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STRICOM Contract Focuses on Worldwide Support for Trainers 

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by Stephen Willingham 

DynCorp, in Reston, Va., won an eight-year, contract, worth up to $752 million, to service and maintain simulation trainers for the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, company officials announced. The task order covers maintenance of the two services’ trainers, including those being used by U.S. troops in the Balkans.

“Troops deployed in peacekeeping missions need to keep their war-fighting skills sharp,” commented David W. Manning, director for logistics at the U.S. Army Simulation Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM), in Orlando, Fla. “The longer that troops are on deployment, the more their skills degrade. That’s why they take their simulators with them.”

DynCorp said the contract was awarded through the General Services Administration’s Federal Technology Services, Applications and Support for Widely-diverse EndUser Requirements (ANSWER) program.

Manning called this award a “worldwide omnibus contract.”

By grouping like technologies together into one large contract and getting a best-value-contractor to handle the operation is better than having a host of contractors to oversee, Manning explained.

This particular contract includes a wide spectrum of services from device maintenance, installation, repairs, transportation, and supply, to modifications such as installing system-rehost kits. DynCorp will be responsible for training devices in 36 different U.S. and international locations.

Manning said that most of the current simulator-trainers are about 19 years old.

From past experience, he said, STRICOM has found that it is better to deal with the service side of the business when it comes to life-cycle support than it is to try and employ the research and development (R&D) industry for both sides of the equation. “R&D companies just aren’t able to compete when it comes to maintenance and life cycle support,” he said.

Manning referred to this as “outsourcing.” Today, he said, STRICOM is 90 percent “outsourced,” and he believes it makes good business sense. “To build, field and sustain systems in the field is cost prohibitive,” he argued. It is a competitive market, stressed Manning. “If a customer isn’t satisfied, they will go somewhere else.”

Omnibus contracts are giving some suppliers the jitters, observed Manning. “In this business, we’re ruled by Murphy’s Law. One thing that you can count on is a simulator breaking down in the middle of a major training exercise.” For this reason, he said, time and material lines, to cover unexpected costs, are included in these large contracts. Contractors’ fears over this issue are largely unfounded, he said.

This is DynCorp’s maiden voyage into the digital simulator market, said Paul Branske, senior vice president for Integrated Technology Solutions at DynCorp, in San Diego, Calif. The company, he indicated, has prior experience in the live-training arena.

With the escalating costs that accompany live-training exercises, virtual training is here to stay, Branske noted. “When you consider that one tank shell cost $4,000, that makes it a requirement for troops to come into live-training with a higher degree of proficiency than they did.”

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