Embracing Change: Shifting the DoD to an Approach for Modernization and Joint Warfighting Concept Development

By DoD CTO Public Affairs

The Department of Defense (DoD) is fundamentally changing the way it modernizes forces to fight and win tomorrow’s wars. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD (R&E)) has been tasked to lead this change. The Deputy Director for Engineering (DD, ENG), Dr. Sandra Magnus, is leading the Chief Engineers Council advising the Mission Engineering direction and guiding documents.

With technological evolution now outpacing conventional research and development (R&D) and current acquisition methods, OUSD(R&E) is aggressively applying “Mission Engineering” (ME) as a more agile way to assess technologies and their potential impact on a multi-dimensional battlespace.

While the general idea of mission-based engineering has been part of the defense R&D lexicon for some time, OUSD(R&E) has brought various DoD stakeholders together to codify ME in the forthcoming DoD Mission Engineering Guide. In this guide, ME is defined as follows:

Mission Engineering is “the deliberate planning, analyzing, organizing, and integrating of current and emerging operational and system capabilities to achieve desired warfighting mission effects.” Draft DoD Mission Engineering Guide

“Instead of developing systems, or groups of systems, which are integrated into the ‘Joint fight’ only after the fact (as they are delivered to warfighters), the ME approach focuses on end effects, mission capabilities to be delivered, and works back into the development of systems and technologies. The results – in the form of studies, architectures, and data-backed investment recommendations – help inform the modernization strategies that will deliver the winning edge tomorrow’s warfighters require, and the most return on the taxpayers’ investment,” said Dr. Magnus.

ME is critical because the more deliberative processes governing 20th Century R&D are not keeping pace with technological change and advancements of our adversaries. DoD is shifting towards a paradigm that focuses on the operational “mission” to ensure we are developing and investing in overmatched capabilities that integrate into the joint force to deliver successful mission outcomes. ME provides the engineering and technical rigor to define the mission needs, determine the mission efficacy of systems and quantify the mission return on investment based on the evolving threat.

New tools are emerging to support ME, including the “Mission Engineering Framework,” which OUSD(R&E) has developed to help the Joint Staff, Services, and Combatant Commands develop and refine the next–generation Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC) and Supporting Concepts.

Additionally, OUSD(R&E) has been performing ME studies with mission-focused, threat informed analyses aligned to the modernization areas of the National Defense Strategy. ME methodology helps stakeholders conduct recurring mission requirements analysis and build reference architectures for various mission approaches applicable to more than one scenario of study over time. Finally, OUSD(R&E) will assist practitioners as follows:

  • Utilize digital engineering principles, analytical and computational tools, and resources to model capabilities;
  • Evaluate interdependencies (at the system and system-of-systems levels); and
  • Inform materiel solution decisions and support technology integration.

The JWC and Supporting Concepts 1.0 – informed by ME tools and studies – will be submitted in the winter of 2020. By employing ME as a more agile way to assess technologies and their potential impact on a multi-dimensional battlespace, the JWC stands to gain modernization investment recommendations that will deliver the winning edge tomorrow’s warfighters require. The fall 2020 JWC war game will present early insight into these concepts, and a sequel article in October 2020 will continue to elaborate on R&E ME’s specific role in mission analysis and architecture and concept development in support of the Joint Staff and the National Defense Strategy Modernization areas.

For more information, please visit the Mission Engineering webpage or email osd.pentagon.ousd-re.mbx.communications@mail.mil with “Attn: Mission Engineering Team” in the subject line of the message.