“Expeditionary warfare is a mindset. It is not exclusively the result of acquisition programs. It is derived from discipline, training and the drive to accomplish the mission no matter the resources at hand,” said Thomas P. Dee Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management) Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition).
“It’s the way we operate, and the ability to get the job done regardless of the environment. And it’s a team sport,” Dee said in Norfolk, Virginia, where he spoke at the Naval Expeditionary Warfare Conference, Nov. 19. The naval expeditionary warfare team includes the full gamut of acquisition professionals within ASN (RDA) to include multiple DASNs, PEOs and systems commands that have been led by the Honorable Sean J. Stackley since 2008, Dee explained. The adaptability of Expeditionary Forces to meet an unknown future in a fiscally constrained environment is paramount. Budget pressures require the Navy to do more with less money as defense budgets are predictably going to come down with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drawing to a close, Dee said.
In 2009, Stackley instituted five pillars that outline his approach to maximizing resources: get requirements right; make every dollar count; perform to plan; be mindful of the health of the industrial base; and strengthen the acquisition workforce.
To get more bang for the defense dollar, the Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD AT&L) has also been refining the concept of “Better Buying Power,” now on its third release.
“Emphasis is on competition with a lot more pressure to compete contracts in the future. We’re putting affordability caps on things, and you should expect to see that going forward,” Dee said.
As the acquisition community endeavors to provide the very best systems to the fleet, a major imperative will be: “Make sure your programs are affordable,” Dee said.
The department really wants to get a handle on the total cost of ownership of a ship or system, Dee explained.
“The real money goes into life cycle support. The cost of sustainment is much more than investment costs... Reducing life cycle costs is the goal,” Dee said.
The Navy’s historical annual shipbuilding budget of ~$13 billion will increase to an average of ~$16.7 billion per year over the entire 30-year shipbuilding plan due to the requirement of 306 ships which will include the OHIO Replacement, Dee explained. “The budget is solid [for shipbuilding], but it depends on Congress.”
In addition, Dee added, “We are on a pretty good track for amphibious shipbuilding.” He explained that the Navy and Marine Corps are steadily advancing on their plan to provide a minimum force of 33 total amphibious ships which represents the limit of acceptable risk in meeting the 38-ship amphibious force lift requirements for the assault echelon in a two MEB forcible entry operation. Right now 31 amphibious ships are operational.
U. S. Marine Corps acquisition programs (e.g., G/ATOR: Ground Air Task Oriented Radar; JLTV: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and CAC2S: Common Aviation Command and Control System) are on schedule, within budget and meeting key performance parameters.
Despite the budget constraints, there is a push in the DoD to protect research and development and experimentation, Dee said.
“Secretary of Defense Hagel has really put emphasis on the Department’s need to maintain that technological edge. We want to continue to find and fund those disruptive technologies,” Dee said.
Dee acknowledged that the Navy will face significant cuts if sequestration occurs, and operating under a continuing resolution, as it has been for the last few years, is a challenge.
Still, Dee is optimistic.
With increased pressure for federal budget reductions, the DoD cannot afford to acquire capabilities exceeding military needs. Dee added, “It is about the money: balancing to get the right mix. I’m confident that we’re going to get this right.”