Good First Steps By The Army On Reforming The Acquisition System

    Dan Goure


    Can the Army fashion a modernization command that is goal- or output-focused instead of the current process-oriented system?

    Just a month ago, the U.S. Army’s top leaders, Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, announced the most far-reaching reforms of the acquisition system in two generations. A new command will be created by mid-2018 to manage and streamline Army modernization. As described by General Milley, the reasons for this change are: to put the modernization process under one roof; realign authorities; overcome bureaucratic inertia; break down stovepipes; bring warfighter requirements directly into the acquisition process; and, perhaps most important, enable disruption. Decisions on the formal structure of the new organization, as well as its authorities, responsibilities, staffing and the other “technicalities” will be informed by the work of a four-month task force led by Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon.

    Secretary McCarthy and General Milley believed they couldn’t wait until next year to change the acquisition system. To jumpstart the revolution, pilot cross-functional teams (CFTs) have been created to address the Army’s modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality. Network modernization will be the subject of two CFTs, one focused on the network, command, control, communications and intelligence and another dealing with positioning, navigation and timing. The task of an eighth CFT is the enormous subject of synthetic training environments.

    While the responsibilities of the CFTs are expansive, their goals are limited. According to the Army’s implementation memorandum, “The concept for the CFT is to develop a requirement informed in appropriate cases by experimentation and technical demonstrations, through teaming, agility and rapid feedback to enable the development of a capability document and improve the decision making for a potential program of record.” In addition, the Army already had substantial work underway for each of the modernization priorities. The programs for long range precision fires and future vertical lift are so far along and the acquisition decisions so near-term that all those CFTs may be able to do is check their homework.

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