By Brian Beall, AMC Chief Technology OfficeNovember 23, 2015
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In a two-day summit last week, general officers and civilian leaders engaged in a series of briefings and moderated group discussions to define the barriers to innovation within the Army's life cycle materiel enterprise.
The Army Materiel Command hosted the inaugural Innovation Summit on Nov. 19-20. AMC Commander Gen. Dennis Via invited leadership to discuss the best way forward to improve acquisition and innovation processes.
"This particular summit looks at the lifecycle management enterprise and the organizations that are involved in developing, acquiring, fielding, training and sustaining systems and capabilities," Via said. "We are looking for new ways to adapt the systems that we have today to meet the needs that we see for tomorrow. We live in a very complex world and we need to ensure that our Soldiers have the latest technology to meet their requirements."
AMC Executive Deputy to the Commanding General Lisha Adams opened the summit by emphasizing the important role innovation plays in enabling today's Soldiers.
"Today, it takes fewer Soldiers to accomplish the missions that historically took many more troops, all while minimizing our risk of casualties," Adams said. "The significance of this contribution cannot be overstated, for it is measured in lives saved."
Patrick O'Neill, AMC chief technology officer, provided participants with a historical perspective of innovation in the Army, spanning from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He underscored that the need for Army innovation has never been greater, while describing the strong foundation laid by the current Defense Department and Army leaders.
"We are providing our Soldiers with the cutting-edge tools needed to maintain the strategic advantage over all enemies," O'Neill said.
Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, delivered the keynote speech, giving her perspective on barriers to and opportunities for innovation in acquisition across the materiel enterprise.
On the occasion of her recently announced retirement plans, Shyu described her three focus areas for the remainder of her tenure: assured position, navigation and timing; electronic warfare; and aircraft survivability.
Following Shyu's remarks, the participants broke into four groups with representatives from across the materiel life cycle to identify challenges and processes to innovation. These groups later briefed leaders on their findings, providing the basis for the second Innovation Summit.
Via closed the summit by emphasizing the importance of the inaugural event and challenged participants to three tasks in order to leverage the Innovation Summit toward providing for the future Army. Those tasks included continuing the conversations started at the event, maintaining the relationships established, and making a commitment to attend the next Innovation Summit.
"We have to find out where are the impediments to building the capabilities of tomorrow," he said. "During future summits we will expand to include academia and industry to begin looking at applications and solutions. We want to be able to lighten the logistics burden for our Soldiers."