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Special Challenges

Every military enterprise resides within a complex “web” of complexities and constraints. It shares some of the same issues with other government and commercial enterprises but it also has several that are unique:

• Inflexible Mission – The military enterprise does not have the luxury of selecting its own mission, as is the case in the private sector. In fact, that mission is thrust upon it.

• Rigid Business Parameters – The military enterprise must adhere to rigid parameters over which it has little control. These include organizational doctrine, federal acquisition regulations (FARs) and existing supply chains and logistics pipelines, to name a few.

• High Customization – Mission parameters often constrain the development of a business strategy and model for accomplishing that mission. For example, while the private sector is free to trade off levels of quality to achieve better levels of cost and price, the military enterprise is usually provided with pre-defined expectations for quality, i.e. survivability, reliability, useability, etc. The accompanying diagram depicts the range in which the military enterprise must typically exist, based on mission criticality.

Why is this the case? The answer can be found by examining the true cost of failing to fulfill the military enterprise’s mission. When a private enterprise fails, investors lose money. When a typical government organization fails, people aren’t served and taxpayers lose money. These are all bad things. But when a military enterprise fails, no matter how far away from the “front lines” it is, the trickle-down effect is that battles are lost, global policy fails, our nation becomes vulnerable, and yes, people die.

The DoD “Death Spiral”
Compounding the already complex environment described above, there is another major issue facing military management and engineering staff. It is known as the “death spiral” which is common to many DoD weapons systems support functions. Since 1990, the DoD has reduced its budget by 29%. This reduction has greatly impacted weapon system acquisition and in-service support:

• Reduced budgets have forced the military branches to extend the life of current legacy systems with significant reductions in acquisition of replacement systems.

• In order to effectively compete in a significantly smaller market, the industry has seen a large number of corporate mergers which has resulted many of the supply chain networks disappearing. Second and third tier supply chain businesses have gone out of production. The defense industry sector is changing, and their associated supply chain network is eroding rapidly.

• Current weapon systems are faced with escalating operations and maintenance costs. These “sustainment” costs are due to:

Increased operational tempo
Increased mean-time-between-maintenance (MTBM) cycles due to increased operational requirements
Increased life extension of existing weapon systems due to delays in new system acquisition
Unforeseen support problems associated with aging weapons systems
Material shortages because of diminishing manufacturing resources and technological obsolescence

All of these issues impact military organizations regarding the life cycle sustainment. As sustainment costs increase, there is less funding available to procure replacement systems. An analysis conducted by the DoD concluded that, unless mission requirements and the operational tempo are reduced or there are significant increases in the budget, the operational maintenance cost portions of the budget will equal the total current (net present value) budgets by the year 2024.

Default Architecture
As if their situation were not complex enough, virtually all military enterprises that exist today have been in operation for several decades; and they serve ongoing design, support or operational functions. Such an environment presents the enterprise architect with special problems and challenges unique to the Military environment. For example, how does one re-architect an enterprise whose current architecture was arrived at by default (i.e. no formal requirements-driven baseline to reference) while at the same time allowing the enterprise to support the ongoing mission? In other words, somehow, we need to “fix the airplane while flying it”!


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