Army lays down ‘7 commandments’ for reform

A top official says that if the service follows his guidelines, it can get its acquisitions into good shape for the future.

One of the Army’s top “resource officers” — i.e., the money guys — laid down “seven commandments” Tuesday that he believes will help put the service’s acquisitions back on course. Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox, deputy chief of staff for the Army’s G-8 office, (which describes itself as “the lead for matching available resources to the defense strategy and the Army plan”) said he didn’t need a full 10 commandments. If the Army can abide by them, seven will do.

“This would have happened to Moses if part of one of the tablets broke on the way down the mountain,” Lennox said. He appeared on a panel at the Association of the United States Army’s annual trade show in Washington.

First, Lennox said, the service must set and enforce its priorities. Starting with its networks at the top, then going to the Ground Combat Vehicle and down the list, the Army can’t suddenly decide to change its mind about what its most important goals are — unless it’s really important.

Second is “revalidating and adjusting requirements as needed and avoiding requirements creep.” Lennox used the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle as an example — after “eight or nine months of hard work,” service officials believe they can bring down the vost of the trucks and go forward with the program despite the broad skepticism in Washington. This precept will be essential for GCV as well, which some top Pentagon cost-estimators believe could fall into an Army requirements vortex and continue to grow in cost as it bounces around the service bureaucracy.

Third: “Making sure affordable requirements are looked at at the portfolio level.” This speaks to the current Army vogue of “portfolio reviews,” in which service officials don’t just look at the way programs are performing through “a soda straw,” but in the broader context of, say, artillery or aviation. Army Department officials love to cite this as a positive trend, but it’s difficult to suss out how effective it has been.

Fourth: “Using affordability as an independent variable,” Lennox said. “Focusing on affordability, seeing how it fits into the Army.” In other words: Being expensive must be a reason on its own for program officials to review or even eliminate a program.

Fifth: “Eliminating redundancies and eliminating inefficiencies.” Lennox cited the Army’s decision to cede the C-27J Spartan cargo plane to the Air Force and its Joint High-Speed Vessels to the Navy, which enabled the military to keep those platforms but spread their costs around the Corporation. The Army could do more of that, he said, but he did not name what programs or platforms it might move: “We’ve demonstrated trust, from the Army perspective, that we can rely on our joint brethren, that we can do that kind of roles, and we’ll have to trust them in the future.”

Update: Lennox later told reporters in a press conference that the Army also is beginning talks with the Air Force for transferring four of its new Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance System aircraft, but that’s at a very early stage.

Sixth is “leveraging technology” and consumer off-the-shelf products, Lennox said. We heard about an example of this on Monday, when the Army’s aviation leaders said they’re considering buying an interim helicopter to fill in for the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.

Seventh seems straightforward, but Lennox said the Army hasn’t always done it: “Managing procurement quantities to the pace of modernization. This is so you don’t field the whole Army so that when you get the last truck fielded, you need an MRAP ATV and you haven’t build that truck yet,” he said.