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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism (2009)

Chapter: 4 Findings and Recommendations

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Suggested Citation:"4 Findings and Recommendations." 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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Page 51
Suggested Citation:"4 Findings and Recommendations." 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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Page 52
Suggested Citation:"4 Findings and Recommendations." National Research Council. 2009. Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12612.
×
Page 53
Suggested Citation:"4 Findings and Recommendations." 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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Page 54

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4 Findings and Recommendations The Committee on Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism offers the following major findings and recommendations to help guide future efforts in the development of counterterrorism technology: Finding 1: The Rapid Reaction Technology Office’s (RRTO’s) unique combina- tion of attributes and business model contribute key strengths—flexibility and agility—in anticipating and defeating disruptive threats to this nation and its way of life. These strengths are essential to the Department of Defense, but retaining them requires constant vigilance. The RRTO’s capabilities to span organizational boundaries and to work outside conventional modes serve the DOD well. Recommendation 1: The Rapid Reaction Technology Office should be continued as a separate entity reporting directly to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), with enhancements as recommended elsewhere in this report but without a substantial change in size or business model. The DDR&E should strongly resist making the RRTO conform to conventional approaches. Doing so would seriously reduce both the RRTO and the DOD’s effectiveness. Also, the committee recommends that the RRTO publish for its potential partners a broad guide to the process and criteria that the RRTO uses for project selec- tion. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD[AT&L]) should review the RRTO every 5 years to assess its value and whether it should be continued. To continue as an effective organization, the RRTO needs to increase its emphasis on succession planning. 51

52 Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism Finding 2: The RRTO has applied a significant portion of its resources in order to anticipate and address emerging and potential needs that have not been formally recognized by others. This effort has enabled the timely fielding of new capabili- ties that have been successful in countering rapidly evolving threats. Recommendation 2: The director of the RRTO should continue to devote a substantial portion of the organization’s resources to addressing needs that are emerging and anticipated (even though unarticulated) in order to enable timely fielding of new capabilities that will counter or deter rapidly evolving threats. Finding 3: The committee identified and reviewed seven internal and external issues that could be potential barriers to the RRTO’s ability to enable rapid tran- sition of developments in science and technology to support counterterrorism applications. Most of these issues are such that trying to eliminate or reduce the particular barrier involved would have an overall adverse impact on the RRTO’s effectiveness. The two issues that the committee believes should be addressed are these: • The pressure to consolidate the organization with conventional military Service acquisition organizations and/or to conform to institutional acquisition or test methodology, and • The lack of test site intelligence support at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The first issue was addressed in Finding 1 and Recommendation 1. The second issue is addressed in Recommendation 3. Recommendation 3: In supporting the RRTO and Yuma Proving Ground, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and the commander of the U.S Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) should expand support to the RRTO and its associated test support organizations (i.e., the Naval Air Systems Command and the National Counterterrorism/Counterinsurgency Integrated Test and Evalu- ation Center) with regard to translating intelligence information into realistic test scenarios. The commander of ATEC should provide for the installation of a secure videoconferencing capability at Yuma Proving Ground so as to enhance commu- nications for the planning of experimentation and the discussion of test results. Finding 4: Contracting delays have resulted in project delays of as much as 4 to 6 months in some cases and can be a serious issue for the RRTO. Recommendation 4: To simplify the contracting process and reduce contract- ing time for rapid-reaction projects, the RRTO should consider implementing one or more of the following: (1) create a small, dedicated contracting element within the RRTO; (2) use “other transaction” authority for the high-importance,

Findings and Recommendations 53 time-critical responses; and (3) make the current contracting approach more streamlined and efficient (e.g., by having the USD[AT&L], who is the chief procurement and contracting officer of the DOD, designate a contracting office to give priority attention to requests of the RRTO when needed). The committee prefers the third approach. Finding 5: The attributes and business model employed by the RRTO are critical enablers of the interagency approach advocated by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in his article entitled “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pen- tagon for a New Age,” in the January 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs, and they respond to the particular challenges posed by agile, adaptive threats. Recommendation 5: The Secretary of Defense should make the science and technology director of each of the National Security Council principals—such as the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology—aware of the RRTO, its attributes, and its business model, so that some of the processes and approaches used by the RRTO can be considered for broader adaptation and use in other interagency applications.   Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense. 2009. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Penta- gon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs 88(1):1.

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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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