WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is looking to change its promotion and personnel management system inside its acquisition workforce to create more continuity for its programs, the head of the brand-new Army Futures Command said Wednesday at the second annual Defense News Conference.
Gen. John Murray told attendees that the Army needs to rethink how it promotes individuals in acquisition, and that the way the service finds and promotes talent for its units in the field may not be best for business operations.
The Army must look into extending how long people are associated with any given buying project, Murray said, something supporters argue will increase project ownership and accountability.
“I think timelines for how long we keep people associated with programs has got to change,” he said.
“It’s just not the [program executive officers] and [program managers], although I think [about] some extended timelines in how we manage the careers of PMs and PEOs, but also for instance the cross-functional team directors,” he added, referring to the heads of teams set up under Army Futures Command to tackle top modernization priorities.
Those priorities are mean to address emerging threats and better position the service for great power competition. The command is setting up teams that will rapidly develop prototypes in areas from Long Range Precision Fires to combat vehicles to new rotary-wing aircraft.
Murray said that extending the tours within programs will require some cultural change inside the Army.
“We’ve got to change the culture [to where] it’s OK to do that,” he continued, “because what you get in the Army is what you reward. And the way we reward people is through promotion boards and advancement, and you get that in the Army by commanding organizations, not by being associated with a program for an extended period of time.”
Murray’s command, which is newly located in Austin, Texas, is designed to shake up the way the Army does business and bring a more creative kind of culture to the endeavor.
The Army has experienced a number of failures over the years, from wasting billions of dollars on its canceled Future Combat Systems program, to botching smaller efforts to procure readily available technology while it’s still relevant.
Land warfare reporter Jen Judson contributed to this report.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.