The following Blog is from Major (Retired) Scott A. Meehan, the author of published books, fictional characters, starring Asha Hawkins, an Army BRAT, and founder of PTSIO. (Asha gets a break this evening).
As a twenty-five year Army veteran who spent his last three years in the Middle East fighting the "War on Terror," I, like so many others, can look back and make a fair, "arm-chair quarterback" assessment. I came across an interesting article from a recent Defense News magazine. In it, General John Murray, the US Army Futures Command Chief, talks about how the new command will change the service.
To summarize his key-points, in my view anyway, he stated two things that were solid hits: 1. - "Successful force modernization requires sound assessments of the future, clear strategy and close collaboration among all force modernization functions — e.g., concepts development, requirements determination, technology development and acquisition." 2. - "...by as early as 2030 our Army may be dramatically challenged by a convergence of factors, including advances in low-cost sensors, precision-strike technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomy, directed energy, biology, quantum computing and information technologies that will fundamentally change how we fight. Meanwhile, geostrategic changes — including urbanization and demographic shifts — may change where and why we fight." I would, however, change the word, "may" to "will" be dramatically challenged.
Absent from this article, again from my perspective, is a sobering Lesson Learned from the past war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. What am I referring to? The major hindrances that kept us and will keep us from rapidly moving forward. I am referring to the nuances involved in political differences at the highest levels...more specifically, the obstacles impeding progress via the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) guidelines and on Procurement Contracting.
Experiencing first hand one of the primary methods used to save thousands of lives during *OIF and *OEF was the effectiveness of Contingency Contracting. The procedures used, although legal, were often improvised, methods necessary to solicit, procure, test, and close on contractual deals that filled in the life-saving gaps caused by long drawn out FAR contractual bidding and negotiations. This of course prevented timely deliverance of appropriate life-saving equipment and supplies that were absent during the initial launch of battle.
Everyone remembers, or should remember, the lack of armor on transport vehicles ridden by so many of our men and women of the armed forces during the early stages. Another FAR hindrance worth mentioning, was the drawn-out process in procuring the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle that was needed immediately for the warfighters but not delivered until it was too late for many.
I believe that General Murray correctly identified the future challenges facing our Defense. This can be attributed to good business forecasting on his part. However, I hope that collectively we can recognize the stagnating processes of becoming too "wrapped around the axle" or rather, too bogged down with what I would call, "Red-tape bureaucratic legalism". We could then take swift action forward via preventive Contingency Contracting measures (legal of course), prior to any emergency situation before it arises.
Scott A. Meehan
USA, MAJ (Ret.)
* Operation Iraqi Freedom
* Operation Enduring Freedom