May 13, 2014
- The SMP is our systematic approach to setting long-term equipping and sustainment priorities, resulting in a well-thought-out, annually updated 30-year modernization strategy.
In November 2012, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, the materiel developer for virtually all individual equipment Soldiers use in combat, presented its 30-Year Modernization Strategy to Army Acquisition Executive (AAE) the Hon. Heidi Shyu. The strategy was the product of a concerted effort among members of the Soldier enterprise (SE)--the capability, technology and materiel developers responsible for the Soldier portfolio--and the start of a systematic approach to setting long-term equipping priorities for the Soldier. This approach, which goes into considerably greater detail than the AAE's strategic planning called for, reflects capabilities conceptualized and aligned across decades.
At the heart of the SE's 30-year strategy is the Soldier Modernization Process (SMP). Within this process, which the SE initiated in early 2013, are integrated schedules linking the most urgent Soldier capability gaps to emerging requirements, in-development materiel solutions, science and technology (S&T) efforts and projected sustainment needs, with the overall goal to support development of materiel solutions for the Soldier.
The SE identified nine high-priority gaps in Soldier capabilities across four focus areas: mission command and situational awareness, lethality, mobility and protection. The SMP examined each of those out to 2048, laying out the anticipated start and end dates of specific programs of record (PORs), S&T efforts and requirement documents in specific fiscal years. Each integrated schedule graphically illustrates each organization's contribution to a particular effort, specifically a requirement document, milestone event or achievement of a specific technology readiness level. If the requirement document isn't going to be ready, the associated POR can't start, and the planned S&T effort might be obsolete before it can feed into the POR.
This detailed, multidimensional planning required an uncommon degree of coordination--numerous meetings and teleconferences bringing the action officers together to ensure that all partners were on the same page and to reduce duplication of efforts.
The modernization planning process begins with concepts, provided by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC's) Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE), which drive threat-informed capabilities-based assessments (CBAs) resulting in a prioritized list of gaps. Capability and materiel developers then collaborate to produce requirement documents that address the DOTMLPF domains--doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities--to mitigate those gaps based on currently available technology.
At this point, the process calls for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) S&T community to provide technologies to address any remaining gaps. If that is not feasible, then the SE may delay the requirement, or look to industry or academia for further development of the necessary technology.
The SE tracks these technologies over a specific time frame, using the integrated schedule. S&T partners--such as the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC); the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC); and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC)--not only work to narrow capability gaps but also provide insights into future technologies to inform the
In addition, as the product manager and TRADOC proponents manage capabilities that have been fielded, sustainment decisions may be necessary that could drive new requirement documents. Sustainment decisions are also necessary when a lack of funding or insufficient maturity of materiel solutions delays requirement documents. Instead of modernizing a capability, the decision to sustain an item is necessary to keep that current capability within the Army.
The SMP takes the fundamentals of planning as a materiel enterprise to a new level. Whereas the focus over the past 13 years of war has been primarily on getting the needed equipment to the Soldier as quickly as possible to meet urgent needs, the SMP calls on all the members of the SE to pinpoint exactly where each of their pieces of the process will come into play. Thus they can see the impacts on people and programs if some aspect falls behind schedule or needs to be accelerated.
'DEEP DIVE' ASSESSMENTS
The SMP enables tracking of critical efforts out to 2048 through "deep dives" into the top nine Soldier capability gaps.
Preparation for these deep dives, the first of which was in March 2013 at Fort Belvoir, VA, requires all the stakeholders to understand the others' roles and missions. Detailed planning for the next 30-plus years is difficult enough for the materiel developer, not to mention factoring in when requirements must be generated to support future PORs, and when and where the S&T efforts might transition along the life cycle. Tackling these challenges called for new skills--working outside of one's own stovepipe with the rest of the SE, and thinking beyond the program objective memorandum (POM) to arrive at a holistic, enterprisewide view of a Soldiers' capabilities and planning to achieve those capabilities. Until recently, strategic planning typically has occurred only through a POM cycle.
In the first SMP deep dive, subject-matter experts from the capability, technology and materiel development communities presented the findings of several months of analysis. This culminated in the development of integrated schedules for small unit power, limited visibility and lethality enablers, and Soldier protection, specifically the Soldier Protection System. SE leaders traced current and projected requirement documents, technology transitions and PORs out to 2048 for these three capability areas. The integrated schedules included decision points at which equipment modernization might be necessary through new starts. They also highlighted current capabilities that might be "good enough" and require sustainment, and identified potential technology insertion points for the expected next generation of that capability.
Additionally, the collaborative sessions afforded the SE a detailed assessment of each gap through the lens of the three different developers. For example:
• During the discussion on small unit power, participants identified a decision point for additional funding to enable modernization of this critical capability, which helps reduce the logistical footprint and results in a leaner force. The SMP also underscored that the power requirements for the Soldier are enormous and ever-increasing--requiring more than just better-designed batteries, which the Soldier still must transport. This fact also arose during the deep dive on mobility. (See below.)
• Our assessment of lethality enablers underscored that, given the age and life expectancy of existing Thermal Weapon Sights (TWS), specifically the future availability of focal plane arrays within the sights, it is imperative to continue development of the Family of Weapon Sights (FWS) (individual, crew-served and sniper variants). These critical sustainment issues, plus the need to maintain overmatch and improve lethality, highlighted the need to focus on FWS and supported work to ensure funding for this key capability.
• Our protection assessment determined that while the Soldier Protection System may be the next generation of Soldier protection, the long-term sustainment of existing protection capabilities needs to continue.
A second deep dive took place in June 2013 at Fort Benning, Ga.. Stakeholders included not only the capability, technology and materiel developers from ARCIC and MCoE, NSRDEC and CERDEC, and PEO Soldier, respectively, but also HQDA staff members from G-3, G-4 and G-8. The HQDA representatives provided the "Big Army" view of the integrated schedules and assessments as they related to requirements, sustainment and funding. During this deep dive, the SE concentrated its efforts on night vision (NV) and maneuver enablers, mission command and situational awareness, specifically Nett Warrior and load carriage. For example:
• The integrated schedule for NV and maneuver enablers underscored that parts for current NV systems will become outdated or obsolete as the technology advances, and manufacturers won't produce them anymore. In addition, the deep dive identified several sustainment decision points in the near future.
• Although pushing the network to the tactical edge remains the number one capability gap at the squad level, fiscal realities and programmed solutions, such as Nett Warrior, will require a review of existing mission command capabilities at each echelon within the Army formations to determine what is feasible.
• The load carriage deep dive, which focused on efforts to solve the issue of overburdened Soldiers, determined that equipment off-loading and power generation could be potential solutions. The Squad Multi-purpose Equipment Transport (SMET), a robotic mule, could take equipment off the Soldier and provide power generation but would require additional resources. MCoE has identified the SMET as an effort that should compete for funding in the FY 17-21 POM, and the requisite requirements documents are being finalized.
The third deep dive was in August 2013, again at Fort Belvoir, and the focus was lethality, specifically improving it and maintaining overmatch. Participation again went beyond the immediate stakeholders to include PEO Ammunition, allowing for the deep dive to look at ammunition and weapon as a system. This included efforts in counter-defilade target engagement (CDTE), volume effects and precision effects:
• The CDTE discussion determined that the Army should pursue development of 40 mm and shoulder-launched munition solutions as complementary capabilities to the current CDTE solution, the XM25.
• The volume effects deep dive highlighted the possibility of potential industrial base issues associated with machine gun production lines going cold, such as for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and M240 7.62 mm medium machine gun. Furthermore, much discussion centered on the need for a small arms ammunition configuration study, in line with the HQDA G-3 directive of Dec. 5, 2013. The purpose of the study is "to provide an updated ammunition solution assessment to mitigate the capability gaps prescribed in the Small Arms CBA, and inform small arms weapons priorities and modernization strategy."
• The discussion of precision effects succeeded in further alignment of the sniper weapons strategy among the stakeholders.
The capability, technology and materiel developers who make up the SE are committed to investing in capabilities that will give Soldiers a decisive edge to achieve battlefield dominance. The SMP is our systematic approach to setting long-term equipping and sustainment priorities, resulting in a well-thought-out, annually updated 30-year modernization strategy.
The key to the SMP is the integrated schedule. By requiring each participant to indicate when their part of a capability effort's life cycle is to occur, each organization accepts responsibility for the success of the total effort. The time and work devoted to developing the nine deep dive assessments continue to be extremely productive for the SE.
The deep dive integrated schedules and assessments provide the basis for the annual Soldier and Squad Systems Review, with senior leader participation from TRADOC, the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the U.S. Army Forces Command. The SMP deep dives also inform the G-8's Soldier Portfolio Long Range Investment Requirements Analysis. Additionally, the Army chief of staff's ongoing Force 2025 initiative seeks to develop similar road-mapping efforts across the Army. By aligning the Soldier portfolio, the SMP provides a unified modernization strategy for the SE and presentation to leadership. Furthermore, the current environment of fiscal constraint only highlights the need for the SE to exercise autonomy in long-range planning.
The integrated schedules developed during the deep dives are living documents. The next updates will align with the release of MCoE's updated Soldier CBA later this year. CBAs identify capability requirements and gaps, and typically justify entry into the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System process for identifying, assessing, validating and prioritizing joint military capability requirements. Aligning future SMP updates with the Soldier CBA will continue to solidify the modernization strategy for Soldier efforts.
The FY13 deep dives were a horizontal look at the top nine Soldier capability gaps. Besides updating these nine gaps, the SMP will examine other areas within the Soldier portfolio. The SE's current deep dive focuses on small arms fire control, with future deep dives to look at indirect precision effects targeting, aircrew-specific equipment, and micro drones and sensors, to name a few capability areas.
The next step for the SMP, after all of the deep dives are complete, will be to take a vertical look at capabilities across the Soldier portfolio, to gain a true understanding of the interrelationships.
This vertical look will lay out all of the deep dives to see potential points of intersection, which will allow the SE to influence future programming and budget decisions within the Soldier portfolio. Additionally, we will review past work to ensure that we are in line with the Army Vision Force 2025 and Beyond efforts.
The decisions that have emerged so far from the deep dives could not have happened if all SE stakeholders were not working together. In most cases, the value of the SMP was more in the actual sitting down, planning and learning to work smarter within the SE than the integrated schedules that the participants produced. When capability gaps, requirement documents, technologies and PORs are all part of a coherent story and all stakeholders in the enterprise are in agreement, we will be that much more efficient and effective in improving Soldier dominance in Army operations, today and in the future.
For more information, contact the author at 703-704-4216.