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Archive for July, 2012

Two Great Follow-ons To Last Week’s Note: Government Contracting: What’s Trust Got To Do With It?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Between the two articles below, one from the Washington Post on the 29th and the other from today’s paper, you could not ask for two better perspectives on aspects of the changes that are going on in government contracting: IT and Acquisitions.

 

Defense contractors’ IT businesses under pressure
By Marjorie Censer, Published: July 29The Washington Post


The largest defense contractors reported last week new challenges to their information technology businesses as the government adapts to shrinking budgets.
 
In the Washington area, IT contracting is particularly important. Tanks, missiles and aircraft are typically built elsewhere, but IT services happen here, meaning that these declines could take a particularly large toll on the region.
 
Falls Church-based General Dynamics’s range of work spans private jets, military vehicles and computer programs. But the area under the most pressure is the company’s information systems and technology business, which includes IT services, cybersecurity and battlefield communications equipment.
 

The unit “was challenged again in the second quarter as customer award activity continued to fall short of expectations,” said Jay L. Johnson, General Dynamics’s chairman and chief executive, in a call with investors last week.
 

The company reported that profit fell to $634 million ($1.77 per share), down from $653 million ($1.76) for the same period a year earlier. Quarterly revenue grew very slightly to $7.92 billion, but the information-systems business was the only one of the company’s four units to see profit and sales declines.
 

IT services is generally a lower-margin business that doesn’t produce the kind of profits seen in other areas, such as military equipment. But the business has become tougher as spending slows and the government increasingly chooses the lowest-priced offering, rather than seeking the “best value.”
 

IT work has also taken a greater share of the pain of budget cuts because it’s a “short-cycle” business, meaning it typically is paid for out of current funds. A plane or tank rolling off the assembly line this year, for example, has typically been largely paid for because of the time it takes to set up production facilities, order parts and manufacture the equipment.
 

“The shorter-cycle businesses ... [are] going to feel the budget pressures earlier on,” said William Loomis, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus, which has a business relationship with a number of government contractors. “It’s easier to tell the person running your network [to] have three people not show up on Monday than restructure a large weapons program.”
 

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin last week reported a profit of $781 million ($2.38 per share) for the three-month period, up from $742 million ($2.14) for the same period a year earlier. Quarterly revenue grew 3.3 percent to $11.92 billion.
 

But like General Dynamics, the company’s information systems and global solutions business was the only one of its four business units to see its sales and profit drop.
At Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman, quarterly revenue fell about 4 percent to $6.27 billion, and the company’s information systems unit saw the steepest decline in sales.
 

Still, the unit was able to boost its profit margin to 10.9 percent for the quarter, up from 9.3 percent for the same period the previous year.
 

Wes Bush, Northrop’s chairman, president and chief executive, in a call with investors last week attributed the improvement to a shift away from “commodity” services, or those that are so common that the government generally makes its decision based on price, to more technical services.
 

“Generally speaking, the larger companies are choosing margin over volume right now,” Loomis said.

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Contractors bemoan delays as rookie U.S. acquisition officers learn ropes

30    July 2012, The Washington Post, BY NICK TABOREK — Bloomberg Government

Claudine Adams, the president of a small technology contractor in Maryland, walked into a routine meeting at an Army base in April and was surprised to find herself face-to-face with three government attorneys.
It wasn’t the start of a legal dispute. Instead, it appeared the lawyers were there to keep acquisition officials from saying too much, said Adams, who has worked in government contracting for more than 20 years.
“They’re going to the lawyers because they’re inexperienced,” she said in a phone interview.
The federal workforce charged with awarding more than $500 billion in contracts annually isn’t as seasoned as it was a decade ago, according to government data. Almost a third of the government’s acquisition officers had less than five years of experience in their jobs last year, compared with 6.8 percent in 2001.
The lack of experience, most pronounced at the Pentagon, has delayed contracts and also may have contributed to rookie mistakes that have prompted protests, according to contractors and attorneys who represent them.
Contracting officers frequently haven’t mastered basic federal acquisition rules, said John Chierichella, a partner in Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton’s Washington office who has practiced procurement law since 1975. It’s an increasing problem, he said.
A vendor he represented in 2009 filed a protest after the Pentagon excluded it from a multibillion-dollar contract for technology services. The company, which Chierichella declined to identify, objected to the government’s cost analysis. It ended up that acquisition officials had not conducted one, and his client was awarded the contract after the delay.
“Too often, mistakes are being made that I find surprising,” he said in a phone interview. “They don’t seem to have the experience to know that when you ignore a mandatory requirement, you’re asking for trouble.”
Congress has recognized the need to educate the acquisition workforce. It allocated about $1.8 billion to a fund created in 2008 for hiring and training acquisition workers, according to a June report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm. The fund had been used to hire about 5,855 people and add 19,000 classroom seats at the Defense Acquisition University through Sept. 30, the report stated.
The Defense Department since 2009 has made “significant progress in rebuilding the capacity of the acquisition workforce,” Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “While some additional growth may be possible, other initiatives will continue emphasis on building the qualifications of the workforce we have.’’
Army attorneys at the command where Adams’s company is a contractor “provide legal guidance to government officials during the acquisition process whenever that guidance is requested by a program manager or contracting officer,” Andricka Thomas, a spokeswoman for the service, said in an e-mail.
The number of workers classified as contracting professionals increased 27 percent to 33,274 in 10 years, according to data compiled by the Office of Personnel Management. That growth failed to match the increase in spending on contracts, which more than doubled to $535 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, from $221 billion in fiscal 2001, according to federal procurement data.
The Defense Department had the highest share of contracting employees with less than five years of service, at 34 percent. It was followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, with 33 percent, and the Department of Homeland Security, at 32 percent.
The lowest rates were at the departments of Agriculture and of Housing and Urban Development, both at about 13 percent.
The Defense Department, which accounts for about 70 percent of contract spending, didn’t have a large-enough workforce to handle the boom in awards, said Jacques Gansler, a professor at the University of Maryland and a former top Pentagon weapons buyer.
“The solution was, ‘Let’s quickly go out and hire a bunch of interns,’ ” he said. “I think they should have also hired some experienced people.”
One consequence is that inexperienced government buyers are selecting vendors that meet minimum quality standards and offer the lowest price, instead of picking proposals that represent the best overall value, said Gansler, who is on the boards of defense contractors iRobot and TASC.
“Would you get your heart surgeon on the basis of someone with a medical degree and the lowest hourly rate?” he said. “That’s what the government’s doing.”
Contractors were reluctant to discuss the performance of acquisition officers for the government, in many cases their biggest customer. Companies such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman declined to discuss the issue or did not respond to requests for comment.
 

We’d love to hear your views, and will share them with our readers.  You can comment on the Roundtable at www.lsi-llc.com, or send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com.

Thanks,

John 

 

Government Contracting: What’s Trust Got To Do With It?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Friend Chris Haakon recommended this article to me.

From Washington Technology today:

Contractor distrust costs DOD billions, study says

Rules, beauracracy and an adversarial relationships make procurements more expensive

* By Matthew Weigelt
* Jul 13, 2012

In a time when defense officials are hunting everywhere for savings, a new study has found what might be the missing element that could save the Defense Department billions of dollars: Trust.

DOD’s distrust of defense contractors has led to the creation of a significant bureaucracy, according to several university researchers, who released a report (http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2012/07/12/~/media/GIG/FCW/Documents/2012/DOD%20Contractor%20Relationships.ashx) in May. DOD currently spends $400 billion each year acquiring products and services from its contractors. About $100 billion of the money is spent on administrative costs, according to the study, based on interviews with 80 defense contractor executives.

By cutting what the report’s authors consider to be unneeded bureaucracy, defense officials could reduce the department’s costs by 20 percent. That could save roughly $20 billion each year, according to the report.

The report was written by Russell Crook, an associate professor of management at the University of Tennessee, David Patterson, executive director of the UT National Defense Business Institute, Dave Ketchen, a Lowder Eminent Scholar at Auburn University, and James Combs, a professor at the University of Alabama.

After interviewing the executives, who came from more than 60 government suppliers, the team determined that 75 percent of money goes toward designing and manufacturing a product for sale to the government. The other quarter of money pays transaction costs, such as administrative and legal expenses when writing a request for proposal and monitoring costs later on in the procurement.

Based on those interviews, researchers arrived at some understanding of what drives up the costs.

For one, the adversarial relationships between buyers and suppliers have introduced costs in bidding and negotiations in contracts and slowed down the process of coming to acceptable terms and agreements. Think: standoff.

“What’s more, high turnover in the core buying or supplying team can fuel dissent in relationships that are already on shaky ground, or reboot solid relationships and turn them adversarial,” the researchers wrote.

In addition, vague contract requirements raise costs. Defense officials and contractors spend time ironing out differences in a changing interpretation of the requirements that could have been spelled out clearly sooner.

The department has an inflexible modification process, according to the report.

“The main villains are the development, collection, and generation of unneeded reports, documenting, and maintaining compliance processes, as well as educating and training staff on compliance processes,” the researchers determined, according to the report.

“From the contractors’ perspective, the Department of Defense requires too many reports, and it micromanages how contractors do their jobs,” Ketchen said.

However, Ray Bjorklund, former assistant deputy director for procurement and logistics at the Defense Information Systems Agency in the 1990s and now vice president and chief knowledge officer at Deltek, said that what constitutes unnecessary regulations is often a matter of opinion. Some rules that may seem burdensome are actually necessary, he said. Overall, regulations are to protect the parties on each side of the contract. Without them, the two sides could not reconcile any disparities, he said.

In the report, the researchers gave four suggested solutions:

* Relational contracting. A company should not be considered as a one-time supplier. Relational contracting is when buyers and suppliers make long-term commitments that build trust and cooperation. They wrote that suppliers would not put a valued relationship at risk, thus decreasing the need for oversight.
* Retain employees. The department needs to keep its best employees with the most knowledge in place. Agencies that can retain those employees are much more likely to be efficient and effective than agencies that have a lot of turnover.
* Monitor. Federal officials should monitor a company’s outcomes through performance-based contracting. Transaction costs go down, “because outcomes are easier and cheaper to monitor than behaviors,” they wrote.
* Adopt best-value contracting. DOD needs to take a best-value approach to contracts. The private sector has been moving away from stressing one metric. Instead, companies are considering a set of factors, such as cost, quality, flexibility, and speed. Researchers wrote that best-value supply chains focus on delivering the maximum total value added to the customer.

“Contractors believe that everyone could save money if the Department of Defense would focus on outcomes rather than processes and let the contractors figure out the best way to deliver good results,” Ketchen said.

In 2010, then-Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Ashton Carter, issued the Better Buying Power Initiative (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffcw.com%2Farticles%2F2010%2F06%2F28%2F~%2Fmedia%2FGIG%2FWashington%2520Technology%2FDocuments%2FAshCarter6_28_10%2520Memo.ashx&ei=qBv_T_v2EMr-qwGO_oyLCQ&usg=AFQjCNGvUWqY3VIcDJ504lni0zGyatN_Pg) . He told defense officials to performance through progress payments and set up a Preferred Supplier Program for the department. Carter also recognized a qualified acquisition workforce as a means to efficiencies.

Bjorklund agreed that trust is important — business partnerships have to be based on trust, he said — but sometimes that trust is broken and things fall apart, which is when a well-developed set of rules can be a lifesaver.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. Follow him on Twitter: @matthewweigelt .

What do you think?  We’d like to share your views with our readers.  You can comment on the Roundtable, at www.lsi-llc.com, or send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com.

Draft Pentagon Report Lays Out Key Lessons From Decade Of War

Friday, July 13th, 2012

The following article by Christopher J. Castelli appeared on InsideDefense.com on June 6, 2012.

ISR strategy needed

Draft Pentagon Report Lays Out Key Lessons From Decade Of War

“The Joint Staff warns in a critical assessment of the last decade of war that the Pentagon must craft a strategy for intelligence gathering and pursue major improvements in interagency coordination to avoid repeating mistakes made since the 9/11 attacks, according to a copy of the 40-page “for official use only” draft report obtained by Inside the Pentagon.

In the last 10 years, the Pentagon failed to understand the operational environment, learned the hard way that conventional military methods were ineffective and initially ignored the need to influence perceptions in order to achieve objectives, states the sweeping assessment prepared at the request of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Titled “Decade of War: Enduring Lessons from the Past Decade of Operations,” the May 23 predecisional draft report is the first volume of a study designed to inform the development of tomorrow’s military. It offers an array of recommendations, including calls for a new strategy for meeting military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs and new legislation to bolster interagency ties, modeled on the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act that reorganized the Defense Department.

Although 80 percent of the military of 2020 is either programmed or already exists today, the Pentagon has a “perishable opportunity to be innovative” by significantly changing the other 20 percent of the force and by changing the way it uses the remaining 80 percent, Dempsey said May 16 in Virginia Beach, VA.

“We’re transitioning from a decade of war,” he said. “A complex and uncertain security environment looms. And as we look toward the future, each service and our total joint force face fundamental questions about their identities, their roles and their capabilities.”

To conduct the study, the Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis office reviewed 46 studies it had prepared from its inception in 2003 through early 2012, examining over 400 findings, observations and best practices in search of enduring lessons. “In general, operations during the first half of the decade were often marked by numerous missteps and challenges, while those in the second half featured successful adaptation to overcome these challenges,” the report states.

The report lays out 11 major lessons related to understanding the operational environment, addressing conventional and unconventional threats, winning hearts and minds, managing major transitions in military operations, adaptation, integrating regular and elite forces, coordinating with other agencies, coalition operations, host-nation partnering, surrogates and proxies and super-empowered threats. More lessons are anticipated in future volumes. The study follows President Obama’s release in January of the Defense Strategic Guidance, which he said would prepare the department for the next decade. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the United States is at a “strategic turning point” following 10 years of war and substantial growth in the defense budget.

Seeing the world as it is

DOD repeatedly failed to understand the environment in which the military operated, according to the report. “In operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, a failure to recognize, acknowledge and accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions and goals,” the report states.

For instance, the early focus on top-down approaches in Afghanistan ignored tribal and cultural realities and other factors that called for a bottom-up approach, the department writes. Intelligence shortfalls, including a dearth of spies and interpreters, contributed to such problems. Shortages of drones and signals-intelligence assets were ultimately addressed when DOD surged such assets, the study notes.

Looking ahead, the report urges the department to educate military leaders about the need to improve assessments based on data, intelligence and insights drawn from a wide array of sources. Noting the increasingly decentralized and joint nature of operations, the study calls for the development of a strategy for best meeting military forces’ needs for ISR data and other information.

The report also advocates policies and information-technology solutions that promote the fusion of information and reduce the compartmentalization of intelligence across the interagency community and among partner nations. And the study calls for revisiting classification policies to boost information sharing and a common understanding of the operational environment while preserving necessary operational security.

DOD also needs to increase access to expeditionary ISR platforms and improve training of personnel on available ISR capabilities to better enable either focused, intelligence-driven operations or rapid assessments in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the report states.

Building relationships is also essential, according to the report. “Bring in experts from all backgrounds — military, other interagency, NGOs, think-tanks, academia and private sector — and leverage their insights and expertise to inform and tailor approaches,” the department writes. Officials should expand and incentivize language and cultural training across the force, the report states. The study also urges leveraging relationships and expertise on the operating environment resulting from forward presence of military and other interagency elements.

Conventional war paradigm

The second lesson, the department writes, is that conventional warfare approaches were often ineffective when applied to operations other than major combat, “forcing leaders to realign the ways and means of achieving effects.”

“Unlike conventional war, success in many of the operations over the past decade depended on capacity building and achieving sustainability of gains that were made during operations,” the report states. “This focus on capacity building taxed the military and the U.S. government overall, as they were often not prepared for these tasks, especially on the scale demanded in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The report calls for maintaining the U.S. military’s ability to overmatch peers and regional aggressors in conventional war but also capturing tactics, techniques and procedures for retaining and refining “the ability to rapidly adapt.” The Pentagon must refine the military’s ability to “conduct non-conventional warfare, identifying specific capabilities and adaptations developed over the past decade to be sustained” and include key lessons in education and training, the department writes.

Dempsey has said cyberwarfare capabilities, ISR, undersea systems and drones will be increasingly important in the coming years.

Officials should be prepared to create tailored organizations to handle unique operational conditions and needs; advocate jointness; disseminate lessons; and conduct flexible intelligence operations, the study notes. “Be prepared to transition the intelligence paradigm from the traditional top-down flow to a bottom-up flow when necessitated by local conditions, and maintain the ability of [general purpose forces] to conduct network analysis,” the report states.

The study also urges reassessing the alignment and use of active, Reserve, Guard and civilian components of the force to “better leverage expertise and capabilities and allow more agile and tailored support to operations.”

Battle for the narrative

Another shortcoming in the last decade concerned battles for the hearts and minds of people around the world. “We were slow to recognize the importance of information and the battle for the narrative in achieving objectives at all levels; we were often ineffective in applying and aligning the narrative to goals and desired end states,” the report states.

“While the military was slow to adapt to these developments, the enemy was not, developing considerable skill in using these new means of dissemination to their own ends.”

But U.S. officials in Iraq and Afghanistan later created cells to track national and international news and manage communication problems. “When an Iraqi government leader said something that was harmful to the coalition effort, the [Multinational Forces-Iraq commander] would promptly go meet with him and try to resolve the situation,” the report states. Similarly, the Presidential Information Coordination Cell (PICC) in Afghanistan was established to manage communication and information between NATO forces and the host government. “The PICC was often successful in resolving potentially negative issues before they became public,” the report adds.

In the last decade, the image of the United States was often tarnished by tactical decisions at odds with U.S. values or strategy, the report states, citing the Abu Ghraib scandal. Israel also found its imaged tarnished by missteps, the report notes. “Similarly, the negative sentiment concerning Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War, while exacerbated by an enemy [information operations] campaign, was rooted in a heavy-handed Israeli approach that failed to adequately discriminate between combatants and noncombatants and went against international norms for the conduct of combat,” the department writes.

The report urges a “comprehensive examination and assessment of force structure, actors and tools with regard to communications strategy.” DOD should expand policy and doctrine to include best practices and recent challenges and to leverage new advances in social media, the department writes. The study also advocates tailored communications strategies that are coordinated with other agencies, coalition partners and host nations.

Increased transparency is key, according to the report. “While observing necessary [operational security], aggressively share information with host nations, [non-governmental organizations] and others to increase transparency and understanding of U.S. positions,” the report states.

The study also advocates anticipating consequence management; resourcing information operations; using proactive, prompt and accurate messaging; building partner capacity; reinforcing words with deeds; and ensuring commanders are involved.

Transitions

In the first half of the decade, the department failed to adequately plan and resource strategic and operational transitions, endangering the accomplishment of the overall mission, the study concludes, noting this improved in more recent years. NATO-led combat troops are slated to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The report calls for establishing civil-military organizational structures and doctrinal-type guidance to help the department codify a “comprehensive approach to transitions that is conditions-based yet acknowledges politically determined milestones.”

DOD should manage transitions by clearly defining desired end states, developing an assessment process to provide feedback to inform the effort and avoiding major changes to leaders, staff and organizations during major transition events, the report states.

Transitions must be planned in advance and “properly resourced,” the study adds.

“Understand the capabilities, authorities, and restrictions of the government agency, coalition partner, or host nation to whom responsibilities are being transferred, and work to maintain influence and to enable their success,” the department writes. Using innovative approaches for training and situational awareness is also recommended.

Adaptation

Over the last decade, particularly in the first half, DOD policies, doctrine, training and equipment “were often poorly suited to operations other than major combat, forcing widespread and costly adaptation, and in the process, threatening the mission,” the department writes.

DOD’s counterinsurgency, stability and counterterrorism doctrinal publications all underwent major updates during this period. “Fortunately, the challenge of inadequate planning and preparation was matched by widespread and successful adaptation at all levels,” the report states.

Looking ahead, DOD must “plan to adapt” by continually challenging assumptions and requirements and by putting into place mechanisms to adapt quickly, according to the study. The department must also develop and promote adept leaders, retain and codify the best examples of adaption over the last decade, sustain the relevance of doctrine, develop capabilities to network with subject-matter experts and “energize” the lessons-learned process, the report states.

During a May 1 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dempsey noted the Pentagon is “just beginning to adapt from counterinsurgency as kind of our central organizing principle,” moving instead to “something that I might describe as a global networked approach to warfare.” The aim is to integrate unprecedented capabilities such as cyberwarfare weapons into the conventional force, “partnering differently . . . with a very different goal and with very different processes to support it and allowing ourselves to confront these networked, decentralized foes with something other than huge formations of soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines,” he said.

Noting this is “an inchoate idea,” Dempsey added, “But I do think . . . what we’re looking for in the future is to take that counterinsurgency strategy, which is very static, very manpower-intensive, and see what we can do with smaller organizations but that are networked globally and with partners in order to confront these challenges that might range from terrorism, because it’s still out there, to piracy, to transnational organized crime.”

Integration of regular and elite forces

The report’s sixth lesson concerns the need to continue tightening ties between regular military forces and elite troops. “Multiple, simultaneous, large-scale operations executed in dynamic environments required the integration of general purpose and special operating forces, creating a force-multiplying effect for both,” the report states.

The report urges the department to provide leaders of elite forces and special operations forces with a better understanding of each others’ capabilities and limitations. Regular and elite forces should establish “habitual training and mission relationships,” the study states. In addition, officials must institutionalize best practices for optimal use of ISR, collaboration and targeting, the department writes.

Noting DOD must improve the rapid fielding of capabilities, the study urges officials to maintain the conventional forces’ ability to rapidly obtain and field weapons and gear to promote integration with special operations forces.

Improved joint manning processes are also needed, the study notes.

Interagency coordination

Interagency coordination, considered key for leveraging the skills and capabilities across departmental boundaries, “was uneven due to inconsistent participation in planning, training, and operations; policy gaps; resources; and differences in organizational culture,” the report states, adding that fixing the problem requires bold legislation.

“Initially in Iraq and Afghanistan, interagency unity of effort was a resounding failure,” the report states, noting the challenge of interagency operations is not a new lesson. A Joint Staff memo from 1961 underscored the same point: “In the past it has been extremely difficult to achieve interdepartmental planning . . . these inhibitions of other governmental agencies must in some way be overcome.”

The study calls for the Pentagon to ensure senior leaders stress the necessity and value of interagency coordination at all levels of operations, “make interagency coordination mandatory,” and promote the development of sweeping legislation. “Pursue development of a Goldwater-Nichols-type act to mandate and develop a framework for increased interagency coordination for a whole-of-government approach,” the report recommends.

The interagency must also be properly resourced, the report states. “Prioritize budgets to appropriately resource the interagency to ensure a whole-of-government approach for contingencies Continue to use DOD personnel to meet near-term requirements,” the department writes.

Officials should also operationalize the interagency by developing policies for “greater inclusion of interagency involvement in planning, training, and execution to increase interagency contributions, including expansion of their expeditionary capabilities,” according to the report.

DOD should also routinely test interagency integration by planning for instances where interagency integration is critical, and evaluating policies and approaches to be used that address identified lessons and challenges, the study states.

Further, the report urges the Pentagon to launch new DOD-wide programs for interagency exchange tours that would expose military and civilian personnel to a range of interagency organizations, promoting a better understanding of organizational cultures, equities, traditional roles, capabilities and limitations. Improved interagency participation in training and education is also needed, according to the report.

Coalition operations

In addition, establishing and sustaining coalition unity of effort was a challenge due to competing national interests, cultures, resources and policies, the report states.

The report calls for refining DOD’s contribution to the interagency approach to building and sustaining coalitions; boosting engagement and training; accommodating and anticipating national caveats and rules of engagement; resolving knowledge-management and interoperability challenges; building a common basis for action with shared doctrine, tactics, techniques, procedures and policies; boosting language and cultural expertise and avoiding unnecessary classification.

“Classification policies should be realistic in terms of the potential harm of sharing information,” the report states, noting leaders should proactively share information with partners as needed.

Host-nation partnering

“Partnering was a key enabler and force multiplier, and aided in host nation capacity building,” the department writes. “However, it was not always approached effectively nor adequately prioritized and resourced.”

The study urges DOD to bolster existing relationships; create new relationships; boost language and cultural proficiency; build a framework to improve security force assistance (SFA) training effectiveness across all host nation requirements; and develop plans for an effective SFA surge capacity to support a large-scale capacity building mission, including required resources and authorities.

The Pentagon should also “shape public opinion” by developing a communications strategy that touts the positive aspects of partnering, increasing support and legitimacy for the U.S. and host nation; assess efforts; and “consolidate and streamline” the many authorities and funding mechanisms for SFA.

Surrogates and proxies

Another lesson is that states sponsored and exploited surrogates and proxies to generate asymmetric challenges, the report states. It urges DOD to improve targeting of threat finance and other support; expose sponsor/proxy relationships and promote fissures; team with U.S. diplomats and spies to counter such threats; share intelligence with partners as needed; anticipate asymmetric approaches; boost internal coordination; and tackle such challenges through both direct and indirect approaches.

“Oppose proxies and surrogates through a global campaign that combines direct action and law enforcement with indirect approaches that address the factors that fuel support for terrorism,” the report states.

Super-empowered threats

The report’s final lesson concerns “super-empowered threats” that emerged when “individuals and small groups exploited globalized technology and information to expand influence and approach state-like disruptive capacity.”

“This was largely due to the nexus of commercially available technologies, transnational criminal networks, and terrorist groups enabling small groups or individuals to execute attacks with global impact,” according to the report.

Top military commanders and other agencies must work to develop capabilities to define enemy networks by identifying the links between terrorists, insurgents, criminals, and governments, the report states. Also needed are capabilities to exploit friction points and maintain pressure on the networks, the study adds.

Working with law enforcement officials is key, according to the report. “Promote a common understanding of existing authorities for action among U.S. interagency and foreign partners; combine this with effective fusion of intelligence, law enforcement information, and private industry data,” the study states.

DOD must also disrupt enemy information operations, leverage local knowledge and expertise, deny enemies sanctuary, and work with federal, state, local and private sector authorities “to preempt and/or respond to attacks,” according to the report.”

Christopher J. Castelli

Please let us know your thoughts and views on this article, and we’ll share them with our readers. You can write a Comment on The Roundtable, at www.lsi-llc.com, or send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com.

Thanks,
John