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Army Acquisition Leadership paints bleak picture for Army acquisition
 
The AUSA's Annual Meeting and Exposition press conference (21 October) of Heidi Shyu (Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) and General Dennis Via (Commander of the Army Materiel Command) was not the place to go for those looking for a rosy assessment for Army acquisition.
 
Army public affairs officials coulda/shoulda had a funeral dirge playing in the background as a grim Ms. Shyu described the Army's current situation, which she described as "a perfect storm of continuing resolutions, sequestration and government shutdown."   
 
Investment accounts such as Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) are unduly impacted, she noted, because spending on personnel and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) are tied to manpower/endstrength, which is not yet declining in sync with Army budgets.  
 
In attempting to respond to questions over the direction and timing of key Army programs such as the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and the Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) helicopter, the Army's Acquisition Executive could say only: "We are in belt-tightening mode..... we're lurching because our budget is lurching."  As a result she could not indicate whether these bellweather programs would be delayed, continued or terminated.  "We are looking at the options right now.  We are either going to delay or terminate them." 
 
So what is the Army doing in its planning and what programs stand to survive or even thrive in this uncertain planning environment?  Said Ms. Shyu:
 
  • The Army is building two POM (Program Objective Memoranda) plans to account for possibility/probability of continued sequestration -- "One is a good POM and the other is a bad POM."  
  • The Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is evaluting closely what manpower and materiel capabilities are most needed moving forward.  Ms. Shyu noted that she would not be surprised to see Army end strength reduced below the 490,000 target.
  • While the Army is "in a belt-tightening mode" the Service will continue to incrementally improve and modernize its aging systems and platforms like the Apache, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters; Bradley Fighting Vehicles; M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, which will be upgraded to Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles; Paladins; and Abrams tanks.  A technology area identified as of highest priority is the ability of Army helicopters to operate in degraded visual environments (DVE).
  • Existing legacy Army equipment that is not needed and/or that is too expensive to maintain will be eliminated.  When and where new equipment is purchased, the Army hopes to use multi-year contracts to tap discounts that will drive cost savings.  

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