Following two years of top-line budget increases passed through Congress and appropriated on time and recent acquisition authorities, the top civilians of the Army, Navy, and Air Force all echoed similar sentiments that they have all the authorities and tools they need at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Friday, February 8.
“We have the tools that we need there on the table,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said. “Now it’s up to leadership to say, pick up the tool and bang it around and use it.”
The new prototyping acquisition authorities have dramatically helped, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.
Wilson said under previous authorities when building a next-generation engine, for example, they would do a five-year study, set requirements, and get “a big stack of paper at the end” that don’t even help really understand what can be built. Now, she said, they just gave out prototyping contracts to two of the three largest engine manufacturers, so that the Air Force can better understand the realm of the possible.
All three, however, also emphasized the need and the importance of the budgets, calling on Congressional leaders to provide “predictable, adequate, sustained, and timely budgets,” as Secretary of the Army Mark Esper put it.
Wilson highlighted the importance of the Air Force “actually” executing about a quarter of the budget in the first quarter of the year.
“You have to be a responsible client,” Spencer said. “I have to be clear on what I need and what I can provide. And in that case, the biggest thing that we can provide right now is consistent funding to allow our partners in the private sector to spend the [Research and Development] dollars to provide us the solutions that we need.”