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Commercial Sourcing of the Distributed Common Ground System

The Army needs new data management software to provide Soldiers and Commanders with seamless access to vast amounts of data. Since the 1990’s, the Department of Defense has recognized the need for a software system that can access, manage, and analyze the wealth of data contained in the military’s various databases. In an attempt to meet this need, the military developed the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), which has been a costly failure. American taxpayers have paid approximately $6 billion for DCGS-A, yet it continues to be burdened by numerous critical failures in testing, training, and combat—nearly two decades after the Army and a cadre of defense contractors began developing it.

The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (“FASA”) requires federal agencies to acquire commercial products from the private sector “to the maximum extent practicable,” rather than paying contractors to develop those products from scratch. However, the Army issued a final RFI for DCGS-A2 confirming that the Army intended to develop new software rather than acquire existing commercial software. and is considering contract terms and vehicles that would perpetuate risky long-term, services-based contracts that focus on large software development activities” instead of inquiring into the availability of commercial items.

Additionally, the Court of Federal Claims expressed concern about “the unfortunate conduct of some of the Army personnel reflected in the Administrative Record.”

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The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn’t the Pentagon care?

In December, the Defense Department declassified two videos documenting encounters between U.S. Navy F-18 fighters and unidentified aircraft. The first video captures multiple pilots observing and discussing a strange, hovering, egg-shaped craft, apparently one of a “fleet” of such objects, according to cockpit audio. The second shows a similar incident involving an F-18 attached to the USS Nimitz carrier battle group in 2004.  The videos, along with observations by pilots and radar operators, appear to provide evidence of the existence of aircraft far superior to anything possessed by the United States or its allies.  A colleague of mine at To the Stars Academy, Luis Elizondo, used to run a Pentagon intelligence program that examined evidence of “anomalous” aircraft, but he resigned last fall to protest government inattention to the growing body of empirical data. 

Meanwhile, reports from different services and agencies remain largely ignored and unevaluated inside their respective bureaucratic stovepipes. There is no Pentagon process for synthesizing all the observations the military is making. The current approach is equivalent to having the Army conduct a submarine search without the Navy. It is also reminiscent of the counterterrorism efforts of the CIA and the FBI before Sept. 11, 2001, when each had information on the hijackers that they kept to themselves. In this instance, the truth may ultimately prove benign, but why leave it to chance? 

On several occasions, I have met with senior Pentagon officials, and at least one followed up and obtained briefings confirming incidents such as the Nimitz case. But nobody wants to be “the alien guy” in the national security bureaucracy; nobody wants to be ridiculed or sidelined for drawing attention to the issue. This is true up and down the chain of command, and it is a serious and recurring impediment to progress. 

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