By Robert PursellApril 13, 2007
(SUFFOLK, Va. - April 12, 2007) -- U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) will begin to use Joint Capability Technology Demonstrations (JCTDs) instead of Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs) to prepare possible new capabilities for the warfighter.
The change was directed by the deputy undersecretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts as a response to congressional recommendations which are intended to speed up the process of developing, integrating, assessing and fielding a new capability, make it more joint, and to better fund it.
Ramona Waters, advanced technologies department head at the Joint Innovation and Experimentation Directorate (J9), said the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and the need to get transformational capability to the warfighter drove the need to develop the accelerated process.
Gregg Koumbis, a contractor who supports USJFCOM as ACTD/JCTD science and technology manager, explained how a JCTD can be more beneficial to the warfighter.
"A JCTD is designed to accelerate the program from a nominal three years to two in order to execute the development, integration, assessment and the early fielding of new capabilities," he said.
"It will make the program more joint by giving the COCOMs a greater say in which programs are approved and started and also provide a little bit more money for transition to address some issues and lessons learned regarding the rapid fielding and movement of these programs into acquisition," said Koumbis.
He explained how focusing on a joint need from the start will expedite the process of fielding the capability.
"The concept and the capability will be specifically keyed to a joint need or a joint gap as opposed to a service gap that is later evolved to respond to a joint need. This ensures greater relevance, and a sharper focus on joint capabilities," he said.
Waters also discussed how JCTDs allow for faster fielding to the warfighter.
"The JCTD process is agile and provides capability to the warfighter between an 'urgent need' of less than two years and the standard, formal acquisition process that can span five to ten years," she said. "JCTDs span two to four years and provide spiral technology insertion as the project progresses to its final demonstration."
Koumbis stressed that although there have been changes, the services are still very much involved.
"That's what the JCTDs are all about...better funding, shorter time frame, more joint in focus, but same partners. The services still participate. They're sponsoring the program once the JCTD is done. The services are still engaged because ultimately they will have to man, equip and train to the new capabilities," he said.
"Instead of taking an ACTD and making it joint, we're taking a joint capability and providing utility to the services. In other words, a JCTD will be born joint, however, close coordination with the services will also mean that this new capability will meet service needs."
Koumbis said that everything will remain the same as far as assessments and evaluations are concerned, just faster. He also said there will be fewer JCTDs than there were ACTDs.
"The numbers of new DoD program starts will be reduced because the top line funding is still the same, but it'll be spread over fewer programs to better fund them. Although there will be fewer programs, their fast-paced nature will require a more intense effort over a shorter period of time," he said.
Koumbis said currently USJFCOM isn't working on any JCTDs, however there have been three proposals made before the fiscal year 2008 candidate review board. If any are approved next fall, they will be the command's first JCTDs.
The current 11 ACTDs being worked will continue as ACTDs until completed. All future efforts will be JCTDs and will be administered under the new program guidelines.