Quest for Innovation Prompts ‘Acquisition Challenge’
A $12-million weapon-modernization program sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter,
R-Calif., seeks ideas from contractors on how to improve existing weapons systems.
The so-called “Defense Acquisition Challenge” got underway in March.
In charge of the Defense Acquisition Challenge is a new organization called
Office of Comparative Testing, which used to be known as the Pentagon’s
Office of Foreign Comparative Testing. The word “foreign” no longer
is part of the organization’s name, because future tests will involve
both domestic and non-U.S. competitors.
While Congress allocated $12 million for the Defense Acquisition Challenge
in fiscal year 2003, Hunter—chairman of the House Armed Services Committee—would
like to see the program continue through 2007. According to the legislation
he sponsored, the Defense Acquisition Challenge “shall provide any person
or activity within or outside the Department of Defense with the opportunity
to propose alternatives, to be known as challenge proposals, at the component,
subsystem, or system level of an existing Department of Defense acquisition
program that would result in improvements in performance, affordability, manufacturability
or operational capability.”
Simply stated, the money will be used to “encourage innovative technology
insertion,” said Air Force Col. Linda Palmer, the director of the CTO.
The acquisition challenge is “wide open” to ideas from industry,
she told National Defense. But these ideas must apply to current acquisition
programs. The CTO released a “broad area announcement” in March,
soliciting proposals. The Defense Acquisition Challenge “will be a way
for people to propose ideas on how a system can be upgraded,” she said.
The funds will pay for the evaluation of those ideas.
The CTO office reports to the Pentagon’s advanced systems and concepts
directorate, run by Sue Payton.
Palmer said she expects that Hunter closely will monitor the progress of the
Defense Acquisition Challenge.
McHugh Visits National Guard, Reserve Units
The National Guard and Reserves will face recruitment and retention problems
if the Pentagon and Congress do not develop policies to reduce the strain and
improve the quality of life for these forces, said Rep. John M. McHugh, R-N.Y.
McHugh led a bipartisan HASC delegation to the European Command last month
to determine how reserve personnel are coping with the increased demand on their
In a report to the Armed Services’ Committee, he said that his visit
to Europe confirmed his belief that the troops are overstretched. He noted that
the demand for overall reserve forces has grown from 1 million to 13 million
man-days per year since Desert Storm.
“While in Europe, we heard about strained marriages, lost businesses
and jobs, and decisions by many reservists to not re-enlist because of the overwhelming
demands on their time,” he said. “Many reservists also told me they
no longer list their service on job applications or resumes for fear that prospective
employers might not hire them because of likely and frequent absences.”
McHugh said he plans to push legislative initiatives in the 2004 Defense Authorization
Act to address these issues.
Study Forecasts Future of Warfare
Northrop Grumman Corp. released a report analyzing the performance of U.S.
armed forces in Desert Storm, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom to try to identify
trends from past conflicts that may be used in planning future wars.
Written by Christopher Bowie, Robert Haffa and Robert Mullins, the report looked
at performance trends from three perspectives. They examined political-military
shifts in the security environment, military capabilities enabling new ways
of warfare and technologies enhancing U.S. military advantages.
Political-military shifts over the three wars indicate a migration of conflict
toward Asia and the need for ad hoc coalition warfare, the report said. Changes
in military capabilities highlighted an increased emphasis on extended range
operations, with a diminishing role of heavy ground forces.
Technologies that enhanced U.S. advantages in battle were precision weapons,
a better network of integrated sensors, stealth and electronic counter-measures,
and unmanned systems.
The report concluded that the U.S. would best be served by “the creation
of an agile, access-insensitive military force that can project sustained, precise
and survivable military power across great distances with little preparation
or reliance on external political or military support.”