This chapter provides suggestions for improving the management of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Marine Corps Science and Technology (S&T) program to achieve better integration with Marine Corps operational objectives. As noted, the program inherited by Code 353 included many preacquisition activities and participation in large-scale demonstrations.
Given that the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s (MCWL’s) program is primarily experimental and that the future naval capability (FNC) programs will brassboard promising technologies for demonstration at MCWL and elsewhere, the committee believes that Code 353’s program should be primarily a discovery program, that is, one that explores new technologies with an intent to clarify their applicability to Marine Corps needs. Although the Code 353 program need not exclude all demonstrations, those selected should feature promising techniques that do not fit in the FNC pipelines.
The strategy recommended for ONR that forms the basis of the committee’s individual recommendations on the Code 353 program can be described as follows:
Eliminate from the Code 353 program, at an orderly but determined pace, preacquisition and other activities that do not conform to the usual ONR S&T standards of innovation and technical aggressiveness. 1
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program 9 Suggestions for Improving Program Effectiveness and Achieving Better Integration with the Marine Corps This chapter provides suggestions for improving the management of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Marine Corps Science and Technology (S&T) program to achieve better integration with Marine Corps operational objectives. As noted, the program inherited by Code 353 included many preacquisition activities and participation in large-scale demonstrations. THE CODE 353 PROGRAM Discovery Versus Demonstration and Experimentation Finding Given that the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s (MCWL’s) program is primarily experimental and that the future naval capability (FNC) programs will brassboard promising technologies for demonstration at MCWL and elsewhere, the committee believes that Code 353’s program should be primarily a discovery program, that is, one that explores new technologies with an intent to clarify their applicability to Marine Corps needs. Although the Code 353 program need not exclude all demonstrations, those selected should feature promising techniques that do not fit in the FNC pipelines. Recommendations The strategy recommended for ONR that forms the basis of the committee’s individual recommendations on the Code 353 program can be described as follows: Eliminate from the Code 353 program, at an orderly but determined pace, preacquisition and other activities that do not conform to the usual ONR S&T standards of innovation and technical aggressiveness. 1
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Leave system demonstrations principally to MCWL, fleet battle experiments, and the FNCs. Embark on a discovery program to identify and refine technologies that can have a substantial payoff in achieving Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS). Exploit the talents and insights of other ONR divisions in program formulation and performer selection. Transitioning Code 353’s program to a discovery program will be challenging in light of the program’s history and the interests and capabilities of its traditional performers; however, such a transition is necessary to build a much more technically exciting program than currently exists. Balancing the Five Imperatives and Venturing Outside the Box Chapter 1 (in “ Lack of Quantitative System Analyses ,” pages 11-12) noted that the five technology imperatives identified by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) were a reasonable taxonomy for S&T investment but that the needs were interdependent, with improvement in one area potentially reducing the requirement for improvements in others. Findings The committee did not find a process in place for balancing investments in the technology imperatives in terms of potential contributions to Marine Corps operational effectiveness. Instead, approaches chosen and even levels of investment seemed to be determined by the performing organizations. Performers are expected to be advocates of their assigned mission, but as one aphorism reminds us, if one has only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Furthermore, institutions sometimes regard maintenance of a level of investment in their technology and approaches as a right that does not have to be justified in terms of potential operational payoff. In Chapter 1 (in “ Lack of Quantitative System Analyses ,” pages 11-12) the committee noted that the general lack of quantification of force size and Ship-to-Objective Maneuver distance in the OFMTS concept could make it difficult to assess the value of a technology-enabled performance improvement. However, ONR can assist in the clarification of the OMFTS concept by identifying technologies that can support increasing force size and distance and estimating availability dates for these technologies. Recommendations The committee recommends that Code 353 build the necessary relations with MCCDC and other organizations to permit assessment of the operational payoff of a successful technology investment before investments are made in that particular technology, and that Code 353 have the authority to 1 ONR’s mission is to maintain a close relationship with the research and development community to support long-range research, foster discovery, nurture future generations of researchers, produce new technologies that meet known naval requirements, and provide order-of-magnitude innovations in fields relevant to the future Navy and Marine Corps. See ONR description online at < http://www.onr.navy.mil/sci_tech/ >.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program redistribute funds among the existing imperatives, new fields of endeavors, and existing and new performing organizations. Because the Marine Corps has no organizational component responsible for establishing S&T requirements—a function now performed by a working group that meets periodically—the committee recommends that Code 353 take an active role in the following: Urging quantitative analysis of the OMFTS concept and providing, if necessary, some of the support and technology for such analyses; and Creating technology roadmaps that predict the performance levels and availability dates of the systems that are based on technologies that Code 353 and others are exploring. CODE 353 AND OTHER PARTS OF THE OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH Need for a Marine Corps Line Organization Within ONR’s S&T Activity Some may question whether a technology-oriented Code 353 will have a program sufficiently distinct from the rest of ONR to justify the organizational distinction. Emerging technologies often do not have labels clearly indicating their most valuable applications. Finding ONR should have within its S&T organization a Marine Corps nexus that not only executes its own programs of special interest to the Corps, but also strives to bring all of ONR’s talent to bear on Marine Corps needs. The committee does not believe that a staff organization outside ONR’s main line organization can, by itself, ensure the results. However, for Code 353 to succeed in this function, it needs to fill its current vacancies with people who have a background in and a commitment to the Marine Corps, as well as the technology management experience to interact as peers with other ONR scientific and program officers. Recommendation The committee recommends that Code 353 be adequately staffed to perform the functions of executing a discovery program of special interest to the Marine Corps as well as to leverage, wherever possible, the remainder of ONR’s S&T program to the benefit of the Corps. Location of Code 353 Personnel Most organizations attempt to locate their personnel in contiguous spaces; ONR Code 353, however, has placed each of its program officers near other ONR personnel making S&T investments in allied fields. Finding The committee concurs with the location of individual Code 353 program officers in spaces adjacent to those of other organizations pursuing similar technologies. All Code 353 personnel share a common
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Marine Corps background and interest; many are active-duty Marine Corps officers. They require less additional interaction with each other than with other ONR personnel. Recommendations The committee recommends that ONR Code 353 continue its current strategy of physically locating its program officers near colleagues in other departments. However, although propinquity may be a necessary condition for successful informal interaction, it is far from a sufficient condition. Code 353 will need to make a special effort to achieve effective liaison. ONR management should demonstrate its commitment to supporting this interaction in two ways as follows: Providing additional staff to Code 353 so that program officers can interact effectively with their ONR peers and Code 353 can participate more forcefully in the management of the Marine Corps S&T program, and Communicating clearly that support of the Marine Corps is the responsibility of the entire Office of Naval Research. Activities of Code 353 Personnel The committee considered whether Code 353 had a special responsibility beyond the planning and execution of an S&T program with a particular relevance to Marine Corps needs. Findings The committee recognizes that Code 353 program officers have been physically located so that, in planning their programs and selecting their performers, they can have the benefit of the insights on S&T of ONR personnel from other divisions. However, co-location will not, by itself, result in meaningful interaction. Moreover, the dollar magnitude of the program conducted by Code 353 is less than 2 percent of ONR’s S&T program. Those Code 353 program officers who succeed in sensitizing their colleagues in other divisions to Marine Corps needs can leverage their colleagues’ much larger investments to the benefit of the Corps. The Marine Corps depends on the Army for developing most land warfare technologies. Although the committee did not identify all the mechanisms that higher echelons of the Marine Corps may use to influence Army investments, the committee observes that there are mechanisms for inter-Service coordination that involve working-level technology managers. Recommendations The committee recommends that Code 353 seek mechanisms, in addition to its personnel location strategy, to develop a technically robust discovery program oriented to Marine Corps needs. The committee recommends that Code 353 program officers, in addition to managing their own programs, interact vigorously with ONR colleagues in other divisions who work in similar technologies, not only so that the Code 353 program officers can benefit from their colleagues’ expertise, but also so that they can influence the goals of their colleagues’ programs by communicating Marine Corps needs.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program The committee also recommends that Code 353 personnel attend reviews of Army S&T programs, participate in the appropriate inter-Service technology coordination forums, and seek to leverage other government and industry sources of technology. Other Desirable Activities One means of communicating needs is by conversation; another is to introduce the relevant Marine and ONR officials to each other. Members of the committee were favorably impressed by the April 2000 3-day “Open Space Meeting” at which 50 Marine Corps technology users from MCWL, Marine Corps Systems Command, and elsewhere interacted with 90 Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) technologists to learn from each other about mutual opportunities and needs. Findings The committee believes that what apparently worked well with NRL could work well with NRL’s parent organization, ONR, although NRL has the advantage of having gadgets to demonstrate. Group interactions need to be well planned and supported; the success of the NRL interaction was doubtless a result in part of the diligent work of the Marine Corps contingent at NRL and in part of the support of the concept by senior officials at NRL and at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia. Recommendations Code 353 should plan a major group interaction between ONR program officers, ONR-supported researchers, and Marine Corps technology users, and, if the plan appears sound, ONR senior management should ensure the participation of a wide spectrum of ONR program and scientific officers. THE OPPORTUNITY The criticisms of the Code 353 program throughout this report may dishearten some ONR readers, but the committee wants to point out that it recognizes the circumstances that led to the current program and also that many of these circumstances represent opportunities. The establishment of MCWL provided a venue for verifying the payoff of improved technology. The transfer of management of the S&T program to ONR provides a current opportunity to purify it of system engineering/technical assistance and preacquisition activities. The initiation of FNCs will provide an opportunity to refocus the Code 353 S&T program toward new and technologically exciting directions. Perhaps most significantly, the people of Code 353 have an opportunity to go beyond managing the official Marine Corps S&T program and to influence the much larger Navy S&T program so that it will be of greater benefit to the Corps.