Coast Guard Deepwater program adapting to post-9/11 realities.
Deepwater began in 1998 as a 20- to 30-year program to replace the Coast Guard's aging and increasingly obsolete inventory of aircraft, surface vessels and supporting systems. Following the Coast Guard's alignment under the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003, Deepwater will address emerging mission needs in support of the Coast Guard's new Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security, as well as the performance of all of its multiple missions.
Key to this process is the identification and validation of new and evolving programmatic requirements, the development of consensus among Deepwater's many stakeholders, and the harmonization of efforts with the Department of Homeland Security (and its five directorates), the Department of Defense, and other federal, state and local agencies.
The need to balance Deepwater's desired capabilities with best value argues against a future posing constantly changing requirements. Yet, for a program originally conceived long before 9/11, and projected to last more than 20 years, it is imperative that the process for generating and validating new requirements be timely and responsive to evolving demands.
Deepwater always will be a work in progress. The program will upgrade existing surface and air assets while developing new and more capable platforms--including improved systems for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and advanced logistics capabilities. The entire Deepwater system will consist of three classes of new cutters and their associated small boats, a new and upgraded fixed-wing manned aircraft fleet, a combination of new and upgraded helicopters, and both cutter-based and land-based unmanned aerial vehicles. Other Coast Guard platforms, (including ice breakers, buoy tenders, and small boats) are not a part of the IDS program.
Of $6.8 billion approved for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2004, $668 million is allocated to the Integrated Deepwater System. The appropriation includes $143 million for aircraft, which covers the purchase of a CASA 235 maritime patrol aircraft; $303 million to be used in part for construction of the first 424-foot National Security Cutter; $101 million for the development of a network-centric command and control system; $ 45 million for a common logistics information system, and $50 million for the development of a vertical takeoff-and-landing unmanned aerial vehicle that will deploy from IDS cutters.
The program's requirements are based on the roles and missions stipulated for the Coast Guard by statute and congressional mandate. The "Major Systems Acquisition Manual" served as a starting point for initiating this comprehensive acquisition program and defining its requirements. The original mission need statement bears well under the pressure of continually evolving system requirements, because it defines the outcomes and capabilities necessary for the Coast Guard to perform its missions properly.
By 2005, 50 percent of all federal acquisitions must be performance based, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Deepwater's original system performance specification and its modeling and simulation master plan will serve as the basis for generating a new capstone requirements document during the months ahead.
Identifying, defining, and validating emerging Deepwater requirements are challenging tasks. It is difficult to project 10, 20, or more years into the future. This long-range view is dictated, however, by the expectation that Deepwater's key assets--the National Security Cutter, for one--will remain in service for close to half a century.
Fifty years ago, the Coast Guard conducted ocean station patrols across the breadth of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to safeguard passengers flying overseas on commercial airliners. That mission fell by the wayside as the range, safety, and reliability of passenger aircraft steadily improved. Today's fishery patrols were not a significant part of the Coast Guard's mission in 1953, yet they are of growing importance, owing to the steady depletion of fishing stocks and other threats to the vitality of the global marine ecosystem.
To help make Deepwater responsive to the needs of the fleet, the program's staff relies upon information reported in each Coast Guard area commanders' annual "Regional Strategic Assessment." Together with cutter patrol summaries, they provide useful data points to identify emerging operational trends. Weekly teleconferences are held with the Coast Guard's Atlantic and Pacific Area Commanders' operational staffs to update them on program issues and to solicit their recommendations. Weekly program summaries are transmitted to area commanders and cutters on a continuing basis.
At Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., members of the Operations Directorate also serve on several "integrated process teams" tasked to address issues such as the operational plan to support maritime-domain awareness initiatives, the deployment plan for the Coast Guard's maritime homeland security strategy, and the review now underway to address the Coast Guard's response to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
In each instance, there are implications for the Deepwater system if new or modified capabilities are required.
Rear Adm. James C. Olson, the director of operations capability on the Coast Guard headquarters staff, also shapes the requirements-generation process. One of his responsibilities is to assess how changes in U.S. national security strategy (one example is the February 2003 National Strategy for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets) affect Coast Guard action plans.
Five years ago, the Operations Directorate commissioned the Coast Guard's Intelligence Coordination Center (collocated with the Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence at Suitland, Md.) to conduct a strategic-intelligence study of the Coast Guard's future missions. Eventually, this study was combined with the Office of Naval Intelligence's report on worldwide maritime challenges, projected out to 2020. Non-Coast Guard strategic assessments, classified and unclassified, also are reviewed to identify broad-based national-security trends and to estimate their possible impact on the Deepwater system.
The most obvious change in mission requirements for the Coast Guard relate to homeland security. As the lead federal agency for its maritime component, the Coast Guard has worked for the past year to define Deepwater's role in implementing the new "Strategy for Maritime Homeland Security," unveiled in December 2002.
Deepwater will contribute measurably to the requirements for increased maritime domain awareness, enhanced security operations, modernized security capabilities and competencies, and increased readiness for homeland defense.
It is important to recognize, however, that the Coast Guard's mission demands are increasing in other mission areas. The protection of the marine environment and fisheries, for example, are areas of growing significance internationally. In June, at the conclusion of their summit in France, leaders of the "Group of Eight" nations issued an action plan calling for more active measures to improve marine conservation, sustainable fisheries, tanker safety and pollution prevention.
A three-year study by the Pew Oceans Commission, released in June, calls for immediate reform of U.S. ocean laws and policies to restore and protect the ocean ecosystem.
Should the United States adopt more stringent measures to protect the marine environment and improve maritime safety, the implications for the Coast Guard are clear. Deepwater must be poised to anticipate new requirements in these and other mission areas.
New requirements also flow from the Coast Guard's engagement with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. The National Fleet Policy Statement commits the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy to work together to synchronize their multimission platforms, infrastructure, and personnel to provide the highest level of naval and maritime capability.
Deepwater seeks an even greater and more productive Navy-Coast Guard collaboration. Last year, Deepwater's Program Executive Officer Rear Adm. Patrick M. Stillman, and die Navy's Program Executive Officer Ships, Real Adm. Charles Hamilton II, signed a memorandum of understanding and established a working group to specify common technologies, systems, and processes critical to both the Navy's future Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Coast Guard's National Security Cutter, Offshore Patrol Cutter and other platforms.
A joint working group also was established to specify common technologies, systems, and processes critical to both the Navy's LCS and the design and development of Deepwater's surface platforms. This team holds regular meetings and staff exchanges. In Deepwater's C4ISR domain, for example, interoperability is an essential requirement.
Earlier this summer, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new "Investment Review Process" policy to integrate its capital planning and investment control, budgeting, acquisition, and management of investments. One of the policy's purposes is to ensure that spending on major acquisition programs supports the DHS mission. It established several high-level oversight boards and councils, including a Joint Requirements Council (JRC), tasked to oversee the requirements process, to validate mission-needs statements, to review cross-functional needs within the department, and to make recommendations on proposed new programs.
Vice Adm. Thad Allen, the chief of staff of the Coast Guard, is the service's representative to the JRC.
The Coast Guard's long history sustaining cooperative relationships with the Navy, the Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and other federal, state and local agencies will be of great benefit in forging new joint competencies and partnerships within DHS during the months and years ahead.
Several near-term priorities guide Deepwater's implementation. Because the program is planned to last more than 20 years, older and increasingly less-than-reliable assets must be sustained until replacement equipment enters service.
One key priority is to design the National Security Cutter properly. It will be the Coast Guard's principal capital ship for the next 40 years. It will serve in joint operations with the Navy, and will be the key command-and-control platform for major Coast Guard operations, the surface platform with the long sea legs necessary to operate in the far reaches of the Pacific and Atlantic high seas.
Additionally, Deepwater's C4ISR system will be a critical contributor to the Coast Guard's future network-centric force of cutters, patrol boats, and manned and unmanned aircraft. The C4ISR system must link seamlessly with the Coast Guard's non-Deepwater assets and other agencies.
The acquisition strategy lends itself to continuing refinement. As the program moves forward, the Coast Guard is sensitive to the need to adjust it to fit changing circumstances.
One requirement, for example, is the interoperability between Deepwater's C4ISR system and the Coast Guard's Rescue 21 command-and-control system.
To serve is a systems integrator for Deepwater, the Coast Guard selected a contractor team, Integrated Coast Guard Systems, led by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
The National Security Cutter already is under contract and scheduled to enter service in 2006. Its initial requirement for chemical-biological-radiological defense capabilities was modified to incorporate a one-zone "citadel" to enable it to operate in a contaminated environment. Similarly, the size of the NSC's flight deck will be enlarged to allow it to operate Navy, Army, and Customs and Border Protection Agency models of the H-60 helicopter (built with the tail wheel located at the end of its empennage). The NSC'S flight-deck traversing system also will be upgraded to make it more compatible with Navy helicopters.
Having a flexible acquisition framework that lends itself to continuing refinement does not mean it is easy to make modifications. There is, for example, an unavoidable (and salutary) tension between the role of the Coast Guard's program sponsor in identifying new IDS requirements and the Deepwater program executive officer's responsibility to execute the program on budget and on schedule.
The funding for Deepwater originally was estimated at $17 billion (in capital and operating funds) over 20 years, with annual appropriations of about $500 million (fiscal year 1998 dollars). As new proposed requirements are identified, the Coast Guard must evaluate them for review by DHS.
The Department of Homeland Security considers the Coast Guard's Deepwater requirements as part of its investment review process.
Armed with strong analysis, supported by system-level modeling and simulation, the Coast Guard will be able to demonstrate the benefits associated with a change in IDS requirements and their costs. This will enable DHS to make a more informed assessment of budget alternatives.
The Coast Guard's alignment with other DHS agencies with a similar mission also will create new opportunities to assist in meeting the department's homeland-security mission. For example, Deepwater's C4ISR architecture may be suitable to satisfy DHS requirement for seamless connectivity and interoperability among all directorates in the department. Similarly, Deepwater's application of unmanned aerial vehicles for airborne surveillance also may lend itself to collaboration with other DHS agencies.
Deepwater's system-of-systems acquisition approach provides the Coast Guard with the flexibility it needs to adapt to future requirements.
Capt. Richard R. Kelly is the sponsor's representative for the Integrated Deepwater System in the Operations Directorate at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, Washington, D.C.