MooD International teams with Niteworks & the MOD to improve the effectiveness of Counter-IED activities in Afghanistan
In mid 2009, senior figures from the British military and from coalition countries along with MOD scientists and engineers gathered to discuss strategy and tactics in countering the improvised explosive device (IED) threat in Afghanistan. General Dannatt – then Chief of the General Staff – closed the conference by reiterating the importance of winning the war in Afghanistan and stressing that this also meant winning the war against the IED: “It is time for expenditure on counter IED to move from Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) to core business.”
“The solution has enabled the MOD to understand where effort is being duplicated – identifying options for cost reduction – and where there are major gaps in capability delivery.”
This initiative lead to the formation in January 2010 of the Counter-IED Capability Steering Group and the DE&S C-IED Office, with the brief to ensure that C-IED capability across the MOD is coherently generated and sustained. Given the public impact of IEDs, the C-IED office was given freedom to investigate how to anticipate, plan and respond to new IED threats from an increasingly creative terrorist community. The rapidly changing nature of the IED threat drives the need to respond rapidly, and a number of initiatives have been and continue to be set up very quickly.
As a consequence of this intense activity, a large number of projects – all contributing in various ways to C-IED capability – are established and managed across a range of MOD capability areas, increasingly presenting the Office with difficulties in maintaining coherence so as to enable informed Balance of Investment decisions. Lt Col Bob Stewart, Requirements Manager at the C-IED Office: “When we were asked what we were doing about the IED threat, the answer was a load of stuff but not necessarily in the most coherent way”. The C-IED office was faced with a situation where they had to provide a framework to coordinate the diverse initiatives.
The Solution – The C-IED Knowledge Base
The response to this situation was the deployment of a Niteworks team, with MooD International chosen to provide the Technical Lead, to develop a C-IED Knowledge Base – a proof-of-principle solution using MooD software to demonstrate how such a mechanism could add value to the C-IED environment.
A pilot system was created initially through a QuickLook, followed by a more detailed 3-month activity that resulted in live operation at the end of September 2010. In the words of Lt Col Stewart “a strong relationship was rapidly built with the Niteworks team, whose domain knowledge and knowledge of the MooD tool delivered rapid results with no learning curve.”
“The use of this system across the decision-making levels means that Senior Officers will have a snapshot of capability when they need it, rather than on the current three-month drumbeat. This allows faster action on problem areas.”
The solution’s design takes an end to end view of C-IED from the threat through planning, delivery and generation of capability to meet the threat. It identifies the key pressure points where decision support is required to ensure the delivery of the programme. The framework used is based on MODAF2, to enable incorporation of other initiatives within a system of systems view of C-IED Capability Goals and Requirements.
Development and deployment of new, more powerful increments of the solution has continued since live operation, with continuing involvement of MooD International personnel within the Office. Says Principal Consultant Alan Payne, “The engagement with the MOD team has continued to be productive and committed. I’m particularly impressed with the speed with which the team has been able to deploy the solution and their ability to exploit it to generate a wider range of outputs, including the C-IED Compendium – which is distributed across all C-IED Stakeholders.”
Three areas of benefit have been reported by the C-IED Office:
Transparency, Planning & Coherence
The team is now able to get to grips very rapidly with things that they need to know, including where effort is being duplicated – identifying options for cost reduction – and where there are major gaps in capability delivery.
Starting from an uncertain requirement within a newly formed Group, the solution is providing flexibility to respond to an emerging set of questions and information requirements. Lt Col Stewart: “This system provides an example of how a small programme team can rapidly deploy a value for money solution to a problem by using a system based approach”.
The use of this system across the decision-making levels, including the 2* Capability Steering Group means that Senior Officers will have a snapshot of capability when they need it, rather than on the current three-month drumbeat. This allows faster action on problem areas. In the words of a senior C-IED stakeholder, “The C-IED KB has enabled me to better understand what is a very complex situation, and as a result make better decisions.”
Contribution to wider MOD Decision Making
The solution provides the ability to manage information and make decisions from multiple perspectives derived from a single source of authoritative information, which has not been possible before.
For this reason, the approach and results are being looked at by other projects and could be reused in other problem areas across the capability management spectrum.
Says Lt Col Stewart: “The ability to understand the whole CIED programme in a structured way, whilst not directly attributable to saving lives, has increased the chance of survivability of troops.”