The Army’s new Futures Command will operate on an annual budget of $80 million to $100 million needed to handle the service’s approximately $30 billion to $50 billion modernization portfolio, the Secretary of the Army said Wednesday.
Mark Esper, the service’s senior civilian official, told reporters he is working with Army leadership to start shifting funds towards Future Command’s top modernization priorities needed to start delivering advanced capabilities, such as long-range precision fires and next-generation combat vehicles, within the next few years.
“We are trying to take a fundamentally different approach to acquisition. The aim is to reduce that requirements process from five to seven years down to a year to eighteen months,” Esper told reporters at a Wednesday event. “We will be shifting our money to make sure there is money there for research and development and rapid production.”
Futures Command, which was officially activated this past Friday, brings the Army’s entire modernization apparatus under one operation to match increasing investments in advanced capabilities from near-peer competitors, including China and Russia.
Esper said he is working with Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, to rank the service’s modernization goals and determine what can be cut to free up funds for the Cross Functional Teams (CFT) leading each of the six modernization priorities.
“Budget resources are too constrained these days to waste money and waste time,” Esper said.
Army officials are still working through finalizing acquisition reforms, according to Esper, who also said it was also too early to determine which budget areas may see funds shifted towards modernization.
Gen. John “Mike” Murray, head of Futures Command, will oversee the Army’s $30 billion modernization portfolio and work to align Army and industry efforts to reduce requirements and increase experimentation to get new vehicle and weapons system prototypes out to soldiers more rapidly, according to Esper.
“With everything, I’m pushing folks to move left, get capabilities out to the field. Let soldiers experiment with next technology and see how they like to use it,” Esper saaid.
Esper said he and Milley are focusing their attention on near-weekly briefings from CFT leadership, with the goal of making constant modernization program reviews the new norm acquisition efforts.
“What I hope happens is, or the next step taken would be, Army Futures Command and CFTs will always have a place on my schedule and the chief’s schedule and it becomes a routine, a practice that we’ve done and have always done, and so that becomes the expectation not just for AFC and the CFTs, but for future service secretaries and future chiefs of staff,” Esper said.