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2013-06-21 Science & Technology
How DOD procurement practices are putting soldiers at risk
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Posted by Frozen Al 2013-06-21 00:00|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [6483 views ]  Top

#1 Very sad. Yet another DCGS-A horror story. Someone needs to go to jail for a very long time.
Posted by Besoeker 2013-06-21 02:59||   2013-06-21 02:59|| Front Page Top

#2 Is that a bug or feature for Obama and his people?
Posted by JFM 2013-06-21 09:41||   2013-06-21 09:41|| Front Page Top

#3 It's an institutional problem.

Lots of 'process' overcoming need. People with influence more concerned about their little empire ignoring what is the ultimate purpose of the organization. It's not what the soldier needs that is important, it's what the people close to the highest flag pole back in Washington think they should have that's important.

When the French and Germans were arming themselves with the Labelle and Needle guns respectively in the 19th Century, the Army Ordnance Department chose to alter the old muzzle loading Springfield with a breech modification. The bureaucrats in uniform thought the newer European models with a greater rate of fire would induce the soldiers to waste ammo. Tsk, tsk, can't demand more ammo than what the desk officer thinks you should have.

Posted by Procopius2k 2013-06-21 11:28||   2013-06-21 11:28|| Front Page Top

#4 Whatever. This article is informative and mostly accurate, but it is misleading, because compares apples (compliance with programmatic requirements) to oranges (user surveys).

Because DCGS-A is a program of record it has to suffer all kinds of requirements and reviews. Some of those take time to do, others it fails to accomplish. But that is the process to get the thing built, and to know what has been built so far.

The commercial system is not intended to do all the other stuff, nor is it required to be tested against those needs with the results made public.

It is like comparing a Chevy Volt to Nike Air Jordans. They both get you from here to there, and some people will really prefer making the trip in the Jordans and say so. There will also be people who hate making the trip in the Volt and will let you know how bad it was. But if the requirement is to get to the store AND bring home the groceries then no matter how much people dislike the Volt, it is better suited for the job.

None of this excuses arrogance, mistakes, or bad decisions, which no doubt have occurred on every program, but this article recants every possible fault about the program of record while not providing an assessment of the commercial alternative trying to accomplish the same task.

And why is that information not in the piece, because the company that makes the commercial alternative isn't going to do those tests, or publish the results, ever.
Posted by rammer 2013-06-21 17:33||   2013-06-21 17:33|| Front Page Top

#5 recounts not recants; sorry about the spell check fail there.
Posted by rammer 2013-06-21 17:36||   2013-06-21 17:36|| Front Page Top

#6 Because DCGS-A is a program of record it has to suffer all kinds of requirements and reviews.

The only "requirement and review" that makes a damn is that of the soldier and Marine. I can tell you first hand, it is NOT user friendly, they don't like it, and never did.

General Keith Alexander's original design called JIOC-I utilized a so-called "flat network" along with a "brain", massive date storage and retrieval capability [imagine that if you will]. DCGS-A ate JIOC-I and took proprietary software development and contract support to entirely new and insidious levels.

From the cheap seats, just my .02 cents worth.
Posted by Besoeker 2013-06-21 18:33||   2013-06-21 18:33|| Front Page Top

#7 No doubt there was a uniformed Army Officer from ASA(ALT) in charge of the program at all times and a second uniformed Army Officer from TRADOC in charge of the requirements that the first one was building towards. This is what they asked the contractors to enable soldiers to accomplish.

Army intelligence analysts use DSB 1.0 to support six Mission Command Capabilities:
• Display and share relevant information
• Provide a standard and shareable geospatial foundation
• Collaborate in voice, text, data, and video modes
• Execute running estimates of enemy force progress
• Provide mission rehearsal and training support
• Interoperate across the joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational forces

And here is the published report of the latest assessment by yet a third Army organization (ATEC).

It is not a very positive report, so we can probably agree that the system doesn't work that well, and maybe we need either to spend more money than we thought at first, or get a new contractor, or rethink what we need. All good potential paths forward. And the Army has chosen option number one.

But my point was that the article misleads the reader into thinking that somehow Palintir does do all these things, when it doesn't. And further, it implies that by sticking with the program of record our Army's leaders are deliberately doing wrong by the soldier, which is not proven in the article, and almost certainly untrue.
Posted by rammer 2013-06-21 19:31||   2013-06-21 19:31|| Front Page Top

#8 I agree with you, like AnB. ArcGIS, or Query Tree, Palantir is not an 'end all - be all' Intelligence Base Operating [IBOS] SW tool. I don't believe the article intended to "mislead" but rather inform the reader of the frustrations and battlefield costs. As you are undoubtedly aware, this article is certainly not a one off. There have been many like it.

Not a big Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) fan, but my guess [and only a guess] is that there are few if any trained DCGS-A operators on hand at the ATEC. I suspect they conducted unit visits and surveys, and their report reflects soldier inputs. Just a guess.

Good chatting with you.
Posted by Besoeker 2013-06-21 20:00||   2013-06-21 20:00|| Front Page Top

#9 And also good chatting with you.

I think we agree on most points. The soldier is paramount in this discussion. It is very unfortunate that DCGS-A has been so difficult to develop properly. And there are lots critics as you say. And well deserved. The program needs to do better -- for the analyst, for the soldier, and for the taxpayer.

What pushes my buttons though is that the only way we ever hear about this is because the Corporation pushing Palintir, which is a good product in its domain, is not getting paid as much as they want, and they have no shame in pushing their deceptive narrative onto gullible Congressmen, reporters, and citizens.

Best wishes to you and yours.
Posted by rammer 2013-06-21 20:38||   2013-06-21 20:38|| Front Page Top

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