DOD acquisition under fire

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Senior technology leaders in the military services say the Defense Department’s current acquisition structure is too slow to equip warfighters in the war on terrorism.

They called for change and innovation to fix the growing problem Oct. 17 at the Milcom 2005 conference. “We are all seeking an acquisition standard that gets a capability to the warfighter as soon as possible,” said Army Lt. Gen. John Curran, director of the Futures Center at the Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Army Maj. Gen. Roger Nadeau, commanding general of the Army Research Development Engineering Command, was more blunt. “Traditional acquisition isn’t working,” he said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Tommy Crawford, commander of the Air Force Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, said the service takes six years to field a new system when technology changes every 18 months. “This is unacceptable in the world of information technology,” he said.

Army Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army’s chief information officer, said DOD’s current acquisition structure is too slow. He said technology and acquisition officials must work together to solve the problem.

Nadeau said the Army has several success stories in which officials procured technologies outside traditional acquisition strategies for the war on terrorism. He cited the Phraselator, a handheld device that allows warfighters to communicate with locals in their language, and the Packbot, a robot that lets them see inside buildings and caves.

Crawford said military officials can take several steps to speed the acquisition of systems. For example, they can use battle laboratories to work on promising technologies.

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