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How Can Pentagon Adapt Fast

Adaptability is what the Pentagon’s chief buyer, Ash Carter, wants across the military from personnel to weapons systems, and he’s directed the Defense Science Board (DSB) to identify those traits that foster adaptability in large organizations, particularly in the private sector.

Military adaptation has too often relied on the actions of a few innovative individuals creating work-arounds to bureaucratic obstacles, Carter wrote in an April 12 memo outlining marching orders to the DSB 2010 Summer Study; he wants adaptability adopted as a “key determinant” in how DOD operates across the board.

The DSB study should establish defining metrics, such as degree of adaptation and cycle time, and “identify fundamental attributes of an architecture to enhance adaptability.” That last bit should include examining corporate America for examples when products were brought quickly to market. The summer study will be co-chaired by Dr. William LaPlante, from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab, and Al Grasso, MITRE Corp.

Area for consideration include:

• Personnel development – how to develop and retain agile workers and incorporate battlefield experience from returning veterans. • Requirements process – favor adaptable weapons systems and use commercially available technology to increase response times. • Acquisition – tailor the acquisition system to speed new technologies to the battlefield and find new and innovative ways to employ legacy platforms so they remain relevant. • Degraded operations – figure out how to operate in the face of cyber attacks targeting command, control and communications networks. • Rapid transition of the force and support systems to fight the wars that were not planned for.

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