Don't Go Chasing Technological Waterfalls
"Get it done quickly" is the mantra of Chris Miller, Executive Director of the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Center, Atlantic (SPAWAR), which is also referred to as the Navy's Information Dominance Systems Command. While SPAWAR's Pacific office handles research and development, Miller's group, based in Charleston, N.C. is responsible for acquisitions and getting technology on board ships and into the hands of warfighters.
One of his group's biggest procurements: the life-saving MRAPs (Mine Resistant Armored Protected) vehicle, pioneered by the Marines. "We do 16,000 MRAPs a year, 50 a day, 1,000 a month," he told attendees of the 10th Annual Naval IT Day, held by the AFCEA NOVA Chapter last Thursday. "All MRAPs are not the same," he added, remarking that in some cases, the C4I capabilities of the average MRAP, which constitutes the radios, displays and IT-related equipment found inside, often cost more than the vehicle in which they are installed. Another one of the successful tech projects fielded by his office is a completely mobile air traffic control system that ships in standard shipping containers, which they partnered with the Air Force to develop. Miller said the acquiring environment is changing to meet congressional mandates for reduced spending, and says acquisition must be "accelerated" with a "minimum of complexity," and have an emphasis on "interoperability." He stressed, "operational excellence of the fleet is more important than just chasing technological solutions."