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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

12 Sep 07. BATTLESPACE Editor met Archie Hughes, the new CEO of the ABRO/DARA defence support organisation. During the interview to be published in full in a later issue of BATTLESPACE, ABRO announced two important developments which will clearly sustain the business and drive the organisation forward to meet the goals set by the MoD.

Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, announced in May 2007 the creation of the new defence support organisation, subject to trade union consultation and necessary Parliamentary approval. The organisation, which is expected to begin formal trading by April 2008, will comprise ABRO, MOD retained DARA business units and a number of other engineering activities, and will focus solely on the delivery of defence services to the MOD and the Armed Forces.

ABRO has been down-selected as one of the contenders for the provision of Comprehensive Whole Fleet Management Services (CWFMS) for the Ministry of Defence.

This is an important development as it shows the organisations’ capabilities in this key area which is seen as one of the key growth areas in defence business.

The Industry Assessment Phase (IAP) for CWFMS examines the potential role for
industry in a project that reaches across all of defence. This study is being
conducted jointly by the Whole Fleet Management Integrated Project Team and
Deloitte. The IAP commenced in February 2007 and has started to identify the
potential scope and merit of industry involvement in providing some of the
facilities and services connected with the storage, maintenance and issue of
vehicles and equipment. Working in consultation with MoD advisors, a procurement
strategy has been developed which allows earlier engagement of potential bidders
to undertake whatever solution is approved by the Investment Appraisal Board

The first stage of the new procurement strategy was a detailed ‘Expression of Interest’ to identify potential CWFMS providers. The purpose was to obtain sufficient information to enable MoD to evaluate the suitability of potential contractors/consortia to meet the requirements. The next stage of the procurement process will be convergence discussions with the Whole Fleet Management Integrated Project Team and an ‘Invititation to Submit Outline Proposals’. The challenge now is to ensure that ABRO is selected on the subsequent shortlist in early 2008. CWFMS will then be subject to IAB approval, when it is then intended to invite the short-listed bidders to finally tender.

Archie Hughes, ABRO’s Chief Executive told BATTLESPACE, “ABRO has a critical role to play in the provision of Comprehensive Whole Fleet Management Services and I am delighted that we have been selected in the first phase of the procurement strategy. I believe that our unique relationships with the MoD and industry together with our extensive history of equipment support provision places us at the forefront of this major change programme”.

Background to Whole Fleet Management

Whole Fleet Management (WFM) is a business change programme being implemented in phases that will enhance the operational readiness of the defence vehicle and equipment fleets and enable their more efficient use. Central to the concept of WFM are Active and stored fleets of equipment. The Active fleet will consist of
equipment held by units sufficient only for low-level collective training and equipment held in central pools for unit and formation-level training. The stored fleet will consist of equipment held primarily for contingent operations.
To deliver the correct quantities and types of equipment from each fleet, a WFM
Management Information System (MIS) will be essential for informed planning and decision-making. The Joint Asset Management and Engineering Solutions (JAMES)
MIS will deliver this capability and will be implemented incrementally.

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