WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is embarking on a grand strategy to set up a new modernization command that will help it prioritize major efforts and streamline the acquisition process to stay ahead of near-peer adversaries.
But to do that means shaking up the status quo including potentially big changes to major commands, acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Wednesday at an Association of the U.S. Army breakfast in Arlington, Virginia.
McCarthy and the Army vice chief of staff have tasked Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, the director of the Army’s Office of Business Transformation, to lead a task force to shape the command and produce a series of recommendations expected around February. The command itself is expected to stand up no later than summer 2018.
“Within this process, we realized we are going to change [Training and Doctrine Command], we are going to change [Army Materiel Command], we are going to change [Forces Command]’s fundamental makeup,” McCarthy said. “So I had to make an adjustment to the terms of reference for this conditions-setting task force to realize that all of these decisions that are going to be made will alter those characteristics of these commands.”
And with that, Cardon’s charter “is bigger than just the future of [the modernization] organization ― how does it affect the entire Army,” McCarthy said.
When pressed further on the types of fundamental changes to commands, McCarthy told Defense News that the acquisition process now is like a “4x1 in a relay where we pass the requirement through the Army,” which takes too long and “at times you drop the baton.”
By putting all of those participants under one roof, the process should “theoretically” become easier, faster and more collaborative.
For instance, within TRADOC lies the Army Capabilities Integration Center, where the requirements process begins. “Will that stay there? Will it move to this modernization command? These recommendations will be teed up to us here in the February time frame,” McCarthy said.
In addition to considering changing major elements within commands as part of the process to standing up a modernization command, McCarthy is also waiting for the results of a science and technology review expected to be complete in just a few short weeks.
In a separate, exclusive Nov. 3 interview, McCarthy told Defense News that his guidance to those conducting the science and tech review is to make recommendations on what to do with such an effort that doesn’t necessarily fall within the modernization command’s six priorities but is “strategic in nature that clearly would be a force multiplier.”
“Maybe it’s something I can get [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] to pay for or go to [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] or somewhere else,” he added.
“There is probably vast duplication across the services and OSD, so I am working very hard,” McCarthy said, “so that we make sound investments.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.