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by LTC Ken O’Donnell

Adaptive behavior is the ability to adjust based on dif ferent circumstances and changing conditions. Yet despite our Soldiers’ remarkable ability to adapt on the battlefield, the Army acquisition process that supports them has traditionally been anything but flexible.

Organizational and business process barriers, while well-intended, too often prevent us from leveraging current technological innovations and impede success. To meet the urgent modernization requirements of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army used the flexibility of contingency funding and operational necessity to deliver capabilities rapidly to the field. With the winding down of those conflicts, the need for modernization remains. The challenge now is to define a process that enables success within the current materiel enterprise framework.

This need for new equipment will be even harder to fill as the defense budget shrinks. To achieve its modernization objectives, the Army acquisition community must radically change the way it delivers capability to the operating forces from start to finish. The Agile Process is the centerpiece of our effort to procure critical capabilities in a more rapid, cost-effective manner, while ensuring technical maturity and integration to a degree that did not always occur over the past decade. Figure 1 on Page 24 shows the phases of the Agile Process.


Currently, the tactical communications network is a top Army modernization priority, so it has become the first target for this change. With network technology making a generational leap at least every 18 months, the Army can keep pace only by synchronizing with industry and leveraging their innovation while adopting an “incremental” approach to modernization through Capability Set Management.

We have started the process by establishing an integrated network baseline made up of existing programs of record (PORs), as well as industry solutions to fill documented capability gaps. This baseline has taken shape through the Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs), semiannual events designed to quickly integrate and mature the tactical communications network. The events use an operational brigade combat team to execute realistic mission scenarios, assessing new network capabilities and determining whether they perform as needed and can interoperate with other systems.

Establishing an integrated network baseline allows the Army to define the technical standards for network infrastructure, applications, and mission command systems that give industry a blueprint toward which to build. A key step will be implementation of the Common Operating Environment (COE),

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