Target Acquisition

Target Acquisition

The pace at which technology changes
today we cannot look back at the Cold War and
pull that PlayBook out to win. We’re gonna need a new one for this damage.
It’s a time of unprecedented technological change. We’re competing
against peers those two things should give us pause we have a very different
type of adversary. One that can match us. One that can build systems that are
commensurate with ours ones that can counter systems that we use today.
Today’s Air Force has an enormous challenge. The rules of the game have
changed. So just by showing up we had dominance
of the airspace just from day one just by our presence there that’s no longer
the case when you look to see what peer adversaries are doing across the world
it’s it’s scary. You know there’s really no silver medal.There will be no podium spot for having the world’s second best Air Force. We have to supercharge our acquisition engine nothing else matters if we are slower
than the opponent. Acquisitions. It covers anything the Air Force needs to buy from
jets to weapon systems to operating systems. But traditionally it’s been a
slow process and because technology can change daily the speed with which the
Air Force acquires anything has a direct impact on the ability to win wars. One of
the ways to speed things up is by looking at success stories from civilian
industry. It’s essentially adapting the best that we’ve seen from Silicon
Valley’s kind of startup mentality but applying that to Department of Defense.
The Air Force, taking a lesson from industry, partnered with Tech Stars a
company that specializes in advancing startups and making them profitable they
offer a boot camp of sorts that prepares startups to pitch their solutions to an
audience of industry investors, venture capitalists, and the US Air Force.
It’s that startup mentality the Air Force is adopting so they not only
develop technologies faster but can make purchases faster as well. In the Air
Force’s case the Air Force decided that they wanted to gain more access to
startup companies than they currently had and they also wanted to retrain
themselves how to buy products from small startup companies and
commercial off-the-shelf product companies without forcing the company to become a defense contractor. The goal is to make the acquisitions process quicker
and more flexible with the ability to make changes at any point in development. It’s a streamlined approach which is one reason why the Air Force has started
hosting pitch days where entrepreneurs are invited to present solutions to Air
Force problems with the chance of getting signed on the spot. We were able
to put folks on contract that day I think our record was three minutes.
That’s the Air Force right not specifically just AFWERX but the Air
Force looking at the entrepreneurial community and establishing contracts in
minutes where that used to be months right beforehand shortening that time
line to sign a contract for months to minutes as possible because Congress
recognized a need for speed. The National Defense Authorization Act is approved by
Congress and signed by the president. Section 804 covers acquisition
programs that can be completed in up to five years it lays out guidelines for
streamlined acquisitions but it’s not the only option the Air Force has to
speed things up. You know going from essentially idea to to having a contract
agreement at the end of the fiscal year and in a few months was something that
was unheard of before. When the Air Force was looking to modernize their IT or
information technology infrastructure Air Force Materiel Command leaned on
other transaction authorities under United States code. Other transaction
authorities offer government agencies the flexibility to incorporate industry
standard solutions from non-traditional defense contractors.The material command is using this authority to conduct a risk reduction effort on the feasibility
of acquiring innovative in agile services through a program called
Enterprise IT as a service or EITaaS. The concept of EITaaS is bringing a
commercialized network solution and all of the different lines of effort that go
along with EITaaS — is supposed to bring us into the digital Air Force of the
future. And so what that means is we now have the capability to have that cyber
platform which enables multi-domain operations including multi-domain
command and control. Another benefit of contracting IT services is it allows Airmen to refocus on the core mission of assurance in
cyberspace. You’re going to see that we have those Airmen who used to be doing
some network and end-user devices type jobs are able to be freed up and given
back to the warfighting mission. It’s one example of how the Air Force is speeding
up the acquisition process developing new ideas. It’s also affecting the bottom
line and over the past year we’ve seen over 15 billion dollars in savings from
getting competition right. That’s smart. 15 billion dollars is another program or
two so getting things smart stretches our dollars and lets us do more to
compete and win. I don’t know where this is going but I see the potential for big
savings and sustainment enough that potentially we can afford that big idea
of pipeline. 70% of our budget and sustainment if we only saw five to 10
percent savings that’s a lot of high-tech prototyping. Increasing
capabilities, acquiring solutions, saving money wherever possible. All results of a
supercharged acquisition process. At the end of the day our number one
requirement if I can put it that way is to win and the way that we win is by
delivering capabilities when they’re needed and how they’re needed and then
not be so stuck in our traditional way of thinking of things and being so
risk-averse. You know, we are getting faster and I want our calling card to be the
speed at which we can deliver new capabilities that’s the delineator
that’ll make us win.

1 Comment

  1. That is great that the services have the ability to let people bid on projects the services have in mind and pick the ones which is best and get projects off of the ground quicker and saving money.

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