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  SoldierMod Volume 10 - Jan 2013
Volume 10 Articles

Country flagDCC Priorities, Plans and Pulses

Brigadier Mark Gaunt, Head Individual Capability Group (ICG), Defence Equipment & Support

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A key theme for Brig. Gaunt is delivering a Dismounted Close Combat (DCC) programme as supposed to a whole array of individual projects, “We are a long way off putting this in place but at least I can move my part of the organisation to behave programmatically, even if we don’t have the money structure to do it in a programmatic way yet.”

Brig. Gaunt divides his activities on two programmes of work supporting the Green Army and Special Forces. The goal is to have a new Programme Office for ICG with Delivery Managers in Four key areas; Command and Battlespace Management, Surveillance Target Acquisition, Lethality and ‘Chassis’. Brig. Gaunt sees ‘Chassis’ as an interim term which may well be changed but denotes worn power and data as well as survivability. These four will replace the Current ICG structure which sees a Group Headquarters in charge of four teams: Dismounted Soldier Systems, Protective Clothing and Equipment, Light Weapons, Photography and Batteries and the Integrated Soldier Systems Executive.

These changes are driven by the underlying theme that technology won’t be the reason for reducing the number of troops on the ground. Brig. Gaunt said, “There are not many people now who would claim legitimately that you don’t still need boots on the ground and soldier engaging in what they do.”

Brig. Gaunt sees the DE&S as having delivered, “incredible change” in dismounted close combat capability for the UK soldier over the last nine years. That said, work is still ongoing not least in the area of load carriage, “We have still got a problem with burden. We continue to do as much as we can with the technology to tackle the burden problems. It is not just about technology. There is a need to address some of the training and tactics and some of the leadership and policy issues associated with burden as well. Clearly, a continuing theme as we leave from Afghanistan is this segment with people in a rather complex environment that requires huge flexibility and adaptability with the soldier and so we have to take lessons from Afghanistan as we continue to develop our contingent capability. When I got into this job and I have now got to understand more of the burden problem. I actually think we need to be into the business of configuration control of the soldier. That is a challenge yet to be tackled.”

In terms of the acquisition strategy. Not much has changed in that attention is still focus on turning individual acquisitions into a architecture. Brig. Gaunt said, “In the UK we define the system as 35 soldiers and all of the equipment and capabilities that are linked to that. That emphasis is very prevalent in the way we think about the soldier in the UK.”

Dismounted Close Combat

Brig. Gaunt has identified the best way to deliver capability to the soldier as being in ‘pulses’, “I want to try to change from head to toe the capability of the soldier but in smaller numbers, not trying to change the whole Army but that we would aspire to deliver a pulse that then is incrementally increased at some later stage - perhaps the opuses are every four to five years. We work across all of the domain to try and make that step change in a co-ordinated way. We have learnt a lot from Afghanistan and we already do this to a degree but with an existing capability. What I also need to do is work on the future and the R&D and understanding of what industry is developing in order for us to know what is going to go on the [in the future] and I am currently putting pressure on London and Andover to develop the vision for the dismounted soldier for [future].”

Asset Management

“A unsung element of my business is trying to manage all of the dismounted equipment that is in the British Army in the Land Environment. We have vast quantities of this equipment now distributed in Afghanistan but also elsewhere in the world. We are doing an awful lot to determine where all of that is and account for it properly and asset manage it properly and that is about part of the business not to be underestimated, boring though it may sound.

“There is a lot of work going on in my part of the business on support and creating better support processes and systems. The Integrated Equipment Support Programme is also about trying to reduce the amount of transactional contracts, trying to create singular contracts that then allow me to support in a more strategic way.”

Brigadier Mark Gaunt was speaking at WBR's Soldier Technology 2012.

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