JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and its Army Capabilities Integration Center are conducting a two-part approach to focus on future force development, which will help both ARCIC and industry prioritize their efforts.
Over the last 18 months, ARCIC and TRADOC have been developing new strategies for reaching out to industry to clearly communicate the Army’s needs and gain insight into new technologies that can provide potential solutions for future capability requirements.
The ARCIC industry engagement initiatives echo the April 2017 memorandum from Secretary of Defense James Mattis, where he encouraged dialogue with industry.
“We must work more closely with industry to maintain our technological and capability overmatch, and we must push for more rapid innovation,” Mattis wrote in the memo.
First, ARCIC introduced the Forum for Innovative Novel Discovery in October 2016. The purpose of FIND is to provide small businesses with the opportunity to present their most innovative projects or ideas to key senior Army leaders and receive immediate feedback to refine technological solutions. The goal is to develop opportunities to discover potentially game-changing technologies through a novel approach with the industry.
The next FIND, announced through FedBizOpps.gov, invites small businesses to present their ideas and technologies Oct. 9-10, 2017, concurrent with the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. This, the third FIND event, will concentrate on Soldier and team performance and overmatch at the small unit level.
The second part of the approach to future force development, is ARCIC’s Capabilities Information Exchange. The most recent CIE, which was held in August at TRADOC headquarters on Fort Eustis, Virginia, allowed ARCIC to conduct market research to enhance concepts and involve industry in timely discussions.
“The purpose of this CIE is to engage in early communication with industry on the Army’s future needs and describe the concepts regarding potential conflicts to see what solutions, that best address the needs of the warfighter, they could already be working on,” said Brig. Gen. David Komar, ARCIC Capabilities Developments director.
The CIE was designed to be a much broader forum, open to all interested members of industry, “providing them an opportunity to participate in one-on-one sessions with government subject matter experts and ask questions regarding what we see the future Army needing” said Lt. Col. Eric Van De Hey, the Science and Technology branch chief for ARCIC’s Science and Technology Research and Accelerated Capabilities Division.
The format for this most recent CIE was modified following feedback from the December 2016 event. ARCIC organized 10 government panels to host the one-on-one sessions. CIE panels were comprised of subject matter experts from throughout TRADOC and the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. These subject matter experts provided greater resolution of operational needs.
“The first CIE consisted primarily of an open discussion forum, but members of industry asked for a more individualized engagement,” said Van De Hey. “We took that feedback and changed the format to one-on-one discussions between industry and ARCIC subject matter experts. Feedback from industry indicated that this type of customized engagement was an excellent venue, which facilitated a deeper level of communication and helped industry to better understand Army requirements.
The initial response from industry representatives has been positive. “Industry participants said they felt it was a great opportunity for them to sit down and be informed by the government, and really, this was the intent — for them to ask questions of us,” said Van De Hey.
By briefing industry on the Army’s needs, initiatives and concepts, ARCIC leaders are aiming to integrate industry into capability development early and, in turn, help industry make better informed research and development decisions for the Army. This CIE drew more than 70 separate industry business units, of which, 32 companies elected to enter into a micro-purchase contract. Those companies under micro-purchase contracts will submit short white papers to ARCIC on various topic areas discussed during the CIE, which will help set the stage for the next round of discussions, said Van De Hey.
Both events will continue to be held semiannually, each offset by the other, and will address key capabilities identified by ARCIC and TRADOC as essential for the Army to achieve tactical and operational overmatch in a complex future operating environment. The capabilities, dubbed the TRADOC Big 6+1, or using the mnemonic OVRMACX, are: O – Overmatch in Soldier and Team Performance (+1); V – Future Vertical Lift; R – Robotic and Autonomous Systems; M – Mission Command, Cyber, and Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities; A – Advanced Protection; C – Combat Vehicles; X – Cross-Domain Fires.
“We do have an opportunity to engage industry partners earlier in the requirements process, and we’re moving to do that through the CIE and also through the FIND process,” said Maj. Gen. Robert M. “Bo” Dyess, acting ARCIC director, in a February interview with Army AL&T Magazine.
Pictured above: Brig. Gen. David Komar, Army Capabilities Integration Center’s Capabilities Developments director, shakes hands with an industry representative during the recent Capabilities Information Exchange held Aug. 15 and 16, 2017 on Fort Eustis, Virginia. (U.S. Army photo by Shama Crumes)