Army works toward faster deployment of weapons; long war in Afghanistan allowed other countries to study, adjust

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.  -- Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said during a visit to Huntsville Tuesday that changes in the world mean the U.S. Army has to change as well.

McCarthy addressed the media during the Association of the U.S. Army Global Force Symposium at the Von Braun Center.

McCarthy said the Army has 243 years of tradition, but as “near-peer” competition has studied U.S. forces and made adjustments, the Army needs to adapt.

“The Army has to get faster, we`ve got to get in better shape,” he said.

The focus will be on faster testing, decision-making, and deployment, much of that will take place through a new Futures Command that is ramping up.

“So, as I mentioned requirements,” McCarthy said. “It`d take about five to seven years to make a determination about what you want.

“We want to do that in two years or less.”

McCarthy said the planned ramping up of the Futures Command reflects the needs Army leaders see.

“We also knew that we`re not organized to be as successful and effective as we could be on weapons systems development,” he said, adding it currently takes too long for weapons to get the people who need them.

“Historically it takes seven years to get a requirement locked down,” he said. “What is it that you want this key performance parameter on to a weapons system. And then from there you experiment, and you test it, and 20 years later you get the weapons system.”

The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, not long after the 9/11 attack and U.S troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.

McCarthy was part of the invasion force.

“I served there in 2001 during the invasion, I was with a Ranger regiment, he said. “I spent about four and a half years in the office of the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and I went back last fall, in September timeframe. That was the first time in about six years.

“Cumulatively probably well over a year a year and a half of my life there.”

McCarthy said U.S. forces have been successful.

“It`s remarkable the progress, the generational progress that`s been made with the Afghan national security forces, the reduction of conflict, the increase in commerce, education,” he said.

Now, in places like Huntsville, the Army is looking at making sure its needs are met through a faster, more focused planning process

“What kind of tank you want? Or helicopter you want? Or long-range precision fired weapons system?” McCarthy said.

And that will shape future battles, future wars.

“Then you can get it to the field sooner, in a relevant timeframe,” McCarthy said. “The US inventory, we want to make sure we can maintain that overmatch because threats evolve constantly. The speed of technology is moving faster than it ever has in history, in recorded history.

“So, the means for us to bring new applications to the force, we have to do it in a more relevant timeframe.”