WASHINGTON -- On Oct. 9, Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy revealed that the Army plans to stand up a "modernization command," by summer 2018.

Two days later he announced that the new modernization command will consist of cross-functional teams that report directly to the under secretary of the Army and the vice chief of staff of the Army.

Pilot CFTs will soon form to launch that effort, he added.

The announcements were made at the Association of the United States Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Each "scalable" CFT will be led by a director, nominated from a panel, chaired by the vice chief of staff and approved by the chief of staff, McCarthy said.

The purpose of the teams is to improve the quality and speed of delivery of new materiel and capabilities to the warfighter, he noted.

This will be accomplished through "centralized planning and decentralized execution" involving informed decisions based on research, doctrine, metrics, warfighter testing and feedback, leader involvement and a streamlined acquisition process to get "the best return on investment for Soldiers," he said.

In order to accomplish this "vertical integration" of effort, he said the teams will consist of "subject matter experts from across the requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test and evaluation, resourcing, contracting, costing and sustainment communities."

The CFTs will also seek input from academia and industry to inform the capabilities development process, he added.

"The end state is an empowered team, rapidly integrating and synchronizing ... to deliver new capabilities to the operating force" that are aligned to the chief's six priorities, which are the development of improved long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary Army network, air and missile defense capabilities and Soldier lethality.

MORE ABOUT MODERNIZATION COMMAND

The acting secretary emphasized that the new command will not create more bloated bureaucracy.

"This realignment of responsibilities is not an additional layer," he said. "Rather, it streamlines and serves ... to overcoming bureaucratic inertia and stovepiping that binds the Army's current construct.

"We are not looking at creating a new organization that will simply compete against the others," he continued. "We've done that before and it further exasperated challenges. Instead, we're consolidating warfighter, technical, programmatic ... communities to fuse time and investment of readiness priorities outlined by the chief."

While the details of the new command must still be fleshed out, McCarthy said the Army is closely studying its Rapid Capabilities Office, and may use it as a blueprint.

The RCO delivers breakthrough technologies to the warfighter, particularly cyber and electronic warfare systems, to Soldiers much faster than is the case with traditional programs of record.

Three parallel developments are also taking place alongside the establishment of a modernization command, he said, and these will have some bearing on that effort.

First, the Army is strengthening its talent management efforts, he said. This will include more fellowships with industry, as well as more broadening assignments for civilians and Soldiers.

Second, the Army will focus on making it easier for industry, particularly small, innovative businesses, to work with the Army.

Third, the Army will "reinvigorate" its Requirements Oversight Counsel, he said.

Finally, to protect the establishment of a modernization command, McCarthy said he has "initiated reprioritization money in the POM ... to support development of these priorities and protect resources." The Program Objective Memorandum governs the Army's five-year budget cycle which gets submitted to the Department of Defense.

HUGE CHANGES

McCarthy said the modernization efforts now underway are the most significant since 1973, when U.S. Training and Doctrine Command and U.S. Army Forces Command were stood up.

The reasons for the change is that "our current ways of thinking, executing and organizing limit our capability to keep pace with change with respect to modernization and acquisition."

Adversaries are snipping away at the Army's overmatch advantage, he continued.

Russia in particular is investing in cyber, anti-ship, long-range fires, robotics, unmanned aerial systems and air and missile defense, and they're exporting those technologies across the globe, he said.

"To use a sports analogy, Russia and China are training as a boxer and we continue to train as a wrestler. They focus on throwing punches from long distances to prevent us from getting close enough to [use] our strengths."