02 Feb 11. Mixing traditional acquisition practices with rapid and hybrid approaches is the best way the Army’s acquisition community can serve Soldiers at war, said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown.
Brown, deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management in the Office of the
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, spoke to an audience of military and industry attendees Jan. 14 at the Association of the United States Army Aviation Symposium and Exhibition, National Harbor, Md.
“We have to remain flexible. We have to be responsive to the warfighter’s
theater needs,” said Brown.
This includes the need to adjust to enemy techniques and tactics, he said. The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have required the Army to adapt its acquisition practices, making them more efficient and more nimble in certain key instances in response to wartime demands. For instance, DOD and the Army moved to rapidly produce and deploy thousands of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles needed to counter the growing threat of Improvised Explosive Devices. This as an example of how the Army can accelerate, adjust and in some cases bypass traditional acquisition processes in order to meet urgent operational needs.
The Army has learned to perform a delicate balancing act and respond quickly when enemy tactics have outpaced technological solutions, Army officials said, adding this requires the Army to innovate and find ways of more rapidly delivering new solutions and capabilities – as in the case of MRAPs.
There are often key tradeoffs and consequences associated with each action, thus necessitating the need to strike the proper balance, Brown explained.
For instance in the case of MRAPs, multiple contractors were employed
simultaneously in order to meet the urgent need to deploy large numbers of vehicles. The advantage to this approach, naturally, was the fielding of thousands of urgently needed new, MRAP vehicles within a short, two-year time span. The disadvantage was that using multiple vendors meant that multiple variants were created, a phenomenon which complicated the logistics, sustainment and supply chain for the vehicles.
With these nuances in mind, Brown cited examples of traditional program-of-record-oriented approaches, rapid acquisition techniques and hybrid approaches that were each essential in their respective instances.
“I want to do a side-by-side compare and contrast of the traditional acquisition system, the DOD 5000, and the rapid acquisition system that is being driven by eight to nine years of war at this point. They are very different,” Brown said.
“In the rapid acquisition system, you get an ONS [Operational Needs Statement] or JUONS [Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement] – you go to the Army Requirements and Resources Board and get some OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] dollars. You go out and buy something off the shelf and run it through a very rapid safety assessment and a capabilities and limitations report. Then you send it into the fight. We have had a substantial amount of success with this,” Brown said.
As an example of successful rapid-acquisition techniques, Brown cited the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, which went from vision and concept to First Unit Equipped in four years. At the same time, tradeoffs were made in order to accommodate the accelerated developmental time frame, Brown explained. Due to its speedy developmental cycle, the Lakota was not certified for combat; however, the arrival of the Lakota – now deployed in various key regions throughout the world — freed up more Black Hawks which were needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
Traditional approaches, which follow procurement practices delineated in DOD 5000 Defense Acquisition System guidelines, are much more deliberative, Brown said. They require a series of extensive checks and balances such as numerous certifications, specified plans and documents at vario