If people want changes in the way the Defense Department procures and manages information technology (IT), then it may be time for them to put their money where their mouths are. The department is proposing sweeping reforms that will revolutionize every aspect of IT procurement and management. If successful, these reforms conceivably could address all of the IT acquisition complaints that have been echoing across the department. All this effort needs is a buy-in from all of the players. Elizabeth A. McGrath, Defense Department deputy chief management officer, and David Wennergren, Defense Department assistant deputy chief management officer, described to a luncheon audience how their office's proposed new approach to IT procurement would be a "radical change" across the board. Calling it an IT consolidation road map, the two officials said the changed approach would place an emphasis on transparency both to improve performance management as well as build trust. McGrath explained, "We are looking to break down the existing process for IT procurement to have more modular, faster delivery of these capabilities." She added that currently, "we're not hitting the capabilities in the first five years." These vast changes proposed by the office will require all participants to do their part, or the effort will fall short. "It's a matter of choice," McGrath declared. "If we decide we won't, then we are detracting from the department's goals. "I'm not painting a picture of doom and gloom," she continued. "The opportunities are sitting right there in front of us."
Most analysts recognize the need for the defense community to be able to adapt to changes, but established techniques and procedures often block progress. The two chairmen of a Defense Science Board study on enhancing adaptability offered suggestions on how traditional roadblocks can be overcome. Alfred Grasso, president and chief executive officer, the MITRE Corporation, and Dr. William A. LaPlante, head, Global Engagement Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, told a roundtable audience at West 2011 about four themes that dominated the study. One theme, preparing for degraded operations, generated some concern in the study. LaPlante related that one common characteristic is that militaries that trained with realistic degraded operations-brutal honesty and realism-did much better than those that didn't. While the realism of degraded operations across the services is good at the command level, the operational level is another story. With two exceptions-cyber and space-the realism is not there at that level. LaPlante called for more realism in operational exercises, and he cited the advantages of red/blue teaming-where technicians and engineers find vulnerabilities and fix them simultaneously. Grasso supported the idea of planned adaptability. "Adaptability often is viewed as a responsive act," he said. "However, adaptability and preparation are inexorably linked."
The U.S. Coast Guard is facing the dilemma of its traditional threats combining to pose a synergistic danger to U.S. homeland security. Longtime menaces such as drug smuggling, alien immigration and terrorism may be merging their organizations and their tactics to pose an even greater threat to the nation. Stopping these threats will require data sharing and consolidation. Unfortunately, even organizations willing to share information often find legal and technological roadblocks in their way. Rear Adm. (S) Stephen Metruck, USCG, chief of staff, Eleventh Coast Guard District, told the Thursday breakfast audience at West 2011 in San Diego that the Coast Guard is striving to head off threats before they near the homeland. "Goal defense" is not an effective way of stopping adversaries, he explained. The Coast Guard is working to develop new methods of detecting and identifying threats before the marauders launch their plans into action. Operation Focused Lens, for example, looks at places from where attacks may come. The goal is to detect anomalous activity before a smuggling or terrorist boat is launched. Marina operators would be engaged through an outreach program to report suspicious signs such as boaters practicing illegal activities. Combining data may be harder. Adm. Metruck allowed that many firewalls prevent government agencies from linking their databases, even within the Department of Homeland Security. In some cases, the only solution is to place people from different agencies side-by-side so that they can share views on their computer displays.
The mission of Honor and Remember is to create, establish and promote a nationally recognized flag to fly continually as a visible reminder of the lives lost in defense of the United States' national freedom since the country's founding.
The U.S. Navy has killed some programs and accelerated others as it restructures its budget priorities. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy, gave the West 2011 Wednesday luncheon audience a bluntly candid assessment of which systems worked, which didn't and were canceled, and which are on probation. One of the key systems killed was the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. While it had a troubled history, it was going well recently, but the Navy-acting on a recommendation from the commandant-killed the program because it was going to eat up too much of the Corps' budget in the future. Work reported that it would have consumed 50 percent of all Marine Corps procurement funds-100 percent of Marine Corps historical vehicle expenditures-between 2018 and 2025. Work was much harsher in his explanation of why the Navy canceled the ALQ-99 jamming pod for the EA-18G Growler aircraft. "The Growler is a good aircraft, but the ALQ-99 is a piece of crap-the polite thing to say is that it's reaching the end of its service life," Work declared to an attentive audience. "Instead, we'll have something better for the Growler." The F-35B short takeoff vertical landing aircraft program is having problems, and it has been put off two years so that its problems can be fixed. Work expressed confidence in that decision, saying, "We are absolutely convinced that we will fix the problems in the F-35B." But Work waxed eloquent about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which is proceeding with two vastly different production designs. Calling it "one of the most misunderstood ships in the Navy," he nonetheless praised both its capabilities and its program structure. Having two companies concurrently producing LCS ships at the current schedule has saved the taxpayer $2.9 billion, Work stated. Three missions that used to require different classes of ships have been combined into one, and he is confident it will work well.
The U.S. Navy is re-tailoring its force as it realizes efficiencies driven by budgetary needs, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work enthusiastically told the audience at Wednesday's West 2011 luncheon that the new budget direction is giving the Navy opportunities to build the type of force that it needs for the coming decades. "Our shipbuilding program is more stable than it has been in a decade," Work declared. Work described how many budget savings have been re-allocated to other programs, which is providing long-term savings through accelerated development. Some of the programs that were cut were doing well, but they fell into the category of "exquisite capabilities"-highly desirable, but not absolutely necessary. The savings were redirected toward programs that were essential to the Navy's future. "We accelerated things that we knew we needed," he related. The Navy will "buy smarter," acquiring exactly the same as it bought last year, but for $8.5 billion less, he continued. However, he admits that what keeps him up at night is the continuing resolution under which the Navy is operating now. The Navy is capped at 2010 levels and cannot begin new programs. "We've got to get that fixed," Work charged, "or it will force the Department of the Navy to make stupid and irrevocable decisions."
Capt. Kenneth J. Norton, USN, has been selected for promotion to rear admiral and assignment as deputy chief of staff for strategy, resources and plans, N-5/N-8, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Sixth Fleet, Naples, Italy.