Archive for the ‘Army Test and Evaluation’ Category

Getting There Faster – Can Agile & DoD 5000 Co-Exist?

February 28, 2020

The purpose of this article is to begin a discussion about how the Federal Defense Acquisition Process can operate faster.  “It’s about showing successes, it’s about showing how we can go faster” General Murray, Commander of the Army Futures Command (AFC). AFC must generate and sustain momentum within the Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and with Congress. The only way to do this is by providing real results.  Secretary of the Army Mark Esper wants requirements determination to be on a 12-month timescale and to be fully informed by Soldier feedback


Credit Shutterstock Gorodenkoff

Credit Shutterstock Gorodenkoff

So modernization and fast modernization is the key to our survival – but from a practical point of view what does that really mean? We know already that the Army perspective developed over two years ago (2017/2018) established six priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires; Next Generation Combat Vehicles; Future Vertical Lift; The Network; Air & Missile Defense; and Soldier Lethality. We know the lexicon of the Army has now forever changed towards each of these six descriptors and a forcing function is underway to realign and describe current efforts in order to fit within one of these six “swim lanes” or program relevance seems at risk.  But how do we get there and get there faster?

Ok – AFC immediately established eight cross-functional teams to achieve the  modernization priorities: Air and Missile Defense (Fort Sill, Oklahoma); Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama); Future CCDC-Soldier-Center-678x381Vertical Lift (Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama); Long-Range Precision Fires (Fort Sill, Oklahoma); Network (Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland); Next Generation Combat Vehicle (Detroit Arsenal, Warren, Michigan); Soldier Lethality (Fort Benning, Georgia); and Synthetic Training Environment (Orlando, Florida).  So far so good right?

Maybe – enter stage left the DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 policy that directs the Defense Acquisition System. This is an event based process where a defense program goes thru a series of processes, milestones and reviews from beginning to end. Each milestone is the culmination of a phase were it’s determined if a program will proceed

DoD 5000 Capability Requirements and Acquisition

DoD 5000 Capability Requirements and Acquisition

into the next phase. Department of Defense (DoD) programs typically follow the waterfall system development model and includes the following phases: Initiation, Planning, Procurement, System Development, System Implementation, Maintenance & Operations, and Closeout.  The DoD 5000 methodology is robust and thorough with a stated goal of ensuring the proper use and stewardship of taxpayer investment.  However, it is lengthy as I quickly review three of the big five developments from the 1970’s which continue to be the mainstay of the US Army today.M1 and M2

·         The M1 Abrams was designed during 1972 – 1975 with Prototypes were delivered in 1976 and Low initial rate production (LIRP) of the vehicle was approved on 7 May 1979.  M1 Abrams tank entered service in 1980. 8 year development.

·         The Bradley Fighting Vehicle stems from early specification from 1958 for an Infantry Fighting Vehicle – new specifications were written in 1965 MICV-70 program through 1968. (  The Pentagon Wars – 1998). In 1977, the MICV TABA-II was renamed the XM2. The XM2/3 passed the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council Milestone II review in 1979 and final approval for production came from the Secretary of Defense on 1 February 1980. Hard to say the true development timeline but likely 10 years.

I believe GEN Murray is acknowledging that these long development timeline are not acceptable in achieving our modernization goals. Further, I believe a quote from my professor at the Claremont Graduate University is spot on –  Peter Drucker observed, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker, Managing in Turbulent Times (New York: Harper Collins, 1980).

FCS ImageBefore we move forward, we should pull our DoD 5000 magnifying glass a little closer to a more recent failure to ensure we truly understand how the process failed us – most recently involving the Future Combat System (FCS) initiated in 2003 $14.92 billion contract to 2009.  FCS followed an adaptation of the DoD 5000 waterfall methodology in applying a spiral development approach where technologies, as they matured were meant to be spun out as interim capabilities.

“Case in point, the Army invested $18 billion of taxpayer money into Future Combat Systems, or FCS. The failed modernization program never really had a chance. Its leap-ahead technological advancements were based on operational assumptions driven by embryonic technologies. Three-quarters of all technology needed to field FCS systems was considered early stage in nature. Prototypes and demonstrations were not scheduled until shortly before production was set to commence — four years and billions of dollars after research began. The science and technology community and their industry partners failed to work with Army operators until it was too late. Army leaders were so enamored with envisioned capabilities that they ignored operational realities” Lou DiStasi Associate Director, Navigant


Source: US Army FCS


So why didn’t FCS work – what was it about the development process that caused failure? Was DoD 5000 the cause or a spiral development approach?  Again I think Mr DiStasi is correct in stating that the reason for the “Big Five” success from the 1970’s tracks back to “prototyping and experimentation” occurring early and often between industry and operators.Yes I said operators – those end users on the ground that receive the output of the development. Successes and lessons learned from each incremental demonstration provided not only technological know-how but also operational awareness. Operators get to say whether the technology or innovation worked and more important answer the question “so what?”  Does the incremental demonstration result in a product that at least is a minimal viable product?  Is it demonstrable and ship-able?  Does it add value from the end user (customer’s) point of view?  This is not the labs view or the business development person view or the Program Manager’s view but in fact the end users view.  I agree with Mr. DiStasi that if this framework could have been followed then the FCS spiral development feedback from the user community could have helped refine the  requirements doctrine and process to support the procurement process.  That did not happen.

So where are we today in working to achieve faster innovation in order to create Army modernization across the six priorities and eight cross function teams and still comply with DoD policies and procedures and no I do not believe using Other Transaction Authority (OTA) processes is the answer.


Yes – Agile – there I said it. After recently completing a course in Agile Transformation and “Scrum”  I am convinced that this framework will add tremendous value to both DoD Program Management Processes. As shown in this article our DoD reality is bound by limitations and expectations reflected through the DoD 5000 policies and guidance which have been put in place over the years for very good reasons. I am not advocating that the DoD 5000 be eliminated or that we attempt to bypass the structure. I am advocating that there are elements within the DoD 5000 that can be managed in an Agile framework which will result in reaching modernization goals faster.

Agile isn’t just for Information Technology or software development. According to my Agile mentor, Mr. Mark Layton, the principles behind this philosophy apply to any discipline that operates in conditions of complexity, uncertainty and change. Why?

What I have learned about the agile framework is the focus on what is called “Sprint why you should work in sprintsPlanning”  towards a “Release Product” of some measurable and meaningful feature. Where this differs from a spiral development currently in use throughout the DoD is the difference between a Waterfall and Agile approach. In the traditional DoD framework we focus on requirements up front when we know least about the need. Under Agile and Scrum we use “Sprints” to determine the requirement and change the requirement based on validation with the user of the current need.  This enables the requirements to change through the process reflecting the actual need so at the end of the process we don’t end up with a product that due to length of development no longer addresses the initial need which has evolved during the period of development.

In the traditional DoD 5000 hardware-centric illustration below you can see that we first begin to develop solutions based on a fixed requirement then work our way through engineering and manufacturing and Milestone C for low rate initial production and Test and Evaluation.  Agile would not advocate this timing but instead identify the most risky element of the development first.  If we are going to fail we want to fail early at the lowest cost which makes sense. Why – because early we have the most program budget remaining and longest run way ahead to refine and redevelop the elements of failure.  Our DoD 5000 process does not enable testing so early.

DoD 5000 Hardware (2)

Source: DoD 5000

How does Agile fit into the constraints experienced by DoD Program Managers?  First lets look again at the tradition water fall methodology. The first known presentation describing use of such phases (software) was by Herbert D. Benington at the Symposium on Advanced Programming Methods for Digital Computers on 29 June 1956 and then further defined by Winston W. Royce in 1970 – so we have a methodology that is dated.

Waterfall Methodologies

Source: Platinum Edge

First we decide on the requirements, then design and develop before we test. What seems to be missing is the interaction with the end user during this process to validate that the requirement is still valid and in the case of the DoD the “threat” has not evolved beyond the initial requirement. There is a real risk that at the end of the development process which may require years that the product is ineffective because it addresses a need that no longer exists.

Agile is different – its purpose driven development requiring design, develop, test towards a measurable release of a feature which the product owner (end user) can provide feedback about value. One of the teaching points during Agile training is related to estimating project costs. Under the Agile framework anyone who is telling us how much a project is going to cost before entering the testing phase is not providing accurate information. In fact a data point shared by the subject matter expert is that 30% of projects end because of time and cost over runs before test is even started.  Agile seeks to remove that risk by testing the most risky elements up front.

Agile Framework

Source: Platinum Edge

Agility is not a “thing” but a descriptor and requires retraining habits which we DoD Program Managers (PM) learned as successful under the more traditional waterfall management process which may be unhealthy in getting product (innovation / modernization) out the door faster.

To wrap up my advocacy for considering Agile as a “force multiplier” under the DoD 5000 process what does this mean from a PM Standpoint … Ability to do better estimation based on performance to completion because we can reduce risk in: whether the solution works, estimate true schedule, cost and continuously incorporate user feedback during the process – not just at the end.

Agile Iterations


For additional information on Agile and Scrum professional development and training please contact me at or on the web at   Jonathan Long is a previous US Army Assistant Product Manager and Department of the Army System Coordinator as well as a warranted contracting officer. He holds a MBA from the Claremont Graduate University and Defense Acquisition certifications in Program Management and Contracting Management and other acquisition related certifications.

Why Paper Maps Are Important

September 26, 2019

Wired_RussianMaps_060-new-edit-200x100-e1445899829873I acknowledge we live in the digital age powered by constellations of communication and imagery satellites and am not advocating that this technology be ignored. However, the reality of life on the ground in a pre-combat, combat or post-combat environment may not always lend itself to the easy navigation enabled by 21st century technology. Modern military and civilian life is dependent on Google Maps or other easy GPS powered navigation. Long gone are the days of stopping by the out of town gas station and asking for directions or unfolding the free map from the State Welcome center or even following the AAA Triptik travel planner (for those with a question this is the old school bound travel planner we all followed on our family summer vacations guiding us to the nearest KOA rest stop).

Prague photo by the author


So with all this technology in the palm of our hand or on our wrist why bother with a paper map? The military depends on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) produced maps normally in 1:50,000 scale topographic maps that we all know and love having learned basic land navigation in basic training. This is great for well know battle spaces such as Germany or Korea but the likelihood of defending the Fulda Gap (again – you might have to look that reference up if you are post Reforger era) operating in foreign places NGA map products might not be available or not available to your unit when you get on the ground. For instance in deploying to Iraq in 2004 as an individual replacement and not part of a parent unit I bought a tourist map off eBay to ensure I had a general idea of where I was, where the friendly borders were and how the road infrastructure was laid out.

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Why bother? The mapping programs we all have depend on radio wave communication and computer processing to translate data into images and information we can use to navigate. With our current focus on Arctic Extreme Cold Weather operations we know that extremely heavy wet snow falling at time can affect reception due to multi-path error, which is the result of satellite signal reflection. Another element of extreme cold weather is the impact on battery life and power drain – your device might not work due to loss of power.

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Another critical area of battle space is in built up urban areas or in extremely hilly or craggy areas – real canyons or “urban canyon” effect where the city buildings block the signal. In this case a topographic map which portrays terrain features in a measurable way, as well as the horizontal positions of features is critical. The vertical positions, or relief, are normally represented by contour lines on military topographic maps. On maps showing relief, the elevations and contours are measured from a specific vertical datum plane, usually mean sea level.

Tourist road maps of a region in which the main means of transportation and areas of interest are shown are a great back up. Some of these maps show secondary networks of roads, historic sites, museums, and beaches in detail. They may contain road and time distance between points. The scale should be carefully considered when using these maps.

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Last, the United states military says in addition to an extreme cold weather battle space, the next war may be fought in mega-cities. (24 Jun 2018 The services have begun to plan tactics techniques and procedures for US Army and US Marine combat organizations to fight, not just within cities or industrial locations to include subterranean conflict. Wireless signals that are functional on the surface to make phone calls, send e-mails, or find GPS coordinates don’t do well penetrating through the earth. Signals can be obstructed by concrete, water, metal and rebar found in underground construction. To send a signal through an extensive complex, wireless receivers would be needed in a relay at each bend or turn, obviously not possible during an active operation.

Meredith Broussard who in her book "Artificial Unintelligence

When you prep for an operations in an unknown location a bit of research from Meredith Broussard who in her book “Artificial Unintelligence How Computers Misunderstand the World” presents a guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology and why we should never assume that computers always get it right. She indicates that a deep knowledge of the geography will help you to navigate it and to understand its culture and history. Further, print maps help acquire deep knowledge faster and more efficiently. In experiments, people who read on paper consistently demonstrate better reading comprehension than people who read the same material on a screen. A 2013 study showed that, as a person’s geographic skill increases, so does their preference for paper maps.

Ms. Broussard says that “reading in print makes it easier for the brain to encode knowledge and to remember things. Sensory cues, like unfolding the complicated folds of a paper map, help create that cognitive map in the brain and help the brain to retain the knowledge.”

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Further “the same is true for a simple practice like tracing out a hiking route on a paper map with your finger. The physical act of moving your arm and feeling the paper under your finger gives your brain haptic and sensorimotor cues that contribute to the formation and retention of the cognitive map.”

For more on this and related topics please find the details at

Mechanisms of Fabric Failure

December 5, 2016

Photo Jonathan Long

Fabric fibers that wear out fast, make garments that fail faster.  Working within the Protective Products and Equipment (PPE) industry, we are inundated with data, test procedures (whether ISO or ASTM or AATCC), and if honest, scratch our heads to understand how data and test procedures can be used to predict future performance. To add complexity, in many cases the ISO and ATSM test methods do not directly correlate because the test apparatus are different.


We all know humans are good at measuring things and textile engineers are no exception and excel in this area! If we can develop a scientific test to measure how one type of fiber or fabric performs to another; we are happy. For instance, we are pretty good at measuring several independent elements of textile performance one being fiber tensile strength. We then can compare the results from one fiber to another and claim victorious insight. However in looking at staple fibers which are blended for better performance


Photo Jonathan Long

like those found in military uniforms, there are a couple of things that impact strength. Once we compound fibers with other natural or synthetic fibers during the spinning process strength changes. One fiber’s performance shouldn’t be the final determination of how that yarn will perform or how that fabric once woven will perform. However, tensile strength is important (photo NYLON Fiber)


To measure tensile strength, common test methods used in the Technical Military Fabrics worlds you find are ASTM D5034-09(2013) Standard Test Method for Breaking Strength and Elongation of Textile Fabrics (Grab) or Test Method D3822 Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties of Single Textile Fibers. While these tests are great for comparing fibers and fabrics I am not sure they really tell the whole performance story. We rely on tests to predict which fabric will perform better in a military environment where fabric failure from rips and tears in high abrasion areas such as the knees, elbows, and seat are common. Tensile strength alone may not answer that question but is the most common place to start.

fiber-micronWhat we do know about tensile strength (or think w do) is that its related to “abrasion resistance” (stated as the number of cycles on a machine, using a technique to produce abrasion) and “durability” (here defined as the ability to withstand deterioration or wearing out a garment fabric in use which includes the effects of abrasion) (1). Higher tensile strength is often thought to indicate better abrasion and durability performance.

In addition to tensile strength we want to measure abrasion and there are three dominant tests.

  1. Martindale Abrasion (ASTM D4966) This test method covers the determination of the martindale-testing-credit-association-contract-textilesabrasion resistance of textile fabrics abraded against crossbred, worsted wool fabric. Fabric samples to be mounted flat and rubbed in an enlarging elliptical T shape using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abrading material. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when there is an appreciable change in shade or appearance.
  2. Tabor Abrasion (ASTM D4060) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion resistance of organic coatings to abrasion produced by the Tabor Abrader on coatings applied to a plane, rigid surface, such as a metal panel.
  3. Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion wyzenbeek-test-machine-credit-association-contract-textilesresistance of woven textile fabrics using oscillatory cylinder tester. The Wyzenbeek testing process requires samples of the test fabric to be pulled taut in a frame and held stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft directions are then rubbed back and forth using an ACT approved #10 cotton duck fabric as the abradant. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when appreciable wear is reached.

Note to product developers and evaluation teams – both test methods are limited to measuring flat abrasion resistance of a textile. Soldiers are fully three dimensional so these tests don’t consider edge abrasion or other types of surface wear that may occur in soldier uniform applications.

Fibers have different tensile strength but they also have different elongation characteristics. When considering fiber properties, fiber tenacity should not be viewed in isolation. Fiber elongation is at least as important –  why?  If a fiber cant stretch and recover somewhat, that fiber will break sooner than one that has elongation. Elongation is specified as a percentage of the starting length. The elastic elongation is important since textile products without elasticity would hardly be useable. They must be able to deform and return to shape (2).



My thoughts about selecting the optimal fabrics and fiber for military technical fabrics are that we should focus more on the mechanisms of failure. How does a fabric fail? I think we can rightly see that a fiber’s tensile strength is critical but so is a fabrics resistance to abrasion – maybe these two measurements can tell us which fabrics are likely to be the most “durable.”

How does failure actually happen? Its related to how a yarn and fabric’s structure is


Photo Abdullah 2006

modified in use. Lets face it – a fabric that is never used will last a long, long time so its something in use that wears a fabric out. In terms of wear mechanism in textiles, abrasion first modifies the fabric surface and then affects the internal structure of the fabric, damaging it (Manich, 2001; Kaloğlu et al., 2003). Good abrasion resistance depends more on a high energy of rupture than on high tenacity at break. Abrasion is not influenced so much by the energy absorbed in the first deforming process (total energy of rupture), as by the activity absorbed during repeated deformation. This activity is manifested in the “elastic energy” or the “recoverable portion” of the total energy. Thus, to prevent abrasion damage, the material must be capable of absorbing energy and releasing that energy upon the removal of load (3).

The mechanical properties and dimensions of the fibers are important for abrasion. Fiber type, fiber fineness and fiber length are the main parameters that affect abrasion. Fibers with high elongation, elastic recovery and work of rupture have a good ability to withstand repeated distortion; so a good degree of abrasion resistance is achieved. Nylon is generally considered to have the best abrasion resistance, followed by polyester, polypropylene (Hu, 2008) (4).


Photo Jonathan Long


Something to think about is what is the optimal mix between fiber tensile strength and elongation and understanding how that mix performs during abrasion testing. If we find that higher tensile strength and greater elongation results in a more abrasion resistant fabric then we can add another test method to our toolbox to provide insight in failure prediction.  Fabrics with lower yarn tensile strength and lower fiber elongation should result in poorer abrasion testing and in turn wear out faster in wear and use. Lets test it and see!   (Photo natural cotton, key nylon intermediates, hexamethylene diamine (HMD) and adipic acid, Nylon Cotton Yarn and fabric)


(1) Abdullah et al., 006 Analysis_of_abrasion_characteristics_in_textiles.pdf


(3) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

(4) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

Pounds to Grams – not always straight forward in textiles

October 26, 2016

conversion-3Converting weight from one country’s system to another, especially for those of us with military experience in Europe jumps right to converting miles to kilometers where we know its about 1 mile to 1.6 KM – or next converting the price of fuel between gallons and liters? However, when we start talking about weight and working between the United States supply chain (with a few exceptions where companies continue to quote prices in meters and not yards!) we have to convert fabric weight from ounces per square yard to ounces per square meter (lets not get into denier and dtex!).

So why is this important? In the world of military personal protection, there are numerous measurable factors that when combines add up to some notion of comfort and performance.  MOLLEComfort translates into mission performance and staying focuses. At the crux of the issue is human performance and this really means managing the human core physiology. The amount of weight a soldier carriers is a key component to how well the conversion-2core performs and for how long. Weight can also impact how durable a textile material remains although the textile composition may be more important. How a fabric is constructed will also impact how well that material holds up. construction also impacts how air permeates through the fabric which enables the process of moisture evaporation and cooling of the core. Again, a more air permeable fabric may have tradeoffs with a less permeable fabric – but we stray.  We are talking about weight.

In many areas of human endeavor achieving the same or better performance with lessconversion-1 weight is usually a good thing and so it is with combat uniforms (to a point). So we need to know how to communicate current weight as accepted by US Military Specifications into a scale that international militaries can understand and use – enter grams per square meter.

The formula is pretty strain forward – one ounce is equal to one sixteenth of a pound or 16 drams or 28.349 grams.  WAIT – don’t use that formula! While a great formula for cooking recipes and drug measurements, it wont work for textiles because we have to consider the meter and yard lengths. Bates Jungle Boot

The answer is 1 gram = 0.03527 ounces. The textile geniuses assume we are converting between ounce-force/square yard and gram-force/square meter.   The derived unit for pressure is the pascal.  1 pascal is equal to 3.00750253989 ounces per (square yard), or 101.971621298 grams per (square meter).   The super smart people at helped me out with an example.

Question : If a fabric is 5.5oz/sq yard, how much is the weight in grams/sq meter ?
Answer : 5.5 oz/sqyd x 33.906 = 186.483 gm/sqm   conversion-4

And the mystery of converting ounces per square yard to grams per square meter is solved!

You know that Picatinny helmet rail?

August 9, 2016
ACH w NVG Mount
Army Combat Helmet (ACH)


I am working on a project that includes mounting a new piece of video kit on the Army Combat Helmet (ACH). While looking at one of my developmental helmets from 2005 shook my head a bit and considered all that is old comes back around.  This time the subject is the Picatinny rail.  When the ACH was introduced into the US Army inventory after some modification of the “Mitch Helmet” used in the previous years by US Army Special Forces, the basic version included just the Night Vision Goggle (NVG) mount. THe ACH as first fielded is a far cry from the helmets worn in combat today.

Rail pic b

At the time. the US Army program office for Soldier Clothing and Individual equipment located at Ft Belvoir, VA was looking at each piece of Soldier gear and considering how we could make it better, lighter, or more durable.  Soldiers were being asked to carry numerous new pieces of gear that needed batteries, antennas, lights and so forth.  Operating these new devices “hands free” would be a bonus – especially when you already had your hands full! I talked this challenge over with one of the ACH producers Mine Safety Appliances Co (MSA) and Russ Suchy – he came back to me with a prototype rail system shown below for the ACH.  I don’t know how long this development had been in the works before I diagramed out a pencil drawing of the ACH showing where I thought a rail could be applied. My point was the attachment mechanism for the rail use had to use the pre-existing mounting hard wear and holes. More holes in the helmet = bad.

ACH w Pict Rail v2

Informal internet research finds that the rail itself may stem from work by the “A.R.M.S. company in the early 1980s and Otto Repa in standardizing the Weaver design,” but I cant provide the exact references.  I did review the Mil-STD-1913, dated February 3, 1995 document and can see that at least as far back as 1995 rail capability was known to the US Army.  Interestingly this MIL Standard was focused on small arms.  Picatinny was the supervising office.

Picatinny Arsenal’s role in naming the rail during test and evaluation which created the military standard could be as simple as the official documentation. The MIL STD as recorded on the lowly DD-Form 1426; dated 1989 was overseen by Picatinny. Who knew that the rail would grow to such popularity in use?  Now days on most any special forces blog site you can see variations of how the Picatinny rail has been adopted for helmet mounts.

Rail pic a

MSA’s role changed when Revision Military announced in June 2012 the purchase of MSA’s North American ballistic helmet business. The purchase included the acquisition of MSA’s U.S.-based helmet manufacturing equipment and operations located in Newport, Vermont.

Regardless of whether its MSA, Revision, Gentex, Crye, or a host of other excellent combat producers, the fact that the Picatinny rail seems to be here to stay is without question.  Just look at the variations in helmet mounts (and not even mentioning weapon and hand guard rails!) and you can see that the creative adaptation has not stopped!

Rail pic c