Terry Pudas | Transformation on many fronts

Interview with Terry Pudas, acting director of the Office of Force Transformation

Terry Pudas, DOD Office of Force Transformation

Rick Steele

Terry Pudas enjoys home improvement projects and cooking. He finds working with his hands a welcome contrast to his job at the Office of Force Transformation, where he serves as acting director and is known as a key strategist for Defense Department transformation.

Through it all, Pudas said, he never forgets the true motivation for change. 'One of the things that we try to keep in mind in this particular office is that there's a great sense of urgency out there, and there are a lot of people in the services that don't have a nice comfortable office to stand in every day,' Pudas said. 'I feel very honored that I have an opportunity to contribute to this.'

GCN: At a recent Defense conference, Adm. Edmund P. Giambiastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the writers of the Quadrennial Defense Review are now moving to implement the recommendations in the QDR. Are you involved in this process?

PUDAS: We have some activities that contribute to that. I think what Adm. Giambiastiani was referring to is the work that's going on in the implementation road maps. There's a number of different initiatives with regards to portfolio management and some specific thrusts to develop implementation road maps, so the QDR moves from a high-level document to [DOD officials] actually implementing some of the actions and initiatives that are in there.

GCN: What are your goals for this year?

PUDAS: I think one of the major initiatives is we want to focus some effort on this SSTR [Stability, Security, Transition and Reconstruction] directive [published last November]. That's a big, broad issue that has to do with different kinds of capabilities.

We've been talking a lot about this whole notion of energy within the department. That's very topical now because of what's happening in the energy world. And so there's some significant implications to that'there's the security implication, there [are] the alternative fuel sources implications, there are conservation implications.

We're going to continue the work that we've done in regards to education. [Among] the things that I think have not been as well-appreciated as the large-ticket items are the things going on in the schoolhouses with the DOD. And by that I don't just mean the war colleges, I mean the academies, the Defense Acquisition University, the Air Force Institute for Technology, where they have really begun to take up this whole notion of transformation seriously.

GCN: How does the military change decades-old metrics and introduce alternative technologies and alternative business models?

PUDAS: That's very difficult, because we're a product of our experiences. So one of the ways that you do that is you provide new experiences. This is the reason why we are a very vocal advocate for experimentation. Things that are intended to create new knowledge and provide new experiences are always very, very difficult to pursue until you have some confidence and some experience.

GCN: What is the status of Stiletto, the high-tech, carbon-reinforced ship designed to support surveillance and reconnaissance in high-risk areas? Is it being tested? When might it be deployed?

PUDAS: The latest is that it did participate in a limited way in an exercise just recently, and they are getting geared up for another exercise or experiment in the next month [July] or so. The reports that I've been getting are Stiletto has been very, very successful. And it's interesting because it's very easy to look at this new hull form, but one of the really exciting things is they are learning a great deal about its contribution in the network-centric environment. It was created to be a part of a larger network and a contributor as a node.

GCN: What are the biggest challenges to military transformation, and how close are we to realizing it?

PUDAS: Well, clearly if you agree that transformation is a continuing process, then how you achieve it is kind of an open-ended question.

I don't know if these are the biggest problems or not, but one of the things that we've been talking about recently is focusing on impediments to doing the key transformation metrics. If you're in a competitive environment, and this is true for industry as well, then what you want to do is to be able to outlearn your competition and then to transform that learning into action.

And so, what's happening here is a great deal of learning is taking place every day, especially since we're in this long war on terror. One of the things that we're working very hard at is how to create processes within the department that allow us to be adaptable and operate on much faster cycle times.

GCN: What is the Network Centric Operations Conceptual Framework, and what's the status of it?

PUDAS: The NCO Conceptual Framework was intended to underpin our thinking with regard to the information value chain. We've made a great deal of assertions in the past about the power of networking the force and asserted that, by virtue of the fact that you would invest in networking, you'd reap great benefits in terms of military effectiveness.

The conceptual framework was intended to provide some value chain assessment. What the case studies are intended to be about is, once you go through all of this conceptual stuff, and then you have to go'I always say this glibly'to the people who hand out money, and then they ask you this really hard question: 'What's the return on investment?' The ROI has to be in terms of an output measure. And so that's been the focus of a whole bunch of work that is underpinned by this conceptual framework.

GCN: With Stiletto, you partnered with the Navy and with Special Operations forces. Are you currently partnering with any of the other services?

PUDAS: We were doing some work with the Army with this Project Sheriff initiative and I think they have this for testing now. That's the Stryker vehicle with lethal and nonlethal capabilities. We're looking at what that could evolve into, because this was really all about how you bring together a whole host of different kinds of technologies in a way that allows you to do things you can't currently do. In this case, we selected a handful of things to allow us to do something in the realm of this very complicated, urban kind of environment.

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