23 April 1997
Source: http://www.dtic.mil/execsec/adr96/chapt_11.html


The Annual Report to the President and the Congress, commonly referred to as the Annual Defense Report, details how the Department of Defense built its capabilities and is working to maintain them in the future. In addition to fulfilling a statutory requirement, specifically U.S.C. Title 10, the Secretary of Defense's Annual Defense Report is widely distributed and serves as a basic reference document for those interested in national defense issues and programs. So that it may be presented in an open forum, this report is unclassified.

Chapter 11



U.S. forces must be prepared to confront a wide range of potential opponents in the changing global environment. Virtually all potential opponents have access to a global market containing a vast array of modern technology. These technologies include advanced air, sea, and land weapon systems; access to space based systems; dual-use technologies that can be used to produce weapons of mass destruction; and sophisticated communications and information management systems. Maintaining the technological advantage so vital to military success is critical. As the United States shapes its forces to meet the challenges of a changing world within the constraints of available resources, it must rapidly leverage present and emerging technologies to provide the best possible equipment, doctrine, and training for American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.


Today's challenges go well beyond confronting an increasing range of potential opponents who have access to modern weapons. The Department is examining whether recently fielded and emerging technologies, in combination with organizational and operational changes, will produce dramatic improvements in military effectiveness, the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).

Historically, an RMA occurs when the incorporation of new technologies into military systems combines with innovative operational concepts and organizational adaptations to fundamentally alter the character and conduct of military operations. Examples of this in the 20th century include the development of battlespace warfare -- the ability to conduct warfare from, or within, the aerospace medium -- blitzkrieg, amphibious warfare, carrier aviation, and nuclear armed ballistic missiles. The term revolution is not meant to insist that the change is rapid -- indeed past revolutions have unfolded over a period of decades -- but only that the change is profound, and the new methods of warfare are far more powerful than the old.

Two major ideas are emerging on how warfare may change. First, long-range precision strike weapons, coupled to very effective sensors and command and control systems, will come to dominate much of warfare. Rather than closing with an opponent, the preferable operational mode will be destroying him at a distance. Thus far, this idea has been elaborated most in connection with a continental air-land theater, but it seems plausible that long-range precision strike operations may also play a prominent role in power projection, war at sea, and space operations.

The second idea is the emergence of what is often called information warfare. Information technologies are already dramatically improving the ability to gather, process, and disseminate information in near-real time. Protecting the effective and continuous operation of one's own information systems, and being able to degrade, destroy, or disrupt the functioning of the opponent's, will become a major operational priority or focus.

Not only will the Information Age provide warfighters a breadth and depth of information unparalleled in military history, but precision strike weapons will take full advantage of that information throughout the depth of the battlespace. In the case of both long-range precision strike and information warfare, planning for 21st century warfare must take into account that major adversaries will also have access to the enabling technologies. Selecting appropriate technologies and developing the means to rapidly evaluate and incorporate operational and organizational innovations are major challenges to understanding the RMA and exploiting the capabilities it represents.


Particularly important is the requirement for a process to allow the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), in conjunction with the Joint Staff, the unified Commanders in Chief, and the Services, to solve important military problems as they develop and, if necessary, to field required new military capabilities to the operating forces expeditiously and at low cost. This flexibility is especially critical in the present global environment.


ACTDs are a major initiative of this Administration which, as a component of the acquisition reform process, specifically address the need for rapid technology insertion into the forces. The ACTD concept is designed to accelerate the transition of maturing technologies that demonstrate a potential to rapidly provide improved military capabilities or technological solutions to specific operational challenges. In doing so, it draws technologists and military operational commanders into closer working relationships. Traditionally, DoD has taken maturing technologies into the field to evaluate utility and assess military potential. During these evaluations, the operational commander was frequently assigned a supporting role and was only in a position to observe, rather than actively participate. Based on recommendations from several studies, including the Packard Commission and Defense Science Board, the ACTD process requires the operator to play a much more proactive and responsible role. The operator will sponsor the ACTD and will be actively involved in determining operational utility. This results in a more rapid and effective evaluation of advanced technology and where appropriate, its transition to the operational forces. ACTDs offer a means to provide innovative solutions to emerging critical military needs in a timely manner.

ACTDs are driven by the military user and the user's critical warfighting needs. Their objectives are to allow the user to gain a more thorough understanding of a new technology and its potential to support military operations. In doing so, it is anticipated the user will be able to develop and refine the doctrine, tactics, organization, and concept of operation that exploit the new technologies. It will also allow the user, based on experience in the field, to comment on the capabilities and make suggestions for improvements or modifications to the equipment under evaluation. With the ACTD approach, these changes can be made during the relatively informal and low cost demonstration phase of a system's life cycle. In many cases, the user's input will provide the basis for a more realistic statement of requirements with which to enter the more structured and formal acquisition process. This means entering the acquisition process with the full input and coordination of the operational commander. ACTDs provide the operator an opportunity to work with the developer and evaluate the technology, leading to more informed acquisition decisions. ACTDs also provide the commander with enough equipment to provide a militarily significant capability at the end of the demonstration and support the systems for an additional two years in the field.

The ACTD is not a series of new programs, but a transition of capabilities to the warfighter that seeks to focus the existing, substantial investment the Services and agencies have made in technology programs. For instance, the first 10 approved ACTDs incorporate $2.9 billion (FY 1995-2001) of Service and agency technology efforts and $199 million in centralized OSD funding. OSD augmenting funds integrate multiple technology programs, often from several Services and agencies, into a single ACTD. This funding also provides for the acquisition of a number of systems necessary to evaluate military utility during exercises or operations. Lastly, OSD augmenting funds are employed to provide technical support for the ACTD for two years of operations in the field.

Selection Criteria

To provide focus, the ACTD process has developed selection criteria that are used to guide both the technologist and the military operational commander in structuring a specific ACTD.

ACTD Program Execution

Because of the diversity of technologies and military problems addressed in individual ACTDs, each is documented in its own management plan. The management plan serves as a memorandum of understanding between all participating parties in each ACTD. Most importantly, it is an agreement between the technology development manager and the operational commander. The management plan lays out a demonstration schedule and defines the measures of success desired in each ACTD. An oversight group is established for each ACTD to assist in problem resolution. A small advisory group composed of senior officers and civilians from the Services and Joint Staff provides advice on the general process and ACTD selection. Oversight of all ACTDs is maintained by a steering group composed of top level OSD and Service representatives, co-chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Outcome of an ACTD

Upon the conclusion of an ACTD, based on the results of the demonstrations, one of three possible decisions regarding further acquisition and employment of the technologies will be made. First, the ACTD may be terminated or restructured based on the evolved concept of operations and lessons learned. Second, if the operator recommends further acquisition, it may be possible to enter the formal acquisition process at some advanced milestone point, e.g., MS II or III. Finally, it may be possible to transition the technology demonstrated directly to the warfighter. In this case, only minor or perhaps no modifications to the existing equipment will be required. This transition approach may be particularly appropriate where only small quantities of the new equipment are required.

Acquisition Reform

The ACTD is an important element of the Department's comprehensive acquisition reform effort. The ACTD can serve as a prerequisite in the acquisition process for new technological capabilities by providing both the developers and users with better up-front definition and understanding of new systems. In some instances, the ACTD approach may be able to replace or accelerate the early formal steps of the acquisition process. In other cases, the ACTD may in itself become an acquisition path for items required in only small numbers. Surveillance systems; command, control and communications systems; and special operations equipment are examples of technologies which are often required in only limited amounts and may be obtained through the ACTD approach.

Table II-2
Approved ACTDs
Rapid Force Projection Initiative Precision Strike to Counter Multiple Launch Rockets
High Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Medium Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Precision Signals Targeting System Cruise Missile Defense, Phase I
Synthetic Theater of War Joint Countermine
Kinetic Energy Boost Phase Intercept, Phase I Advanced Joint Planning

Table II-3
Additional ACTDs Approved for FY 1996
Battlefield Awareness and Data Dissemination Counterproliferation
Air Base/Port Biological Defense Navigation Warfare
Combat Identification Joint Logistics
Combat Vehicle Survivability Low Life-Cycle Cost, Medium Lift Helicopters
Semi-Automated Imagery Processing Miniature Air Launched Decoys

In the last year, the Medium Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Predator) participated in Exercise Roving Sands, a major JCS-sponsored air defense exercise, and was operationally deployed to Europe in support of operations in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. During Operation Deliberate Force, the Predator system was highly praised for the support it provide the warfighter. The Advanced Joint Planning ACTD is well ahead of schedule at U.S. Atlantic Command and is providing rapid readiness assessment and planning tools that commanders have never had before. In many cases, individual ACTDs involve the coordination and cooperation of several Services and development agencies. As an example, the Joint Countermine ACTD will evaluate the potential of new technologies from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. In a series of demonstrations, this ACTD will demonstrate the capabilities of new mine countermeasure technologies operating together to solve the complex mine detection, avoidance, and neutralization problems associated with shallow water, amphibious, and land operations. Previous demonstrations would have focused on evaluating the potential of only a single new technology to counter mines. The ACTD will determine the value added in supporting mine countermeasure missions by building a system which exploits and enhances the synergy of new technologies working together in a coordinated architecture. In a second example, a Combat Identification ACTD was initiated to fix the most serious identification problems between air, land, and maritime forces. Each ACTD will leave those technologies that proved successful during the demonstrations with the operational commander as a residual capability.


In a period of unprecedented global proliferation of advanced technologies where the life expectancy of many technological systems is measured in months rather than years or decades, the ACTD approach provides a means of rapidly moving new capabilities into operational forces. ACTDs also provide a vehicle to explore the utility of new technologies combined with new concepts of operation or organizational changes that will help realize a Revolution in Military Affairs. In order to do this effectively, it is critical to closely integrate the warfighter into all aspects of the technology transition process. The ultimate goal of the ACTD is to facilitate the rapid transition of emerging technologies from the laboratory into the field at substantially reduced cost and in a manner which provides U.S. forces with timely capabilities to operate safely and effectively in a dynamic global environment.