March 31, 2011, Gen. Chiarelli remarks at the Army Test and Evaluation Command Commanders Conference
April 12, 2011
Good morning. Maj. Gen. Dellarocco, thank you for that introduction and thanks for the great work you're doing on behalf of our Army and the Nation as Commanding General of the Army's Test and Evaluation Command.
I want to take this opportunity to express to all of you my deep appreciation for your hard work and many sacrifices, as well as those of your families. What you do is absolutely critical to the safety and success of our Soldiers-both at home and abroad. And, I know you and your colleagues have been especially busy over the past decade of war.
I'd like to talk briefly today about some of the challenges we are facing as an Army; areas where I believe we can and should make needed improvements. You are in a position to help; and, this conference provides a great opportunity to get together and discuss what must be done.
Bottom line: we need to find ways to speed up our acquisition and test and evaluation processes for two reasons.
First, our Soldiers serving in harm's way cannot afford to sit and wait. As TRADOC and user representatives downrange identify capability gaps, we must address these gaps and provide appropriate resources and equipment as quickly as possible.
Second, the pace of technology is accelerating rapidly. And, while the commercial industry has clearly demonstrated its ability to sustain this growth, we seem hell-bent against making any modifications to our processes or relaxing restrictions that might improve our ability to take advantage of innovative and emerging technologies. Let's face it, as an institution, our military consistently puts up many of the biggest barriers to making meaningful and needed change. Over the course of this war we've seen this demonstrated time and time again with systems like Command Post of the Future-or "CPOF" and the Tactical Ground Reporting System-or "TIGR."
Back in 2004, I faced tremendous resistance from this community when, as the 1st Cavalry Division Commander, I deployed with CPOF, the experimental command and control system developed by DARPA that enables distributive and, more importantly, collaborative command and control. I was told 'you can't take it with you,' 'it's not ready,' 'it hasn't been sufficiently tested.' Yet, I flat-out refused -and, I had the support of General Cody - to leave a system - even an experimental system - behind that could provide a potentially life-saving capability to Soldiers in theater. And, it proved to be one of the best decisions I made in my military career. The same thing happened with TIGR. Again, against incredible resistance it was fielded in Iraq at the end of 2006, and, then only - only - because Soldiers demanded it. It, too, immediately began paying tremendous dividends.
Now, I readily acknowledge that systems - like CAVNET, CPOF and TIGR - are by no means perfect solutions. In fact, when we fielded them they were probably closer to the 75 percent solution than the 95 percent solution. But, that's okay. The reality is instead of waiting several years for perfection or even near perfection, we should be striving to get the best possible solution: Capabilities that are mature enough to satisfy immediate requirements downrange out the door to the operational force as quickly as possible.
To do so will require strong support from our test and evaluation community as well. I believe we must shift our focus from requirements-based testing to capabilities-based testing. Recognizing that, again, the latter may only represent the 70 or 80 percent solution. However, what's important to understand is that even at 70 or 80 percent, it may well be the 150 percent solution as compared to the legacy systems currently on hand.
Too often it seems we get caught up in a vicious 'test-fix-test' cycle.... a capability is tested, some aspect of it doesn't work or it doesn't meet the exact requirements, usually written years earlier, the developer goes back, fixes the problem and the cycle starts all over again. The whole process can take several years. And, what ends up happening is the capability never makes it to the field. It only becomes more and more irrelevant. Instead, we should be fielding the 70 or 80 percent solution-as quickly as possible; we can then update or improve the capability incrementally over time. This is the model the Army is currently instituting with the Network and the Ground Combat Vehicle or "GCV."
The "Big Four" imperatives for the GCV are full spectrum capability, minimum MRAP level of protection, 9-man squad capacity, and a 7-year timeline to first production vehicle. This last imperative-timing, is going to be largely dependent upon the execution of a very efficient developmental test plan. We cannot waste a whole bunch of time and money chasing requirements. We want to get to that 80 percent solution; we want the test and evaluation community to verify the vehicle is safe, suitable, survivable and effective; declare success; call it "Increment 1;" and, leave the final margin of capability for the next increment. The reality is we could end up testing the daylights out of the GCV and end up killing our own program!
In this same vein, I believe developmental testers and operational testers need to continue to find ways to work together and, you're headed in the right direction, I believe, with the planned reorganization within ATEC. In the past, there's always been a 'wall' between the two. Developmental testers did their thing and when they were done the operational testers did their thing. And, they flat out refused to refer to the others' test results because they claim they wanted an 'unbiased' look at the system or capability. However, this ends up being very costly considering much of the testing is redundant.
Now, let me be clear-I fully realize we cannot combine the two separate test activities. "DT" is regulatory and "OT" is statutory and each plays an important role. But, we should be looking to leverage efficiencies between them. It's not un-like the offense and defense squads on a football team. While they have two totally different roles on the field, they are part of a team. And, they play off of each other and support one another. Occasionally the defense will make a play that allows the offense to score, such as a turnover or interception. If the defense recovers the ball on the 3-yard line the offense isn't sent back to its own 20-yard line and made to drive 80-yards for a touchdown. To the contrary, the offense benefits-and, rightly so-from the efforts and hard work of their teammates on defense. Likewise, the different 'squads' on this team-the developmental and operational testers, should actively be looking for opportunities to work better and more effectively as a team.
I also believe, in general, we should be looking for new and innovative ways to employ existing, mature technologies. Let's face it-building a capability from scratch under the DoD 5000.2 system takes a very, very long time-ten to twelve years or more in many cases. Meanwhile, the protracted timeframe all but ensures anything we build will be obsolete by the time it is fielded.
We must find alternative solutions while we work with DoD and Congress to update the Department's 'Cold War-era' acquisition system. I believe the most obvious answer is readily apparent downrange. Over the past nearly decade of war, we've been able to purchase many of the critical capabilities-including radios, unmanned aerial systems, and individual Soldier weapons-as "COTS-NDI"-or Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Non-Developmental Items. Requests made by commanders on the ground come through the system as ONS or JUONS and, they are satisfied almost immediately. All of you know as well as anyone how this works. You're also intimately aware of the challenges associated with rapidly fielding equipment into theater.
I'll give you a great example. Early on in the war in Iraq, the Marine Corps fielded active jammers in the west and the Army fielded passive jammers in Baghdad and north and south of Baghdad. The thought was the two wouldn't interfere with one another because the forces were located in different regions of the country. Well, the reality is Soldiers and Marines were interspersed throughout Iraq. And, any time a Marine Corps vehicle came anywhere near an Army vehicle it literally blew the passive jammers off the system in a pretty large radius!
The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected or "MRAP" vehicle is another great example. Responding to the increased incidence of IED attacks downrange early on in the current conflicts, Secretary Gates made the decision to buy and field these vehicles as fast as industry could produce them. And, it proved to be one of the absolute best decisions of this war. I was recently at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where I saw nine kids, six with multiple amputations. And every one of them credited the MRAP or MRAP-ATV with saving his life.
That said, nobody will argue the MRAP was the "perfect" solution. Industry has made a number of improvements and fixes since the first vehicles arrived in theater in 2006-some of them fairly significant. Yet, while the MRAP wasn't the "perfect" solution, the fact remains it provided a much-needed capability downrange. There is no telling how many arms, legs, and lives the vehicle has saved over the years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anyone who believes we should stick with the current requirements-based testing system should ask him- or herself-where we would be in the 'test-fix-test' cycle today if we had had to complete the full requirements-based testing process before fielding the MRAP. I would argue we'd still be years away from sending the first vehicles downrange.
Our ability to quickly field a mixture of COTS and limited developmental items in theater has been absolutely essential to our success in this war. Yet, even now, this method is considered an exception to policy-rather than an accepted practice. It makes no sense to me. I believe we should be routinely leveraging available technologies and building capabilities to meet the needs of our warfighters. The test and evaluation community should verify the capabilities are safe, suitable, survivable and effective; and, we should field them. The capability can then be further improved or enhanced incrementally over time. This represents a much more efficient business model.
I'd even go a step further and argue you're likely to get better, more accurate feedback on the capabilities and limitations of a system once it's in the hands of Soldiers employing it in an operational environment. They represent your best testers-and, as you know, they have no problem being honest and frank in their assessments.
In fact, we ought to be looking for any and every opportunity to capture relevant data using systems already in theater. Rather than postponing fielding-or worse, dragging a capability back to CONUS for testing, why not hook up the necessary instruments and test the systems downrange where it's practical' We've all heard the expression, 'building the airplane as we fly it.' Well, that's not necessarily a bad idea, in my opinion. I cannot say it enough times: The goal should be to get an initial capability fielded that can be improved incrementally over time as needs change and technologies mature.
The Network is a great example....
Rather than trying to determine now what the Army's Network should look like in 10- or 20-years in order to write a detailed requirements document that's all but guaranteed to prove obsolete-probably even before the ink's dry, we should consider available technologies. The Army would set threshold requirements for Network acquisition programs equal to the best demonstrated performance of the systems we are currently using in theater to meet JUONS. Meanwhile, the Army would use TRADOC analysis to establish objective requirements to fulfill needs unmet in the current conflict and needs that may emerge in future conflicts.
In theory, we could simply schedule a new operational test every year and then buy the best thing available that year. We might end up spending tens of millions of dollars testing new products each year, but that may prove to be a much more cost-effective investment than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on 'fill-in-the-blank' programs that never yield the perfect solution-and certainly not quickly.
The reality is we've begun doing something very similar to this at Fort Bliss, Texas. This past June, the Army conducted the initial Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercises. These exercises were conducted by the Army's Evaluation Task Force. The AETF will now serve as the Network's primary test unit with a two-fold intent to remove the integration burden from the operational units and to provide an operational venue to evaluate new technologies and network capabilities.
The next important step is to ensure we're able to take full advantage of these and all test events to generate actual acquisition decisions that result in procurement of the tested systems. It drives me absolutely crazy when I go to Fort Bliss or elsewhere and see Soldiers using technology that would clearly improve their effectiveness and survivability on the battlefield, only to see us spend another twelve months debating whether or not we should proceed to a formal operational test that might eventually yield to a procurement decision. We cannot afford unnecessary or avoidable delays when our Soldiers are in harm's way. We must ensure we're doing whatever we can to get needed capabilities into the hands of our warfighters as quickly as possible. We have also got to look at ways of driving down the cost of these systems; and, you play an important role in this effort.
I do believe we are headed in the right direction. And, all of you deserve much of the credit. The truth is you are contributing to the change in culture. And, that's a good thing. More and more, testers are perceived as being a part of the solution rather than "no men" and "no women," or "roadblocks to progress."
That said, I do recognize there's some concern within the test and evaluation community. Change of any kind, is never easy. In an effort to alleviate some of the anxiety, I would like to take this opportunity to dispel a few of the myths and rumors I have heard recently.
But, first-I want to commend Maj. Gen. Dellarocco and all of you on the truly outstanding job you've done as part of the Army's ongoing workforce efficiency reviews. There's obviously a lot of talk and a great deal of concern regarding cuts in defense spending and the impacts of the continuing resolution. Certainly we'd all prefer fewer cuts and more money. However, if there's a 'silver lining' to be found in this struggling economy, in my opinion, it's that it's forced all of us-government, industry and private individuals, to look at how we spend money and find ways to save more and stretch what funds we do have further.
Over the past year or so, the Army has worked very, very hard through our Capability Portfolio Review process to identify efficiencies and cost-savings across our Force. And, in doing so we've identified a number of areas where we're able to make changes, pinpoint gaps and eliminate redundancies or outdated requirements.
We started this process focusing principally on materiel, specifically our acquisition programs. We've since expanded it to include our organizational structures including a comprehensive review of the roles, missions and functions of individual positions. I will tell you-this process becomes much, much more difficult when you're talking about people rather than vehicles and equipment.
Now, what I want to make very clear is that we are not looking to fire people as part of our efficiencies review. We are looking to eliminate redundant or excess positions and authorizations and, we are confident we will be able to achieve the necessary reductions over time through natural attrition due to retirements and voluntary separations, BRAC moves and prudent hiring decisions. I hope this explanation alleviates any concerns you may have regarding the capability portfolio review process. I'd ask you to carry this message back to your individual organizations. And, certainly if there are any other rumors floating around I'd be happy to address them as well during Q&A.
I sincerely hope I've given you all something to talk about this morning! Please do not take my challenge as criticism. There is great work being done across our Army and, particularly within the test and evaluation community. I truly mean that you have played an absolutely vital role in helping to get critical capabilities into the hands of our warfighters over the past decade of war. And, you are continuing to do so. Just consider how far we've come over the past year to get the Stryker "Double-V" Hull system into theater this summer-it's truly amazing. And, I could go on and on with other examples.
I'd ask you to keep up the great work! Remember-we're all on the same team; and, our individual and collective efforts are on behalf of the great young men and women selflessly serving all over the world. We owe it to them to do our very, very best.
Thanks to you and your colleagues back home for the great work you've done-and will continue to do in the days ahead. Now I'll be happy to answer any questions.