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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2009. Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12612.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2009. Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12612.
×
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2009. Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12612.
×
Page 11

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1 Introduction Why was it necessary to go outside the normal bureaucratic process to develop technologies to counter improvised explosive devices, to build MRAPs [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected], and to quickly expand the United States’ ISR [in- telligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] capability? In short, why was it necessary to bypass existing institutions and procedures to get the capabilities needed to protect U.S. troops and fight ongoing wars? —Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense Technology and equipment are the warfighter’s tools, and for the warfighter to get the job done, the best resources are needed. For its warfighters to have the best resources, the U.S. military must invest in the right technology at the right time. However, in the Pentagon, the question remains, How can the specialized—and often relatively low-tech—equipment needed for counterterrorism and counterinsur- gency missions be procured and fielded quickly? After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) began to use different approaches, including the creation of new “rapid acquisition” programs and offices, to answer this question. Currently, there are a variety of such programs and offices con- cerned with the delivery of new or improved capabilities to the warfighter. They range from science and technology programs within the military Services to newly established organizations such as the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO), which was established to address a wide range of counterterrorism   Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Penta- gon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs 88(1):1.   Department of Defense. 2008. National Defense Strategy, Washington, D.C. 

10 Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism capabilities, and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which was established to focus specifically on defeating improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Because the JIEDDO provides large-scale fielding of capabilities, its budget is much larger than that of the RRTO. The Rapid Reaction Technology Office is the focus of this report. Experimentation and rapid prototyping Experimentation and rapid prototyping, approaches employed by the RRTO, are both key to accelerating the transition of technologies to the warfighter in sup- port of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Whereas mature technologies can be transitioned to U.S. military forces in the short term, experimentation and rapid prototyping are necessary on the front end of technology development in order to allow the shortcomings of systems to be identified and to enable ways to be found to improve their operational and technical effectiveness as they develop. Even more importantly, these approaches help in the identification of and quick response to threats presented by adaptive enemies and by their tactical changes, particularly during ongoing operations. To be most effective, rapid prototyping and experimentation must be able to operate inside the adaptive adversary’s “observe, orient, decide, and act” (OODA) loop. If an adversary’s OODA loop is very short, traditional approaches cannot meet the near-term needs of combatant commanders. Organization of this report Following the report’s Summary and Introduction, its subsequent chapters provide additional background on the Rapid Reaction Technology Office and address the terms of reference for this study. Chapter 2 explains what the RRTO is, what it does, how it works, what makes it different from other acquisition organizations, and what constitutes the keys to its success. Chapter 3 analyzes and discusses the RRTO’s strengths and weaknesses, potential issues that could impact the organization’s future effectiveness, potential improvements that the RRTO could make to its approaches, and suggested new RRTO initiatives. Chap- ter 3 also provides an explanation of why the RRTO is needed. Chapter 4 presents the committee’s major findings and recommendations.   Defense Science Board. 2007. 2006 Summer Study on 21st Century Strategic Technology Vectors, Volume IV, Accelerating the Transition of Technologies into U.S. Capabilities, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Washington, D.C., April.   For additional information on military experimentation, see National Research Council, 2004, The Role of Experimentation in Building Future Naval Forces, The National Academies Press, Wash- ington, D.C. It is noted that even in cases where such rapid prototyping experiments have not been immediately adopted for transition, when properly documented and communicated these experiments have served to provide critical knowledge employed by others to build capabilities that did work.

INTRODUCTION 11 Appendix A presents biographies of the members of the committee. Appen- dix B contains a list of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the report. Additional background information on the RRTO’s test planning, conduct analy- sis, and reporting; representative projects of the RRTO; and disruptive threats and DOD acquisition are provided in Appendixes C through E, respectively.

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The U.S. military forces currently face a nontraditional threat from insurgents and terrorists who primarily employ improvised explosive devices, and have shown a cycle of adaptation of less than 12 months to responses by U.S. forces to counter these attacks. This constantly evolving threat requires U.S. military forces to adapt and respond more rapidly with modified tactics, technologies, and/or equipment.

In response to this need for new technologies, the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) was established in 2006 to develop technologies that can mature in 6 to 18 months for purposes of counterterrorism. Although RRTO appears to be successfully fulfilling its mission, the agency seeks to understand and address barriers to and opportunities for meeting future counterterrorism needs—including the need to accelerate the transition of technologies for counterterrorism with an eye to countering emerging and anticipated threats. This book reviews RRTO approaches and provides a set of recommendations for potential improvements to help meet these needs for rapid technology development.

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