The Virginian-Pilot enthused last week about a little-reported development in the military-industrial complex: Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, or CRADAs. -- Under such agreements, into which Raytheon Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have entered, and dozens of others of which are under discussion, the government and the companies . . . share resources to improve the way U.S. military services fight wars and combat terrorist threats. . . . There is no competitive bidding involved, wrote Jon W. Glass. -- [T]he research agreements offer companies a competitive edge. They gain access to government labs and soldiers in the field, and they get a clearer understanding of what the military wants. This helps the companies target their research dollars. -- The latest and most elaborate CRADA involves Raytheon in R&D on live training for urban combat that will be carried out in Indiana at an abandoned state mental hospital complex that the National Guard there has turned into an urban training ground. -- A Fulbright scholar at Johns Hopkins Universitys Washington Center for the Study of American Government, warned that with CRADAs, only contractors know what is going on, he said. -- To gain access to needed information, as CRADA provides, one basically has to be part of the contracting system. -- Seen from the vantage point of the evolution of U.S. political insitutitions, CRADAs, introduced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in May 2005, are a profoundly anti-democratic development which represents a further co-optation or intussusception of the political realm by corporations — a lose-lose for the American people and for the world....
JOINT EFFORT A WIN-WIN FOR MILITARY, CONTRACTORS
By Jon W. Glass
Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
November 24, 2006
SUFFOLK, Virginia -- Most business deals between the U.S. military and defense companies involve multi-million-dollar contracts awarded after competitive bids and arms-length negotiations.
During the past 18 months, however, the Joint Forces Command here has signed agreements with five defense contractors that turn that traditional business model upside down.
The agreements with such firms as Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Science Applications International Corp. call for the government and the companies to share resources to improve the way U.S. military services fight wars and combat terrorist threats.
The collaboration covers such things as urban warfare, managing military operations over global information networks, and training troops using sophisticated computer simulations.
In government lingo, they are known as CRADAs an acronym for Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.
There is no competitive bidding involved. The government does not even pay the companies.
Even so, defense contractors are lining up to pitch proposals. More than 45 potential CRADAs are now in some phase of discussion, said Russell Richards, director of the Suffolk office that oversees the agreements for the Joint Forces Command.
While theres no money up front, the research agreements offer companies a competitive edge. They gain access to government labs and soldiers in the field, and they get a clearer understanding of what the military wants. This helps the companies target their research dollars.
If new technology pans out, the companies have the first rights to patent it for commercial use.
We want the military to help us shape our investments, said Mike Upson, director of operations for Lockheed Martins Center for Innovation lab in Suffolk.
The Defense Department benefits, too. The Pentagon can test and evaluate emerging technology before spending millions of dollars to purchase it. If new intellectual property is developed under such an agreement, the Pentagon gets an unlimited license to use it at no cost.
Its acquisition flipped on its head, said Lt. Col. Dewey Parker, the principal investigator for Joint Forces on the CRADA with Lockheed Martin. Its a lot better to figure out early on if something is not useful, rather than buy it, field it and then find out it doesnt work.
While the agreements may produce benefits, Dan Guttman, a fellow at Johns Hopkins Universitys Washington Center for the Study of American Government, said there is need for oversight.
The government, Guttman said in an e-mail from China where he is a Fulbright Scholar, already has stepped up reliance on contractors to do the governments basic work -- including contract policy and management itself.
That means that too often only contractors know what is going on, he said. To gain access to needed information, as CRADA provides, one basically has to be part of the contracting system.
At Joint Forces Command, the shift toward CRADAs was driven by a realization that industry and government working together could solve problems that neither could alone, said Richards, who directs the commands Office of Research and Technology Applications.
Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld gave the Joint Forces Command the authority to enter into the agreements, including the ability to transfer technology, in May 2005.
The goal, Richards said, is to get products into the field more quickly and at less cost -- a benefit to both government and industry.
Both of us feel like were getting great advantages out of it, Richards said. This gets away from the notion that we need to keep at arms length from these guys.
The latest agreement, signed this month by Raytheon and the Joint Forces Command, will offer something the military now places a premium on: live training for urban combat.
It will draw the widest array of participants ever involved in a Joint Forces CRADA, Richards said, including the Indiana National Guard, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Purdue University and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind.
The live exercises, which will be transmitted over computer networks to participants in Suffolk, will occur in Indiana at an abandoned state mental hospital complex that the National Guard there has turned into an urban training ground.
Tim Morris, the principal investigator for Raytheon in Fort Wayne, Ind., said the agreement will also serve as a test bed for developing communication networks for use beyond warfare -- aimed, for instance, at helping rescue workers responding to hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or a flu pandemic.
It will help us find what our warfighters and rescue workers really need, said Phil Crotts, who works at Raytheons Network Centric Systems high-tech lab in Suffolk.
Testing also will be done on several non-lethal weapons under development -- both at Raytheon and competitors -- that are designed to disperse or immobilize crowds. Researchers also will look at other emerging technology, like a see-through-the-wall radar system.
The experiments will include the use of computer models built to assess how people of different cultures -- such as urban populations in Muslim countries -- might react to actions taken by the U.S. military or government.
If weve got insurgents coming in and we blow up a bridge, we could create more problems, Morris said. If we knock out the power, we have everybody in town mad at us. We didnt think about the affect it would have on people in the town.
The other four CRADAs entered into by Joint Forces Command attempt to tackle similar problems.
The first, signed in October 2005 with Hewlett-Packard Co., focuses on improving the reliability of computer networks needed to support high-performance computing used in modeling and simulation exercises.
An agreement with Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. involves researching ways to detect and prevent hackers from disrupting or stealing data from classified information networks.
Science Applications International, known as SAIC, is fine-tuning a computer simulation that would let military troops plan, rehearse and execute missions using non-lethal weapons.
Much of the work is being done in SAICs modeling and simulation center in Suffolk, said Josh Jackson, the companys principal investigator on the project. The simulation aims to predict how various crowds in an urban setting would react to non-lethal weapons, such as Tasers that deliver an electric shock.
While the Defense Department may wind up as the biggest customer, local, and state police departments and government agencies involved in border security also might be interested, he said.
Jackson said the companys agreement with Joint Forces has allowed the two sides to solve problems that are not necessarily addressed through normal contracts or for which the military doesnt have the money to spend.
Not far from SAICs lab, Lockheed Martin engineers and scientists work side-by-side with Joint Forces officers on developing a global command-and-control network. It would allow Joint Force commanders to coordinate their a wide array of units ranging from Navy ships and Air Force fighters and Army and Marine forces on the ground, all while linking up with coalition partners.
Not only do we hear where they want to go, but we can help shape where theyre going, said Greg Johnson, director of integration and experimentation at Lockheed Martins center.
Were partners in the truest sense of the word, said Parker, the Joint Forces principal investigator who does much of his work in Lockheed Martins center and can breeze into the lab by flashing a company-issued security badge.
Weve got people at Lockheed Martin who have to stop at the front desk -- he doesnt, Upson said. This is a change. This is a paradigm shift.