Home' Defense Systems : September and October 2014 Contents The military's need for speed
BY KEVIN MCCANEY
For decades, the U.S. Defense Department was like the New York Yankees
of the global military landscape, willing to take on record-breaking, long-
term deals to get the best available technology and weapons. And if a big-ticket
project happened to go the way of Alex Rodriquez, well, sometimes you have to
live with a sunk cost. ere was always time and money for the next project.
e U.S. military budget, of course, still dwarfs those of other countries, but
the money is getting tighter. And, perhaps more important, time---in terms of
reacting to technological advances---is getting shorter. In an asymmetrical world
with easy access to technology and an increasingly important cyber domain, the
military needs to develop quicker re exes.
at s something Arati Prabhaker, director of the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency, addressed recently when she said the Cold War approach to
huge, monolithic systems "is now killing us." Speaking at an expo for potential
contractors, she said DOD needs to scrap its slow-moving approach to complex,
bloated systems and nd a way to develop systems with greater agility.
at s a tall order for an organization the size of DOD, which has seen
plenty of large enterprise projects go o the rails and will, for example, pay an
estimated $400 billion for 2,457 versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the
most complex and expensive weapon system in history. at project is currently
seven years behind schedule and $163 billion over its original budget.
But there are signs that DOD is gaining some speed and exibility. One
step DARPA is taking is using its Microsystems Technology O ce to work on
chip-level technologies to support open architectures. e agency s recently
launched System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation
(SoSITE) program also aims to develop open architectures that would allow
new technologies to be integrated as they are developed, without a lot of re-
DOD, meanwhile, is moving strongly toward virtualization, consolidating
data centers and using cloud computing as the backbone of the Joint
Information Environment. Virtualization, by design, allows for faster
integration of new technologies than do stand-alone hardware systems.
e U.S. military, with its seemingly in nite layers of bureaucracy, with never
exactly be a lithe organization. But some leaders have recognized that being
prepared for the next round of challenges is more than just a matter of power.
Speed and agility count, too.
4 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 | DefenseSystems.com
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