The Army leadership hasn’t effectively communicated the message to the acquisition system that war may soon be coming and that the priority is to field systems that ameliorate critical capabilities gaps as soon as possible. Instead, for the acquisition system it’s business as usual. The focus is on long-term research projects and programs of record that won’t put anything into the field for another decade or two. When pressured, the system might reluctantly agree to acquire small numbers of off-the-shelf capabilities while still giving preference to program managers’ pet projects. Filling the Army’s critical capabilities gap will be challenging. But, when so much of the hard work has already been done and, in many cases, partial solutions exist, it makes no sense to continue to spend scarce resources on R&D and long-term programs that won’t field capabilities for a decade or more. Hopefully, Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark A. Milley’s recently proposal to overhaul the Army’s acquisition system will result in the rapid fielding of desperately needed capabilities. I have written a commentary on this topic for RealClearDefense here.
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