By Lt. Col. Jesse StalderAugust 31, 2016
WASHINGTON -- The Army has created a Rapid Capabilities Office to expedite critical technologies to the field in an effort to counter urgent and emerging threats.
The new office will conduct rapid materiel development and delivery efforts to address immediate, near-term, and mid-term Combatant Commanders' needs. It will focus on rapid prototyping and initial equipping of capabilities, beginning with the areas of cyber, electronic warfare, survivability and positioning, navigation and timing, as well as other priority projects that will enable soldiers to decisively operate and win in contested environments.
Beyond closing current capability gaps, the Army Rapid Capabilities Office also aims to stimulate aggressive, proactive capability development and leverage disruptive technologies to meet Army strategic objectives.
Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning directed the creation of the office and announced its establishment during an event in Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
"We're serious about keeping our edge, so we need to make changes in how we get soldiers the technology they need," Fanning said. "The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is a major step forward, allowing us to prioritize cross-domain, integrated capabilities in order to confront emerging threats and advance America's military dominance."
Although flexible in its capability, the Army Rapid Capabilities Office will focus on high-priority, threat-based projects with an intent to deliver an operational effect within one to five years. The organization will execute analysis, prototyping, development, procurement and limited fielding for select high-priority capability solutions.
The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is distinct from the Army Rapid Equipping Force, which has a 180-day turnaround time and delivers specific equipment to meet the urgent operational needs of forward-deployed units. The Rapid Capabilities Office will provide commanders of select formations, and areas of responsibility, with broader capability solutions, delivering a combined operational effect.
The Rapid Capabilities Office will provide expertise not solely focused on materiel; it seeks to provide holistic solutions that inform the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities and policy impacts of implementing new capabilities within the operational Army. The office will leverage innovation by other government agencies and industry partners, as well as warfighter feedback, to deliver solutions on an accelerated timeline.
"This office is vitally important to the Army's acquisition reform efforts, but at the same time, it's not a substitute for the acquisition practice," said Katrina McFarland, the Army acquisition executive.
"The goal of the Army Rapid Capabilities Office is not to procure systems to outfit the entire Army, but rather to use targeted investments to execute strategic prototyping, concept evaluation and limited equipping -- especially in areas where technology progresses rapidly. It will help commanders and soldiers in the field today, while building an advantage for those who will follow in their footsteps."
The Rapid Capabilities Office is a total Army effort that will leverage capabilities and expertise from across the service, especially the Army staff, program executive offices, training and doctrine community, intelligence community and science and technology community.
The Rapid Capabilities Office will report to a board of directors led by the Secretary of the Army and will be led on a day-to-day basis by Rapid Capabilities Office Director Douglas K. Wiltsie. Wiltsie previously served as the executive director, System of Systems Engineering and Integration, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), and as the Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems.
"If we want to operate in an environment where we are leading and causing our adversaries to react to us, we need to take risks," Wiltsie said. "The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is designed to take those technology risks, and to give us the agility to incorporate disruptive capabilities quickly when they can make a difference for our soldiers."
The Rapid Capabilities Office will incorporate early and prominent warfighter involvement into the requirements gathering and prototyping process to ensure that materiel solutions are not only vetted by operators but also delivered to units as a holistic capability with the right support and tactics, techniques and procedures in place.
In addition to having an operational community presence on the Army Rapid Capabilities Office staff and providing matrix support, the office will work with receiving units or their representatives to confirm soldier utility of prototypes and expedite the test and evaluation process.
"This office will address capability gaps that we're seeing in real time, right now from our commanders in the field," said Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, who will serve as the Rapid Capabilities Office Deputy Director for Operations.
"Our adversaries are modernizing at a rapid rate, and in some cases our capabilities are inadequate to keep up. To maintain our edge, it's vital that we can evolve existing and new technology at a pace that keeps it relevant to today's and tomorrow's conflicts."
For more information about the Army Rapid Capabilities Office, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.