The Army is standing up a new command, hoping this organization can help change
acquisition processes, field technology faster and integrate individual systems
“We can no longer build individual systems and capabilities and field
them and [then] figure out how they all work together,” said Maj. Gen.
John Doesburg, head of the Army Research Development and Engineering Command.
The RDE Command is scheduled to begin operations in October in Edgewood, Md.,
and will report to the Army Materiel Command.
“Systems integration must occur before we do research and development,
and to some degree before we do science and technology,” Doesburg told
a National Defense Industrial Association armaments symposium.
“We have to charter and learn from experiences of capability managers
and technology integrators,” he said. RDE Command also has to establish
a new process for international cooperation in research, development and engineering.
It is hard to develop a metric to measure success in research and development,
or in science and technology, said Doesburg. Each technology comes with a different
level of risk. The command plans to begin defining the metrics by which success
can be measured. “If I can’t show in 2005 where I have put technology
into the hands of soldiers quicker, there has been no progress,” Doesburg
RDE also signed a memorandum of agreement with U.S. national laboratories.
Collaboration with the labs could put technology in the hands of the soldiers
much faster, Doesburg said.
A three-person team within the command has been assigned to work on fixing
near-term problems. The Agile Development Center, led by Col. Tom Stautz, supports
current operations and emerging requirements. Part of the center’s objectives
is to bring “some of the things that we have learned in the special ops
community into the regular Army,” said Stautz in a presentation at the
conference. “There is a pervasive sense of urgency throughout SOF when
it comes to acquisition.”
It is important to get the users involved and not just the representatives
from Training and Doctrine Command, which is responsible for setting requirements.
“The key users are in fact at the NCO [non-commissioned officers] level,”
he said. “NCOs are so critical in the acquisition business that we are
The whole purpose of the RDE Command is to deliver technology faster, he said.
“The development environment is totally different,” because the
command has to cater both to future and current forces. “Our potential
adversaries will also have access to the kind of technology that we have and
will be able to adapt to the U.S. rapidly,” he said.
Platform-centric programs are shifting to network-based systems, said Stautz.
“You have to pull technology from a whole slew of environments and deliver
capability to both the current force and the future force.”
War fighters generally prefer a 70 percent solution or even a 50 percent solution,
“if it is delivered tomorrow,” instead of a 100 percent solution
that will take years, said Stautz.
The Agile Development Center works with the representatives from major Army
commands throughout the world to ensure the RDE Command understands the needs
of the users. The command also will encourage bright young officers to pursue
advanced degrees. “RDE Command is going to create the uniformed scientist
program that will be placed at key locations,” said Stautz.
The center will grow to five people by next year. “That means that we
are not going to be duplicating ongoing individual labs and centers,”
said Stautz. “Instead, we are going to link the activities of all different
players out of the labs with the fighters. We will then facilitate the activities
of the labs in delivering the solutions to the war fighters and providing that
sense of urgency, so that we can expedite and provide that direct link to the
senior leadership within RDE and AMC.”
The problem has always been how to link up the engineers and the technical
experts with the war fighters, “so that they are talking, and the solution
that they are developing is right on the mark for what the fighters need,”
Moving technology to the field faster requires partnering of the Army program
executive officers and program managers, “because they are the experts
of getting equipment into the field,” said Stautz. “We work with
them on occasion, but we also work with the ‘rapid equipping force,’
which is an organization stood up reporting directly to the vice chief of staff.”
Developmental systems that RDE may sponsor will be sent to the field for user
feedback, before any technology becomes an Army-wide procurement program, he
added. The command, for example, is working on systems to help soldiers manning
checkpoints in Iraq. The center is looking at “all the capabilities that
come to bear at a checkpoint because we are losing soldiers on a regular basis,
almost on a daily basis,” said Stautz. “We have to pull together
all the different parties here to ID what technology solution we can deliver
quickly, 90 days or less, to that operational area to improve capability at
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