Acquisition Research Program Newsletter
December 1, 2023 — Issue 174
Happy Friday! It's the first of December, and we're all hurtling toward the end of the year together. Cheers to all the reasons to celebrate this time of year.
In the past few weeks, three strategy documents on the use of information have been released: from DoD, Navy, and the Army.
- DoD released its latest strategy for operating in the information environment, which makes the case for moving from legacy processes that consider the information environment as an afterthought to a future in which informational and physical power are integrated during planning.
- Last week the Navy released its first cyber strategy, with seven lines of effort: support the cyber workforce; shift from compliance to cyber readiness, defend enterprise IT, data, and networks; secure critical infrastructure and weapon systems; conduct cyber operations; secure the defense industrial base; and enhance cooperation.
- The Army released its first doctrine on information, likewise calling for information to be integrated throughout all planning and operations, noting the need for coordination across the joint force. The publication focuses on the concept of "information advantage," wielded and discussed in five areas: enable, protect, inform, influence, and attack.
The White House released a fact sheet on over 30 initiatives to strengthen supply chains, including one to map DoD's supply chains and others that coordinate with international partners and allies on key materials such as semiconductors. it also creates the Council on Supply Chain Resilience, which will include the Secretary of Defense.
Several articles continue the conversation about the Replicator initiative.
- The Defense One article considers the need for operators to be able to 3D print drones to meet the demand for so many units.
- The C4ISRNET article contextualizes Replicator within the current and future uses of AI in military contexts.
- And DIU is expected to host a technology summit on Replicator with the goal of engaging industry--connecting with current and new DIU customers. The Breaking Defense article reviews solicitations for drones already released this year, raising concerns about the limited requirements identified there. Together, these activities show the challenge predicted for realizing the vision of Replicator as well as the powerful role DIU can play in leveraging the strength and diversity of commercial partners who can potentially deliver on the promised 18-24 month timeline.
In Congress, negotiations on the NDAA moved forward this week with a "pass the gavel" meeting that kicks off bicameral discussions in the HASC and SASC. There remain many competing provisions and priorities requiring compromise.
- Tuberville's hold on nominations remains, but as pressure intensifies with a potential Rules change, he says he may soon release some of the holds on military positions.
Our top story explores how funding for Ukraine -- a political hot topic in current budget negotiations -- is overwhelmingly spent in America, reinvigorating the defense industrial base and radically speeding up modernization efforts. Details of what has been provided so far are included in this article as well as in the DoD infographic charting major contract initiatives in Ukraine Security Assistance. The similar article in Politico points out that President Biden has used this information to try to convince reluctant Republicans to support additional funding for Ukraine.
In NPS news, we bring student research on how the US Coast Guard can integrate uncrewed aerial systems into its fleet to address an estimated forthcoming capability gap of 13,000 flight hours over the next decade. The discussion in this thesis intersects with this week's articles on the Replicator initiatives. As the chart from the thesis included below illustrates, capabilities and cost for UAS are clearly correlated, meaning decisions will need to be made about how to balance quality and quantity of uncrewed capabilities.
And Professor James Wirtz penned an op-ed on a related topic, considering the Navy's use of unmanned naval vessels, with a focus on lessons learned from Ukraine.
Thanks to all who submitted proposals for May's symposium! We'll be reviewing over the next few weeks and sending out notifications of acceptance later this month.
This Week's Top Story
Ukraine aid’s best-kept secret: Most of the money stays in the U.S.A.
Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post
Here is the best-kept secret about U.S. military aid to Ukraine: Most of the money is being spent here in the United States. That’s right: Funds that lawmakers approve to arm Ukraine are not going directly to Ukraine but are being used stateside to build new weapons or to replace weapons sent to Kyiv from U.S. stockpiles. Of the $68 billion in military and related assistance Congress has approved since Russia invaded Ukraine, almost 90 percent is going to Americans, one analysis found. ...
We have identified 117 production lines in at least 31 states and 71 cities where American workers are producing major weapons systems for Ukraine. ... Nor does this list count the suppliers that provide these contractors with parts, such as plastic and computer chips, or produce smaller items for Ukraine, such as cold-weather and night-vision gear, medical supplies, spare parts and millions of rounds of small-arms ammunition. As one Ukrainian official told me, “Every single state in the U.S. contributes to this effort.”
In other words, as happens with foreign military aid, our aid to Ukraine is not only creating American jobs but also reinvigorating our dangerously atrophied defense industrial base. ...
Our aid to Ukraine is not only forcing the Pentagon to rapidly increase the United States’ ability to produce weapons; it’s also modernizing the U.S. military. As retired Army Maj. Gen. John G. Ferrari, now a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, recently pointed out, we are giving Ukraine weapons systems that are often decades old and then replacing our stockpiles with more advanced versions. “Because of the existing budget pressures on the Army, it wouldn’t be able to afford this needed modernization of equipment on its own,” Ferrari wrote in an op-ed. “By transferring weapons and gear to Ukraine, the Army would receive more modern weapons in return.”
The U.S.-led effort to arm Ukraine reinvigorates our defense production capacity in still other ways. The United States is also creating incentives for NATO allies to donate their old U.S.-produced and Soviet-era weapons systems to Ukraine by authorizing the sale of newer, modern U.S.-made systems to replace them. For example, Poland sent 250 older Soviet and German tanks to Ukraine and signed a $4.75 billion deal in April 2022 to buy 250 M1A2 Abrams replacement tanks that will be produced at the Lima, Ohio, factory. Poland subsequently made a $1.4 billion deal for additional tanks. Poland also sent its Soviet-made Mi-24 attack helicopters to Ukraine and then signed a $12 billion deal to purchase 96 Apache helicopters that will be built in Mesa, Ariz.
ARP and NPS News
Student Research: Exploring the Potential use of Long-Range Unmanned Aerial Systems to Address Capability Gaps in the United States Coast Guard
LCDR Jeffrey Henkel, USCG
There is a growing threat to international order, specifically in the maritime environment. The United States Coast Guard (USCG), with its unique authorities, is perfectly positioned to respond to these threats in means that can avoid undesired conflict. Increased mission demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance coupled with an ever-aging fleet of aircraft, reveal an expanding capability gap in the USCG’s resources. There is an opportunity for the USCG to leverage the capabilities of current and future unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which can be strategically utilized in specific, key mission sets to augment the service’s existing and evolving fleet. By utilizing Department of Defense acquisition frameworks and methods, a standardized approach is employed to analyze the potential benefits and costs of adding UAS capabilities into the USCG’s aviation portfolio, which includes a capabilities based assessment (CBA), DOTmLPF-P analysis, and an analysis of alternatives (AoA). The study found that a capability gap of approximately 13,000 flight hours will come about in the next decade. This gap can be met with commercial materiel UAS solutions that are able to provide persistent surveillance and detection abilities in contested maritime environments. Read more.
Op-Ed: Unmanned Naval Vessels Will Take Long-Term Development
James J. Wirtz, The Maritime Executive
From NPS Professor of National Security Affairs
Will unmanned forces transform naval campaigning? Given recent events following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, maritime transformation appears to be well underway. Autonomous and semi-autonomous aircraft and surface vessels have damaged or destroyed Russian surface combatants, air defense systems, and supply depots. In September 2023, two unmanned surface vessels sailed from Hawaii to participate in exercises with Carrier Strike Group 1 in the Western Pacific, while the Navy’s Task Force 59 based in Bahrain has become the de facto U.S. Navy drone innovation center with its ongoing experimentation with small autonomous vessels as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. The Navy needs to consider how else it can leverage unmanned systems in campaigns, and how these systems can open up unique options for enhancing naval campaigns in pursuit of deterrence. Read more.
Research: Blockchain at the Tactical Edge: Enabling an Internet of Battlefield Things
Bonnie Johnson, Anthony Kendall, John Green, Bruce Nagy, Gregory Dogum, Kristin Jones Maia, Michele Meszaros, Jonathan Novoa, Rene Villarreal | American Journal of Computer Science and Technology
Featuring NPS professor Bonnie Johnson and frequent ARP symposium contributors Bruce Nagy and John Green
This paper presents the results of a study that evaluated the use of blockchain technology to address challenges with increasing amounts of disparate sensor data and an information-rich landscape that can quickly overwhelm effective decision-making processes. The team explored how blockchain can be used at the tactical edge to support an internet of battlefield thing approach by verifying users, validating sensor data fed into artificial intelligence models, limiting access to data, and providing an audit trail across the data life cycle. The team developed a conceptual design for implementing blockchain for tactical data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications; identified challenges and limitations involved in implementing blockchain for the tactical domain; described the benefits of blockchain for these various applications; and evaluated the findings to propose future research into a wide set of tactical blockchain applications. The team studied three use cases: (1) blockchain at the tactical edge in a “data light” information environment for long range fires, (2) blockchain to secure tactical medical information in electronic health record, and (3) blockchain for collecting multiple types of tactical sensor data for chemical weapons defense to support measurement and signature intelligence analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Read more.
Acquisition and Innovation
Bombenomics: Biden admin circulates map showing states that benefit from Ukraine aid
Lara Seligman, Connor O'Brien, and Joe Gould | Politico
DIU eyeing Feb-Aug 2025 to field first Replicator systems, wants industry input
Jaspreet Gill, Breaking Defense
Creating the DoD's Largest 3D Part Repository
Reorganizing government acquisition for the digital age
Natalie Alms, Nextgov/FCW
DoD’s Replicator program must be repeatable to be successful
Kirsten Errick, Federal News Network
Commentary: 5 steps to better artificial intelligence procurement
Devaki Raj, Federal Times
Ten challenges to implementing Force Design 2030
Bruce Stubbs, Atlantic Council
Improving Acquisition and Sustainment Outcomes for Military Commercial Derived Aircraft: The KC-46A Pegasus Experience
Benjamin J. Sacks, Obaid Younossi, Brittany Clayton | RAND Corporation
Life Cycle Management of Military Commercial Derivative Aircraft Improving FAA Certification, Implementation of Digital Engineering and Sustainment Strategy
Brittany Clayton, Obaid Younossi, Brian Dolan, Thomas Goughnour, Devon Hill, Gwen Mazzotta, Benjamin J. Sacks, Barbara Bicksler | RAND Corporation
Agile Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Adoption and Implementation
U.S. Government Accountability Office
The Stanford Emerging Technology Review 2023: A Report on Ten Key Technologies and Their Policy Implications
Trusted Workforce 2.0: Personnel Vetting Quarterly Progress Report
The Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council
Department of Defense Intellectual Property Forum
Hosted by the DoD IP Cadre
December 6-8, 2023
Event Focus Area: Multi-Domain Unmanned Systems & Countermeasures
5–9 February 2024
Policy & Strategy
2023 Department of Defense Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment
DoD Presse Release
Department of the Navy Cyber Strategy
Department of the Navy
ADP 3-13: Information
Department of the Army
FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Strengthen America’s Supply Chains, Lower Costs for Families, and Secure Key Sectors
The White House
Defense and Federal Government
US Navy: ‘Non-kinetic effects’ will likely decide the next war
Lauren C. Williams, Defense One
Army releases first doctrinal publication focused on information
Mark Pomerleau, Defense Scoop
Navy launches efficiency drive in pursuit of savings
Megan Eckstein, Defense News
DARPA eyes creation of next-generation semiconductor manufacturing hub
Courtney Albon, C4ISRNET
Can troops with 3D printers save the Pentagon’s mass-drone vision?
Patrick Tucker, Defense One
Pentagon’s ‘Replicator’ gambit may speed decisions on lethal autonomy
Frank Bajak, The Associated Press/C4ISRNET
Why some security clearance cases are taking longer in recent months
Justin Doubleday, Federal News Network
Congress takes up software supply chain security
Adam Mazmanian, Nextgov/FCW
Tuberville considers dropping some military holds 'soon, but not today'
Burgess Everett, Politico
What to watch as Congress negotiates final defense policy bill
Bryant Harris, Defense News
Bill urges Pentagon to speed JADC2 transition in focus on Indo-Pacific
Colin Demarest, Defense News
One more thing
Navy to don ‘Silent Service’ submarine uniforms for Army rivalry game
Sarah Sicard, Navy Times
Uniforms for the December 9 Navy-Army game have been revealed, and they take inspiration from the U.S. Submarine Force. The rich blue fabric used to create the Midshipmen uniform is Under Armour’s “Eclipse Navy” — a fitting moniker for the color of sea depths patrolled by the Navy’s submariners. The helmets are adorned with Virginia Class submarines on the right side. The left side features a mix of the traditional Navy anchor plus submariner pin — but what makes it particularly special is a color-changing paint that mimicks the radar system aboard submarines when they lock onto a target. Read more.
Watch the reveal video.
Go Navy Beat Army!