The Army’s top acquisition official said Monday the service has started studying models that could inform prioritization of its major modernization programs in the face of likely flat or declining budgets as well as assessing the long-term economic impact of sustaining future equipment.

Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA (ALT)), told attendees during an online AUSA event officials have brushed off Cold War-era economic models to help inform the implications of bringing on future weapon systems past the current six-year budget window.

Dr. Bruce D. Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Aquisition, Logistics and Technology), poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Jan. 2, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

“Our general behavior pattern is to look two years out. One of the things we’re trying to do is say what is the life-cycle of a particular capability, how does that fit together and how does it remain affordable in the long-term,” Jette said. “We are taking some steps to provide additional data in case there’s a prioritization that does come down the road due to changes in the budget profiles.”

Jette reiterated the Army’s priority is to stick with the development of all “31 plus three” signature systems, ranging from Future Vertical Lift platforms to the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, while noting the service is developing a “holistic economic model” to understand how budget uncertainty may impact prioritization.

“As the ASA (ALT), we wrestle with these two year [budget outlooks], really budgeting one year or two years at a time, looking at six years ahead. And after that, we tend not to look terribly far. In the meantime, we’ve got some huge systems coming along and they’re coming outside those windows,” Jette said. “I need to make sure these things all line up correctly. I have to have a much longer view of the economic battlespace.”

Senior Army officials, including Jette, recently told reporters the service does not expect the ongoing pandemic to delay initial fielding of any major modernization systems (Defense Daily, April 23). 

Beyond rolling out new capabilities, Jette said his office is working with the Army G-8 to predict long-term economic impacts of sustaining new weapon systems based on Cold War-era models, which was the last time the Army completed a major modernization overhaul.

“What the objective is there, is to work with the G-8 and the economics cell at [West Point University] to lay a foundation upon which we can take a serious look at what are the long-term implications of owning a piece of equipment. Readiness is what we’re focused on, because modernization is a long-term component of readiness,” Jette said.