Urgent Capability Acquisition

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Urgent Capability Acquisition


The purpose of the Urgent Capability Acquisition (UCA) pathway is to field capabilities to fulfill urgent existing and/or emerging operational needs or quick reactions in less than 2 years.

How to use this site

Each page in this pathway presents a wealth of curated knowledge from acquisition policies, guides, templates, training, reports, websites, case studies, and other resources. It also provides a framework for functional experts and practitioners across DoD to contribute to the collective knowledge base. This site aggregates official DoD policies, guides, references, and more.

DoD and Service policy is indicated by a BLUE vertical line.

Directly quoted material is preceeded with a link to the Reference Source.

Legend:    DD = Disposition Decision

“Getting an 80% solution to the warfighter in seven or eight weeks is much more valuable than getting a 95% solution in two years.”

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Pathway Characteristics

Reference Source: DoDI 5000.81 Section 1.2


It is DoD’s highest priority to provide warfighters involved in conflict or preparing for imminent contingency operations with the capabilities needed to overcome unforeseen threats, achieve mission success, and reduce risk of casualties, as described in DoDD 5000.71


The estimated cost for acquisition programs that provide capabilities to fulfill urgent operational needs and other quick reaction capabilities that can be fielded in less than 2 years must not exceed $525 million in research, development, and test and evaluation, or $3.065 billion for procurements in Fiscal Year 2020 constant dollars.


Reference Source: DoD 5000 Series Acquisition Policy Transformation Handbook, January 9, 2020

Due to operational urgency the normal acquisition processes are aggressively streamlined. The goal is to plan for the capability in a few weeks with development and production measured in months. The imperative is to quickly deliver useful capability to the warfighter in a timely manner.


  • The purpose of Pre-Development is to assess and select a course or courses of action to field a quick reaction capability and develop an acquisition approach.


  • Development includes an assessment of the performance, safety, suitability, survivability, supportability, including software, and lethality, if appropriate, of the capability. It does not require that all identified deficiencies, including those related to safety, be resolved prior to production or deployment. The Milestone Decision Authority will, in consultation with the user and the requirements validation authority, determine which deficiencies must be resolved and what risks can be accepted.


  • During Production and Deployment, the acquiring organization provides the warfighter with the needed capability, to include any required training, spares, technical data, to include known hazards and accepted mishap risks, computer software, temporary or permanent facilities or infrastructure, support equipment, maintenance, or other logistics support necessary for operation.


  • Operations and Support: The program manager executes a supportability strategy that meets materiel readiness and operational support performance requirements, is safe, and sustains the capability in the most cost-effective manner over its anticipated total life cycle. Planning for Operations and Support, including support funding, will begin during pre-development and will be documented in the acquisition strategy.

“The environment for an urgent need is chaos. If it came in as an urgent need, it’s needed yesterday.”

DAU Powerful Examples Team

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“Rapidly responding to enemy threats against our service members and our Nation requires an agile acquisition system and the active collaboration of many to succeed. “

DAU Powerful Examples Team

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