standards] ensure that
we’re following all
the different systems
engineering processes to
determine what looks
promising to continue to
mature and test.”
advice you’ve ever
Maintain your balance. You need to be
balanced in life, because work can really
consume your time.
The one skill every
The ability to build a
team with a shared
Favorite thing to do
in your spare time?
Running. I try hard to
stay at 40 miles [ 64
kilometers] a week.
My kids both run
cross-country, so I run
urgency to increase homeland defense—that’s the
origin of the Sea-Based X-band radar. It can see a
baseball from 2,500 miles [ 4,023 kilometers] away.
The third radar system is the AN/TPY- 2 [the
Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance]
radar. We’re contracted to build 12 of those. Ten
have been delivered, and two are still in production.
What do these radars do?
They search airspace to find and track ballistic missiles. But the other important thing they do—and
the thing that X-bands are particularly well suited
for—is discrimination. When there’s a launch of
a missile, lots of things end up in flight with it.
The job of the Missile Defense Agency is to find
and intercept the lethal warhead. But you’ll have
the tank, the boosters and debris, and there can
be intentional countermeasures as well. This can
make it really hard to find and intercept the lethal
object with our missiles to protect our homeland
and our assets in theater. Intercepting something
traveling in space hundreds to thousands of miles
away is very challenging.
What projects does your office execute to
overcome that challenge?
Every year or two there’s a new software build
related to discrimination in particular. One of the
roles I have is overseeing development of a long-range discrimination radar, which is going to start
this year—a new Alaska-based radar for discrimination. We’re developing the requirements and
capabilities of that system. We also have other TPY
radars in production.
So there’s a big focus on increasing our ability to
distinguish the lethal object.
Why has discrimination become a more
Threats continue to grow in number and capability. Whereas in the past we were dealing with
relatively simple threats, at least from the smaller
rogue states, those countries’ capabilities have
continued to increase. If we look out another five
to 10 years—and it takes us that long to develop
new capabilities, too—it looks like they’re going
to have the capability to add countermeasures to
make it harder for us to determine what the lethal
How does your office use project
management standards when developing
Project management standards help ensure program
success, and they do that by giving us best practices
and a structure that helps ensure rigor. They ensure
that we’re following all the different systems engineering processes to determine what looks promising to continue to mature and test, and to ensure it
has independent verification. The Missile Defense
Agency has a robust test program to make sure
these things really work before we field them.
What does the testing phase look like?
We build a little, test a little. We’re building incredibly complex, challenging capabilities. Intercontinental ballistic missile intercepts approach 10,000 miles
[ 16,093 kilometers] per hour—exo-atmospheric,
so way up in space. We have very small margins
of error. So we build a bit of capability, test it and
make sure we don’t get unintended consequences—
that’s been a big risk—before we keep building and
continue to add the next capabilities.
It takes longer, but because we’re shooting down
missiles and launching missiles, we don’t want
anything to go wrong. So it is very much a continual build process.
How has the U. S. budget “sequestration”
of 2013, which lowered defense spending,
affected your office?
It’s made for a challenging environment, especially given uncertainty around future funding.
But so far we’ve mitigated that. Some things have
been delayed a bit, but discrimination has been
a very high priority and that’s actually received
additional funding. PM