By Joe Lacdan, Army News ServiceSeptember 9, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Even amidst the shuffle of senior leadership within the Army, the service has seen the positive results of revamping its once sluggish acquisition process, said acting Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy.
With the establishment of its six modernization priorities and eight cross-functional teams, the Army has already moved faster to acquire next-generation combat vehicles and advanced capabilities to deliver to formations, he said.
Speaking at the 2019 Defense News conference, McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville lauded the success of the CFTs, which brought acquisitions experts, logisticians, and finance specialists into one group.
The establishment of Army's Futures Command, which reached full operational capability in July, has helped further streamline the process for future acquisitions. The Army's presence in incubator hubs in downtown Austin will help connect the service with "non-traditional" industry and some of the best innovators in technology, McConville said.
The service has scheduled more testing of hypersonics weaponry, next-generation combat vehicles and next-generation combat weapons on the horizon.
FIRST HAND TESTING
In July, McCarthy tested some next-generation combat weapons, including the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the M4 carbine.
The former Army ranger marveled at the precision at which the weapons could strike targets.
"I was hitting targets at 400 meters," McCarthy said. "I hadn't picked up a SAW in 15 years. It is remarkable the work that's being done."
Both McCarthy and McConville had the opportunity to use the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a battlefield heads-up display that uses augmented reality to help Soldiers train. The synthetic training environment, an augmented reality, provides the platform for Soldiers to use their actual combat weapons to train in realistic training scenarios. It will also help prepare Soldiers to fight in a multi-domain environment.
"It's going to be transformational for our ground Soldiers," McConville said.
Last spring the Long Range Precision Fires CFT tested the extended-range cannon at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California.
"These capabilities are being tested within a year to 18 months, just within the establishment of these things," McCarthy said. "And if you look at the data that's coming … the data points are showing that the prototypes being developed are putting us on a path to develop these systems."
The new technologies could help increase Soldier readiness, one of McConville's priorities that he announced after taking over as chief of staff last month. The next phase of the Army's multi-domain task force pilot is scheduled for this fall. The first phase sent a field artillery brigade to travel to the Pacific for an exercise. Earlier this year, the Army sent 1,500 Soldiers from Fort Bliss to Germany to simulate a rapid deployment at a moment's notice.
McConville also cited the service will focus on the competition phase, or warfare operations that fall below the level of armed conflict.
"The multi-domain task force will have intelligence, information, cyber, electronic warfare and space capability that will allow us to conduct operations that are actually below the level of armed conflict," he said "We're also bringing into the force long-range precision fires from hypersonics to precision strike missiles which is going to give us a lethal capability that will allow us to deter [an] adversary."
The CFTs have not only streamlined the acquisitions process but have bought cohesion and teamwork among their members.
It is amazing what has been unleashed," McConville said. "CFT members are aggressively working together toward a common goal and getting programs developed at the speed of relevance because they want to win. We are really seeing the value of their focused teamwork."
For example, the Network CFT, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, has paired Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, and Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director of the Network CFT. The generals are neighbors and McCarthy said their children and spouses have gotten to know each other.
Along with CFT members and industry partners, they have worked together to develop greater interoperability across the Army network, McCarthy said.
"We formalized the relationship between stakeholders, requirements, acquisitions, sustainment, finance, legal and it all worked together as a team," he said.