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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism 3 Analysis of Current Approaches and Suggested Improvements The study committee believes that the information garnered in its review of and deliberations on the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO), coupled with the experience and expertise of the committee, provides a solid foundation for its assessment. The committee first focuses on the strengths and weaknesses that it perceives the RRTO organization to have, identifying issues that could impact its future success, and then follows these analyses with suggestions that the RRTO should consider to further improve its long-term effectiveness. STRENGTHS OF THE RAPID REACTION TECHNOLOGY OFFICE Being able to spur and leverage technological advances is vital to sustaining the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) ability to maintain its edge over current and potential adversaries and to improve or transform the way that military operations are conducted during irregular warfare. The RRTO’s strength has been to focus on three aspects of gaining “the edge”: (1) anticipating emerging threats and developing conceptual solutions, (2) working rapidly across the DOD to find partners for science and technology (S&T) developments to mature the concepts to enable deployments in 6 to 18 months—and assisting in transitioning resulting solutions quickly to combat units and to organizations for longer-term support, and (3) providing feedback to the S&T community that can help guide longer-term technology efforts. A further strength of the RRTO is that it does not become involved in the more formal processes associated with training, logistics, and the providing of long-term sustainment of newly deployed technologies. As a result, the RRTO,
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism within approximately the same budget profile (over a number of years), continues to adapt to new challenges.1 As its list of successes illustrates, the RRTO has initiated projects, enabled a path to maturity, and then moved on across a wide range of new capabilities. These capabilities have ranged from countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs), to developing and supporting a wide range of biometric and human terrain efforts, to establishing a proven model for evaluating potential future capabilities. This combination of the RRTO’s determination to find solutions quickly and its discipline in preventing the organization from becoming trapped in long-term commitments that sap resources and preclude its being able to respond to emerging threats is a unique strength within the DOD. Further, this flexibility to support a wide range of emerging needs is a strength that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates calls for in his new defense guidance.2 The feedback that the committee received in its data-gathering sessions (see the summary list in the Preface) has pointed to an array of benefits resulting from RRTO efforts. These include the quicker fielding of technological improvements, potential cost savings, and the identification and development of improved operational concepts and opportunities. These benefits have been enabled by innovative technologies in the DOD’s S&T base and also by technologies from sources outside the DOD. RRTO-sponsored technologies are bringing benefits to warfighters and to other customers involved in nontraditional conflict. Furthermore, the RRTO can be credited both with giving midlevel management and senior leaders the flexibility to address current warfighter needs rapidly and with highlighting potential benefits enabled by smaller technology projects that might otherwise be ignored. Box 2.1, “What Defines the Rapid Reaction Technology Office?,” lists six essential elements of the RRTO’s business model. Following are some of these elements, which are also salient strengths of the RRTO, and an example of each: Foster communications and form collaborative cross-agency groups: The biometrics and forensics capabilities developed to permit rapid, if not real-time, identification in a combat theater of “bad actors” that have been previously identified as such by other government agencies or even other governments—as discussed in Chapter 2—are an excellent example of this RRTO strength of using cross-agency inputs and collaborative development efforts. Anticipate and identify capability needs: “Human terrain teams” that permit combat units to better understand and communicate with the foreign nationals 1 See OSD RDT&E Budget Item Justification (R2 Exhibit), February 2008. Available at http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/budget_justification/pdfs/03_RDT_and_E/Vol_3_OSD/H_OSD%20PB09%20RDTE%20BA%207.pdf. Accessed July 9, 2009. 2 Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs 88(1):1.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism of differing ethnic backgrounds are an example of the RRTO’s ability to anticipate the need for an improved capability and then to provide a quick solution.3 Create synergy by bringing diverse organizations together: The Bluegrass tracking system experiment brought together outputs from the intelligence community’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors with outputs from the military’s moving target indicator (MTI) radars to potentially identify locations of high-value targets. This effort is an excellent example of the RRTO’s creating synergy using capabilities from multiple organizations.4 Enable close relationships among technical staff, testers, and users: The RRTO sponsored the development of a test facility within Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, to examine new systems for counterterrorism. This facility focuses on testing technologies to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and is also used as a training site to help prepare forces prior for their overseas deployment to areas with terrorist threats. The site has become highly valued for testing such systems in a realistic environment prior to their fielding. Test results are documented in NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command] Quick Look Experimentation Reports; after review by the RRTO these reports are archived and posted on a Web site for sharing with partner organizations.5 In addition, the RRTO chairs a biweekly secure videoconference with all interested organizations, including field operational personnel who provide valuable feedback on fielded equipment as well as insights into future experiments. A representative list of RRTO successes is shown in Box 3.1, and a brief description of each is included in Appendix D. That list of 29 items demonstrates the wide range of the RRTO’s accomplishments, its leadership role, and the variety of subject areas in which it operates. Based on the analysis of projects listed in Box 3.1, three key RRTO strengths as perceived by this committee are summarized as follows: Current workforce: The committee found that a major strength of the RRTO is the high quality of its staff. Selecting the right set of people to make up a diverse team with different perspectives and appropriate technical qualifications has served to position the RRTO well. Also, the staff’s knowledge of DOD 3 The human terrain team efforts are also part of the SKOPE project, discussed in Chapter 2 and Appendix D of this report. 4 In this example, the value of the combined Bluegrass sensory capability for tracking a target continuously through rural and urban terrain is perceived to be greater than the combined value of tracking separately through rural terrain and tracking through urban terrain. 5 NAVAIR Quick Look Experimentation Reports are summary reports that address test results, capabilities and limitations, test dilemmas and unknowns, and provide overall conclusions and recommendations. Projects are terminated when an application is not adopted by the warfighter or by another science and technology organization. The data from such projects are archived upon project termination for potential future use.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism BOX 3.1 Successes of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office Airborne Global Information Grid (AGIG) Alternative Strategies Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) Biometric Information Technology Evaluation (BITE) Bluegrass Common Operational Research Environment (CORE) Laboratory Counter Insurgency Pattern Assessment (CIPA) Detection of Unintended Radiation (DURAD) Explosives Particulate Analysis (XPAK) Jadoo Joint Cultural Understanding and Relationship Exploitation (JCURE) Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (JIPOE) Long-Endurance Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) Maritime Automated Super Track Enhanced Reporting (MASTER) Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments (MPICE) Multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) National Counterterrorism/Counterinsurgency Integrated Test and Evaluation Center (NACCITEC) and Joint Experimentation Range Complex (JERC) National Tactical Integrated Processing System (NTIPS) Nova Passive Attack Weapon Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) Pollen Identification and Backtracking SKOPE Sonoma (renamed Constant Hawk) Stiletto Sudan Tactical Infrared Networked Awareness (TINA) Tactical Satellites (TacSats) Wolf Pack NOTE: Each of the projects listed in this box is described in Appendix D. experts, their interests, and whom to contact for purposes of collaborative efforts is a very important aspect of making connections between DOD and non-DOD organizations. This knowledge has been an important determinant of the significance to DOD of the RRTO’s work relative to specific projects or collaborations identified by the RRTO to be of critical interest. Small organizational size: The committee also found that the relatively small size of the RRTO is a distinct advantage. Because the organization has intentionally been kept small, its director has been successful in personally select-
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism ing the high-quality staff consistent with his management style and the RRTO business model. Current business model: The committee also found that the RRTO’s unique combination of attributes and business model elements (it is multidisciplinary, small, risk-tolerant, transparent, and joint) contributes to its key strengths of flexibility and agility that are so important to anticipating and defeating rapidly evolving threats. PERCEIVED WEAKNESSES The RRTO is a very successful organization in recognizing emerging technology needs. As with any organization, however, there are areas that can be improved. Three weaknesses identified by the committee are discussed below. Contracting delays: The RRTO can experience contracting delays of 4 to 6 months. For a “Rapid Reaction Technology Office,” having delays that average many months from the start of a contracting process until the award of the contract is a significant issue. The RRTO does not have its own contracting office but relies on others for contracting support. Further, many sign-offs are required for the contracts, a process that demands extensive coordination. Lastly, many of the RRTO’s contracts are for small amounts and are not awarded for the purpose of transitioning to acquisition under the RRTO but rather for examining and potentially validating a possible technical concept; hence the RRTO has a unique set of contracting needs. Possible means to simplify and reduce the time to contract include the following: creating a small, dedicated contracting element within the RRTO; using “other transaction” authority6 for the high-importance, time-critical responses; and examining how the current approach can be made more streamlined and efficient (e.g., getting the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD[AT&L]), who is the chief procurement and contracting officer of the DOD, to designate a contracting office to give priority attention to the RRTO when needed). The committee prefers the third approach. Maintaining other organizations’ awareness: Some of the senior leaders in other organizations noted to the committee that they had limited insight into the many efforts that the RRTO was conducting. This was said to be the case even 6 For example, other transaction authority (OTA), enacted under Section 845 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994, is a special vehicle used by federal agencies for obtaining prototypes outside of a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement. An “other transaction” is not subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), to most procurement statutes, or to the government’s cost accounting standards. Only those agencies that have been provided OTA may engage in “other transactions.” See L. Elaine Halchin, 2008, Other Transaction Authority, CRS Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., November.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism when significant RRTO joint efforts were carried out with elements in such senior leaders’ organizations. While it is important to keep the RRTO staff small and responsive, the director of the RRTO should consider options that are not personnel-intensive in order to increase awareness of RRTO efforts by the senior managers throughout the DOD and the Services and among other RRTO partners. These options should include creating an RRTO Web site that can be shared with the other organizations, setting up a system to forward the monthly RRTO contract technical summaries to the partnering organizations, and/or having a periodic broadcast e-mail, perhaps quarterly, summarizing activities organized by partnering organizations. Ensuring a long-term capability: Ensuring a long-term capability requires preparing for future staffing and leadership. While some midlevel people are assigned to the RRTO, because the organization is small and outside many of the normal career paths, a greater effort is required to expose a range of people to the RRTO. There is also a need to develop a career path for those who are serving in the RRTO. To help address this need, the committee suggests that the director of the RRTO, with the assistance of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) if necessary, establish a program to rotate people into the RRTO, including persons with diverse backgrounds in terms of both the skills and the organizations that they represent. Individuals from the junior, middle, and senior ranks should be rotated in for 1- to 2-year tours, which should be credited as joint assignments. Further, technical people from the various government laboratories as well as those with operational experience should be included. These exchanges should be organized in such a way that both the sponsoring organizations and the RRTO benefit. POTENTIAL ISSUES THAT COULD IMPACT THE ORGANIZATION’S FUTURE EFFECTIVENESS The committee identified seven potential issues that could represent barriers to the future effectiveness of the RRTO (see Box 3.2). It categorized these potential issues according to whether they are (1) related to internal RRTO operations or (2) external to the RRTO. Each potential issue is discussed below, along with the committee’s view as to what type of action, if any, should be taken to address it. Potential Internal Issues On the basis of its analysis, the committee identified the following potential issues internal to RRTO methods: Reliance on external organizations for mission execution: The RRTO does not execute anything per se. It relies on partners to execute parts of its mission
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism BOX 3.2 Potential Issues That Could Impact the Future Effectiveness of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office On the basis of its analysis, the Committee on Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism identified potential issues both internal and external to the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) that could represent barriers to the future effectiveness of the RRTO. The issues are listed below and discussed in the text of this chapter. Potential Internal Issues Reliance on external organizations for mission execution Limited processes for selecting the best projects Potential External Issues Pressure to consolidate the organization with conventional military Service acquisition organizations and/or to conform to institutional acquisition and test methodology Immature customer requirements for transitioning acquisitions Existing concepts of operations (CONOPS) not always compatible with RRTO initiatives Support from sustainment organizations not always clear Lack of test site intelligence support at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona (e.g., detailed acquisition program management) and on other elements of the DOD to provide internal administrative and other support. The RRTO obtains contracting support from a variety of organizations, and it funds the NAVAIR Special Surveillance program office as the lead agency for overseeing and providing technical expertise for test planning and for the conduct and analysis of RRTO experiments. This reliance on other organizations can be viewed by some as a potential weakness and an impediment to improved RRTO effectiveness in that the priorities of other organizations and the availability of resources from them may not always match the needs of the RRTO. The committee believes strongly that expanding the RRTO to add functionality, such as for test management and possibly even contracting, would be a mistake. Creating internal growth in supporting functional areas where others can provide quality services would potentially distract the organization from its mission, decrease agility, and impede its overall effectiveness. The RRTO has intentionally been kept small, and its size has contributed to its agility and suc-
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism cesses. Consequently, the committee does not recommend any changes related to this potential concern. Limited processes for selecting the best projects: The processes of the RRTO for selecting initiatives are minimal and informal. In some cases the organization proceeds as follows: it solicits white papers that are de facto proposals; vets them for responsiveness to urgent needs, capability gaps, and military usefulness; funds approved initiatives with its own resources as well as those of collaborating organizations; monitors their progress; and concludes some efforts with a report and a briefing. In other cases the RRTO identifies a potential opportunity, invites others with expertise in the subject area to discuss its potential, and forms a collaborative project with joint funding by all contributors if there is sufficient interest. The RRTO has placed great emphasis in its project selection on what can be achieved in the immediate to near term to field useful capabilities. This strategy has been successful in responding to an urgent need without compromising the ultimate outcome. Additionally, the RRTO in some cases identifies projects where it sees a need but there is insufficient engagement by other organizations. These include gaps in technology, in existing concepts of operation (CONOPS), and in the evaluation of promising initiatives. RRTO partners appear to have responded well to informal, cooperative, voluntary participation as a project management style. The continual addition of new organizations and partners and new focus areas has been a challenge for the RRTO, but the organization’s adaptability has added to the range of solution capabilities, brought greater interagency insight, and created opportunities. The organization has exhibited an ability to anticipate needs and to find one or more ways of addressing them with speed. After reviewing the RRTO’s methods, the committee concluded that the informality of RRTO processes has contributed to the organization’s agility and success. The RRTO is sensitive to the challenge of facing an adaptive enemy and recognizes the importance of responding quickly to the urgent needs for force protection and for countering terrorism. More formality in processes (e.g., setting firm schedules, requiring a formal operational or systems analysis) would slow responsiveness and constrain adaptability. Consequently, the committee does not recommend change to the RRTO approach for selecting projects. Potential External Issues On the basis of its analysis, the committee identified the following external issues that could impact the future effectiveness of the RRTO: Pressure to consolidate the organization with conventional military Service acquisition organizations and/or to conform to institutional acquisition and test methodology. The committee believes that with a new administration
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism there may be tremendous pressure to consolidate organizations with similar functions to “achieve greater efficiency.” DOD organizations engaged in acquisition, and even rapid acquisition, are numerous and not always well differentiated by mission and/or objectives. The RRTO can be viewed as nonconforming with regard to some DOD acquisition procedures—a factor that can result in a level of vulnerability in a bureaucratic institution. There may be pressures for the RRTO to be reorganized, restructured, or realigned into more conventional acquisition organizations and to formalize its processes in order to conform. The committee believes that such changes, if applied to the RRTO, not only would be a mistake but also would result in a great loss in capability to the DOD. The committee believes that such changes would diminish if not destroy the RRTO’s key strengths of agility and flexibility in anticipating and responding to rapidly adaptable nonconventional threats. The DOD’s acquisition policies and procedures permit tailoring to accommodate various needs and different starting points in the overall formal process as described in DOD Instruction 5000.2;7 however, current practices tend to be Cold War-based in the sense that rapid response is not considered critical. There is still a need for the more structured, traditional acquisition procedures—applied with more discipline to achieve faster fielding of new technology. However, even if that acquisition process is brought back to its basic essentials, it should not be forced on the RRTO, which has been successful by staying small, flexible, and adaptable. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has called for new ways to procure and quickly field specialized, often relatively low-tech equipment well suited for stability and counterinsurgency missions.8 The committee believes that the RRTO provides Secretary Gates just such an essential business model, with a proven record of success including demonstrated innovation, speed, agility, and product risk taking. In summary, the committee believes that the RRTO should be preserved as an entity and not consolidated into a more bureaucratic organization.9 Immature customer requirements for transitioning acquisitions: Some believe that mature customer requirements rather than the identity of key military deficiencies should be key inputs to the acquisition process. When such firm requirements include technical performance factors, interfaces, and sometimes even technical specifications, the ability to be innovative in developing hardware solutions and/or improved operating concepts is severely constrained if not precluded. The onset of the terrorist threat and insurgency operations has produced a 7 Department of Defense. 2003. Department of Defense Instruction 5000.2, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, Washington, D.C., May 12. 8 Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs 88(1):1. 9 Appendix E provides additional discussion of recent research in management supporting the importance of such small, agile, and relatively unconstrained organizational subunits.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism volume and velocity of changes incompatible with the “requirements process” as currently practiced for most major acquisition programs. The RRTO is spurred by urgent needs, derived from intelligence data, as well as by capability gaps. RRTO capabilities are developed and deployed typically within 6 to 18 months. The committee believes that while immature requirements may be viewed by some as a barrier in the traditional acquisition process for major acquisition programs, they are not an impediment for the RRTO business model. Existing concepts of operations (CONOPS) not always compatible with RRTO initiatives: In general, a CONOPS describes the method of employment of certain capabilities. Typically, a CONOPS is consistent with current Service doctrine or possibly with future Service vision statements and strategies if they differ from current doctrine. In an acquisition program for a major weapons system, the CONOPS provides insight into how a capability to be acquired is planned to be used. The lack of a CONOPS at the initiation of hardware development for such a program would be viewed as an impediment to success. The RRTO has found cases of promising initiatives not funded by organizations because the initiatives do not conform to existing CONOPS. The director of the RRTO indicated to the committee that one-third of the projects taken on by the RRTO resulted in resistance from partner organizations, often because the initiatives did not fit existing CONOPS.10 When a promising application of an initiative does not fit within existing CONOPS, the RRTO works to fit the new capability into an augmented or new CONOPS. The RRTO has delivered some timely and highly specific, unique solutions that did not fit smoothly with a then-current CONOPS. The capabilities were acquired in small quantities, used at the tactical level, and had a positive impact. The committee believes that the RRTO’s actions to anticipate problems, develop solutions involving technical capabilities, and assist in modifying or developing new CONOPS to improve the capabilities of deployed force capabilities are valuable and that their development should not be delayed to wait for CONOPS revisions. The committee also believes that the RRTO is sensitive to the need to work with the military to preclude serious operational problems associated with CONOPS issues. Moreover, the RRTO’s decision to not limit technology developments to an existing CONOPS is believed to have spurred significant and productive activities. Support from sustainment organizations not always clear: The RRTO has had success in fielding capabilities, as discussed in detail in Chapter 2 of this report. In addition, the RRTO has expanded testing infrastructures, such as those at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), Arizona, and at the Joint Interagency Task 10 Benjamin Riley, Director, Rapid Reaction Technology Office, “Testing and Experimentation: How to Better Support the Need for Quick Reaction Capabilities in an Irregular Warfare Environment,” presentation to the committee, Washington, D.C., October 16, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism Force-South (JIATF-South). RRTO experiments have resulted in databases of information that are accessible to many organizations for their use in developing, evolving, and evaluating capabilities. All three of these elements convey requirements for sustainment. Although delivered faster and often focused on providing specific solutions, the capabilities from RRTO programs can have an impact on doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, leader development, personnel, and facilities. The support necessary to sustain new capabilities in the field, manage logistics, supply spare and replacement parts or equipment, and provide training can be allocated to partnering organizations by the RRTO. This is the RRTO’s current approach. Nonetheless, the nature and extent of commitment to such support can be unclear when applications of capabilities are emerging and when formal requirements and CONOPS do not exist, as is often the case with RRTO initiatives. The ambiguities related to the nature and extent of sustainment needed for RRTO projects could become a problem. However, the committee believes that the RRTO is positioned at a sufficiently high level in the Department of Defense to overcome such ambiguities in responsibilities for sustainment. And if its “negotiating with partners strategy” fails in some case(s), the RRTO should be able to involve the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD[AT&L]) in forcing decisions at that level or above. Consequently, the committee elects not to recommend any changes in the RRTO’s business practices in this regard. Lack of test site intelligence support at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona: The committee visited the National Counterterrorism/Counterinsurgency Integrated Test and Evaluation Center (NACCITEC) at YPG. NACCITEC was established to focus on testing technologies to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The work of the center for the RRTO is discussed in Chapter 2 and in Appendix C of this report. At NACCITEC, a shortfall can exist in certain test designs with regard to the lack of an adequate interface with and support from the intelligence community. There is a need at the center for quick access to intelligence personnel who have an understanding of testing and experimentation and who are able to translate intelligence information based on what is happening on the ground into practical and realistic designs and tests. Near-term support needed by NACCITEC includes the following: Vulnerability analyses involving the test community, which is a critical need; The ability to obtain real-time intelligence data from Afghanistan; and A correction to the current lack of the requisite secure videoconferencing capability, which impedes mission planning as well as other activities. Given the importance of realistic testing in a critical area of military opera-
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism tions, the committee believes that Army Intelligence and the Army Test and Evaluation Command should expand their support for the RRTO and its associated test support organizations (i.e., NAVAIR and NACCITEC) with regard to translating intelligence information into realistic test scenarios. POTENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS On the basis of the issues identified in the previous section and of the strengths of the RRTO as it perceives them, the committee discussed additional opportunities to improve the approaches of the organization to rapid technology prototyping and implementation. As indicated in Chapter 2, the most important key to the RRTO’s success is its ability to look forward and then to use its small staff as a catalyst to focus on and initiate or develop “game-changing” capabilities using synergistic networks of persons and organizations. After reviewing the organization and the successes discussed in this chapter (and described in more detail in Appendix D), the committee developed Recommendation 1, formally presented in Chapter 4, regarding the continuation of the RRTO as a separate entity without having substantial changes made in its size or business model. The rest of this major section and the next major section address, respectively, (1) potential changes to some of the RRTO’s current business methods and (2) new initiatives or actions in the nature of improvements that could enhance the benefits to the nation provided by the small RRTO. In both cases, the number of items in which the committee suggests specific changes for the DOD leadership to consider and/or implement is small. In a few places the committee cautions against the growth or enhancement of some particular initiatives. Potential Changes to Current Business Methods To keep the RRTO lean and focused, the committee believes that the office should continue to concentrate primarily on the identification of deficiencies and on partnerships for development rather than on developing equipment in-house or attempting to define specific requirements for equipment solutions to be developed by others. In addition, the RRTO should continue to outsource the management of the experiments and the test facilities used to support the experiments. The committee also cautions the RRTO to remain very selective about the types of experiments that it undertakes, in terms of both complexity and support requirements. For example, there remains an ongoing need for the testing and modification of military armor and tactical vehicle design, but the RRTO generally should avoid activities such as major modification of vehicles that could result in a significant resource drain and/or move the RRTO into an area of overlap or perceived competition with other organizations. A potential issue for the RRTO is one of maintaining large test-vehicle assets.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism Like large fixed infrastructures, vehicles require “regular care and feeding.” Testing in a realistic environment can be absolutely critical to developing new technologies; nonetheless, the larger the vehicle the more caution RRTO should exercise before taking on such assets, because sustaining operating and support costs can be a significant drain on a small organization. Using other government assets or renting privately owned vehicles should be the RRTO’s first choice for testing in such circumstances. An area of strength that the RRTO may be able to improve is its use of conferences to bring together different government organizations and individuals with knowledge and capabilities in particular subject areas and then to build cooperative teams to address important problems and opportunities. Particularly effective over many years have been the wide-area surveillance conference series and the cross-polarization conference series sponsored by the RRTO. These are attended by a very broad range of organizations, from research and development groups to the combatant commands, involving all of the Services and many intelligence organizations. The RRTO acknowledges that several of the conferences that it sponsored were initially successful and then “withered on the vine” owing to a lack of follow-through on the part of the non-RRTO conference organizers.11 In the two RRTO interest areas of “human terrain” and “social networking,” for example, conferences were an excellent way to begin investigations and to build cooperative relationships. In other areas, more suggestions by the RRTO and others to follow up conferences with chat rooms, blogs, and other types of online networking to further the discussions may be an important next step. Continuing to follow up these activities with additional conferences until the target group assumes ownership is a good extension of the model that the RRTO currently uses for prototyping and testing. The RRTO should search for lessons learned from the successes that it and other organizations have had in building teams following initial meetings and conferences and should try to apply them to important subject areas of interest where it has had limited or no success. Another area for potentially improving existing RRTO business methods is in the sharing of information. The RRTO should continue to partner with Service laboratories to develop more effective counterterrorist equipment and techniques. A good example of this constructive sharing is the development by the RRTO, the NAVAIR support team, and the NACCITEC of a comprehensive understanding of the technologies associated with IED detection. This and other such information should be shared with additional selected laboratories on a regular basis to provide a better catalyst for the development or modification of added systems to counter IEDS or other threats. Simply stated, the RRTO should expand the sharing of technical and other information with additional laboratories with the goal 11 Benjamin Riley, Director, Rapid Reaction Technology Office, discussion with the committee on current projects, Washington, D.C., December 15, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism of improving its role as a catalyst with respect to development and deployment capabilities against unconventional threats. The committee also discussed whether or not the RRTO should attempt to formalize some aspects of its relatively broad but general charter and/or to obtain specific added authorities for some functions. Potential areas for improvement include the following: Obtaining specific modifications to the existing authority for other transactions for prototyping and grants that would be specific to the RRTO’s areas of interest (Section 845/804 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994; see footnote 6 above), and obtaining additional relaxation of or exemption from federal acquisition regulations for small rapid prototyping efforts and for test events; Obtaining specific authorities for the RRTO to receive a blanket testing priority similar to what classified programs are sometimes given, in order to help shorten the time between the development and deployment of successful programs; and Obtaining specific authorities for the RRTO to obtain appointments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) (1970, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 5, Chapter 334, 3371-3376) and Highly Qualified Expert term appointments and detail authority (as defined under Section 1101 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998). However, on balance the committee believes that the RRTO should first attempt to use its current business model capabilities to develop teaming or more permanent relationships with other organizations in order to achieve improved contracting and testing results, and that it should use the existing IPA and other authorities that the DDR&E and the USD(AT&L) currently have for obtaining highly qualified technical personnel for their organizations, of which the RRTO is one. Only if these methods fail to achieve improved results would the committee suggest more formal approaches to the above issues. The committee’s concern is that if the RRTO attempts to better define its charter (that is, to be more specific on missions, functions, and authorities for each), including additional authorities peculiar to the RRTO, it will attract more critical review of its methods and become subject to claims that it is competing for resources and special priorities with those that it has been working with, and wants to continue working with, in a complementary teaming fashion. Moreover, the director of the RRTO works directly for the DDR&E. The director of the RRTO has also had access to and the support of each USD(AT&L) with whom he has worked. If the RRTO fails to get the contracting, testing, and personnel support that it needs using its business model and approaches, the director should request that the DDR&E and/or the USD(AT&L) weigh in on individual issues rather than trying to change its charter.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism Areas for Future Technology Focus From the inception of the Combating Terrorism Technology Task Force (CTTTF), which preceded the Rapid Reaction Technology Office, the focus for the organization has been on flexible and rapid responses to the joint forces’ operational and tactical needs, and particularly irregular warfare needs, with the goal of complementing, not competing with, the rapid acquisition processes implemented by each of the military Services. In following its guiding principles, the RRTO has developed a list, derived from experience, of the critical capability areas for countering likely adversarial moves. That list was initially focused on kinetic and the more traditional military capabilities, but it is now shifting to place more equal emphasis on nonkinetic capabilities. The RRTO has initiated programs in a wide variety of areas since its formation, and the focus areas can change significantly as the organization works its business model to anticipate needs and find opportunities for solutions. From the briefings that the committee received, it is not completely clear how focus areas are selected, prioritized annually, and aligned with the available funding, customer priorities, and manpower. However, it is clear that the focus areas are not, and should not be, constant. If the RRTO had a charter defined by a technology area or mission application area, this flexibility of focus might be leveled as a serious criticism. Instead, the committee sees the function of the RRTO as a continuously evolving bridge between technology and fieldable solutions, in place to address gaps in capability or existing problems and threats. In today’s world, technology changes rapidly. Simplistically, Moore’s law has computing power doubling every 18 to 24 months. Every week brings the announcement of some new device or software capability. Similarly, the knowledge and appreciation of threats, future threats, and gaps in the U.S. ability to respond effectively are modified every month by the changing tempo, tactics, alliances, and capabilities of the nation’s adversaries. Given an organization whose focus is on the application of science and technology to these emerging threats, there would be no hope of success with a statically defined agenda as to what technologies are appropriate. Instead the committee sees the role of the RRTO to be defined somewhat as shown in Figure 3.1. On the left side of Figure 3.1 is represented the ever-changing palette of emerging technologies, while the right-hand side represents the changing threat and emerging gaps in U.S. capabilities. It is the job of RRTO to ask regularly, Are there any problems on the right that can now be solved by capabilities on the left with the modest application of time and money? Thus, the proposed project must be likely to show initial success within the 6- to 18-month time frame and fit within RRTO project sizes. Furthermore, since realistic project execution requires effective leadership, there must be a viable candidate organization and leader to carry out the work. With the confluence of all three, a candidate project emerges.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism FIGURE 3.1 A committee view of the focus area and project selection process of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO). The warfighter is the ultimate customer for RRTO products. This match may just have become possible—perhaps because a new technological innovation has just reached sufficient maturity, or conversely because a threat or gap has emerged that can be rapidly addressed by the appropriate application of existing, mature technology. Either scenario requires vigilance in observing and understanding both sides of the equation. If one accepts this role of the RRTO as a matching function between potential solutions and emerging problems, then requiring the RRTO to exhibit a static portfolio of focus areas would be a mistake. Indeed any suggestion that the committee might make today for program focus beyond the next 18 months is likely to be flawed. Long-term abilities to predict the future are at best limited. Scientists and others have proven to be distinctly shortsighted in predicting breakthrough technological innovation and similarly limited in anticipating evolving threats. The RRTO should continue what appears to be an agile selection process that observes and anticipates the threat and matches those needs rapidly with solutions. In summary, given the rate of change of nonconventional threats and potential technology responses over recent years, the committee decided that it would be presumptuous to attempt to forecast particular technology areas on which the RRTO and others should focus in future years.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED INITIATIVES The committee discussed several additional suggested initiatives that it believes would help sustain the Rapid Reaction Technology Office’s benefits to the Department of Defense well into the future. The RRTO should try to form partnerships with the major military test sites to have them focus on upgrading their sites to support rapid reaction prototyping and counterterrorism testing as a core competency. Thus far, the RRTO has avoided the direct ownership of fixed test facilities, which the committee believes is the proper strategy for a small organization within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, because infrastructure costs and operation can create a severe financial drain as well as a management distraction. The RRTO has historically been very successful in seeding new technological developments, organizing a community of interested parties to push the technology forward, and then sponsoring test events and venues in a “build, test, fix, test again” environment. Two examples of this approach to prototype testing are (1) the persistent-surveillance testing that the RRTO conducted in conjunction with interested parties within the DOD and the intelligence community; and (2) the counter-IED testing and facility development that the RRTO started at Yuma Proving Ground and turned over to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in 2009. In the first case the RRTO worked with the interested parties to push the technology and facilitated an ongoing series of experiments that are advancing the state of the art in this critical area. These tests employ prototype hardware from a variety of sources and use test facilities that had been established for other purposes. Some limited modifications were made to the facilities, but these will be taken over by interested parties in the DOD and intelligence community as the technology matures. This is a very positive step, as it allows RRTO to begin to focus on the next set of problems. The other example is the process that the RRTO went through to prototype and test counter-IED technologies. As the prototypes began to bear fruit, the RRTO realized that there was little in the way of test facilities to determine the effectiveness of the prototypes being developed. The RRTO found that it had to develop the test facilities as well as the prototypes to be tested. The RRTO was quite successful in developing the Joint Experimentation Range Complex (JERC) site at YPG to test counter-IED technologies, but the site has a lot of fixed infrastructure that requires a stable cadre of test personnel and has yearly maintenance costs. These costs have little to do with the RRTO’s core mission. As a result, the
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism RRTO has been transferring the JERC to JIEDDO, but it is still funding it at a significant level (i.e., on the order of 20 percent).12 When possible, the RRTO should avoid the longer-term costs for obtaining and maintaining large, fixed test sites by developing a firm commitment from a partner agency and/or Service to pick up the bill at some very-near-term point after completion of RRTO testing. The committee recommends that the Army G-2 (Intelligence) Command and the commander of Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) expand support to the RRTO and its associated test support organizations (i.e., NAVAIR, NACCITEC) with regard to picking up RRTO-related fixed-test-site costs. Those two organizations should also expand their support to the RRTO by assisting in translating intelligence information into realistic test scenarios, because the RRTO does not have sufficient knowledge or capability to do so. The RRTO should also work closely with the NACCITEC and other major test outdoor ranges as well as indoor countermeasure test facilities, as appropriate, to have them focus on upgrading their sites to support rapid reaction counter-terrorism technology prototyping and testing as a core competency. The required test support has multiple components. First, it requires the rapid development of appropriate test facilities. Second, it requires a contractual arrangement with the range support contractor to provide surge support for periods of intensive 6- to 7-day-per-week operations, to include at times two shifts per day. If the ranges support multiple test activities, the issue of test priority needs to be addressed to ensure that the rapid reaction technology testing is not adversely impacted. This potential problem is sometimes alleviated or eliminated by a surge support capability at the range, adding extra shifts or temporary personnel. The Department of Defense and the entire U.S. national security complex could benefit from making the RRTO’s attributes (e.g., small size and catalytic function) and its methods of operation known, or better known, to the National Security Council principals and their key staff managers. In its review of the RRTO, the committee received briefings from and had discussions with representatives from numerous government organizations. It became apparent to the committee that the leaders of some organizations (including some that had personnel cooperating and/or teaming with RRTO) were not aware of the types of successes that the catalytic RRTO staff had initiated across government organizations. Many of these organizations were not used to working together and/or were not aware of what was going on in other departments that could improve their own efforts. The committee has noted elsewhere in this report that there are many reasons why the RRTO should not be grown into a large organization or lose its agility and innovative business model by being folded in with 12 Discussion between the committee and NACCITEC personnel during its site visit at the Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on November 18, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism other, more typical government organizations that have less flexible mission statements and less ability to adopt new or different business methods and procedures. The committee believes that if other government leaders are made aware of the RRTO’s nontraditional attributes and business model, they may be able to apply selected ones to small entities in their departments or agencies. It is for this reason that the committee recommends that the Secretary of Defense make the National Security Council principals aware of the RRTO, its attributes, and its business model, so that these practices can be adapted and applied to interagency problems. The RRTO should implement leadership succession planning. The director of the RRTO should develop a sustainable succession plan in order to ensure the availability of the leadership and management expertise needed to carry into the future the same level of foresight, flexibility, and ingenuity that exists in the organization today. The director needs either to develop the specifically needed talent within the organization by training or mentoring or to obtain the appropriate level of support from the DDR&E and the USD(AT&L) to acquire the requisite personnel. To date the RRTO’s apparent strong and effective leadership is what has put the RRTO in the favorable position that it occupies within the Department of Defense. The DDR&E and the USD(AT&L) need to protect that valuable reputation by sustaining the RRTO’s visionary, agile, flexible, and effective style of leadership. WHY IS THE RAPID REACTION TECHNOLOGY OFFICE NEEDED? In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Defense Gates stated that “support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in the Defense Department’s budget, in its bureaucracy, in the defense industry, and in Congress. My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support—including in the Pentagon—for the capabilities needed to win today’s wars and some of their likely successors.”13 He went on to say in the article that apart from the Special Forces and a few other groups there is no deeply rooted constituency within the Pentagon or elsewhere for establishing the capabilities required to wage asymmetric or irregular warfare or to meet quickly the ever-changing needs of the forces engaged in these conflicts. One of the primary reasons for the continued existence of the RRTO is that it is both focused on addressing irregular warfare needs and capable of reacting quickly, whereas most of the current DOD acquisition system is failing to provide 13 Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age, Foreign Affairs 88(1):1.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism the flexible and timely response that the nation needs. The overall DOD acquisition process has provisions that enable tailoring and rapid response, but over the past few decades the management of the system has evolved into one permitting the use of (1) excessive and/or “creeping” requirements with little flexibility for trade-offs in value or time, (2) immature technologies, and (3) unrealistic schedules or cost estimates. Secretary Gates observed that “conventional modernization programs seek a 99 percent solution” when a 75 percent solution may be sufficient for many missions.14 As explained in Chapter 2, the RRTO’s position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense gives its leadership exceptional flexibility to use its skills in networking and cross-collaboration with agencies across the government. The RRTO’s defining characteristics (see Box 2.1 in Chapter 2) as a catalytic organization that anticipates and responds to emerging threats, and that has a business model which creates synergism by bringing diverse organizations together to invent and develop capabilities and concepts of operation, constitute key elements informing this committee’s belief that the nation needs to maintain and sustain the RRTO. In addition, in the intelligence arena, the RRTO has demonstrated a high value for operating in the gaps not covered by cross-community collaboration between various intelligence agencies. Moreover, with respect both to the Services and to the intelligence agencies, the RRTO consciously tries not to compete with their respective major programs, and as a result it is not viewed as a threat in the budgetary fight for resources. Some RRTO activities overlap with those of other offices and agencies, but they are predominantly complementary and not competitive. For example, while there is some overlap between the RRTO and JIEDDO, which has a very short term or immediate focus, JIEDDO is very supportive of the RRTO and its efforts to meet the longer-term commitment against asymmetric threats and irregular warfare. There are other agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), that have essentially no overlap with the RRTO. And while some might argue that DARPA and the RRTO should be integrated in their technological efforts, their roles are different. On the one hand, DARPA has a relatively long time horizon in its efforts to supply technological options for the entire DOD and to be a specialized “technological engine” for transforming the DOD. The RRTO, on the other hand, strives to adapt technology to support less conventional warfighting requirements on a shorter time frame. The director of DARPA stated that he did not see an overlap between his agency and the RRTO.15 14 Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs 88(1):1. 15 Anthony Tether, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), discussion with the committee on the role of experimentation and rapid prototyping from the DARPA perspective, December 15, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism The RRTO will be needed well beyond the current war on terror for other future nonconventional conflicts. There are no indications that the larger established acquisition system within the DOD will be fixed soon enough to eliminate the need for an RRTO to continue its cross-collaboration efforts to meet unconventional conflict needs. There may be a need to protect the RRTO from institutional biases as well as the probability of bureaucratic infringement within the Department of Defense over time. The RRTO will need the continued support of senior-level DOD officials in order to continue to operate in the same manner that it does today. The current RRTO is a very small, low-key, nonconfrontational organization that is adept at using the networks that have been built up to identify potential technologies that can be exploited in a rapid manner to address unconventional conflict needs. It is questionable as to whether it would be prudent to increase the stature of the RRTO organization, because it does not want or need the perception that it is in competition with other science and technology (S&T) entities and/or larger acquisition programs within the DOD. It can continue to be very effective in its current operating niche. The RRTO is functioning very effectively in the current environment, which requires that S&T requirements of the DOD be met quickly in order to respond to rapidly changing threats in the field. The RRTO also provides an example of the kind of organizational model that can successfully deal with the disruptive challenges that the nation faces, as is discussed in more detail in Appendix E. A similar level of innovative capability should be carried over into the interagency arena to benefit the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the intelligence agencies, as well as organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development or the Department of Agriculture. Both of the latter have developing missions on the “soft side” of U.S. irregular warfare efforts overseas. Following the same process through cross-collaboration and coordinating initiatives that are now operating, coupled with the discipline to stay within the seams between major programs, the RRTO (or a new interagency entity using the RRTO model) could remain a catalyst for other organizations to develop future innovative solutions that could be fielded quickly to address their problems.