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Now You Know, September 2023, Section 3 of 5

History of the AEGIS Program at Dahlgren

By Tom Clare, Special Guest Writer

Our Early Strategies

As I stated earlier, our overarching strategy at the very beginning was to demonstrate our commitment and support to the program. We and everyone else acknowledged that, while NSWC had lots of competent people in many different areas, we did not know much about the AEGIS Program and the AEGIS Weapon System (soon to expand to the AEGIS Combat System). So we had to find ways to learn.

We brought in experienced people from various parts of

NSWC: some transferred to the new AEGIS Division, others stayed in their home departments and we tasked them in a programmatic fashion. Some names I recall are Jim Lindsey, Jim Reagan, and Don Robinson in control system computer programs; Bob Moran in radar; Bud Wiseman in configuration and data management, and many others.

Another person we brought in was Neal Cain. Since I was gone so much, I got approval to have a Deputy Division Head, a position unheard of at that time. Cain was selected for that job. He effectively and successfully ran the program at NSWC in the early years. He deserves as much credit as I got for building the foundation for a long-term, successful NSWC

AEGIS Program.

My secretary, Donna McClanahan, was also a pillar of strength in the early days. She kept me (and others) straight and in line. I know I was a load to handle back then. (Not very patient!) The newness of the job, the pressures to be successful for NSWC’s vision, the never-ending dynamics of the AEGIS Program Office—so many things stressed me out a lot, and I was not the easiest person to work for then. McClanahan felt a lot of the impact of that. She was phenomenal and unshakeable. She and Cain were the bedrock of program operations at Dahlgren.

We also hired people directly out of college. Some early names I recall are Trish Hamburger and Johnny Burrow, both of whom went on to very successful Navy careers, becoming members of the Senior Executive Service. Bringing in new hires was somewhat risky, because their supervisors were learning the AEGIS world at the same time as they were. We were a little worried about this, but the great senior people we brought in were super in handling this delicate issue.

How did we learn? We sent people into the various parts of the AEGIS Program: the Program Office, the prime contractor’s plant in Moorestown. Key people who were NSWC’s face to the AEGIS world were Gene Lutman, who was assigned to the Program Office in DC, and Jim Francis, who was assigned to RCA, Moorestown. I recall Bob Gray, our face

in the programmatics arena. I think he and Francis had just completed a series of program management courses at the Defense Systems Management College. Program management was not one of my strong points, so their insights and actions were vital as we plotted out our early plans and budgets.

The engineers and scientists we sent to Moorestown and the Program Office knocked the socks off RCA and AEGIS Program Office management. They really cemented our position and credibility in the larger world of AEGIS.

About the Author

Thomas A. (Tom) Clare began his career at the then Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1970 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. While there he performed research and development in Aeroballistics and served in management positions at the branch, division, and department head levels, including as the first head of the AEGIS Program at the then Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC). In 1989 he was selected as Technical Director of NSWC, and during his tenure he successfully led the Center through three rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

In addition to his work at Dahlgren, he has been a key advisor and leader in the Navy and DOD scientific and technology community and served on various Navy and Marine Corps executive committees, with the focus of these activities on visions, strategic planning, systems engineering, programmatic and organizational strategies, and reorganization approaches and philosophies. In 1998 he retired from a position as an advisor to the DOD systems engineering community, addressing the need for greater systems engineering and management policies and practices across the services.

A version of this article was previously published as an NSWCDD blog in February of 2018. Reused with permission.

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