Readiness is the ability of forces or equipment to deliver designed outputs without unacceptable delay. While "readiness" is associated more with combat forces, it can also be used to describe how well an enterprise is poised to impact or respond to commercial marketplaces. The term comprises human resources and equipment (weapons systems, e. g.) among its many elements. Affordable readiness is that level of readiness that can be sustained within some budget or at minimum life-cycle cost. The discussion here is about the support necessary to keep a system ready (a contribution to overall readiness) at an affordable cost. Affordable readiness encompasses four separate but related ways to look at support for weapons systems:
Total Cost of Ownership
Sustained Maintenance Planning
That is, total cost of ownership, or life-cycle cost, cannot be minimized unless:
maintenance planning is continually reviewed for system optimization (sustained planning);
performance-based specifications and metrics are used to adjust existing support concepts and operations; and,
innovative procurement strategies are employed to find the best sources of supply, labor, and materials to support the system.
This START sheet addresses the concept of Flexible Sustainment (FS). (The RIAC has also published a closely related separate sheet on Sustained Maintenance Planning.)
Background and Concept
Sustainment is all the activities required of an Integrated Weapon System Management (IWSM) single manager in support of operating command customers, to keep a weapon system operational in both peacetime and wartime. Innovative sustainment is required to extend the useful lifetimes of all systems in a global threat environment that is by no means static.
With the reduction of DoD budgets in the 1990s, there has been a procurement lull in new systems acquisitions, forcing greater reliance on aging platforms to sustain defense capability. These legacy systems must now be extended far past their original planned life cycle. The challenge is how to sustainincluding force modernization systems in an increasingly tighter budget environment, and in a very dynamic global business environment.
As an acquisition reform initiative responding to the Secretary of Defense's 29 June 1994 memo, Specifications and Standards - A New Way of Doing Business, the Commander of the Air Force Materiel Command chartered the Non Governmental Standards Integrated Program Team (NGS-IPT). Flexible Sustainment is one of seven principal areas that the NGS-IPT focused on and then transitioned to the Joint Aeronautical Commanders' Group (JACG) for further consideration, development, and implementation. The JACG referred the FS task to the Aviation Logistics Board (ALB), which spun off a Flexible Sustainment Sub-Group. These bodies evolved and bundled the ideas of innovatively and cost-effectively doing "whatever it takes" to keep weapons systems operational into the concept called Flexible Sustainment.
More specifically, Flexible Sustainment:
is a decision point driven process to implement acquisition reform in an orderly manner;
is a process that demands the optimization of investment strategies for support;
introduces Reliability-Based Logistics (RBL) and Trigger-Based Asset Management (TBAM) as constituent sub-processes; and
encourages other innovative support strategies such as NDI and COTS procurements, Form-FitFunction-Interface (F3I) and open-systems integration, performance warranties applications, and obsolescence assessment. Selected Topics in Assurance Related Technologies
During its first meeting in November 1995, the Flexible Sustainment Sub-Group decided to produce a "DoD Flexible Sustainment Guide." The guide identifies and introduces two "new reliability-based processes" as Reliability-Based Logistics (RBL) and Trigger-Based Asset Management (TBAM). These processes are acknowledged to be compilations of techniques and methodologies in use by DoD and industry organizations. RBL and TBAM recommend maximum consideration of commercial organic industrial capabilities to obtain the most cost-effective support solutions. A third FS component is labeled "Other Support Solutions," an umbrella term for any other innovative support solutions that reduce system life-cycle costs. Figure 1 shows these three components with examples of what they comprise.
Figure 1. Components of Flexible Sustainment (Click to Zoom)
Reliability-Based Logistics is a process that recognizes the importance of designing reliability into systems in order to reduce the fielded maintenance support infrastructure. Specifically, RBL:
increases inherent system reliability, reduces the maintenance support structure, and develops the best "design for support" solution;
examines whether items should be consumable or repairable; and
includes source of repair (SOR) analyses to decide on commercial and / or organic sources.
Trigger-Based Asset Management is a proactive approach to "support the design." TBAM assesses the performance of fielded systems and re-examines the support structure when "triggers" (such as a change in reliability or maintainability, change in technology, or diminishing sources) are detected. The triggers enable IPTs to take appropriate action before a support issue becomes critical. The key to successful TBAM is a commitment to apply the significant resources that may be required to collect and analyze performance data.
Other Support Solutions includes any cost-effective techniques, especially ones that recognize DoD's "customer" (vs. "driver") status in the overall marketplace. Ideally, DoD can adapt solutions to its environment, and avoid redundant investments that would be necessary to re-invent the same or similar solutions. Specific techniques in this FS component include F3I spares acquisitions, and maximizing the benefits available by moving toward "open systems" solutions whenever possible.
Properly structured performance warranties, stand-alone or integrated with CLS (Contractor Logistics Support), can be an effective support solution. A key here is that customers must expect to compensate suppliers for their additional risk, while staying within an overall cost-effective solution space.
NDI (Non-Developmental Item) and COTS (Commercial OffThe-Shelf) procurements are examples of additional acquisition techniques that can be used to enhance sustainment and minimize life-cycle cost.
Again, a key to many of these "other support solutions" (e. g., warranties) is a commitment to apply the significant resources that may be required to collect and analyze performance data
Figure 2 is adapted from Figure 1 in Section 2 of the JACG Flexible Sustainment Guide. The figure shows the conceptual relationship between "Design for Support," associated with Reliability-Based Logistics, and "Support the Design," associated with Trigger-Based Asset Management. "Other Support Concepts" underlies and integrates with those FS processes to achieve sustainment. It is the application of innovative solutions including (perhaps especially) those adapted from the private commercial and industrial sectors through out the support planning process that defines the concept of Flexible Sustainment.
Figure 2. Planning the Support Process for Sustainment (Click to Zoom)
Naval Air Systems Command. Draft NAVAIR 00-25406, Management Manual, Design Interface Maintenance Planning. Washington, D. C.: Commander, NAVAIR, January, 1999.
Naval Air Systems Command. Maintenance Trade Cost Guidebook. Washington, D. C.: Cost Department, NAVAIR-4.2, October, 1998.
Naval Air Systems Command. Joint Service Guide for Post Production Support Planning. Patuxent River, MD: Logistics Policy and Processes, AIR-188.8.131.52, October, 1997.
Naval Air Systems Command. NAVAIR 00-25-403, Management Manual, Guidelines for the Naval Aviation Reliability-Centered Maintenance Process. Washington, D. C.: Commander, NAVAIR, October, 1966.
Naval Air Systems Command. Contracting for Supportability Guide. Patuxent River, MD: Logistics Policy and Processes, AIR-184.108.40.206, October, 1997
About the Author
* Note: The following information about the author(s) is same as what was on the original document and may not be correct anymore.
Stephen G. Dizek is a Senior Engineer with IIT Research Institute, where he has worked on projects related to Reliability, Cost-Benefits Analysis, and Decision Support. Before joining IITRI, he worked in industry as Reliability and Sustaining Engineering Manager for design, build, and fielding of precision, automated, robot-based materials handling systems. Earlier, he spent 15 years with Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC) and The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC) as Manager and Technical Director for weapons systems projects on reliability, warranty, logistics, risk analysis, decision support, and the development and implementation of sequential Bayesian techniques for assessing dormant systems. Prior to that, a 22 year United States Air Force career included acquisition assignments to Electronic Systems Division, the MINUTEMAN SPO at the Space and Missile Systems Organization, and Aeronautical Systems Division.
Mr. Dizek holds a BS in Mathematics (minor in Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Massachusetts, an MS in Systems Engineering (Reliability) from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), and an MS from the University of Southern California in Systems Management. He is a resident graduate of the United States Naval War College's School of Naval Command and Staff, and earned graduate-level certificates from AFIT in Systems Software Engineering and Systems Software Acquisition. He has presented papers to numerous RAMS, SOLE, NAECON, and NES / ICA symposia, workshops, and chapter meetings, and guest-lectured at AFIT, DSMC, and TASC.