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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

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