Army moves to tighten quick reaction development

Stephen Kreider became the program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare, and sensors (PEO IEW&S) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in December 2012. In this position he is responsible for the development, acquisition, fielding and life-cycle support of the Army’s portfolio of intelligence, electronic warfare and target acquisition programs.

Before his current position, Kreider served as the deputy program executive officer at PEO IEW&S, and the acting deputy program executive officer for PEO Integration. He was initially selected to the Senior Executive Service in October 2008.

Kreider spoke with Defense Systems Editor-in-Chief Barry Rosenberg about moving the PEO IEW&S enterprise to a system of systems architecture and bringing its quick-reaction technology development programs into a more structured construct as the war in Afghanistan winds down.

DS: One of your goals is to move the PEO IEW&S enterprise to a system of systems architecture? What would that enable you to do?

Kreider: It allows us to get to the point that any sensor can become a plug-and-play capability on any platform, and that the interface-control construct of the data can be analyzed to support the operator on the battlefield. We have created a lot of unique stuff supporting Operation Enduring Freedom; (there are) a lot of unique sensors. We didn’t do the full-up acquisition process, and now need to go back and do due diligence.

What have we learned over the 11 years in war? How do I embrace the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise, the DI2E, to ensure that when we develop and deploy the systems that they are cross domain, that they are global and that they have the ability to integrate new sensors, new capabilities and new fusion algorithms on a very rapid basis?

DS: And now it’s a case of going back and trying to make those unique sensors and the data collected by them interoperable?

Kreider: There are two reasons. One is right along that road. The priority is getting a capability out there as fast as you can. It is not necessarily optimized to your architecture. It is not necessarily fully integrated because the objective is to get that capability to the soldier very quickly. So now (there) is the opportunity to take those lessons learned and get it into what I will call the ‘standard architecture’ so it is transportable and transparent.

There are two other aspects of it, the DI2E construct being one. The Army has another enterprise construct called the Common Operating Environment, which is looking at broad constructs to ensure flexibility, commonality, reduction in terms of cost, and more flexibility in terms of plug and play.

There are six of those. The Army has assigned two of those responsibilities to me. The first one is the Command Post Computing Environment, and the second one is the Sensor Computing Environment, which defines, for example, the standard interface control so that, regardless of the manufacturer, I can take sensor A from platform B and put it on platform C and know that the data is going to continue to work and still go through our system.

DS: How will PEO IEW&S evolve as the military is less dependent on development of quick-reaction capabilities as the war in Afghanistan winds down?

Kreider: (The question) is how do I return to a disciplined, more deliberate process and what I call a ‘30-year investment portfolio’ that ensures that we continue to support the field, and that we improve on efficiency and effectiveness as stewards of our nation’s resources. How do we take those lessons learned in quick reaction -- both good and bad -- and how do we get that into a more deliberate developmental process so in the end we have a better, integrated capability?

DS: That sounds like a major refocusing of IEW&S’ mission going forward, in so far as shifting away from development of quick-reaction capabilities?

Kreider: Yes and no. Again, we have done that for a long time in some of our more standard programs of record like DCGS because that’s been the deliberate process that we have always been doing. It’s just that PEO IEW&S, more than all of the other PEOs in the Army put together, has had more quick-reaction programs over the last 11 years. So we have done an awful lot in that arena, and we now need to bring that back into the main construct.

DS: PEO IEW&S has had much success developing the quick-reaction, 80-percent solutions. Why not continue on the path of developing quick-reaction capabilities, as opposed to moving to more traditional product development?

Kreider: It is not as simple as that. I like to use the analogy of the Defense Department’s 5000 series acquisition policy, which is very one-sided on the pendulum but also very deliberate. It goes through all the ‘illities’ side of the house.

The rapid equipping force, the QRC construct, is on the other end of the pendulum. It is really focused on speed and getting capability and not necessarily optimizing it, though it is a good construct, too.

What I am hoping to do is bring both of them closer together in the middle. Because when you build a QRC (quick reaction capability), you have to pay a very high-paid contractor to do contractor logistic support because you have never done training manuals, you have never done all those ‘illities’ that you normally do in a delivery process. I can’t afford that in a declining budget(environment).

So how do I then bring that into the standard DOTMLPF (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities) schoolhouse of soldier-supported equipment…the sustainment side of the house? That’s what I am trying to do.

Again, both are very good. I don’t want to give either one of them away. I agree with you: we need to continue to have that capability of quick reaction -- and we do -- but we need to bring them both together more.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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