As the Army looks to field future aviation programs, it should think more holistically about those efforts, the service’s program executive officer for aviation said Tuesday.

During a panel discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army’s conference in Washington, Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie said the Army should look across programs and consider addressing common problems with shared solutions.

That could mean program managers accepting solutions that might not be exactly what their programs need, but are better for the Army as a whole.

Barrie said Army offices have in the past looked at their programs’ requirements individually and sought funding and solutions to fix problems with those programs on their own.

“In the end, we did a very good job of coming up with optimum solutions for each of our individual platforms,” Barrie said.

But this stovepiped process won’t work anymore, Barrie said, and the culture has to change.

“What we need to do [is] be willing to accept what in some cases may be a less-than-optimal solution for each platform in order for the whole to get a better solution,” Barrie said. “And for us to do that in an affordable way, and for us to do that at the pace of technology to keep up with our threats.”

Barrie said the aviation branch has looked at its past failures to learn from them. It came up with nine ongoing lines of effort involving policy, governance, structure, resourcing and others “to correct the sins of the past.”

The aviation branch has also set up a transformation office to subject spending to close scrutiny, Barrie said.

“Inside that office, we will make decisions on every single investment dollar that goes into the portfolio and run it through a lens to determine, is this the best use of this capability, and am I leveraging it to the greatest extent possible across the suite?” Barrie said.

Maj. Gen. Wally Rugen, the head of Army Future Vertical Lift modernization, said the modular open systems approach could help the Army afford to simultaneously pursue two future vertical lift aircraft -- the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.

He pointed to a recent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments report on the programs’ affordability, which found more investment in MOSA could boost competition and help keep costs down.

Jen Judson contributed to this report.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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