIEs
The Army is expecting greater roles for the Marine Corps, the Air Force and international partners in future network integration evaluation events as officials prepare for the first-ever NIE participation of a weapon system located hundreds of miles away, according to an Army official.
The plans follow a recent trend toward a wider aperture for what service leaders are calling an acquisition process in its own right. Following a series of failures over the past decade, Army leaders have touted the biannual NIE at Ft. Bliss, TX, and White Sands Missile Range, NM, as a major breakthrough in reforming service acquisition processes.
"As you begin to look at 2014 and other potential capability gaps, [we are] expanding the scope beyond the network," service spokesman Paul Mehney said. "The network is still going to be the centralized focus of the evaluations, but we're looking at what other types of capabilities we can bring in."
Meanwhile, over in Afghanistan the Army is putting cargo robot systems through their paces:
Initial Feedback Positive For Cargo Robot Vehicle's Performance In Theater
Four autonomous, car-sized cargo robots sent to Afghanistan for testing performed well when embedded with a dismounted infantry battalion, according to a Maneuver Center of Excellence official involved with the assessment.
The Rapid Equipping Force, charged with overseeing the deployment of the Squad Mission Support System vehicles, has been tight-lipped about the results of the 120-day assessment that began in theater in January. But John Clements, a capability developer at the service's Maneuver Center of Excellence, divulged some details at an Aug. 28 Institute for Defense and Government Advancement military robotics conference in Alexandria, VA.
When the SMSS arrived overseas and was embedded with a Stryker unit, "they were a little bit lukewarm, of course, but by the 120-day mark, when tragically, we had to bring [the vehicles] home, the overall consensus was, 'We want to keep them,'" Clements said. The Army leased the four vehicles from Lockheed Martin.
And Inside the Navy reports on a Marine Corps roadmap for unmanned ground systems:
USMC Unmanned Ground Systems Roadmap Awaiting Top-Level Review
A roadmap for the Marine Corps' unmanned ground vehicle development is awaiting senior-level review and signature but is already beginning to shape work at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and elsewhere in the service, the roadmap's author said last week.
The roadmap went through the approval and comments cycle, which ended in March, and though it is not an official policy and acquisition guide until it is signed, "it's a helper in kind of pointing the direction of where we think we'll be going in the future," said Bill Powers, research fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies' Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities, a think-tank that directly supports the Marine Corps.
The roadmap outlines near-term issues for the present through 2015, where Powers says the focus is on the counter-improvised explosive device mission. Overseas Contingency Operations funding has helped this mission along greatly, leading it to be the most advanced of all the Marine Corps' priorities for unmanned ground systems. Route reconnaissance and clearance has also made good progress, he told Inside the Navy, and the systems that have been developed will begin transitioning to full-network capability to send and receive data and commands.
JIEDDO Moving To Field Ultralight Recon Robot, Axing Most UGVs
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization is moving forward with a lightweight reconnaissance robot that can be tossed ahead by troops, having wrapped up a field test this summer to get operator-feedback on three robots.
JIEDDO Beginning To Look At Water-Borne Threats For Post-Afghanistan
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization is beginning to look beyond the IED threat in Afghanistan and consider how it may assist combatant commanders around the globe, a JIEDDO official said last week.
DSB: To Help With Autonomy, DOD Should Create Coordinated S&T Program
In light of findings that the Pentagon is underutilizing autonomous technology, the Defense Department's research and engineering chief should work with military services to develop a coordinated science and technology program that would strengthen key enabling technologies, a new Defense Science Board report recommends.
Briefing Slides On JIEDDO's Robotics Programs
On Aug. 29, 2012, Navy Cdr. Cedric Richardson gave a presentation on the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's robotics programs.
Marine Corps Briefing Slides On Ground Robotics
The Aug. 29, 2012, briefing slides outline the Marine Corps' ground robotics efforts.
DSB Report On 'The Role Of Autonomy In DOD Systems'
The July 2012 Defense Science Board report, released Aug. 30, 2012, recommends that in light of findings that the Pentagon is underutilizing autonomous technology, the Defense Department's research and engineering chief should work with military services to develop a coordinated science and technology program that would strengthen key enabling technologies.
More from this week's Inside the Navy, this time on submarines:
Navy Completing Total Ownership Cost Study For Virginia-Class Subs
The Navy is completing a reduction-of-total-ownership cost study to scale back the operational support cost for Virginia-class submarines, which the service expects will wrap up before a request for proposals for the Block IV contract is released, according to a service official.
The current plan for a Virginia-class sub is a 33-year service life with four major depot availabilities. The study is looking to reduce the number of depot availabilities from four to three over a sub's service life, which enables the boat to have 15 deployments instead of 14, Capt. David Goggins, Virginia-class program manager, told Inside the Navy in an Aug. 27 interview at Washington Navy Yard.
"By going from four down to three major availabilities, there is a reduction in the [operations and sustainment] cost," Goggins said.
POM and Circumstance.
MEADS in the news again:
Sources: Army Told To Rework POM Proposal To Address Patriot, MEADS
Pentagon leaders have directed the Army to rework the service's initial program objective memorandum proposal to address congressional concerns about a lack of planning in upgrading the service's air and missile-defense capabilities, Inside the Army has learned.
The direction came after Army officials briefed their new spending plan, which begins with fiscal year 2014, to the Office of the Secretary of Defense last month. Officials in government and industry said the proposal was murky on the issue of incorporating elements of the Medium Extended Air Defense System into what the Army essentially envisioned as a Patriot modernization plan.
Details are scarce because Pentagon leaders prohibit the discussion of spending plans as they are being hammered out. But sources said that in ordering the revisions, Defense Department officials pointed to red flags raised in a Senate Appropriations Committee report last month. "The committee is concerned that the program lacks clearly identified requirements, a competitive acquisition strategy and a full understanding of costs," panelists wrote. "These are factors that frequently lead to acquisition failures."
More news of note:
Odierno Investigation Of ATEC Palantir Report To Wrap Up In September
An investigation led by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno into whether an Army Test and Evaluation Command report was doctored to downplay positive user feedback of a commercial, off-the-shelf intelligence software application and negative feedback of the service's own software should wrap up this month, according to a spokesman in Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-CA) office.
Marines: Analysis Of Alternatives For DPT Slated To Wrap Up In FY-13
The Marine Corps is conducting an analysis of alternatives that will wrap up in the second quarter of fiscal year 2013 for the disable point target within its non-lethal weapons portfolio, according to a service official.
-- Dan Dupont
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