There will be changes at the top, he says, but jobs in the acquisition trenches won’t change.
By Mr. Steve Stark, senior editor, Army AL&T magazine
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Aug. 23, 2018)—Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski brought his roadshow tour here Friday to discuss the changes to the Army that are in progress as the new Futures Command moves from its initial operational capability last month to final operational capability next summer.
A confluence of events brought the Army Futures Command into being, said Ostrowski, the principal military deputy (PMILDEP) to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)). Those changes began with Congress pushing accountability for program management from the undersecretary of defense down to the services.
Concerned that acquisition was fundamentally too slow, “Congress started to take a look at the environment that we find ourselves in today,” he said. There was agreement that the acquisition process is too slow and needed to more accurately reflect reality, Ostrowski said, noting that “if you take a look across the entire spectrum of technology and how fast the commercial marketplace and commercial industry, … the technologies are exploding. The ways that we have done business, the industrial base, the process base, the Cold War-based process—the way we acquire goods and services is no longer going to work.”
ONLY CHANGES AT THE TOP FORESEEN
In explaining the changes that the new command brings, Ostrowski said to the Fort Belvoir audience, “So, what does that mean to you? …What it means to you is that there will be changes at the high level … but the bottom line is, in terms of the day-in and day-out of what it is you do, there will be no change. PEO EIS [the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems] is not moving from Fort Belvoir. PEO Soldier is not moving from Fort Belvoir.
“The jobs you’re in today will be the jobs here tomorrow, going to be the jobs you are in in the future.” That, he said, was something he wanted people to hear from him.
Ostrowski began his roadshow tour Aug. 14 at the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) in Orlando, Florida.
The structure of the Futures Command is based on leadership wanting to do “something revolutionary,” he said. “What we didn’t want to do was put Futures Command on a military installation, first and foremost. We didn’t want to do that because we wanted to make sure … that anybody that wanted to from industry could come in and see us without having to go through 17 security checks and gate checks and all the rest of it. We wanted it to be a completely open campus.”
The Army wanted the home of the new command to be a place with a high quality of life, so that talented people would volunteer to relocate. “But the main thing, though, was proximity to academia, proximity to industry, innovators.”
Ostrowski urged anyone interested in joining the new command to compete for the opportunity. “If you want to be part of that, we need great people doing great things.”
“Over the course of [fiscal years] ’16, ’17, ’18 and now ’19, we’ve had NDAAs [National Defense Authorization Acts] that have been completely revolutionary with respect to what it is they’re doing to fix this thing called acquisition,” Ostrowski said. “They gave the chief a ton more power and outlined his roles and responsibilities when it came to resourcing requirements. It forced him to get involved even more than he was already going to be.”
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley tapped Maj. Gen. James M. Richardson to do a “really deep dive into what else the Army can do,” Ostrowski continued, and “they came up with a couple of recommendations that have affected us. One of which is this thing called the cross-functional team, the CFT.”
That would be the mechanism for speeding up the slow process of developing requirements, which currently can take years. The amount of time that takes is “unacceptable, because we all know that the technology is moving too fast,” he said.
The Army has tried to develop “unobtanium”—aerospace engineering jargon from the 1950s used to describe something perfectly suited to whatever job, but completely impossible to attain—from unrealistic requirements written in a vacuum.
Instead, “If you can inform that requirement up front, if you have a contracting person informing it, if you have a program manager informing it, if you have science and technology informing it, if you have logisticians informing it, if you have budgeteers informing it, you have the requirements person himself there, and industry itself informing it, we would get much better requirements and wouldn’t be asking for unobtanium. There would be buy-in from that whole community.”
With the Futures Command, and leadership’s six priorities, the focus of all acquisition, that’s exactly what the Army has done.
A BETTER WAY
The Futures Command came into being because there was no single command accountable for Army modernization. The chief, Ostrowski said, wanted someone accountable for that. “So that’s what we have now. We have the Army Futures Command.”
Ostrowski went on to describe the three pillars of the new command. The first is Futures and Concepts, which is charged with answering the question, “What does the unit of action look like in 2036?” The Army, he said, needs “visionaries to figure that out.”
That’s because the “battlefield” of the future is predicted to be a very large city because most of the population of the world will largely be in large coastal cities. Warfare will be multidomain—land, sea, air, cyber and subterranean—because most such cities would comprise all of those domains.
Tasked with taking the concepts and figuring out how “to turn them into requirements with prototyping [and] experimentation” is Combat Development, the second pillar.
The third, Combat Systems, is the organization charged with turning the concepts and prototypes into actual combat systems.
A LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Changing the structure of the Army so significantly is not without difficulty, and the Army is being careful, Ostrowski continued, “because there’s this thing called Title 10, and Title 10 talks about the authorities within the law.”
U.S. Code Title 10 provides the legal authority for each of the services and all of the roles, responsibilities and authorities. Title 10, Ostrowski said, delineates “how the acquisition authorities flow.” That flow is from the new undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, “down to the service secretary to the service acquisition executive, who is in this case Dr. [Bruce D.] Jette, down to the PEO and down to the PM.” Title 10 also makes explicit, Ostrowski continued, “that no other entity beside the secretariat can form that group.”
“So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to carefully and cleverly determine the relationships between ASA(ALT) and AFC [Army Futures Command] as we go forward.”
Ostrowski compared the creation of the Futures Command to building an airplane in flight. He used an entirely different analogy to describe the relationship between the Futures Command and each of the subordinates. “So I liken this to building a park,” he said, noting that planners could either put down all the sidewalks before people visited the park, or they could wait until trails developed. “We’re doing it the second way,” he said.
Between initial operating capability and final operating capability, “we will build the relationships” between the Futures Command and the subordinates, such as those coming from ASA(ALT), the Army Materiel Command (AMC) and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
During the question-and-answer period at the end of the presentation, Ostrowski said that “there will not be a scenario, in my mind, where you’d see ASA(ALT) or PEO X or PEO Y assigned to Army Futures Command.” He emphasized that point a moment later, saying, “I don’t see us being assigned, in any way, shape or form, to the Army Futures Command,” and then added quickly, “Will we be in direct support? You betcha.”
The MILDEP roadshow continues at the PEO Combat Support and Combat Systems Support, and the PEO for Ground Combat Systems, then goes to the PEOs for Aviation and Missiles and Space. Next are the PEOs for Command, Control, Communications – Tactical, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors, and the Joint PEO for Chemical and Biological Defense. Ostrowski finishes the tour with the PEO for Ammunition.