By Cpt. Matthew McGuire, P.E., M.SAME, and Col. Martin Jung, P.E., PMP, M.SAME, USA
A military can only maintain a fight if its logistics tail can sustain. Even with greater technology, weaponry, and speed, contingency basing support will be needed well into the foreseeable future.
The Army Facilities Components System (AFCS) began 70 years ago as hard-copy design and material manuals. Today, it delivers the Joint Construction Management System (JCMS), an all-in-one base camp design software system that enables the joint warfighter to deliver contingency bases across multi-domain operations.
AFCS supports the Army Modernization Strategy by developing bases to accommodate increased vertical lift, improved network technologies, better air and missile defense, and, ultimately, increased soldier lethality. The AFCS Program Management Office delivers on this mission through long-term strategy while utilizing the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP), and integrates elements across multiple lines of effort, executing agents, and inter-agency agreements.
In the near term, AFCS will deliver JCMS 5.0 in April 2022. The added capabilities can deliver master planning and design of expeditionary base camps nine-times faster, 58 percent cheaper, and with 34 percent less labor than previous base camp design and construction.
For the past 65 years, the AFCS team has consistently improved the delivery of contingency basing construction designs to the warfighter. While the Program Management Office of AFCS is headquartered at the U.S. Army Engineer Research & Development Center’s Construction Engineer Research Laboratory, the full team spans coast to coast and supports the joint warfighter worldwide.
With stakeholders and executing agents from each of the joint services, the office delivers across four lines of effort, with integrators managing and tying each effort together: design and logistics, training and doctrine, information technology, and information assurance. It also operates within various inter-agency agreements to deliver the program to the joint warfighter.
The composition of the Program Management Office is different from most civilian organizations because it consists of a majority of active duty, Army Reservists, and prior service and retired military personnel working in civilian roles. For this reason, the team adapts many management techniques acquired from their service experience to fit the program’s management model.
MDMP is a foreign concept to many in a civilian organization, but it is a tried-and-true method for making decisions and has applications in a civilian organization as well. Over the past six years, the AFCS Program Management Office has performed MDMP to solve many complex problems, from initial JCMS 4.0 development plans in 2014 to determining the platform for the master planning component of JCMS 5.0. The process is used for everything from adjusting to a volatile budget environment to developing 10-year strategic plans.
For civilian use, the seven-step process is converted slightly, with language and some deliverables changed into civilian terms, and much of the effort spent on Steps 2-5. Although using the process to solve problems is not mandatory, it integrates well into the program, serves as a key decision support tool, and is especially beneficial when recommendations are presented to the Office of the Chief of Engineers in a language easily understood by senior military leaders.
BRINGING THE PLAN TO FRUITION
The annual execution for the AFCS program is both systematic and dynamic. Delivering an Army program of record governed by Army Regulation 415-16 provides the framework, but the real execution is a product of the annual planning sessions conducted between June and August. During these sessions, the team meets in person with the Office of the Chief of Engineers to conduct mid-range planning to achieve deliverables per the strategic long-range plan. This plan is then turned into a detailed budget request.
The annual execution plan is nested within the strategic long-range plan, developed as a living document and revisited annually at the long-term strategy session each March. The office meets with several joint service and interagency stakeholders to help define the long-term direction of the program. At this weeklong meeting, the group identifies future capabilities that the joint warfighter wants in JCMS and pairs it all with parallel research and development efforts.
This planning session was the genesis to combine four research and development programs (Engineer Site Identification in the Tactical Environment, Virtual Forward Operating Base, Barrier Damage Assessment Tool, and Construction Project Management) from three agencies to integrate with JCMS 4.1, giving the joint warfighter the ability to select a site, design a temporary base camp, run analysis on several parameters like perimeter protection, order the entire Bill of Materials, and export data into a construction management toolset.
Furthermore, the vision to expand JCMS into the Operations & Maintenance and Transition, Transfer, and Closure phases of the base camp lifecycle has already started.
INTEGRATING NEW DEVELOPMENTS
With the current development of JCMS 5.0, the Information Technology line of effort is the main focus. This maintains the current JCMS 4.1 software, the Design Management System 4.1, and JCMS View, along with managing the development of the new Design Management System 4.2 and JCMS 5.0 desktop software. Information Technology contracts with the Engineer Research & Development Center’s Information Technology Laboratory, which manages the in-house and contracted resources that conduct software maintenance and development. Currently, it is in the initial stages of a critical agreement to achieve a streamlined ordering process for the user. The Information Assurance line of effort parallels Information Technology in ensuring the AFCS software is complaint with both NIPR and SIPR accreditations.
Outside of software development, Design and Logistics is the program’s main effort. This core mission comprises ensuring the accuracy of more than 700 standard designs for the program. This is executed through the management of design agents at the Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering & Expeditionary Warfare Center. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is currently onboarding as a design agent in 2021. This team delivers two data updates annually and executes a five-year design review. Additionally, the data manager ensures functionality between software and the designs going into the database and manages a contract with the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command to ensure the design agents input and maintain valid NSNs in the database. Before JCMS 5.0 development, Design and Logistics concluded a full design review of the AFCS repository to improve the efficiency and accuracy of designs.
The Training and Doctrine line of effort delivers AFCS training and doctrine related products. Through reachback support and the military engineer schools, over 5,000 users across the services are trained in 21 scheduled courses annually.
The AFCS continues to integrate new capabilities, improve its digital platform, and deliver the program. Its critical capability helps build world-class engineers, support Army and joint force readiness, and revolutionize the engineer formation.
Cpt. Matthew McGuire, P.E., M.SAME, is Military Planner, and Col. Martin Jung, P.E., PMP, M.SAME, USA, is Program Manager, Army Facilities Components System, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory – U.S. Army Engineer Research & Development Center. They can be reached at email@example.com; and firstname.lastname@example.org.
[This article first published in the May-June 2021 issue of The Military Engineer.]