Spend a little time around Army acquisition staffers these days and you’ll hear the term repeated again and again: the Agile Process.
Unlike some of its more obtuse cousins however, this latest bit of Pentagonese is actually pretty easy to wrap your head around. The short version is this: Once the Army identifies a capability gap that it decides it needs filled, the service kicks off the acquisition process by first sitting down with industry to determine what mature capabilities they already have that might fit the bill.
“That requires industry coming to the table and making an investment” up front, said Gen Robert Cone, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command this morning at the AUSA conference. But the end result is “going to be a compromise on both sides” as the Army and industry decide what tradeoffs will have to be made for the program to continue development.
Heidi Shyu, the Army’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology is one of the officials tasked with leading the charge to change the process. Appearing at a separate panel on Thursday morning, she said that her goal is to “challenge the requirements up front” in order to make fair tradeoffs between cost and capability.
Even with this new process in place, current budget realities will obviously dictate that the Army won’t be able to buy everything it needs in upcoming years, so the question the service will have to ask about the things it does buy is: “will the purchase have the potential for growth?” said Gen. Tony Cucolo, the Army’s director of force development. The Army no longer wants to buy equipment that can’t be rapidly upgraded as technologies continue to mature, Cucolo said, so it’s critical that the potential for growth is built into everything from radios to combat vehicles.