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Office of Force Transformation Taking New Shape Inside DoD

By | September 11, 2006

      After five years the Office of Force Transformation (OFT) is itself transforming as the Pentagon has decided to align parts of the organization within the Defense Department, according to the acting director of OFT.

      No one, however, should be under the impression that OFT is going out of business, Terry Pudas acting director of OFT, told sister publication Defense Daily in a Sept. 1 interview.

      “It’s a mischaracterization. People are looking at this as if it’s going away or dissolving or disestablished. I don’t think that’s the correct characterization,” he said.

      Pudas looks at the decision to transform the office as a positive step. While there is no time certain for the change, he expects it could begin around Oct. 1, when the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s policy reorganization effort is slated to launch.

      “Any large vibrant competitive organization is always reassessing itself, and that’s healthy. Because if it’s not [reassessing itself], it’s stagnant,” he said. “You are always looking at ways to realign your resources, both financially and intellectually, to get the best return on investment.

      “I think, quite frankly, this is actually good. If you follow the office from the beginning, it was created to support one of the key priorities of the Department, which was transformation, and it was intended to be a catalyst and a focal point for transformation,” Pudas added.

      Besides, he added, an organization whose name is force transformation–if it is not willing to transform itself–is not really being true to its own vision. “That’s the way I represented it to the staff when we began talking about it.”

      While it might not be apparent to an outsider, the concept of transformation has taken hold inside the Department of Defense, he added.

      “If you look at the Department over the last five years, through the lens of transformation, you would say a tremendous amount has happened, and that’s good,” Pudas said. “The question is, have we reached that point where transformation is now main stream in the thinking of the Department. Is it time to embed these sorts of activities and functions within the Department to better align them with some of the other things that are going on?”

      Additionally, Pudas pointed out that, as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), there was a lot of emphasis looking at the organizational structure of the DoD.

      Does DoD need an activity like OFT that is sort of outside to do these projects–studies and analysis–or is it time to move OFT into the mainstream and continue within the organization, Pudas asked. “I think that is the case.”

      Although the fate of OFT’s projects, such as Stiletto and redirected energy, is unclear, Pudas acknowledged that in all likelihood research and development projects and experimental articles will be aligned within the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) organization.

      Studies, analysis, educational initiatives and network centric implementation will likely migrate into the larger policy reorganization, he added.

      “I don’t know exactly where they will reside under AT&L, but they will go to the AT&L side. That is the likely spot,” Pudas said. “That’s not to say that down the road as we learn more, there won’t be more realignments. I think that’s appropriate.”

      More than likely, OFT’s projects will eventually fall under John Young, director, Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E).

      Pudas said he has had one brief phone call with Young regarding the reorganization. He anticipates the two will soon begin to sort out the implementation plan.

      Pudas has no regrets over the decision to move OFT under the umbrella of other DoD efforts.

      “I always viewed this from the beginning as an experiment. In the beginning we were asked, ‘when are you transformed?’ The answer is transformation is not an end state; it’s a journey,” he said. “But if I was pushed on that I would say, when the reorganization has evolved to the point to where its culture and underpinning ethos not only tolerates but encourages and incentivizes this notion of innovation and creativity as one of its core cultural attributes, then we have made a major contribution. The thinking is we have reached that tipping point.”

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