by MAJ Marcus Grimes, Paul Wallace, Chris Warshawsky, and James Breeze
When you boil it down, the purpose of the Army acquisition community, and really the entire Institutional Army, is to make the Operational Army better. Isn’t that what our goal is every day—to bring a new materiel solution to the force that will help our Soldiers dotheir jobs better?
It was in that spirit that the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) and the Army Capabilities Integration Center and Maneuver Battle Lab of the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) came together recently to conduct a combined, in-theater Forward Operational Assessment (FOA) of the Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative (APMI). For two weeks in October 2011, elements from ATEC and TRADOC conducted the assessment in Afghanistan, using surveys and interviews of mortar crews, fire support teams, and unit leaders.
This particular combined Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, and Facilities (DOTMLPF) assessment is significant for three reasons: It is not done routinely, it leveragedthe critical capabilities from an Army Command and an Army Direct Reporting Unit, and it was more efficient than separate assessments by individual organizations. This article deliberately stays away from the results of the combined APMI DOTMLPF assessment, instead focusing more on the background, the combined nature of the assessment, and its contribution to Army Acquisition. Other programs conceivably could benefit from similar combined assessments.
The APMI is the U.S. Army's first GPS-guided precision mortar. Pete Burke and Ted Hom introduced the system and the accelerated nature of the APMI acquisition in “Right on Target” (Army AL&T Magazine, October-December 2011).
In March 2010, during the early stages of the APMI program, the Army G-3/5/7 directed TRADOC to conduct an APMI capability assessment once it was fielded in theater. The Accelerated Capabilities Division (ACD) of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) contacted ATEC, and the two agreed to conduct a cooperative capability and operational assessment. ATEC’s primary goal was to determine the capabilities
and limitations of this particular materiel solution, leading to recommendations to make the system better.
The ACD capability assessment had two primary purposes: first, to determine whether the capability was operationally relevant while providing supporting data to a Capabilities Development for Rapid Transition submission and/ or development of a Joint Capabilities Integration Development System (JCIDS) document; and second, to provide data to update the initial capability concept of operation, enabling follow-on units to benefit from adjustments made by the first units receiving the system.
The Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL) joined the team at this point. MBL's goals were to observe the employment of APMI, compare it to other precision munitions, and use this information for an existing study on mortar employment. During the process, TRADOC pulled in other subject-matter experts from the Infantry Mortar Leader Course, the Soldier Requirements Division of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE), and the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) Directorate of Training and Doctrine to round out the team. One member from the Product Manager Guided Precision Munitions and Mortar Systems of Program Executive Office Ammunition(PEO Ammo) also embedded in the team as programmatic and technical liaison (see Figure 1).
Working together, the commands identified data requirements to achieve the collective purpose. With these requirements identified, the commands developed a set of three surveys: one for the 11C indirect fire infantryman crew members, one for the fire support teams, and one for the leaders from the platoon through brigade combat team levels. The team leveraged the existing infrastructure with the ATEC FOA team and put into place a concept to conduct the assessment.
WiththeATECFOAteamandanARCIC liaison officer already in theater, the remainderoftheassessmentteamdeployed to Kandahar. There, the combined team split into four multifunctional teams with representation from the various elements and conducted data collection on Oct. 7-21, 2011, at 16 different forward operating bases and combat outpost locations across units in Regional Command (RC)-East and RC-South.
At the end of data collection, the team reunited in Kandahar, populated the database, cross-leveled information, and began formulating initial impressions and first reports.
As of this writing, the reports from this effort published so far, which can be requested from the respective organization, are: • ARCIC Initial Impressions Report, Oct. 31, 2011. • ATEC Forward Operational Assessment Report, Nov. 10, 2011. • ARCIC Initial Assessment Report, Nov. 30, 2011.
AN UNCOMMON APPROACH
, Jan. 2, 2012.
The combined ARCIC and ATEC full DOTMLPF assessment report was approved by ARCIC and staffed to the Army G-3/5/7 on Feb. 6, 2012.
While synergy between ATEC and TRADOC has grown through the years, this type of assessment is not habitual. Before the Materiel Development Decision and ATEC involvement, ARCIC normally performs a DOTMLPF assessment to determine whether a materiel solution is what the Army requires to fill a particular capability gap.
ARCIC focuses on the domains other than materiel. If it finds that a change in the other domains cannot fill the capability gap, ARCIC recommends that the Army develop a materiel solution and use this assessment to help write the requirements. Once these are written, ATEC tests and evaluates the item against its requirements. The testing and evaluation focus mainly on how well the item performs, which relates to the materiel domain. However, ATEC also partially evaluates how this item impacts the other domains of DOTMLPF. Rarely will ARCIC conduct an assessment during testing or after an item is fielded; hence the uniqueness ofARCIC and ATEC working together for this DOTMLPF assessment.
ATEC's contribution can be simplified by dotMlpf, and TRADOC's by DOTmLPF.
This combined assessment also leveraged critical capabilities from each of the participants. ATEC, the Army's independent test and evaluation agency, maintains the critical capability to conduct stateside and in-theater assessments. ARCIC's ACD enables development and deployment or employment of accelerated capabilities, both materiel and non-materiel, to the current force to address current critical operational needs.
ACD integrates accelerated capability activities between proponent force modernization domains to ensure unity and priority of effort, and synchronization and optimization of resources. ACD co-leads the Capabilities Development for Rapid Transition process with G-3/5/7 to prioritize rapidly equipped systems in current operations so that they can become enduring capabilities.
MBL lends the critical capability to develop warfighting initiatives, identify experiments to determine the usefulness of developmental initiatives, and inform requirements for the acquisition process. MBL maintains the post-experiment analytic capability to report on the effectiveness and make a recommendation to discard, investigate further, or invest now to put that capability into Soldiers’ hands. The Infantry Mortar Leader Course cadre from MCoE are the Army’s subject-matter experts in mortar system training and operations. FCoE’s Directorate of Training and Doctrine adds the critical capability of being the Army’s expert on training for and executing a call for indirect fire.
Had ATEC and TRADOC not worked together on this assessment, each would have completed its own assessment. The result would have been duplication of effort and possibly conflicting information for decision makers. Both commands would have sent data collection teams to the units in theater, looking to interview the same set of Soldiers. The data collection would have disrupted the Soldiers and units twice, asking many of the same questions.
Without the combined subject-matter expertise and shared analysis, Army acquisition decision makers could have seen two divergent conclusions. At a timewhen efficiencies are increasingly important, one can see that this combined assessment reduced the required manpower, increased synergy between two commands to produce the most robust assessment possible, and, most important, reduced interruptions to the Soldiers and units engaged in the day-to-day fight.
In the end, acquisition decision makers will decide whether the combined assessment produced a superior look at the APMI, but from the participants’ perspective, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Other instances of the two commands working together, including the Network Integration Evaluation, Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, and other FOA assessments have achieved similar efficiencies.
In the APMI case, decision makers now have a single, comprehensive document that not only outlines the potential of a single materiel solution, but also covers other important aspects of potential changes in doctrine, training, and leadership, and the impact each has in achieving the desired capability and closing the capability gap.
The APMI DOTMLPF assessment highlighted some unintended consequences and revealed other non-material areas of improvement that may not have been found with separate assessments, such as doctrine and training on how to employ mortars given precision munitions, and additional training emphasis on the five fundamentals of accurate indirect fire.
Our recommendation is that ARCIC and ATEC team up more often to complete DOTMLPF assessments, such as by building informal relationships at the action officer level and including ARCIC on the test and evaluation integratedproduct team. These are possible first steps that could lead to a better, more efficient acquisition system.
For more information on ATEC, go tohttp://www.atec.army.mil. For more information on PEO Ammunition, go tohttp://www.pica.army.mil/peoammo.MAJ MARCUS GRIMES is ATEC’s Military Evaluator and Operations Research Analyst for APMI; he was on the ATEC Forward Operational Assessment team from January to August 2011. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy, an M.S. in engineering management from the University of Missouri – Rolla, and an M.S. in systems engineering from the University of Virginia.
PAUL WALLACE is the ATEC System Team Chair for APMI. He holds a B.S in physics from California State University, Sacramento. He is Level III certified in test and evaluation , and Level I certified in systems planning, research, development and engineering (SPRDE) – program systems engineer and in SPRDE – systems engineering.
CHRIS WARSHAWSKY is Lead Spiral Developments Integrator (Team Leader) in the Accelerated Capabilities Division at ARCIC. He holds a B.S in business administration from Western Carolina University and an M.S. in technology systems management from University of Maryland University College. He is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps.
JAMES BREEZE, a contractor for SAIC Inc., is a Project Officer on the Soldier Team at the Maneuver Battle Lab. He is Level I certified in test and evaluation .