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Introduction:
Maintaining Technical and Operational Cohesiveness Across Mission Areas 
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By Mary Lacey

Ms. Mary Lacey
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Research, Development, Test & Evaluation

To ensure the future technological superiority of our Fleet and Force, it is critical that prudent Department of the Navy (DON) Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) investments provide combat effectiveness, affordability, and improved reliability and maintainability in our current and future weapon systems. With increasing fiscal pressure, it is imperative that the DON balances tactical and strategic investments across all accounts, ensures RDT&E investments target the correct warfighter missions, and expeditiously transition technologies and capabilities to Fleet and Force operators. The basic concepts of Integration and Interoperability (I&I) prompt us to look across the effects/kill chains to see how systems really work together in an operationally relevant environment. Through the rigor of experiments, testing, data-driven assessments, and review, the DON is looking for game-changer innovations that effectively integrate technology and systems to provide affordable solutions for our Sailors and Marines. The Navy is aggressively pursuing I&I with the goal of maintaining technical and operational cohesiveness across mission areas while increasing the overall integrated warfighting capability for the warfighter. Front-end assessments based on operational evaluations that include the I&I of multiple systems ensure accuracy in determining capability gaps and lead to better acquisition decisions. A data-informed Warfighting Capability Plan is not limited to material solutions, but posits solutions across the Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities and Policy (DOTMLPF-P) spectrum. This approach couples rigorous analyses, coordination, and collaboration to produce holistic views across domains and functionalities. We are also modifying the Systems Engineering processes, particularly Technical Reviews and Gate Reviews, to identify disconnects early in the development process and thereby drive better success into the production of integrated and interoperable systems.

Even more critical than the processes and tools we put in place to enable systems integration and interoperability are our people. I&I analysis is largely an inherently governmental function and to truly understand the technical dimension of the military problem, our workforce must be engaged in technical work. For that reason, in concert with OPNAV, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition (ASN(RDA)) is relying on our technical workforce—civilian and military—to lead and conduct I&I analyses. We are investing particularly in our Warfare and Systems Centers to do hands-on work to ensure the capability and capacity the DON needs are available. The I&I activity is shedding light on the technical requirements and organizational governance that must be satisfied to successfully deliver system of systems capability.