By MS. SUSAN L. FOLLETT, USAASCSeptember 25, 2018
Brad D. Bledsoe
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Aviation Rockets and Small Guided Munitions Product Office, Joint Attack Munition Systems Project Office, Program Executive Office (PEO) for Missiles and Space
TITLE: Product support integrator
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 10
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in life cycle logistics; Level I in program management
EDUCATION: M.S. in logistics, Florida Institute of Technology; B.S. in economics, Alabama A&M University
AWARDS: Employee of the Quarter and Team of the Quarter, PEO for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation
Helping to fill a documentation gap
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as the saying goes. For Brad Bledsoe, product support integrator and senior logistician for the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Missiles and Space (MS), that squeaking resulted in a unique opportunity to help improve sustainment policy for major weapon systems.
Bledsoe is assigned to the Aviation Rockets and Small Guided Munitions Product Office, part of the Joint Attack Munition Systems (JAMS) Project Office and the joint services lead for the 2.75-inch rocket program, also known as the Hydra-70. The Hydra-70 is a free-flight rocket with multiple warhead configurations; it has been the standard ground-attack rocket since it was first used in the Korean War.
"The Hydra-70 can fill a variety of roles against a wide spectrum of targets," said Bledsoe. "Multiple types of warheads provide a solution to many tactical situations within a battle area by providing area suppression or high-explosive solutions for anti-personnel, anti-materiel, armored vehicles, bunkers and reinforced military operation in urban terrain targets. The Hydra can also provide target illumination, smoke screening, target marking and training."
The system has undergone numerous modifications since it was first designed, including motor and nozzle configurations, fuze modifications and new warhead combinations. "Even with all those changes, the system basics have remained the same," said Bledsoe. However, he noted, while the system meets the needs of the warfighter, it does not conform to current acquisition documentation standards required by the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)).
That's something Bledsoe discovered when he was assigned to lead an integrated product team tasked with developing the life cycle sustainment plan (LCSP) for the newest variant in the Hydra-70 program, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. An LCSP outlines the program manager and product support manager's plan for formulating, implementing and executing a system's sustainment strategy. It describes the approach and resources necessary to develop and integrate sustainment requirements into the system's design, development, testing, deployment and sustainment phases. According to "DOD Instruction 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System," program managers are responsible for developing and maintaining an LCSP beginning at milestone A and for updating it at each subsequent milestone.
"LCSP development should begin in the earliest stages of the life cycle and should be updated regularly to ensure that it remains relevant," Bledsoe explained. "But it's really difficult to document those early milestones when you're decades into production, which was the situation we were dealing with."
The integrated product team determined that it lacked critical acquisition documentation and the milestone data to complete the LCSP in accordance with the requirements identified in "Army Regulation 700-127, Logistics Integrated Product Support." The team put together a draft LCSP that was missing many key data elements and provided it to the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition policy and logistics (DASA(APL)), in the hopes of getting some guidance on resolving the issue.
Meetings with the DASA(APL) followed and helped identify gaps in current Army policy in addressing sustainment documentation for legacy systems. "There are a number of these legacy systems in the field--the HELLFIRE missile, for example--which means there's a need to revise Army acquisition policy to include provisioning for them," Bledsoe said. The DASA(APL) will use the LCSP for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System as a basis for updating regulations for systems of systems, and will then expand the effort to update regulations for LCSPs for other systems, including families of vehicles and families of ammunition. The goal of the effort is one foundational document for each system and a shorter document for each variant that spells out any differences.
Bledsoe learned a lot from his involvement with the LCSP effort and is grateful for the time and expertise of all of the participants in the effort, including representatives from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Logistics Center, the JAMS Project Office and the Joint Munitions Command. "I really appreciate the DASA(APL)'s willingness to listen to our challenges. Their common-sense approach will help streamline acquisition policy and will allow for the continuous modernization of the force. Also, the burden on the workforce will be greatly reduced so we can concentrate on what really matters: getting capability to the warfighter."
Bledsoe started his acquisition career in 2008, leaving a private sector sales position for an internship at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command. As an intern, he joined the PEO for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (STRI), working with the Targets Management Office. "The targets office was an excellent opportunity because the threat requirement evolves quickly and the acquisition is fast-paced," Bledsoe said. "Also, working in the test and training environment is exciting because you get to get out of the office for a live-fire or test event and see how systems perform in the field."
The internship also exposed him to mentorship--something he continues to be involved in, despite an uneven start. "The mentor who was assigned to me didn't have much time to assist me because of his busy schedule. However, another person stepped up and he helped me out on tasks, shared his knowledge, reviewed my work and pushed me outside of my comfort zone," Bledsoe explained. "He gave me the confidence I needed to take on additional tasks."
Bledsoe stayed with PEO STRI for nine years, and joined PEO MS a little more than a year ago. He and his mentor no longer work together but are still in contact, he said. "I often think about him when I meet someone just entering the workforce by letting them know that I would be glad to assist when they need it--so I can help provide guidance and insight to help develop their skills and confidence."
His advice to junior acquisition personnel is to obtain required certifications early. "Once you acquire more responsibilities and get involved in a lot of different projects, it is challenging to find the time to take a week or more off to attend acquisition classes pertaining to your given area of work. Get it done early and take good notes."
This article will be published in the October-December 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine.