Often, neither the end user nor the manufacturer are willing to shoulder the substantial risk tied to long production lead times, but when lives are at stake, both parties can mitigate this risk by openly discussing urgent equipment needs.
Dynamic IED threats require dynamic route clearance responses, but building reliable, versatile equipment that performs precisely as it needs to on the battlefield takes time.
Forecasting resource demands can be challenging due to the ever-changing approaches to obstacle breaching, route clearance, and combating threat networks. Unfortunately, injury or death is often the catalyst that fuels C-IED capability demand, and by then it’s too late. In order to respond in real-time with the equipment that on-the-ground clearance units need to operate effectively, suppliers must establish and maintain a transparent line of communication and trust with the customer military and vice versa.
Short Attention Span Is the Standard
If the past decade has taught us anything about the nature of route clearance response, it’s that C-IED only becomes a top priority when loss of life is the spark that ignites action. Even then, top-down attention span is understandably short, and focus quickly shifts to cyber warfare, drone employment, counter-WMD, special forces, or any number of equally important operational obligations. This type of short attention span triage is standard operating procedure, but it can paint defense contractors into tight corners, often creating a challenge to effectively forecast time-sensitive equipment production while still meeting resource requests. If a production window is missed after financial risks have been taken, or equipment doesn’t reach the battlefield before need has dissipated, substantial time and resources are wasted.
Communication Is Crucial
As C-IED insight evolved and clearance tactics narrowed, demand for specialization of both units and their equipment grew. This in turn led to intricate provisioning as more specialized equipment took longer to test and qualify, and increased lead times have since contributed to substantial financial risk when multi-million pieces of route clearance equipment are produced. Fortunately, communication is and always will be the answer, and when industry providers are able to communicate conditions, lead times, and financial obligations effectively, everyone wins.
With appropriate, transparent requirements forecasting and open communication from Day 1, industry is more willing to shoulder the commercial risk associated with lean-forward production, which results in quicker delivery of critical equipment.
Financial Risk Will Always Be Par for the Course
Defense firms are accustomed to long sales cycles with shifting customer priorities. Assuming a level of financial risk is more often the rule than the exception. However, uninformed risk leveraged against volume production of highly specialized equipment, benefits neither party. Accepting risk is a necessary part of the business, but only informed risk can be applied to the user’s benefit.