Archive for the ‘Defense Acquisition System’ Category

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 Military.com). 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 https://www.citylab.com/design/2019/01/paper-maps-digital-navigation-google/581092/

US Defense Bill to Supports Made in USA

February 9, 2017

Fabric rolls IDEX.jpgFrom the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO),which represents domestic textile manufacturers, the Senate’s 92-7 vote to pass Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) according to NCTO President & CEO Auggie Tantillo is “a good bill.”  Tantillo says of the bill “It supports American troops, strengthens our national security, and includes many provisions important to the US textile industry.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) sourced roughly $1.5 billion (USD) in textiles and clothing in 2016. Textiles fall under the buy-American procurement provision known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a) requires the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100% United States content and labor.

berry-amendment-berry-compliant-bootsThe FY 2017 NDAA conference report reflects several other positive outcomes for the US based textiles industry. (1) no increase to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). Procurements in excess of the SAT require compliance with the Berry Amendment. The SAT level is $ 150,000. If the SAT threshold were increased, contracts might be awarded to international bidders and a lose for US industry. (2) the athletic footwear voucher program that has been in place for decades ended. Now the works begins to ensure all athletic footwear purchased by DoD is Berry-compliant. (3) DoD and the State Department procurement officials have been directed to provide key congressional defense and foreign relations committees updates on how each department is making efforts to ensure US manufacturers are aware of procurement opportunities relating equipping foreign security forces. Information source: http://www.ncto.org

For the complete details please visit http://www.innovationintextiles.com/industry-talk/new-us-defence-bill-to-support-made-in-usa-products/utm_content=47764882&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#sthash.8yKW5WZO.dpuf

A little Review: Differences between Buy America Act and Berry Amendment

August 8, 2014

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Photo PEO Soldier, US Army

I know its a thoroughly discussed subject but sometimes it’s good to go back to the source and review – just exactly what are the differences between Buy America Act (BAA) and Berry Amendment? 

The Berry Amendment applies to the Department of Defense (DoD) and covers procurement of Clothing,Tents, tarps, and covers,Cotton and other natural fiber products, Woven silk blends, Spun silk yarn for cartridge cloth,Synthetic fabric and coated synthetic fabric,Canvas products, Wool: wool fiber, wool yarn and wool in fabrics, materials or manufactured articles, and items of individual equipment (FSC 8465) containing covered fibers, yarns, fabrics or material. There are five important exceptions to this law (1) Incidental incorporation, (2) Chemical warfare protective clothing from qualifying country, (3) Cotton & wool waste or byproducts for propellants & explosives, (4) Fibers and yarns in synthetic & coated synthetic fabrics for non-textile products: examples include fibers in circuit cards and fibers in SAPI plates, and (5) Para-aramid fibers & yarns (from qualifying countries only).

The Berry Amendment is specific to  DoD procurement where the BAA applies to all federal agencies (the Berry Amendment is IN ADDITION TO the BAA). 

Photo PEO Soldier US Army – MOLLE Pack

Berry Amendment and BAA Differences

  1. Berry is DoD specific, BAA is government-wide
  2. Berry specifies covered items, BAA covers supply purchases
  3. Berry Amendment applies over the Simplified Acquisition Threshold ($150,000), while Buy American Act applies over the micropurchase threshold ($2,500)
  4. Berry requires 100% domestic content, BAA requires 50% domestic content
  5. Berry Amendment has no commercial exceptions for food, textiles, or hand or measuring tools, BAA has exception for commercial information technology
  6. For Berry, qualifying country exceptions exist for chemical warfare protective clothing (all qualifying countries) and   (Netherlands only). For BAA, the qualifying country exception applies to all purchases
  7. Berry applies for contracts performed worldwide, BAA applies to U.S. only
  8. Berry has no contractor certification requirement

Key take aways are that the Buy American Act compliance does not equal Berry Amendmentcompliance and that both laws apply to DoD but Berry is more restrictive.  For more information on which countries fall within the BAA please see DFARS 225.003 for details. Partial list follows as: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

THE FINE PRINT – the Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a), covers textiles, food and hand or measuring tools. Specialty metals are no longer part of this law. Specialty metals are restricted under Section 842 of the FY2007 NDAA. You can find all the details as implemented through the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) at Subpart 225.7002. The contract clauses that apply to the acquisition of the items listed in A.1., above, are DFARS 252.225-7012 and DFARS 252.225-7015 You can also find policy on the Berry Amendment in Procedures, Guidance and Information (PGI) 225-70.  For more information on Defense Procurement and Policy (DPAP) please visit http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/cpic/ic/berry_amendment_faq.html