Spiral Technology and Capabilities Development for Rapid Transition to the Army
What is it?
Spiral technology and capabilities development for rapid transition (CDRT) is the Army’s method of getting capabilities to the Soldier quicker and with less fiscal and schedule risk than through the standard acquisition process. CDRT capitalizes on equipment successfully being used in the Global War on Terror but is limited in the scope of funding, production, and fielding. Equipment that falls into this category is normally introduced to the battlefield through the rapid-equipping force, the rapid-fielding initiative, program manager overtures, commercial-off-the-shelf purchases, and other efforts designed to get new systems to the operational force outside the standard procurement process.
What has the Army done?
CDRT is a rapid-equipping initiative that takes advantage of cutting-edge technology to meet current operational needs for forces deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). CDRT identifies new technologies that are equipping OIF and OEF units, evaluates their applicability to the Army at large, and recommends acceleration of these technologies for Army-wide application. Ultimately, CDRT identifies the best overall candidates among those rapid materiel solutions and recommends them for fielding to the Army at large as formal programs of record or as accelerations to existing programs.
There are three primary methods used to determine what equipment is introduced in theater. As combat operations in theater progress, both friendly and enemy forces continually adapt and modify their weapons systems, tactics, techniques, and procedures to react to, or drive, changes on the battlefield to gain the advantage. This combat dynamic creates a constant fluctuation in capabilities required for force protection, sustainment, and lethality. The Army analyzes how best to meet this fluctuation. If it requires a materiel (equipment) change, the Army uses the three following methods:
- Operational needs statements (ONSs). The Combatant Commander identifies needed capabilities and submits an ONS to Headquarters, Department of the Army, for approval. Army G-3, Operations and Plans, validates the requirement and G-8, Resource Management, resources the solution. Equipment is then fielded to meet the Combatant Commander’s ONS.
- Rapid equipment fielding. By tracking operational trends and battlefield statistics, the leadership identifies required capabilities and gets the equipment solution to the Combatant Commander.
- Technological innovation and development. The Army and private industry continually work to improve ways to protect our Soldiers and defeat threats. These efforts often lead to technological breakthroughs in equipment design, which are then fielded in theater after an appropriate testing and design phase.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army is undergoing a comprehensive change focused on enhancing the capabilities of frontline Soldiers and units to meet today’s requirements while preparing for the future. Spiraling technology from Future Combat Systems (FCS), the Army is rapidly moving its current force toward the characteristics envisioned for the FCS-equipped future force, which will consist of manned and unmanned systems within modular organizations. The Army is "spinning out" capabilities from the FCS program as rapidly as practical to achieve that goal. Just as emerging FCS capabilities enhance the current force, the current force’s operational experience informs the FCS program, further mitigating challenges and risk.
Why is this important to the Army?
The primary weakness of the current acquisition process is that it can take up to seven years to field a required capability. The primary weakness of off-the-shelf procurement is the lack of documentation and accountability for integration into the life-cycle logistics process. CDRT significantly reduces the time required to get new technologies into the field, while ensuring critical capabilities are fully documented and supported over time.