GCS AoAs Tackle Army's Big Problems
November 7, 2012
For more than a year, U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate's (SLAD) Janet Short led her team through ambitious project timelines to complete the Army's Program Executive Officer Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS) analyses of alternatives (AoAs). Short, SLAD program leader for the GCS AoAs, and her team cleared a final milestone this summer, completing the first review of the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) AoAs draft report in June. The report was written by the study's-lead, Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), with support from other Army analytical organizations like SLAD. AMPV is the Army's second-highest-priority program.
Short was forewarned that this effort would not be typical of previous AoAs. Army leadership was requesting support of four major analyses simultaneously, rather than a single AoA.
"Supporting more than one AoA at a single time is outside of the norm. In theory, each Army analytical organization meets to determine how to resource a single AoA and lay out a path forward," Short said.
However, in January 2011, there were unique circumstances and demands coming through from Army leadership that necessitated the simultaneous analyses. Several systems across various Army program managers (PMs) were in the throes of needing system upgrades-the fleet of Bradley M2/M3 tracked armored fighting vehicles, the M1A2 Abrams tank, and the Stryker family of vehicles. In addition to these upgrades, the M113A3 armored personnel carrier system was under examination to pave the way for a new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) fleet.
Based on a 2011 Army fleet management study, four major analyses were required to determine the optimal mix of vehicles across the four fleets.
Short reflected on the experience remarking, "This was a huge effort and I am amazed at how much they were able to accomplish in the past 15-plus months. I cannot explain well enough how amazing the team's accomplishments were given the extremely ambitious timeline."
AoAs are the cornerstone of the Army acquisition process. They serve as a means to explore multiple alternatives for materiel solutions so agencies have a basis for funding the best possible projects. AoAs have become progressively more important because they offer a faster way to make thorough decisions.
"Janet Short's DOGS Team has supported Army AoAs on a consistent basis since 2009, but SLAD has supported AoAs at the directorate level for much longer," said Scott Price, data reviewer and analyst for the Ground Mobile Branch. "This project was by far the biggest AoA we've supported though, given the number of vehicles we analyzed."
According to Short, the directorate's leadership also recognized this as an opportunity for the organization. "From the beginning of the project, they have provided the backing and flexibility that allowed us to allocate the needed resources to support the AoAs."
SLAD's Scott Price and Paula Smith were the primary analysts, and Scott Hornung served as the leader of the Target Modeling Team. "Typically we spend three to four months conducting the analysis portion for each target," said Smith, analyst for the Ground Mobile Branch and system leader for the Bradley and Abrams. "In this case, we were being asked to do each target in four weeks or less in the midst of changing system requirements and target definitions."
"Our role was to accurately represent the threat-target interaction within the defined simulation parameters," said Hornung. This undertaking far exceeded normal process parameters, particularly in the developmental piece for the target modeling. So much so, Hornung commented, "I could say that almost every member of my team touched this project at some point." There were nearly twenty vehicles developed for analysis, of which almost 25% were conceptual in nature.
SLAD's Target Modeling Team is responsible for creating 3D computer aided design (CAD) models of a target vehicle. These models need to be as realistic as possible, as the validity of the simulation depends on the accuracy of the team's work.
Achieving an accurate model is not always easily accomplished, due to the fact that many of these vehicles have not been fully designed yet. Detailed development decisions are often time consuming and involve a tremendous amount of dialogue with internal content experts, as well as the PMs who are developing the vehicles.
Even under tight deadlines and a large number of models required, Hornung insists, "The reason that as an organization this story is a success is because we have many areas of discipline that can help answer these questions, along with the initiative of people like Paula [Smith] and Scott [Price], the people on my team, the engineers--when you need something they jump on it."
After numerous monthly meetings and weekly telecoms with other Army organizations in which system requirements and analysis plans were discussed and refined, Army leadership decided to terminate three of the four PEO GCS AoAs.
"By this time though, our team of analysts had already completed much of the needed work to contribute to the AoAs for all of the initially identified systems: Stryker, Bradley, and the AMPV," Short said.
The draft report delivered by TRADOC in June drew conclusions from the data gathered by Short's team, enabling the command to present a final analysis on the replacement of the M113A3 vehicles to Army leadership this summer.
The comprehensive data from the other AoAs Short's team had initiated allowed Army Leadership to have a more comprehensive understanding of their alternative options for the M113A3.
"One of the highlights from this effort was discovering that I am able to do more than I thought I could," said Price. "It is a rewarding feeling to know that we have successfully produced these results in a short time frame, and to know that our work allows Army leadership to make sound decisions that will ultimately benefit the Warfighter."
The AMPV is now set to go through the Army's typical acquisition process. SLAD will be supporting that process in their traditional way, providing additional live-fire and vulnerability experimentation and any further analysis.
"I am positive that this effort has set the directorate up for additional work in this field," Short said. "Overcome one challenge and you are certain to be rewarded with more. And fortunately my team sees it as just that-rewarding challenges."
An AoA is an assessment of potential materiel solutions to satisfy capability needs specified in approved requirements documents like initial capabilities documents (ICDs). An AoA is decided upon by Department of the Army leadership and serves as a cornerstone of the Army acquisition process.
An AoA is used by the Army to explore multiple alternatives so agencies have a basis for funding the best possible projects in a rational, defensible manner considering risk and uncertainty. According to Department of Defense Instruction 5000.02, each decision milestone requires an AoA. After an in-depth AoA, a course of action is laid out to execute against when the Army considers entering into a formal acquisition process. Though an AoA is executed before any solution is determined, it must be updated throughout the life of the program.
-From The SLAD Bulletin, vol 1 issue 1, Aug 2012