4th Annual Army Forum

Published: November 08, 2019

ARMYDefense & AerospaceInformation TechnologyNetwork Services

Government and Industry came together on October 31, 2019 for the Potomac Officers Club's 4th Annual Army Forum to discuss the latest news and challenges facing the Army.  Leaders within the Army discussed both progress as well as challenges in achieving the Army's six modernization priorities:

  • Long-Range Precision Fires
  • Next Generation Combat Vehicle
  • Future Vertical Lift
  • Army Network
  • Air and Missile Defense
  • Soldier Lethality

Dr. Bruce D. Jette, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA(ALT)) of U.S. Army, delivered the Keynote Speech. Jette indicated that despite recent changes in Army leadership, these top six priorities have not changed.  Jette discussed the significance of advanced manufacturing in addressing these priorities and improving industrial production.  The Army continues to seek out automated processes for manufacturing.

Following Jette's Keynote Speech was the "Achieving a Modernization Renaissance" Panel moderated by Billy Fabian (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments).  The panel included the following Army leaders:

  • Major General David G. Bassett - Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications Tactical (PEO C3T)
  • Stuart Hazlett - Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement) (DASA(P))
  • Dr. Alexis Lasselle Ross - Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Strategy and Acquisition Reform

Bassett kicked things off discussing the renaissance in Army modernization.  Acquisition reform remains a priority and is an ongoing process.  There is a continued need for experienced acquisition officials.  Network modernization underlies all of the Army's priorities. Improving both performance and connectivity are keys to success.  Bassett discussed incremental development with the use of two-year capability sets to achieve network modernization.  They are currently working on Capability Set 21, which includes fielding the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) to infantry brigade combat teams (IBCTs).  Bassett cautioned that continuing resolution does however affect the timelines associated with these capability sets.

Ross discussed Intellectual Property and the need for a more balanced approach.  In the past, the Army has asked for either too much or too little. Intellectual Property in many cases could be the lifeblood of a smaller company so when more data and rights are demanded than required, that can drive away companies.  Open communication early on with industry is a key principle in achieving this balanced approach.  Ross went on to discuss advanced manufacturing and its role in modernization.  Advanced manufacturing incorporates new and innovative technologies including AI/Robotics as well as new composite materials.  Advanced manufacturing transforms the design, development, and sustainment process of weapons systems and ultimately improves Army readiness.

During the Q&A portion, Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) were a common theme.  The Army has been utilizing more OTA and Middle-Tier Acquisition authorities as they do speed up the process.  Bassett believes, "better now" is more important than "perfect later" and OTAs support that mindset.  Hazlett stated $4.9B was obligated under OTAs in FY19 for the Army, which is a 67% increase from the previous fiscal year. $7B total was obligated for all of Defense in FY19. Given the Army's priorities and necessity for capabilities being delivered to the warfighter faster, it seems likely spending under OTAs will continue to rise.

The next Potomac Officers Club’s event will be held on November 19, 2019 and will cover Unmanned Systems in the Future Fight.