New Army Secretary Wants to Field Gear Faster

A U.S. Army soldier guards the perimeter during a mass casualty and extraction exercise with Airmen from the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, June 16, 2016, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (Photo by Tyrona Lawson/U.S. Air Force)A U.S. Army soldier guards the perimeter during a mass casualty and extraction exercise with Airmen from the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, June 16, 2016, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (Photo by Tyrona Lawson/U.S. Air Force)

Eric Fanning, the new U.S. Army secretary who took over the job last month, has signaled one of his first priorities will be trying to more quickly field gear and equipment to soldiers.

The service’s top civilian talked about some of the challenges with the existing process at a breakfast this week in Washington, D.C., as my colleague Matthew Cox reported:

Complicated acquisition policies and redundant levels of oversight are challenges that have long plagued service secretaries and their chiefs of staff, he said.

“It is an enormous process; there is lots of institutions, processes and people vested in it staying the way that it is,” Fanning told an audience at a breakfast organized by the Association of the United States Army, an advocacy group based in Arlington, Virginia.

“I think we have to loosen it up. We are just not fielding capabilities as fast as we should, and we are spending a lot of money in the process of fielding it that we could be using for resource rather than process.”

But other than creating a new so-called Rapid Capabilities Office, Fanning didn’t offer much more in the way of specifics. For example, he didn’t specify what type of equipment — smaller items like armor or weapons or bigger ones like vehicles and helicopters — might be best suited for a new fast-track acquisition process.

Either way, it seems like a welcome step.

The Army isn’t the only service that has taken months, even years, in fielding much-needed equipment into the field — in addition to wasting billions of dollars developing technology it never used in combat. For example, one industry source recently told Military.com, Army bureaucrats recently tried to develop a new dump truck — only to abandon the effort after companies pointed out that many such vehicles already exist on the commercial market.

Read the rest of Cox’s story at Military.com.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.