HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Not only is the Army not in fighting shape for future wars, it is in such dire need of systemic modernization that it is in “shameful” condition, according to the service’s chief logistician.
The Army must challenge and change the status quo that has resulted in the Army suffocating under the burden of its own bureaucracy and mired it in complacency over the past 15 years of war, Gen. Gus Perna, chief of Army Materiel Command (AMC), said March 26 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.
“It is shameful what we’ve come to,” he said. “We must hold our selves accountable to break the bureaucracy, change the status quo. We can only do this if we are up front and honest with each other and we understand what each of our priorities are.”
Modernization milestones reached in days between the World Wars now take months, Perna said. What took that famously unprepared Army months now takes years and what then took years now takes decades. He called the current budgeting process “archaic” and harmful to the Army’s ability to respond to threats and contingencies with agility.
“The problem is, we have not significantly modernized since the ‘80s,” Perna said. “The necessary focus on those missions combined with constrained or limited buying power has been a problem and will be a problem. It has slowed, deterred and at some times eliminated our ability to modernize for the future.”
Meanwhile, near-peer competitors like China and Russia are integrating new technologies faster than the U.S. Army, he said. He posed that problem to the conference and asked if the Army will “admire the problem” or will it do something about it.
“This I find really frustrating as a senior leader in our Army, but this really should scare you,” Perna said. “Our enemy is not restrained by our bureaucracy or our funding. Our enemy is producing innovatively to defeat us on future battlefields.”
Creation of the Army’s new Futures Command is a good start on the path to recovery, Perna said. Giving the Secretary of the Army and other senior leaders a single commander to hold responsible for modernization will have “exponential success,” he said.
“It will allow [Army Forces Command] to focusing on training and readiness,” he said. “It will allow Army Materiel Command to focus on sustainment and logistics. It will allow TRADOC to focus on recruiting, training and educating. In itself, the simplicity is brilliant. The challenge will be in the execution.”