Admiral Mark Heinrich, Speed, Navy, TechnologyIn the wake of expanding foreign economies, the United States of America is making more of a push than ever to continue innovating its already highly developed technologies. Yet, despite constantly developing, fortifying, and experimenting with new technologies, it can be difficult to determine just how effective a project is or could be without first putting it to the test in the field. It is for this reason that, this year primarily, the American military is making a particular effort to utilize ground troops like Marines and sailors in first implementing recently developed technologies.

In regards to the Navy specifically, the military has founded a department titled the Maritime Accelerated Capabilities Office (MACO), which is more or less a derivative of the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office. Essentially, what MACO will do is provide a speed lane for particularly promising projects that “can be fielded with less risk.” Back in February at the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA West conference in San Diego, Admiral John Richardson (the Chief of Naval Operations) was cited saying that MACO would supervise these developmental projects “from cradle to grave.”

Of course, the founding of MACO in no way inhibits former Navy research and development projects. In fact, the Navy very much so intends on setting aside funding for both prototyping and experimentation with projects that fall somewhere between the normal process and the rapid process associated with MACO. Basically, prototypes will be built quickly on a small scale, and then integrated into the military where it will be field tested, and further development of the project or its termination will be decided from there.

This will allow the Navy to assess how effective a particular project will be before it is fully implemented. There are many clear benefits to this sort of beta testing, not the least of which is money. By understanding whether or not nixing a product is worth it so early on in the game, the Navy will be in a better position to save money and more effectively allot its considerable resources.

Just as well, the fact that these trials will run a year is extremely tell-tale. To elaborate, by monitoring expenditures and benefits over the course of 12 months, administrators will be able to understand how to distribute these technologies, how to sustain these technologies, how to move these technologies, and how to provide them the proper fire support should they need it.

The technology of tomorrow is here today. We just need to see how it looks in action before it can be implemented effectively on a broad scale. MACO does just this. It gives us a glimpse into the future of what what should be, what should not be and what could be.