Stephen Kreider became the Program Executive Officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md., in December 2012. In this position, he is responsible for the development, acquisition, fielding and life cycle support of the Army’s portfolio of intelligence, electronic warfare and target acquisition programs. These capabilities provide the soldier with the ability to detect, recognize and identify targets and collect, tag and mine intelligence which can be integrated into the tactical network to support force protection, maneuver and persistent surveillance and provide a more detailed understanding of the battlefield.
Kreider is a native of Summit, N.J. He holds masters’ degrees from National Defense University in national resource strategy, Florida Institute of Technology in management and Georgia Institute of Technology in nuclear engineering. Additionally, he is a United States Military Academy graduate.
Prior to his current position, Kreider served as the deputy program executive officer, Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors. He was initially selected to the Senior Executive Service in October 2008.
Kreider’s other assignments include acting deputy program executive officer, Program Executive Office Integration; director, Combined Test Organization; program manager, Future Combat System (Brigade Combat Team); acting director and deputy director, Future Combat System Combined Test Organization, APG; commander of Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz.; deputy for ballistic missile defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Washington, D.C.; product manager, Multiple Launch Rocket System Improved Launcher, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; Department of the Army System Coordinator Multiple Launch Rocket System, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Research, Development and Acquisition), Washington, D.C.; project director and technical manager, Harry Diamond Laboratories, Adelphi, Md.; as well as numerous field artillery positions in the 3rd and 7th Infantry Divisions, including battery command, fire support officer, S-4 and fire director officer.
His military education includes the Industrial College of the Armed Forces Senior Acquisition Course, United States Army Command and General Staff College and United States Army Combined Arms Service Staff College.
Q: What will be the biggest impacts to your programs that the budget will have in the next eight to 12 months? Are there any unexpected issues?
A: We continue to provide the best quality systems with the budget we were given to ensure that the soldiers both here and abroad have the capabilities that they need. That really has not changed much for us in our enterprise. The reality, though holistically of course, is the Department of the Army is looking for efficiencies and that will help the overall budget.
The Army’s research and development account took the biggest hit because the soldier personnel drawdown portion of the budget takes a while to trend lower. 2014 and 2015 are where most of the cut was to us, but we’ll start seeing it go back up a little bit. We’ve already weathered the storm from our PEO IEW&S enterprise perspective, so from a PEO perspective my priorities really haven’t changed and I’ve not had to delay any programs in 2015.
The real budget change for us is the amount of dollars we get in overseas contingency operations (OCO) money—in other words, how much we are supporting in theater. In the last year, we’ve probably cut our support in half, and it continues to go down as a result of soldiers leaving theater. My concern with that budget is OCO is also supposed to include the dollars to reset the equipment. I’m concerned with 2015 and 2016— particularly 2016—because we don’t have the answer from Congress on sequestration. I don’t want to pre-suppose the worst case, so we’re continuing to operate. But my main concern is that I may not have the funds to reset what needs to be reset.
My other main issue is that we have so many of the quick reaction capability (QRC) programs specifically developed for needs during the war. The Army has found value in a number of those programs and wants to maintain them in the base budget. The issue is determining how to transition a program that was OCO to base funding; I have the largest portion of those programs across the different PEOs. We as an Army have not solved how to do all of that in a constrained environment. In some cases, when equipment comes back, we will simply wrap it up and store it—meaning we will not reset or continue to maintain it. If I do reset and maintain it, it’s immediately available if needed. If I don’t reset and maintain it, there is a chance of obsolescence and it may not be ready to immediately deploy even if it’s needed. It’s a balancing act that the Army is going through.
On the positive side, the lessons learned from all of the QRC programs have helped us work with the Army to better define our real requirements and better understand what is important, as opposed to what we believe we want. While we may have demonstrated a need for a particular program, in some instances, we need to divest ourselves of the idea ‘I need to have piece of equipment A across every unit of the Army.’ Because every unit of the Army is not going to go to war at one time, we put the capabilities in theater; when the units fall in, they use it, they come home and they leave the equipment there. As opposed to saying 100 percent of the force has widget X all of the time, we give widget X to just the portion of the force that’s deployed.
This practice creates efficiency in the longer term for our base budget. We’re relieving ourselves of the budget crunch because we’re not buying 100 percent of widget Xs anymore. We’re buying 40 percent and maintaining that 40 percent as being more relevant, which allows us to bring in new technology faster, as opposed to continuing to pay for the additional 60 percent of what’s required to fill up the rest of the Army. It’s a different mindset—it’s a contingency construct mindset that I think is much more positive, which has allowed us to deal with the budget cuts while not impacting the equipment capability to the soldiers.
Q: Were there any cultural issues that had to be overcome to change that policy?
A: I don’t know if it’s a culture issue. It’s an understanding issue. You have a soldier who uses a piece of equipment and really likes it in theater; when they come back to the United States and don’t have it to train on, they naturally question why. They don’t necessarily understand the overall fiscal environment, and think, “Well, everybody should have it.” If we had an unlimited budget, I would agree 100 percent.
Q: What has it meant to the program for PEO to be designated as the single CREW (Counter Radio-controlled Electronic Warfare) manager?
A: The single CREW manager is a transition of the executive agency, which was the Navy, to the Army, meaning Secretary of the Army John McHugh is now the executive agent. Underneath him, the office that is responsible for the execution is called the single manager, so that’s been allocated to me.
The increased responsibilities now mean that I’m the original classification authority for not just Army CREW equipment, but for all the services. I’m the responsible agent for approving foreign military sales and technology transfer agreements for anything that is within this technology range.
It’s an expansion of those responsibilities for me individually, and so I needed additional support. We as a department realize that we worked in a low electronic warfare threatening environment for 12 years of war, as we were not competing against a peer in electronic warfare. When we go to a worldwide contingency regionalization construct, we are now going to be executing in an electronic warfare environment where there are peers—where there are threat capabilities that may not be peers but have a better capability than what we saw in OEF or OIF.
The unknown is what’s going to impact me in managing this program moving forward. For example, does that mean I’m going to have expanded programs or have more work in those arenas and across the services?
Q: Accepting that everyone always wants to improve, is the Army or the PEO currently satisfied with the ability to perform persistent surveillance for both intelligence gathering and protection?
A: Everybody has a different definition or requirement of what they mean by persistent surveillance.
I think the ability to gather information significantly improved as a result of the two war efforts. Because of quick reaction capabilities and the OCO dollars, we’ve raised the level of individual sensors, increased the modality capabilities and improved their technological ability. But that brings another challenge: more data. The real issue is how do we manage the data to fuse it, correlate it and distribute it appropriately to the right people.
There’s been an increased capability. For example, I go from a regular video camera to a high-definition one. It’s a bigger type of information. Do I need all of that information? Do I need to see every camera’s HD picture? We can’t manage that from a data collection standpoint. We can collect the data, but where do we store it? Does everybody need it? The transition has become how to get to a persistent construct. The methodology of the construct has changed to ask, “How do I process that information so the camera gives me the 10 percent of the information that I really need an operator to see?”
In a Level 4 operating base, I can collect all the information I want in real time in the operations center, but do I need to send all that information to every other level? Does the soldier who leaves the base on a single squad need to have that on their handheld device? The answer is no. We can’t afford to do that. So the real challenge is to leverage those existing capabilities.
We have the ability, in a much smaller construct, to store that data locally where the sensor is doing some processing itself. This will reduce the data that actually goes out over the radio or satellite, which in essence gives us more viable data taking up less space, allowing a more persistent capability.
Q: The command post computing environment program is laying the groundwork for the intelligence and operations to come together. Can you tell me about that effort?
A: The command post computing environment (CP CE) is one of six common operating environments that the Army has, two of which have been assigned to PEO IEW&S as the lead: the CP CE and the sensor computing environment.
I liken them to a horizontal technology construct. We want to collapse in the command post the full mission command set of functions—intelligence, engineering, the barrier plan, the minefield plan, the weather, communications with the locals, and so on.
CP CE is determining how we bring all of that capability into a more efficient and effective construct. It’s best if we can create architecture and a construct that has everyone working with common equipment and a common language. I don’t care if the server is doing mission command work or intelligence work or engineering work—it should be on a common box.
Common hardware is the first construct we’re trying to get to from a CP CE, which reduces the amount of maintenance, parts and training the schoolhouse has to do. A percent of training ought to be common.
Q: What is the program status of Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) and what are your next steps?
A: DCGS-A is a confederation of hardware and software systems, which is something people continue to forget. There are nine programs of records that we collapsed into DCGS. Those programs supply connectivity, satellites, mapping capability, vehicles, interface and servers, and more. We don’t see much of that changing. We are focusing on the software component that fits on that architecture.
Increment 1 currently has two releases: release 1 is in the field, while release 2 is in the final stages of testing and will go to an operational test in April of next year. Actually, 85 percent of the force is already using it today under urgent requirements—anybody that’s in Afghanistan is using that software today.
Release 2 focuses on ease of use. This is a very complicated system which takes more than 700 different sensor types providing data and brings them all together into a single display construct.
The key was how to put architecture in place in the first increment. When we did, we didn’t make it the easiest or most intuitive for the soldier to use. We realized that and focused release 2 on that soldier/machine interface. We want to get to the point where a soldier can pick up their tablet-like device—without a two-week training class—and can intuitively begin using it.
The series of RFIs to industry for Increment 2 that we are putting out focus on the next step of technology. How do I bring it into a cloud environment? How do I ensure that the security of this vast amount of information is protected from inside and outside threats? Is it ensuring the relevancy of the data?
We are planning on three cycles of RFIs, which will result in a request for proposals. We want to make sure we have the right architecture and that we’re incentivizing and allowing industry to compete in order to lower cost and ensure that we’re getting the most relevant capabilities.
Q: It is fairly easy to collect a lot of data. How do you store and analyze it? Is your PEO involved in finding the right storage solutions for big data?
A: A portion of that does fall within this PEO, with PEO EIS having the primary responsibility for big data server architectures. We are focused on the intelligence side, and that goes beyond just PEO EIS, which has an Army mission. My job is to focus in on the intelligence community as a whole. For the most part, I don’t care where information comes from; I will take everybody’s information and correlate it together. But we need that information to be in a common format. We can’t have the Navy calling it one thing, the Army calling it something different and DIA calling it another, because then we don’t have a common software query that can give us the information we need. Each service wants to be able to leverage all of the information, regardless of who gathered it.
We also need to be able to provide the end-user with the right amount of information they need for their task or mission. The ability to leverage the right information in a timely manner and obtain the most relevant data is key. The idea is getting to a transparent data construct so we can share and, as a result, correlate and fuse information to get better results.
Q: Is that more of a technology issue or more of a doctrine about how to share information?
A: It’s both. Again, now we’re going to the cloud construct and considering the questions of how to manage data in the cloud.
Hypothetically, we have 10 systems that are connecting into the cloud. The current construct is that all the data resides on one server in one place. What happens now if one user is out of range of connecting to the server; do they no longer have the data? In a cloud construct, they may not have access to a server, but they might have connectivity to another node because they have line of sight.
When looking at the network and the data collected, should it go through a single server or should we use a cloud construct? With those options and the amount of data, we now have a configuration management issue. That’s the technology construct that we are trying to work through both with DCGS-A Increment 2 and this whole construct of going to a cloud. It’s a data management issue, particularly for the Army in how do we move to a new configuration while continuing to operate when we lack an infrastructure.
For example, it is easy to say, “I’d like to have my cell phone construct capability for the Army.” However, the Army doesn’t fight in places that have a cell phone construct; soldiers are not always in fixed bases with fixed towers and fixed power. We don’t have that capacity in Afghanistan or in other places around the world.
The issue of gathering the information and coming in and out of the network is something the industry doesn’t do a whole lot of. We are pushing that construct. They may have some answers, but that’s not something that they need to serve the needs of their customers because they have a fixed architecture construct.
Q: Much of the Army’s fixed wing assets are dedicated to the ISR mission. What improvements are being made to the Guardrail program and is there a status update for EMARSS (enhanced medium altitude reconnaissance and surveillance system)?
A: For the aerial ISR fleet, manned and unmanned aircraft, we have four lines of effort.
Line number one is unmanned aerial craft—the Gray Eagle UAS’s that have an EO/IR capability. There are 152 of them going to the Army, 18 of which are specific to the intelligence community, so we may put some special sensors on them. Milestone C has already occurred and we are getting to the final years of production and remain focused on fielding it to the fleet.
The second line of effort is Guardrail, which is primarily a signals intelligence collection system. It has existed for a while and, over the years, we have upgraded the capabilities as new technologies have become available. We are currently adding a visual capability, a full motion video sensor (coming in the next year) to each of the aircraft known as the 12X, and will have a fleet of 14 in the air, down from a total of 47 Guardrails today.
The third line of effort is what we call aerial reconnaissance low (ARL). We have a new program called ARL-E—ARL Enhanced—where we’ll take all nine of the Dash 7 aircraft and convert them to a Dash 8 platform. It will transform them from a single-sensor platform to a multi-sensor platform with plug-and-play capability. In the next three years, we will convert the whole fleet of ARLs into the new platform.
The last line of effort we call EMARSS. We are planning on 24 aircraft, all based on the King Air 350. Part of the reason Guardrail numbers are going down is because EMARSS numbers are going up. We will actually have four variants of EMARSS, each one with different capabilities, but with a significant amount of commonality in aircraft, tactical data links and control. Each will have a DCGS onboard, which allows them to connect information, fuse it and then connect with everything on the ground.
The first four EMD EMARSS aircraft have been completed. We just completed the Milestone C move into production and employment last month—Brigadier General Bob Marion, PEO Aviation, and I co-hosted that—and we approved going into production.
For the other three variants, we are going to produce one of each, test it and then make a final decision based on the results.
Q: What role did the PEO have in and what were the big takeaways from the Unified Vision trial?
A: Unified Vision (UV) 14 was the second of three planned major NATO ISR trials. UV 14 had 200 different joint ISR capabilities, with about 2,200 personnel from 21 different nations coming together.
The United States contributed aerostat balloons, one flown in Yuma, Ariz., and another in Norway, and was able to demonstrate the connectivity of that data to the construct. We also flew a Global Hawk—flying for the first time over parts of northern Europe—which collected data, sent it to a DCGS-A in Germany, vetted the information in the United States and then pushed it out to the operations floors of the various participating nations.
The first trial, Unified Vision 12, was focused on identifying those interface control documents standards (STANAGs, standardization agreements) that we want to make common so we can share that information in a common construct for the decision-makers.
Building on that foundation, Unified Vision 14 investigated whether the architecture and the sharing of information going from top secret to secret to collateral could be orchestrated. Unified Vision 16 is the culminating trial to provide a capability where NATO would bring its reaction force and validate the construct.
Q: How do you communicate with industry providers? How do you set it up so that if some small company does have a great idea, how do they communicate that with your team so that it’s not just the big boys that have a lot of the visuals to get it done?
A: The government set up this construct that if I put out a request—on FedBizOpps—it’s open to anybody. You learn that system and you spend as much time as you want looking for business opportunities across the board.
We also have industry days that we and the whole Aberdeen Proving Ground community participate in. It usually takes place over a week where everyone here discusses their priorities, capability gaps, and where the opportunities for industry might be. I view this as top-level.
The next level, the actual program manager that’s executing a program, will have a specifically focused industry day leading up to their next contract.
There are also requests for information posted on FedBizOpps that everyone can see and participate in.
Another option is for industry to submit white papers. In the near-term, AUSA is a big event for us as it gives us the opportunity to communicate with industry.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: The men and women serving in harm’s way and the taxpayer should know that the soldiers, civilians and contractors working on these systems are always operating with their best interest in mind to give them what they need to be able to do their operations. There are significant challenges that come with fielding the most recent and the highest technology. We have to be good stewards of resources for our personnel and our country. We have to make some decisions; we can’t always have everything we want all the time because it’s a managed budget. Our job is focused on doing the best that we can for the taxpayer in the realm that we have responsibility for.
I’d also like to point out that we are about to reach a major milestone for the Army’s acquisition community—on October 13, we celebrate its 25th anniversary. There’s a lot of focus across the Army acquisition core on how we created the environment and recognizing some of the great soldier, civilian and contractor stewards of the process and their accomplishments.
I’d like to salute all the people who have been part of this fine tradition. ♦
- Issue: 5
- Volume: 5