Army Wants New Office to Field Gear Within Year

U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter pilots assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division land for refueling during gunnery at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho, Oct. 2, 2016. The Apache is being used as part of Raptor Fury, a month-long training exercise to validate the mission readiness of 16th CAB with support from nearly 1,500 7th ID Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo/Brian Harris)U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter pilots assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division land for refueling during gunnery at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho, Oct. 2, 2016. The Apache is being used as part of Raptor Fury, a month-long training exercise to validate the mission readiness of 16th CAB with support from nearly 1,500 7th ID Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo/Brian Harris)

The U.S. Army’s top civilian on Monday said he’s moving forward with plans to launch an office to field new technology to the force — an effort he hopes will get gear in the hands of soldiers in as little as a year.

Speaking to reporters at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C, Army Secretary Eric Fanning said the effort, unveiled in August and known as the Rapid Capabilities Office, is designed to issue equipment in a one-to-five-year window.

The effort is separate and distinct from the Rapid Equipping Force, designed to field products within 180 days, Fanning said.

“It’s different than the Rapid Equipping Force,” he said. “That’s set up to get … things off the shelf or slightly modified to the force in under 180 days. The Rapid Capabilities Office sort of fills the gap between that and our normal acquisition programs of record to try to accelerate targeted capabilities and … deliver it in the one- to five-year window.”

Fanning added, “What we were seeing is, as we build toward the Army of the future … adversaries are iterating more quickly, technology is iterating more quickly, and we can’t continue to modernize in the way that we always have in the past.”

For example, the Army doesn’t plan to use the office to purchase big-ticket acquisition items such as helicopters, but rather technology — a particular type of communications system or armament, for instance — that could be outfitted onto the aircraft, Fanning said.

“This office isn’t meant to be a workaround for the traditional acquisition programs of record; it’s meant to link into them,” he said. “There may be a capability on a helicopter that we need to get out faster and integrate into existing helicopters.”

The secretary added, “It’s not rapid equipping; it’s rapid capability.”

Fanning said he and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley plan to “formalize the first activities out of this office” by Nov. 1.

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.