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Interview with Daniel Pierson

The Deputy Program Executive Officer for Land Systems discusses the Joint Center for Ground Vehicles

According to Deputy Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Land Systems (LS) Daniel Pierson, one interservice initiative that continues to garner the spotlight within the PEO is the Joint Center for Ground Vehicles (JCGV).

JCGV, which has been operational since August 2010, is a joint service construct between the Army and the Marine Corps, formed from existing organizations and infrastructure, to address current and future technical and resource challenges surrounding ground vehicles. Its key tenents are to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and synchronize technology development – ultimately improving the effectiveness of the ground vehicle system development and acquisition across both the Army and the Marine Corps.

The JCGV is led by the JCGV Governance Board, which includes leaders from the Army’s PEOs for Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS) and Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS); the Marine Corps PEO LS; Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC); Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures and Technology (SIAT), Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC); Office of Naval Research (ONR) Code 30; and the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC). JCGV is currently funded by the participants as part of their normal course of doing business, and efficiencies are gained through close collaboration.

Looking back at the organizational evolution, Pierson offered, “One of the biggest things that just recently happened was that I think we finally got consensus on a shared vision. Everyone had been agreeing in concept and the effort had been proceeding, but I would say that it was really about January of this year when everyone reached a point where we had a shared vision that actually went so far as to define an end state for JCGV.”

ATIP Front Cover Dated 2012

Front cover of the Advanced Technology Investment Plan. PEO LS image

That end state includes: The JCGV Governance Board formally recognized by Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Congress, the services, and industry as the means to an end; Detroit Arsenal is formally declared the Joint Center of Excellence for Ground Vehicles by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress; the JCGV Governance Board is recognized as representing the ground vehicle acquisition community and is the single recognized authoritative voice for complex cross-cutting issues in this domain; senior leadership and industry look to the Governance Board to seek subject-matter expert technical and programmatic input, address concerns, issues, or need for data – processes built for quick turn of requests; resources (people and dollars) are properly aligned to prioritized efforts; shared vision and investments exist across PEOs and service ground vehicle programs; open and frequent communication among PEOs and other board members to make more informed decisions and raise the level of awareness on cross-cutting issues; and the JCGV Governance Board creates a culture of stewardship, use of best practices, common tools and processes, continuous improvement to drive out inefficiencies, and ensures a trained and ready workforce with proper skill sets.

“What is really nice now is that when all the Governance Board principals get together they are all espousing the same philosophy and same logic trail of why we need to be doing what we’re doing,” Pierson said. “And the board is really starting to bring the community together to collaborate.”

As examples of this collaboration, Pierson pointed to a number of JCGV initiatives currently under way.

“The biggest success I would say is in the S&T [science and technology] world, because we have a dedicated S&T director with a well-defined process for identifying the Marine Corps’ needs,” he said. “And frankly the Army has looked at that process and adopted a lot of it as well. What that has done is that we now have a very good collaboration across the S&T community, including ONR for the Marine Corps and TARDEC for the Army. Those organizations are focused on sharing the investments that each service is making, particularly when it comes to ground vehicle technology.

“Every year we [PEO LS] have been publishing the Advanced Technology Investment Plan that Mike Halloran, our S&T director, puts together for us,” he added. “And in that plan, you see references to billions of dollars that the Army has highlighted in S&T initiatives. We are correlating those initiatives to actual needs of our programs. And that annual plan also shows industry what our needs are and what things we are tracking.

“That’s where the JCGV Governance Board really begins to pay off,” he said. “That board includes the technical community that supports our programs as well as the PEOs who manage the programs. And when you bring that community together now you can start to talk about which technologies are on which burner and how best to target which programs for transition. The folks who are managing the programs are looking at the technology portfolios, schedules, and resources, and they are talking to the technologists and actually having conversations about evolving technologies that might be emerging too late, too early, or heading down the wrong path entirely.

“That’s the kind of dialog that the Governance Board will bring to the table,” Pierson stated. “We’re still early. We’re only a couple of years into this. And I don’t want to oversell how much progress we are really making. But clearly the momentum has picked up and we can make great strides in an area where there is much room for improvement.

“A second area we are focused on is operational energy,” he continued. “That’s an area where we’ve hooked arms with the Army, gone to the Governance Board and emphasized the need for us to address this from the ground vehicle domain rather than sitting back and waiting for direction from those responsible for setting policy. So we have decided to take a more active role as a community in helping to define how we are going to address operational energy in our programs.”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...