Three keys to standing up the Army’s Modernization Command
Among the notable moments during this year’s Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference was the announcement of the intent to stand up a Modernization Command by mid-2018. Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy indicated the Command will consist of “cross-functional teams” reporting directly to the undersecretary of the Army and the vice chief of staff.
The intent of this ambitious undertaking is to create the mechanism for rapidly identifying gaps, determining capabilities and spurring industry to bring forward new concepts around six priorities. These include next-generation combat vehicles, air and missile defense, soldier lethality, improved long-range precision fires, vertical lift platforms, and a mobile and expeditionary Army network. These priorities have been topics of intense discussion over several years, so there were few surprises about the focus.
The intent is to streamline the delivery of needed capabilities to the warfighter
From my perspective, the concept should have broad industry support, as the intent is to streamline the delivery of needed capabilities to the warfighter. I would further argue that improving the quality and speed of capabilities delivery is much needed and long overdue.
This is not the first time that Army leadership has unveiled a new initiative aimed at fixing acquisitions. The mechanism for how the government buys warfighting capabilities could and should work better. To illustrate this point, it’s been more than six years since the Army secretary first talked about changes to the tactical radios program, and while there is evidence of this change providing value in the field today, there’s more work to be done.
While the programs that are caught in perpetual do-loops often involve technology, the issue is not fundamentally a technology problem—it’s a process problem.
The Army is being careful when realigning responsibilities under a new Command, being mindful not to create new layers of oversight that could impede the path to success. Importantly, the Army also needs to “bake-in” industry collaboration from the start as they create this new model of rapid fielding.