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--> 4 The Ten Key Issues In this chapter the committee addresses the ten key issues (Table 4-1) in the statement of work between the Natick RDEC and the NRC. 1 These issues fall into three major categories (Organization and Resources, Quality and Customer Satisfaction, and Research and Technology), each of which was assessed by a different group of panel members. The committee's judgments on all ten issues are based partly on the characteristics and metrics in the phase-one report and partly on its own expertise. Accordingly, the reader will find some repetition of the assessments in the previous two chapters. Judgments relating to the commodity directorates primarily considered all three directorates together (Chapter 2 showed that the committee did not find major differences in the assessments). The two support directorates are mostly treated individually, however, because of differences between their roles and between the committee's assessments of them (see Chapter 3). Organization and Resources Issue 1. Does the Natick RDEC have adequate funding and personnel (e.g., technical specialties and critical mass) to conduct world-class research, development, and engineering for military products and systems? Are the RDEC's facilities and equipment adequate? Commodity Directorates The committee found that the commodity directorates have a highly qualified, highly motivated workforce that is encouraged to upgrade and acquire new skills and to use both internal and external resources to accomplish its objectives. Members of the workforce are well connected to external technical and 1 General references for this chapter are Brandler, 1996; Darsch, 1996; Doucette, 1996; Granchelli, 1996; Malabarba, 1996; and Salant, 1996.
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--> TABLE 4-1 Ten Key Issues Addressed by the Committee in Stage 2 of the Assessment Organization and Resources 1. Does the Natick RDEC have adequate funding and personnel (e.g., technical specialties and critical mass) to conduct world-class research, development, and engineering for military products and systems? Are the RDEC's facilities and equipment adequate 3. What new organizational approaches might be beneficial (include consideration of elements of the federated laboratory concept)? 2. How effective is the current organizational structure? 4. How has establishment of the Soldier Systems Command affected the Natick RDEC? Quality and Customer Satisfaction 5. Are the Natick RDEC's outputs (e.g., products, systems, and research and development results) deserving of the label world-class? Is the RDEC's system to measure the quality of its outputs adequate? 7. Are the RDEC's outputs marketable to customers outside the Army? Outside the DOD? Is this marketability appropriate and adequate for an RDEC? 6. (i) Do the outputs of the RDEC meet the customers' materiel requirements? (ii) How well does the RDEC support the battle laboratories and its higher-level customers (e.g., Soldier Systems Command, Army Materiel Command, and DOD)? (iii) Is the RDEC's system to determine customer satisfaction adequate? Research and Technology 8. Are the core and supporting research and technology programs world-class (or merely adequate)? 10. Are the models and simulations and other analytic methodologies used by the RDEC appropriate for the commodity areas and research and technology programs? 9. Should all current research and technology programs be continued? If not, which ones should be eliminated? Should any new ones be adopted? scientific communities. As a consequence, all three directorates are recognized as leaders in one or more areas of technology. However, their expertise is threatened by the loss of experienced people. The ongoing hiring freeze precludes replenishment of the skill base. A significant amount of leveraging via external liaisons (also known as outsourcing) has been done to offset reductions in the on-site workforce and maintain programs and capabilities. Although outsourcing has resulted in some
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--> technological advances at minimal or no cost to the commodity directorates, it also has its downside. An increasing amount of RDEC personnel time is being devoted to contract management rather than to the maintenance, development, and exploitation of the expertise internal to the RDEC. Interviewees informed the committee that they had all of the computer equipment they needed to do their work properly. And the committee observed an abundance of computer equipment during its visits to Natick. The availability of and familiarity with computer technology has improved communications, as well as the marketing and presentation capabilities, of the RDEC. Unfortunately, other equipment is not as abundant or up to date. Much of the equipment is aging, and the RDEC has limited resources for preventive maintenance. Some interviewees indicated they have all of the major equipment they need, but others noted that new, sophisticated equipment had not been purchased either because no one at the RDEC had the training or experience to operate it or because not enough people in the group could operate it.2 The committee was told that some of the roofs leak and noted many other problems during visits to the site (e.g., some ceilings); most of the facilities showed signs of age. Most, but not all, offices and work spaces were clean. Age, deterioration, and the lack of modem climate controls in the physical testing laboratories could severely impede scientific and technical work. Some of these problems can be attributed to a lack of funding. In the past several years, most budget increases have come from external customers who have paid directorates to accomplish specific tasks. These monies have been used to address customer needs and have not affected discretionary R&D. The committee recognizes that limited budgets are now a way of life for the military, but the continuity of RDEC programs is being jeopardized, as well as the maintenance of existing facilities and the purchase of new equipment. Funding limitations even threaten the effectiveness of external collaborative programs, which could provide state-of-the-art techniques in key areas. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. Downsizing, departures, and the hiring freeze have all contributed to the erosion of basic skills in STD. Employees are encouraged, based on their own motivation and interests, to pursue training and educational opportunities to upgrade their skills and explore new scientific interests, and deficiencies in key technical areas have sometimes been addressed by reassigning personnel from other disciplines. STD has made limited use of 2 The committee learned during the peer-review process for this report that some laboratories have used creative approaches to obtain equipment and the people to operate it. For example, laboratories have acquired equipment and a person to run it simultaneously by using the new equipment to attract a trained person. An on-site contractor can employ the trained person and operate the equipment under a task order until the hiring freeze is lifted.
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--> external resources, and the committee suggests STD consider leveraging other research organizations and programs. Based on interviews, the committee found that members of this directorate resent the increasing pressure on them to pursue short-term research goals that might bring in near-term financial support. The committee also found a growing gap between STD and the RD&E needs of the commodity directorates. The committee sensed a reluctance on the part of STD personnel to analyze the relevance of their work to current program needs or to establish closer working relationships with the commodity directorates. Some important technologies (e.g., behavioral sciences and material sciences) could be strengthened within STD to facilitate stronger ties with the commodity directorates. Facilities, including computer-based technologies, appear to be adequate. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. The committee first considered the customer liaison, strategic planning, and program management functions within ASCD. The customer liaison3 function of assessing customer needs and satisfaction has been taken over, in some instances, by the commodity directorates. The strategic planning function has also been shifted to the new Strategic Planning Office, which reports directly to the RDEC director. The principal program management function of ASCD is to assist with fulfillment of federal rules and regulations and to see that RD&E milestones are met on time and on budget. Next, the committee considered the modeling and simulation functions of ASCD. Personnel within the ASCD are capable and knowledgeable about the variety of roles modeling, simulation, and operations research can play in support of the RDEC mission. However, the committee questions whether ASCD has the critical mass to lead the RDEC in the use of models and simulations that must demonstrate to external stakeholders how the RDEC commodities can increase overall military effectiveness and efficiency (e.g., how better food translates into more enemy losses). This kind of analysis is likely to become even more important as competition for scarce military RD&E funds intensifies. The committee believes that ASCD presently has adequate funding to support its program management, strategic planning, and customer liaison responsibilities. Facilities and equipment were also found to be adequate. However, the committee believes that ASCD does not have sufficient resources to help the RDEC fully realize the benefits of modeling and simulation. Additional resources will be needed to improve ASCD's ability to model the payoffs of RDEC programs. For example, it will probably be necessary either to hire additional personnel or to assign knowledgeable staff to train or assist researchers and scientists in modeling and simulation 3 In February 1997, the committee learned that the customer liaison function is now performed by the Operational Forces Interface Group and the Battle Laboratories Integration Office. ASCD no longer has a separate Customer Liaison Division.
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--> Issue 2. How effective is the current organizational structure? Commodity Directorates Two of the three commodity directorates (MobD and SurD) have been reorganized into a flat structure to encourage teams to set goals and seek innovative solutions with limited intervention from management. However, having all groups report to the associate director and technical management office appears to have overwhelmed the personnel at the top. Upper management in these two directorates is now caught up in day-to-day priorities (putting out brush fires) and existing programs, but managers have little time to focus on strategic planning or implementing strategic plans. The committee also noted that the new, flatter organizational structure limits communications among the teams. As a consequence, not all segments of the workforce understand each other's roles and how they support and complement each other. For example, members of the product development group in MobD do not seem to appreciate the potential impact of modeling in the science and technology group (MobD has its own science and technology group and does not depend on STD for support). Although the committee recognizes the potential advantages of flat structures, implementation of the current flat structures does not appear to be effective for the long-term health of MobD and SurD. To improve the situation, staff could be assigned some additional responsibilities to relieve the workload of upper management. In addition, the committee believes that middle managers could communicate the importance and relationship of each group's activities to the overall mission of the directorate and to the missions of other groups. During the peer-review process for this report, the committee was informed that a similar communications problem in another RDEC was attributed to eliminating the hierarchical "pipeline" that had existed before the formation of a new, flat organization. The problem was solved by recognizing that the old communication link had been broken and then incorporating a new communication strategy in the training programs developed for the teams. Management of the Natick RDEC might wish to consider this remedy. In contrast to MobD and SurD, SusD has kept its organizational structure intact, which seems to work fairly well for day-to-day operations. The span of control is reasonable, and there is no indication that the personnel are being overworked. All personnel know their jobs and are dedicated to their tasks. The current structure of SusD encourages each group to work autonomously, which fosters the development of highly motivated teams. At the same time, however, the committee observed the same sort of cell mentality as in the flatter structures, i.e., people only work within their particular area or work cell and often feel isolated. Communication tends to flow into pockets and not across the entire
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--> directorate. Groups often interpret things to suit their own interests, teams are entities unto themselves, and the structure does little to support integration between teams. Moreover, top management usually deals with each group as an entity, thereby reinforcing a functionally-driven structure that encourages each group to remain within its own area of expertise and interest. The committee believes that this mentality impedes strategic planning and organizational learning in SusD. The committee found some evidence that the situation is improving among the Ration Systems and Equipment and Systems groups within SusD, which seem to be communicating and coordinating their activities more often than in the past. But the Shelters group remains an orphan. Interviewees attribute this partly to the fact that senior-level management comes from the food end of the business, and shelters is a relatively new addition to SusD. For the near future at least, the interviewees believe that management will be biased in favor of food. Some organizational efforts have been made to improve teamwork and break down functional barriers, as well as to deal with complaints and concerns. Examples include Straight Talk (an e-mail system) and town meetings. All of the commodity directorates follow a planning process that is consistent with the Army and the RDEC planning process, but the directorates do little or no long-term planning themselves. In addition, the committee found some antipathy in all of the directorates towards the bureaucratic, management details required by the planning process. Members of the directorates feel that crisis management has become the routine mode of operation, and they have become disenchanted with the amount of contract management they must do with outsourcing. The committee found a strong commitment to the missions of individual directorates and trust in directorate leadership but did not find a strong sense of connection with the broader RDEC soldier-system mission. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. The committee assessed the effectiveness of the STD organization by considering how well and how much it contributes to the other directorates' performance and ultimately to the efficacy of the soldier-system concept. The effectiveness of STD's organizational structure is specifically related to the way personnel are grouped into teams to develop or improve specific products and enhance soldier-system performance. The committee found several examples of STD effectiveness (e.g., chemical analysis and research to improve the quality and shelf life of foods; scientific measurement and research into anthropometry of soldiers; physiological and behavioral research to evaluate the effect of environmental conditions and stress on soldiers' performance; and biomechanics for materials development).
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--> STD's support for the commodity directorates varies. STD does little to support MobD but has several programs that support SurD (e.g., materials research and development); the committee was informed that these programs were established principally in response to SurD requests rather than STD initiatives. STD also has several programs that support SusD (e.g., behavioral sciences). The committee was told, however, that SusD has asked many times for support in materials research but has not received it. Based on interviews, the committee believes that important elements are missing from the STD organization, especially a comprehensive understanding of how technology can ultimately be applied to the soldier system and an understanding of which specific areas of emphasis by STD would have the highest payoff. The basic technologies on which the STD organization concentrates are biomechanics, materials research, behavioral science, and product acceptance. However, there are a host of other technologies that could be researched and engineered into the soldier system. Of course, it would be a mistake for STD to try to cover all areas at once, but it should focus on the areas that offer the highest payoffs. Another missing element is a master plan showing how all of the research at the RDEC, internal and external to STD, supports the needs of the commodity directorates and performance of the soldier system. The committee suggests that the STD organization investigate the soldier system concept and identify all potential technologies that could be considered as thrust areas. Although only a few can be pursued at any one time, the committee believes the entire STD organization would be more effective if it could articulate the importance of its technology thrusts in comparison to alternatives, all in the context of soldier-system performance. Perhaps the modeling and simulations of ASCD could help in this regard. Also, the new strategic planning process could lead to the development of an RDEC-wide master plan for research that would be very useful to the research-oversight role of STD. Advanced Systems Concept Directorate. The committee learned that ASCD was originally chartered to facilitate the milestone decision process. This process involves ensuring that funding is in place, that requirements are written, and that the RD&E proceeds in a structured way so the user is ready to accept the final products. The process also involves working with the integrated planning teams of the RDEC to ensure that the highest priority programs and projects are funded and well managed. At the Natick RDEC, ASCD tries to achieve this broad objective through its various organizational units. The ASCD Operational Forces Interface Group and the Battle Laboratories Integration Office serve as interfaces with customer organizations. The committee believes that RD&E programs that do not have a requirements base to support them should not be pursued until the RDEC (presumably, through ASCD) has established a strong relationship with the appropriate Army or other government customer. To pursue RD&E without a sanctioned customer is often detrimental to the progress of discretionary activities. There were indications in the interviews that ASCD has not always provided the commodity directorates
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--> with necessary information about requirements and potential customers. In those cases, the directorates had to take on some of the customer liaison function themselves. The committee believes that ASCD should place more emphasis on, perhaps even develop a formal database,4 correlating customer requirements with the RD&E programs of the RDEC. Management of the RDEC should consider either assigning this function to one of the divisions within ASCD or to incorporating this function into the individual commodity directorates to ensure that all projects are working to meet current, supported, validated Army (or other customer) requirements. The committee believes that strategic planning in the RDEC director's office has supplanted ASCD's role as strategic planners for the RDEC. Some adjustment or redefinition of roles and responsibilities should be made to ensure that resources formerly devoted to this function at ASCD can either be used to support future strategic planning or can be used to support other activities. ASCD performs modeling and simulation in support of decisions by the commodity directorates and is an interface between the RDEC and other Army organizations, including organizations that conduct intra-and interservice modeling. The ASCD modeling and simulation capability is used to demonstrate the combat worthiness of products and concepts being developed by the commodity directorates. Modeling and simulation have been used by individual commodity directorates to demonstrate the impact of food delivery systems, clothing and individual equipment, and airdrop delivery systems. However, the committee found that the commodity directorates have relied upon ASCD to conduct the modeling and simulations and that their own personnel did not contribute to (and were not trained in) the use of these capabilities. In addition, individual directorates did not pursue up-front studies to support models by ASCD for evaluating the combat worthiness of their products. An exception is MobD, which has used some modeling and simulation studies to evaluate ideas for airdrop delivery systems. The committee believes that there is a distinct connection between the level of information available from the individual commodity directorates and the level of information in the models used by ASCD to assess combat worth. This is also true of ASCD's models of overall soldier-system performance, which can show how the introduction of a new technology can significantly improve soldier-system performance. Determining benefits requires identifying the technical performance measures for the technology, modeling the technical parameters to 4 This marketing-oriented database may or may not relate directly to databases already in existence at the RDEC. The committee is fully aware that the RDEC has surveyed many soldiers for many years and has accumulated a large database of ratings of customer satisfaction. The committee is also aware of RDEC attempts to measure customer satisfaction indirectly (e.g., by increases in direct funding by customers). In 1996, the committee was informed that one of the RDEC's customer-focus initiatives involved the development of a central, integrated customer database (Faulkner, 1996). The committee is not aware of progress on this initiative or exactly what it entails.
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--> represent the technological contribution, and ensuring that the technology is accurately integrated into the soldier-system concept. This will require more direct interaction between the commodity directorate personnel and the modeling and simulation personnel of ASCD. Issue 3. What new organizational approaches might be beneficial (include consideration of elements of the federated laboratory concept)?5 This subsection begins with some general comments. A major problem facing the RDEC is maintaining and, if possible, improving its current level of performance as the downsizing of the U.S. defense establishment takes its toll. New organizational approaches will probably be among the many alternatives considered by RDEC managers trying to cope with this problem. The committee suggests that new organizational approaches should promote team building, especially between the commodity directorates and the support directorates. For example, people who develop products should work closely with researchers or the developers of simulations. The end result of new organizational approaches should be cohesiveness of the entire RDEC, which will enable the RDEC to marshal scarce resources and focus them on the most significant tasks. Commodity Directorates If resources for the military continue to be constrained, as is likely, the military will certainly have less influence on the development of technology. In the future, there may be few alternatives to a federation of laboratories that will have the critical mass to fulfill the RD&E needs of organizations like the Natick RDEC. Federations might also support Air Force and Navy interests. At the directorate level, members of MobD, for example, felt that the federated laboratory concept would be a big plus for their organization, but they were concerned about incurring additional administrative work. The committee suggests that the RDEC investigate how the benefits of the federated laboratory concept could be realized without an excessive administrative burden. 5 The federated laboratory concept is a new paradigm of operation for the Army Research Laboratory (ARL, 1994). Under this paradigm, the Army laboratory collaborates with external centers that have technical expertise ''to forge direct associations with industry and university laboratories with recognized competencies in specific technology areas.'' Typical features of this arrangement include heavy reliance on the private sector in areas where it has the lead and commitment, the integration of outside work with Army in-house capability to ease the transition to the Army, the maintenance of strong in-house capabilities in Army-unique areas where there is little investment or outside interest, and an "open laboratory" that allows government researchers to work at industrial and academic sites and vice versa.
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--> The examples below highlight areas in which RDEC personnel involved in food processing and packaging could work productively with outside groups. By keeping abreast of work being done to eliminate microorganisms or other harmful elements in foods, the Natick RDEC could transfer this knowledge to military rations or feeding systems. By keeping track of work on evolving nutritional requirements, RDEC personnel could incorporate these requirements into military rations. By monitoring the development of higher performance or lower cost packaging materials, RDEC personnel could take advantage of improvements that could benefit the Army. Outsourcing will continue to be a necessity in the face of smaller budgets and other directives and restrictions. Outsourcing creates some problems, however, for technical personnel, whose interests and expertise are in technical areas, not in contract management. Many employees complained in the interviews about the many hours they had been made to spend in acquisition training that could have been better spent in outside technical activities. Perhaps the RDEC could find a way to separate the technical and contract management and acquisition functions. This would strengthen the RDEC technical base, which has already been eroded. The new, flat organizational structures adopted by MobD and SurD and the more traditional structure maintained by SusD both have problems. Perhaps a modified fiat structure that includes middle managers to relieve the workload of upper management and to enhance communication among groups should be considered. In that way, the advantage of flattening the organization could be retained while the empowerment of self-directed work teams could be ensured. Technical excellence may not be the most important criterion for promoting someone to middle management. Individuals who can focus on employee morale and empowerment, enhance communication and teamwork, are concerned with customer satisfaction and quality processes, and who can concentrate on staff career development would be good candidates for middle management positions. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. To improve its effectiveness, STD should attempt to identify the full range of technologies (from external as well as internal sources) with the potential to support the ideal soldier system. In the committee's opinion, STD seems to have lost all connection with the R&D needs—both short and long-term—of the commodity directorates. As a result, the commodity directorates have initiated their own research programs, particularly to address short-term requirements.
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--> The weak relationship between STD and the commodity directorates, which is critical to the technological capabilities of the RDEC, is a good reason for the RDEC to reevaluate the roles of basic and applied research (see definitions in Chapter 3) within the mission of the Natick RDEC. This reevaluation could improve the RDEC as a whole. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. Several ways to improve the current organization of the ASCD have already been identified. The functions of strategic planning and customer liaison by ASCD need to be reevaluated so that they more effectively support the RDEC. Most important, ASCD, with the assistance of RDEC management, must enhance the value of modeling and simulations to the commodity directorates and to STD. Issue 4. How has establishment of the Soldier Systems Command affected the Natick RDEC? The committee concluded that the establishment of the Soldier Systems Command has had several negative effects on the Natick RDEC. Most important, the command has drained off many talented people. Since a hiring freeze was imposed on the Army Materiel Command at large, RDEC personnel have only two ways (short of leaving the Natick area or finding a job outside the Army) of increasing their salaries or improving their positions: (1) promotion within the RDEC when someone in a higher-level position is transferred or takes early retirement, or (2) being hired at Soldier Systems Command. When the latter was formed, some of the best personnel in the RDEC were offered jobs, and these people took the opportunity to improve their financial and organizational status. But the RDEC was diminished because the hiring freeze did not allow the RDEC to replace them. The quality and quantity of work within the commodity and support directorates has been directly affected by the loss of personnel to the Soldier Systems Command. The Soldier Systems Command has created new layers of management that RDEC personnel must respond to on a daily basis. To some extent, this situation has fostered an "us versus them" atmosphere (i.e., the RDEC versus the command). Many interviewees were concerned that the head of Soldier Systems Command (a civilian) is only the acting head, although two-star generals are in charge of the commands over other facilities on the same level as the Natick RDEC. The impression, in the minds of the interviewees, is that Natick is not as important to the Army as other facilities, an impression that could have a negative impact on Natick's ability to secure future funding. Finally, many personnel are convinced that the Soldier System Command has caused reductions in the RDEC's budget.
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--> Support Directorates The support directorates need to be reminded continually that customer satisfaction is not restricted solely to external customers. Indeed, the communication procedure suggested above for the commodity directorates could be used by the support directorates to obtain feedback on how well the needs of their internal customers (i.e., the other RDEC directorates) are being satisfied by the work of the support directorates Science and Technology Directorate. STD uses conventional measures to judge external perceptions of the quality of its work (e.g., refereed journal articles, patents, presentations, awards, number of symposia chaired). However, the committee determined that STD has no effective measures by which to judge the satisfaction of its internal customers, the commodity directorates. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. ASCD's current system for determining customer satisfaction—both internally and externally—could be greatly improved. At a minimum, ASCD should solicit candid feedback from higher headquarters and capture in surveys the subjects of interest to each of the commodity directorates so they do not have to conduct their own surveys. (STD may play a role in this because it helps to design the surveys.) ASCD could also assist the RDEC Director and leaders of the commodity directorates by preparing and processing communications (like those described above) to various customers. Issue 7. Are the RDEC's outputs marketable to customers outside the Army? Outside the DOD? Is this marketability appropriate and adequate for an RDEC? Commodity Directorates For MobD, whose primary output is airdrop products, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Marines, and occasionally the Navy have been and will continue to be customers. These are traditional, appropriate markets for an RDEC. A less traditional market, the private sector, has limited use for MobD parachute systems. However, if one views MobD's product as the design and fabrication of high-performance fabric structures, then it might be attractive to the private sector, for automotive air bags, for example. One can imagine that the fluid and structure simulation being developed by MobD could be applied to the simulation of thin-coating flows over a deformable substrate (e.g., the manufacture of paper or magnetic tape). Technologies produced by the MobD New Ventures group, such as personnel augmentation devices, could easily be adapted for the civilian market. However,
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--> the New Ventures group must become viable before attempting civilian-sector diversification. The committee concluded that the private sector could be an appropriate market for some MobD products. SurD's products are already being marketed to customers outside the Army and DOD, including the U.S. Postal Service and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. New markets in the civil sector are also being explored. The associates of the SurD Business Management Office solicit customer input and feedback to generate new business opportunities. An expanded market base appears to be appropriate and necessary, not only to satisfy the needs of external customers, but also for budgetary reasons and for expanding the technology base in the RDEC. However, the committee suggests that the marketing skills of the associates in the Business Management Office should be improved if market diversification becomes a high priority. SusD, more than any other directorate, has products with significant potential for use by customers outside the Army and even outside the military. Force Provider was initially developed for the Air Force, but other branches of the military also use rigid wall shelters and organizational equipment. The Navy has recently contracted with the RDEC for the development of improved food service kitchens for the future fleet. The food program has historically generated products used in the private sector. In the past, Natick R&D programs in food irradiation and microwave heating have led to applications in the private sector. Currently, SusD has several cooperative R&D agreements with leading food processors for projects dealing with nutritional and performance bars and the microwave sterilization of foods. The committee considered whether the RDEC should aggressively market its products outside the Army and outside the DOD or should attempt to diversify its products for the private sector. The committee believes it is appropriate, if not essential, for the RDEC, as for other government laboratories (e.g., within the departments of Energy and Commerce), to market its products as broadly as possible. But the committee does not advocate that the RDEC market its products outside DOD at the expense of its military customers. The performance of the RDEC must be measured primarily in terms of its value to the military. In the case of MobD, for example, marketability could require that MobD divert significant attention away from parachute technology. Designing a parachute system is not only science; experience plays a considerable part in the design process. Working on automotive air bags or thin-coating flows might not enhance MobD's simulation tools for parachutes or its capabilities to design and fabricate parachutes. MobD's capabilities can best be leveraged by applying them to the problems of deceleration and soft landings. In the committee's opinion, the RDEC's current level of dual-use products is adequate and appropriate. This does not mean, however, that additional diversification should not be attempted; in fact, there are good reasons for diversification. But in order to sustain its marketability outside the Army and DOD, the RDEC must first overcome the problems created by the hiring freeze; if
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--> things continue on their present course, the technical capabilities of the RDEC could erode to the point that private sector interest in RDEC products disappears. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. To the extent that external researchers consider research by STD to be of high quality and to be applicable to their particular problems, STD's output could be of considerable interest to the scientific community outside of Natick, especially in the fields of behavioral science, biomechanics, and biomaterials. However, STD's first priority should be direct support of the commodity directorates, which have products and services that could be marketed broadly. Therefore, the marketability of STD's output is best indicated by its impact on the marketability of commodity directorate products. However, the links between STD and the commodity directorates are so weak that the committee concluded that even the internal marketability of STD's outputs is questionable. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. ASCD's customer surveys might solicit, or be structured to solicit, information to assist the commodity directorates in developing new markets. STD provides assistance to ASCD in designing surveys and could also play a role in structuring surveys for market development. Research and Technology Issue 8. Are the core and supporting research and technology programs world-class (or merely adequate)? Commodity Directorates Mobility Directorate. The research in support of aerial delivery systems is not well linked with development, though the situation is improving. The computational analysis and experimental teams are also not linked well. The parachute inflation modeling and simulation may be the best in the Army, but because of limited funding researchers cannot exploit state-of-the-art capabilities in academia, industry, and other federal agencies. The integrated planning process is an opportunity for MobD to evaluate research programs on a yearly basis, which will ensure that research and technology programs are relevant to the MobD and RDEC missions. Certain development capabilities (e.g., in heavy cargo airdrop) are among the best, if not the best, in the world. When asked to rate themselves according to the committee's metrics, most MobD personnel rated the quality of their RD&E programs as adequate to good. Unfortunately, MobD receives virtually no support from STD.
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--> From a broader standpoint, the committee's assessment of all five pillars of a world-class Army RD&E organization indicated that MobD has not achieved excellence in any one of them. Some characteristics considered relevant to research and technology received an assessment of good or good to excellent (e.g., RD&E capabilities, skills, talents; cycle time and responsiveness), but the characteristic of strategic planning, which is also relevant to research and technology, was rated poor. The committee's assessment of research (and development) quality was adequate to good. Thus, based on the committee's definition of world-class performance, the MobD core and supporting research and technology programs cannot be considered world-class, even though pockets of excellence exist. The achievement of world-class status by MobD is restricted by several factors. First, severe restrictions on research funding prevent MobD from conducting basic research and keep development projects to a minimum. Second, MobD receives no support from STD in identifying and fostering basic research germane to the mobility mission. Third, the one-deep expertise level is jeopardized by near-term retirements and the concomitant loss of valuable expert knowledge. Fourth, MobD as an organization sees only Army-defined objectives even though it is trying to provide armed-forces-wide support. Fifth, the internal perception is that MobD's mission is focused only on airdrop and not on the broader concept of mobility. For all of these reasons, MobD has not been able to implement the long-term, broad-based strategic R&D that would make it world-class. Survivability Directorate. The majority of core and supporting research and technology programs for SurD reside within the directorate (80 percent); the rest reside within STD (10 percent) and ASCD (10 percent). Most of the research and technology programs are not considered to be pacing. The core capabilities of the directorate are threatened by funding and hiring restrictions; and the core capabilities appear to be shrinking as the workload is shifted from internal research and technology toward contract management. The bureaucratic nature of the organization is increasing while the technical expertise and the focus of the SurD's research and technology organization are being diluted. Although SurD will continue to have ample technical capabilities, its current circumstances inhibit implementation of a robust, long-range R&D program that would put the directorate at the world-class level. Sustainability Directorate. The committee considers several SusD technologies to be among the best in the world based on their ability to fulfill soldier needs and the broad recognition of their quality. These technologies involve food processing and packaging, multifuel burners, and high-pressure air beams. The Natick RDEC, through SusD and predecessor organizations, has delivered high quality rations that meet the difficult requirements of a military organization. Rations have been formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of troops in the field and are packaged to withstand the rigors of long-term storage
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--> and battlefield use. SusD's packaging has been independently recognized, as evidenced by the prestigious DuPont Award for Innovation in Food Processing and Packaging Technology. The multifuel burner meets and exceeds the requirements of users and offers significant improvements over the safety, performance, and utility of the current version. Finally, the development of high-pressure air beam technology for structures has greatly improved shelter design and utility and greatly reduced the amount of effort needed to erect relatively large shelters. Nevertheless, the committee's across-the-board assessment of SusD (see Chapter 2) revealed several areas of less than excellent performance in areas relevant to research and technology (e.g., strategic planning and quality of research). Thus, although the committee found examples of excellence, it cannot conclude that the SusD core and supporting research and technology program is at the world-class level. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. The examples provided to the committee suggest that the research and technology programs conducted within STD are well respected externally. However, STD's primary customers, the commodity directorates, find it difficult to make use of the STD research publications, patents, and results. Because the primary customers of STD cannot fully use the research and technology products of STD, STD must be judged only as adequate. The committee observes that this is another situation where benefits could accrue if the bonds between STD and the other directorates were strengthened. If STD and the other RDEC organizations worked more closely with one another, STD research and technology would probably become more relevant. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. The committee focused on ASCD's modeling and simulation capabilities, particularly how well they support assessments of the potential effects of RDEC products and technologies on soldier-system performance. ASCD models seem to handle well the gross measures that characterize units and their impact on unit capabilities and performance. But they are not yet at the stage where, without significant manual intervention in the model structure, they can handle fundamental parameters characterizing the individual components related to soldier performance, the details that determine unit performance and overall outcome. As a consequence, the impact of new technologies cannot be easily assessed via these models to provide the commodity directorates with feedback to motivate changes in their products. Effective feedback requires a three-way interaction between ASCD, the appropriate commodity directorate, and STD to determine and provide the appropriate technical and behavioral parameters that influence performance and
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--> are best suited for the models. The committee believes that several benefits would accrue if management of the RDEC would strengthen bonds among the support directorates and the commodity directorates. Issue 9. Should all current research and technology programs be continued? If not, which ones should be eliminated? Should any new ones be adopted? Commodity Directorates Mobility Directorate. There are three research and technology programs within MobD: one focused on computational modeling and simulation, one focused on experimental studies, and one focused on technology demonstrations of integrated concepts. The coupled-fluid and structure-interaction simulation shows great promise of reducing the time and costs of full-scale testing. The experimental studies focus on new parachute concepts, advanced soft-landing concepts, and the gliding-wing opening process. The technology demonstration programs in precision offset, high-glide aerial delivery of munitions and equipment (e.g., advanced precision and guided parafoil aerial delivery) have led to designs for hardware, fabrications, and flight tests. The committee is concerned that these three programs are somewhat disconnected. For example, the experimental studies do not provide data to validate the numerical simulation of canopy inflation. Similarly, the numerical simulation is not sufficiently mature to provide guidance for designing an advanced precision aerial delivery capability, and vice versa; physical insights into parachute flow fields during development of the advanced precision aerial delivery system have not been included in the simulations. The committee also notes that little of the data from these research and technology programs is used by ASCD for cost-effectiveness analyses. The committee is hesitant to specify which research and technology programs should be eliminated. However, one or more of them must be reduced or eliminated so that an experimental study can be initiated to supply validation data to the simulation study. MobD research and technology plans should include support for ASCD modeling and simulation. The ground mobility mission appears to have been squeezed into MobD upon reorganization and has not been well received or well funded. A critical decision needs to be made as to the proper home for this group. Either MobD must accept its broader mission of soldier mobility and actively embrace the group, or MobD must drop it entirely. If MobD drops it, the RDEC will have to decide if there is a better location for the ground mobility group elsewhere at Natick or outside of Natick. The committee notes that both the integrated planning process and the planning integration team have recently been initiated to provide structure to the
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--> overall strategic planning process associated with research and technology at the RDEC. Both methods are too new to judge their effectiveness. However, they have the appropriate elements, stakeholder and customer input, team-set objectives, and project monitoring, to be potentially useful. Some fine tuning may be required after several years of experience, but the new overall strategic planning process should answer MobD's questions concerning the adequacy of existing and future research and technology programs. Survivability Directorate. In light of budget cuts and downsizing, some SurD research and technology programs will have to be eliminated. The committee is reluctant to recommend that specific programs be dropped because it did not evaluate the worth to the soldier system of each program in SurD. Nevertheless, the committee believes that programs related to protecting the lives of soldiers in future battles are far more important than programs that concern noncombat clothing and involve SurD in bureaucratic battles about uniforms for female officers (see Chapter 2). An atmosphere in which everything must be considered important and everything must be worked on is no longer practical. All programs now require frequent and careful scrutiny to establish priorities. RDEC-unique capabilities and customer input should be included in the assessment of a program's value and in choosing new programs. Leveraging other military and government laboratories and partnerships with industry and academia are important aspects of this process. Sustainability Directorate. SurD should pay some attention to pursuing science and technology initiatives in relevant areas so that short-term goals can be more easily met and long-range objectives addressed. These initiatives should include, but not necessarily be restricted to, R&D on air beams (which, to the credit of the individuals involved, has been added to the directorate's activities) and new materials for constructing shelters. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. STD's basic role is to supply research to support the rest of the organization and to exploit opportunities to expand RDEC support for the soldier system. STD's core science and technology activities were originally chosen because they were believed to have the broadest applications to the RDEC. The committee believes that STD's thrust areas need to be reevaluated for their relevance to the requirements of the commodity directorates. Several committee suggestions are set forth below. Some restructuring may be warranted (e.g., integration of the current biotechnology program, which focuses on new materials produced by recombinant technology, with a materials science thrust area). Several interviewees cited a need to strengthen the materials science area by adding expertise in basic research and synthesis capabilities. The ultimate goal could be
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--> the development of a leading laboratory and research program for biomechanical and composite materials, a goal that would benefit all of the commodity directorates. Support of the broad soldier-system mission of the RDEC may require access to several nontraditional technologies. Examples include the following: intelligent materials—materials that automatically respond to a situation without forcing the soldier to interrupt other tasks to control or manage the behavior of the materials modeling and simulation—the ability to calculate technical parameters that accurately represent the behavior of systems, subsystems, and phenomena in a virtual setting that could help soldiers function in real settings human performance and behavior—understanding the stimuli and environmental factors that influence humans and understanding how humans respond to stimuli in various environments electronics and computation integral to the soldier system—using microelectronics and computer processing to help soldiers comprehend information obtained autonomously and to enhance their situational awareness and their ability to acquire and transmit information. The committee notes that these examples might include technologies that are being developed elsewhere in the Army or in the DOD. Clearly, it would be unwise for the Natick RDEC to expend scarce resources to duplicate work being done by others (e.g., in the Army Research Institute, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, other RDECs, or other agencies within DOD, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). In such cases, the Natick RDEC may be able to negotiate additional support from other organizations within the Army R&D community or within the DOD. STD should help identify the specifics of new research and technology programs in cooperation with the Soldier Systems Command. Because the soldier-system concept is still evolving, STD needs to understand how technologies can influence the concept. For this purpose, the product acceptance thrust (one of the four STD thrust areas identified in Chapter 1) may be useful for accurately modeling soldier behavior and responses in various scenarios. The committee believes that STD must inform the rest of the RDEC about technical advances by the R&D community at large that could benefit the soldier system. Technologies like those listed above may not be pursued solely in military R&D programs. In fact, with the military's shrinking influence on technology development, the RDEC will undoubtedly have to turn to outside sources for much of the technology it needs. STD could play a major role in identifying the most promising external developments and the best ways for each directorate of the Natick RDEC to exploit them. In addition to the obvious need for STD research to satisfy unique military requirements, the directorate's
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--> programs should help its personnel maintain the competence to evaluate external research. The committee points out again the absence of a master plan for research by the Natick RDEC. In the absence of a plan that shows how all the research of the RDEC (internal to STD and the other directorates and external under RDEC sponsorship) fits together, it is difficult to determine what should be added to or subtracted from the RDEC's current research and technology portfolio. A master plan should fulfill the needs of the commodity directorates and indicate how each element contributes to the performance of the soldier system. Advanced Systems Concepts Directorate. The modeling and simulation capability of ASCD is a key resource that should be expanded to include participation by a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers at the RDEC. A major goal for expanding this capability is the development of higher-level models and simulations that can represent the benefits of the technological enhancements of each funded or proposed program. The committee believes that disciplined analyses of the various RDEC programs could enlighten RDEC decision makers on which programs to initiate, continue, or eliminate. The analyses would also equip the RDEC to convince higher-level commands to support the RDEC's programs. Issue 10. Are the models and simulations and other analytic methodologies used by the RDEC appropriate for the commodity areas and research and technology programs? Commodity Directorates Mobility Directorate. The numerical simulation of parachutes and airdrop system performance is appropriate research for MobD. Using computer software to model and develop parachutes and airdrop systems will reduce the costs and cycle time of parachute system development. Simulations could also be used to optimize parachute systems and develop novel parachute systems. The committee noted a lack of communication between the modeling and simulation groups and the development groups, although the relationships have apparently improved recently. These relationships must be strengthened so that modeling and simulation within the MobD can be better integrated with the day-to-day work and planning of the development groups. Survivability Directorate. Models and simulations are used in several SurD programs to facilitate laboratory testing and to predict the performance of clothing and individual equipment in the field. Some examples are models and simulations of ballistic impacts on fabrics, fibers, and yarns; analysis of ballistic
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--> casualty reduction; and a human thermal physiology model. However, working relationships between SurD and ASCD must be strengthened and better integrated with day-to-day activities and planning processes. One key example of this need is in the modeling of the soldier-system concept. Sustainability Directorate. Modeling and simulation are not routinely used by SusD to develop and evaluate its products. In the shelters area, for example, there is a recognized need for tools to analyze structures and their properties. But analytical tools have not been used because of the time required to master the techniques and because of the disparity in computational and computer skills among SusD personnel. Attempts have been made to coordinate efforts with the ASCD modeling program for predicting battlefield outcomes using a variety of performance measures as inputs. Among the performance measures that fall within the domain of SusD are the impacts of eating, sleeping, and other activities on the capabilities of individual soldiers. However, there is a chasm between the microscopic performance parameters measured on the products of SusD and the macroscopic inputs required by the global ASCD models. Closing the gap will be difficult given the complexity of the underlying factors and the requirement that they be reduced to the simplest empirical descriptors. Neither SusD nor ASCD appears to have the personnel or technical skills to meet this challenge. The committee suggests that SusD and ASCD interface their work with the work of other organizations (e.g., the Army Research Laboratory and the Army Research Institute) in order to take advantage of advances in modeling of the individual soldier. For example, the committee was informed during the peer-review process for this report that substantial research on soldier modeling is being done at the Army Research Laboratory's Human Research and Engineering Directorate (e.g., human modeling and modeling of perceptual, cognitive, and psychomotor performance). In view of the RDEC's limited resources, collaboration between Natick RDEC directorates and other research organizations involved in modeling human activities could be very advantageous. Support Directorates Science and Technology Directorate. The committee did not receive much information concerning the use of models by STD. There were indications, however, that STD interacts with and feeds data into a simulation of dismounted infantry. The committee believes that advocates of each technology found to be worthy of research funding should be expected to contribute to the development of a model of the technical parameters that would be influenced by the technology. The model could then be used in conjunction with the ASCD models to estimate the potential value of given research to the soldier system.
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--> Advanced Systems Concept Directorate. Technical measures of the performance of the products of the commodity directorates have not been made available to ASCD. The current modeling and simulation activities should be expanded to include important product parameters, with the long-range objective of building more robust models and simulations. This would require a valid and verified representation of each commodity integrated into the soldier system; a valid and verified representation of soldier responses to pertinent stimuli; and an integrated model or simulation that represents technical and system parameters that reflect the performance of the soldier system with and without each commodity.
Representative terms from entire chapter: