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Army: New Command Won't Piss Away Billions On Bad Technology
With the establishment of its new Futures Command, the Army pinky swears that the problems that doomed its $18 billion Future Combat Systems program in the last decade will not recur.
- On Friday, senior Army leaders announced the service was consolidating its modernization efforts in a single command that will be located in Austin, Texas. The city was selected based on a number of factors, including the availability of talent from the private sector, access to top-tier academic institutions, and quality of life.
- Task & Purpose asked Army officials how the new command will prevent a repeat of the Future Combat Systems debacle — an eight-year Army effort to develop revolutionary new vehicles, communications networks, drones, and other technology that bled cash until it was mercifully put to sleep by then-defense secretary Robert Gates in 2009. The failure was so colossal that the Army has still not recovered, nearly a decade later.
- By consolidating the Army’s modernization enterprises under one roof, Futures Command is meant to make the Army’s acquisition system faster and more efficient, said Army Secretary Mark Esper: “You now have a single commander in charge of everything from the future force design and concepts all the way through how we spend our RDT&E; [Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation] dollars to the prototyping and testing and soldier involvement into acquisition and ultimately to fielding.”
- Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, who was serving in the defense secretary’s office when Future Combat Systems was cancelled, said the program’s fundamental flaw was that “the operational concept and the technical concepts were not linked.” Since the concepts for technology kept changing, the program lasted longer than intended, increasing costs. Futures Command, he said, is meant to bring key-decision makers together to “cut the number of layers between the information and the leadership.”
- Another change is thenew command will be focused solely on what the Army needs in the future, so it will not be distracted by the needs of the current fight, said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. “You can have people thinking about the future, they develop the concepts, they look at the technology, they work side-by-side and they come up with the type of materiel that we’re going to need to be successful in the future,” he said.
- The Army needed to centralize its modernization enterprise because none of the commands currently conducting research and development was focused on “the deep future,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “We’re in the midst of a change in the very character of war and we didn’t have an organization solely dedicated to that,” Milley said. “That’s important. Our analysis indicates that it will avoid a lot of avoid a lot of the pitfalls of previous program failures.”
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.