By Jacqueline M. HamesOctober 12, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2011) -- The Army is focusing on bringing the Soldier more capabilities faster, through a culture of teamwork and collaboration, streamlining logistics, and increasing industry interactions, officials said Tuesday.
The Army is also concentrating on affordability and efficiencies, said Heidi Shyu, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, or ASA(ALT), during a forum Oct. 11 at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.
Panelists in the forum "Responsible and Agile Modernization for the Force of Decisive Action" hailed from across the Army, but the discussion was driven by ASA(ALT). The panel discussed how to remain Soldier-focused and provide capabilities quickly to the force.
Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips, director of Acquisition Career Management and military deputy at ASA(ALT), admitted that though the Acquisition Corps has its challenges, it is not broken. He emphasized the need for internal collaboration in the Army, as well as throughout the services, to ensure Soldiers receive the items they need most, fast.
"The MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle) is one of those (programs) that the Army has worked a joint program with the Navy and the Marines. We fielded that in less than a year," he said.
Another of the capabilities ASA(ALT) has fielded recently includes the M855A1 enhanced performance round, which won an award as one of the Army's greatest inventions of 2010.
"It's something that's small, and you may think 'How important is this?' This round is so important with what it does downrange with our Soldiers. They knew all about it," Phillips said.
Phillips also stressed the importance of industry collaboration.
"We need your help so we can help get it right for our Soldiers," he said. Through internal partnerships and those with industry, the force can become the most ready army in the world.
Marilyn Freeman, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, called the Soldier the "decisive edge" in determining which challenges, now and in the future, should be solved.
"We decided, in concert with everybody else, (to look) at the Soldier (as) the decisive edge being our focus," Freeman said. Instead of looking at modernization for the whole Army at once, Freeman believes they should start with small units of Soldiers at the boots-on-the-ground level and work out from there.
Freeman said there are seven priority problems that need to be resolved: force protection, waste handling, maneuverability, tactical over-match, overwhelmed Soldiers, the ability to get capabilities to Soldiers and how a Soldier thinks. She hopes that by focusing on smaller units, these challenges can be overcome quickly and efficiently.
The panelists agreed that getting quality, efficient capabilities to Soldiers quickly was one of the top priorities in the Army's modernization process, despite potential budgetary constraints.
The Army is scheduled to undergo budget cuts, and because the nation is still working to draw down the force, "the brunt of those cuts will come in modernization and training accounts," said Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox, deputy chief of staff, G-8. "It's not something the we want to do, but given the numbers, it will likely happen."
Lennox said the Army must continue to ensure its Soldiers receive the best equipment, and he believes that ASA(ALT) and other partner organizations will make sure that happens.
"We have to do what's right for our Soldiers in the future," he added.