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Closing the Gaps... 
Capability Solutions Management 

By Linda Learn

With ever-changing political climates and rapidly evolving threats, our military is faced with the constant need to evaluate capabilities to ensure that they meet or outpace those of our adversaries. So how should the Navy’s leaders go about identifying and closing gaps in capability? This has been a long-standing question with far reaching strategic, budgetary, and organizational implications.

On 9 December 2010, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) hosted a summit on Integration and Interoperability (I&I) that tackled this question. At the summit, the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAVAIR) proposed a sequential, proactive approach to identify shortfalls in current capabilities, develop comprehensive solution recommendations to identify shortfalls and process the results within the Department of the Navy (DON) for approval, execution, and implementation in the Fleet. The objective of the process was to begin with input from the Fleet and look across systems to identify capability gaps and solutions in effects/kill chains associated with specific weapon-target pairs. A generic example of such a kill chain would be a scenario in which a United States Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is located in one of the world’s “hot spots” and the adversary in that region launches “Red Missile X” at the carrier; the CSG responds by engaging that threat with “Blue Weapon Y” (i.e., Blue Weapon Y vs. Red Missile X). The question becomes “How well does that weapon perform against that threat?” It’s a question that assesses the System of Systems (SoS) in a kill chain that spans search, detect, track, identify, engage, assess, etc.

When it comes to fixing problems or inserting new technologies into the Fleet, funding lines have historically dictated that maturation and deployment of new capabilities focus on individual systems rather than SoSs. As voiced by NAVAIR’s Vice Admiral David Dunaway in a recent issue of Proceedings Magazine,

"That important alignment is necessary and must continue to be executed vigorously. However, we must also implement a new process that includes a horizontally integrated view of how that system will work in the System of Systems (SoS).”

Since the summit, representatives from NAVAIR; the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD); the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport (NUWC Newport); Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR); Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV); Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Forces (COTF); Fleet Forces Command (FFC); the Naval Air and Missile Defense Command (NAMDC); the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC); and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) have worked together to refine and implement the process initially proposed at the 2010 I&I Summit. In December of 2012, these efforts culminated in the signing of the I&I Charter by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Mark Ferguson. From that time, the process has been through several iterations.

The first step in the I&I process is the Warfare Capability Baseline (WCB) assessment. The WCB team takes specific weapon-target pairs designated by the Fleet as high priority and develops the mission threads and Tactical Situations (TACSITS) that provide context. They develop scoring criteria for such areas as search, detect, track, identify, engage, and assess (and others as necessary); then they score each task in technical detail. The findings are housed in a master database at COTF. A mock example of possible results is depicted graphically in Figure 1.

The next step in the process is to look for potential solutions across the entire spectrum that includes Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel and Facilities (DOTMLPF). That’s where the Capability Solutions Management (CSM) Team comes in. Led by the Warfare Development Command (WDC) for the mission area under consideration (i.e., NAMDC is the WDC for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD)), the team also includes experts from across the DOTMLFP spectrum. Their goal is to find solutions that can be acquired within the five years spanning the Fiscal Year Development Plan (FYDP).

As a leader in RDT&E, NSWCDD’s primary role on the CSM Team has been to assemble and lead the Materiel Solutions Development Team (MSDT). A subset of the larger CSM team, the MSDT delves into potential materiel solutions and applies a rigorous analytical assessment. The team is comprised of experts from each of the following disciplines: Systems Engineering, Warfighter Integration, Architecture, and Warfare Analysis.'

This task is a challenge in communications as much as technical ability. It requires reaching across the internal NSWCDD departments as well as to other System Commands (SYSCOMs), WDCs, program offices, research facilities and others with expertise that can aid in the analysis and evaluation task. Each potential solution is considered in the context of the kill chain and TACSIT in which the WCB team evaluated it. The final output is presented in the Integrated Capability Package (ICP), a document written in a prescribed format that provides DOTMLPF recommendations to close gaps identified by the WCB. The final recommendations are grouped into three categories:

Immediate: Solutions that are currently available

Near-term: Solutions that can be delivered in 1-2 years

Mid-term: Solutions that can be delivered in 3-5 years

NAMDC presents the final document to FFC, who reviews it and makes any necessary changes. It is then delivered to OPNAV for consideration in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) budgeting cycle.

The I&I process is not alone in the Navy’s efforts to identify and close gaps. NAMDC follows a Warfare Improvement Program (WIP) process. The Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) employs a Capability Phasing Plan (CPP) process. SPAWAR makes evaluations and recommendations based on a Portfolio Health Assessment (PHA). Although seemingly disparate processes, the object of all of them is to identify gaps and submit proposed solutions to the POM cycle. Recent efforts have been driving toward a more cohesive approach that capitalizes on the “best of all worlds.” The I&I process is now merging with existing processes to feed the POM cycles at OPNAV.

To return to the original question… “How should our leaders go about identifying and closing capability gaps?” The answer will never be easy. We live in a world of growing complexity with increasingly complicated problems that require increasingly innovative solutions. The I&I process is a step in the right direction to ensure that the systems delivered have been evaluated across the DOTMLPF spectrum in the relevant mission contexts to ensure that the Navy brings the best possible solutions to the problems that are the highest priority to the Fleet.

Article Images

Figure 1. WCB Effects/Kill Chain Assessment Example