The Army’s set of five interlocking reforms will make its acquisition system faster and more efficient. Just by using CFTs it hopes to reduce the time needed to develop requirements from 60 or more months to 12 or less. The overall goal, according to Secretary Esper, is to shorten the acquisition cycle to between 5 and 7 years. But how fast can any acquisition system go when asked come up with cutting edge capabilities that can operate in any environment, survive combat and last for decades? The history of Army programs shows wide variation in acquisition timelines. A review of successful major acquisition programs over the past half century suggests that they take a minimum of a decade, but more often 15-20 years, to go from concept development to initial operating capability (IOC). Is there an “iron law of acquisition” that defines the minimum time even any system will take to deliver a new major weapons system? I have written about this for The National Interest here.
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