Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2016 Contents The Army is also seeking less tangible progress toward innova-
tion through the quarterly summits sponsored by AMC as part
of the larger Army Innovation Campaign, with a concerted
emphasis on unifying multiple major players behind a common
vision of what the Army needs to do to foster a culture of change.
The first two summits involved Army organizations—including
AMC, the U.S . A rmy Training and Doctrine Command, U.S .
Forces Command, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the
Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, HQDA Gen-
eral Staff and the U.S . Army Corps of Engineers. “The fact
that you have the agencies together at the same time, working
together, I think that can kick us forward and propel us to be
more effective and efficient,” said Patrick O’Neill, AMC chief
Participation has grown from 115 attendees at the inaugural
summit in November 2015 to 144 at the second summit in
April. The next summit, in August, will bring industry and aca-
demia into the discussion as well, O’Neill said. “The whole idea
is, [innovation] is a process that needs to start and continue ...
you can just never stop. That’s why this is a campaign. It’s really
pushing to do the right thing and live up to what the chief of
staff has to do as far as readiness and the future Army.”
“The quarterly innovation summit program is a core component of
the Army’s Innovation Campaign and an important medium for
Army senior leader discussions,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton,
commanding general of the U.S . Army Research, Development
and Engineering Command, which hosted the second summit.
“This is an opportunity to build upon the knowledge and insight
gained during the first summit and discover new opportunities
to refine solutions that will enhance Army innovation.”
Notwithstanding the funding, cultural, regulatory and pro-
cedural barriers to innovation, there is reason to be optimistic
that the current push for innovation will produce results for the
warfighter. “The appetite from senior leadership is enormous,”
Welby told participants at the Innovation Summit. “We’re not
innovating because it’s the cool thing. We’re innovating because
it’s critical to our future.”
The question is whether the results will make a substantive dif-
ference in the United States’ technological status.
“The government needs to think about—and the person trying
to sell the government needs to think about—what application
these ideas will have, if it can really make an incremental change
at an affordable price,” Gansler said. That will take collaboration
among the requirements, budgeting and contracting communi-
ties—as well as with industry—to think ahead. “We need to
know what options we have, what are the things we could have
or the things that other people are doing and how it would make
any difference in defense,” he said.
The government also needs to be careful not to spread its dimin-
ished resources too thin, in Chew’s opinion. “I think that these
initiatives, if they were aimed at, ‘We’re going to do this instead
of that,’ then they would do something. Instead, I see a lot of,
‘We’re going to do this in addition to what [else] we’re doing.’
And that’s a problem.
“Despite all these obstacles, we haven’t been doing badly,” s aid
Chew, who has great faith in A merican ingenuity. “I do believe
in A merican exceptionalism,” he explained, and “one of our
‘exceptions’ as Americans is our ingenuity. We don’t overthink
a problem. We see a problem, and we get it done. We don’t see
obstacles. We see an opportunity.”
Chew sees an opportunity for DOD to take a clean-slate
approach to its S&T endeavors by challenging vested interests—
for example, he said, by unifying each of the services’ separate
laboratory systems into one “purple,” or joint system. “Purple
labs. Now that’s innovation. You know, you’d get a lot of action
[with] purple labs. Not Air Force labs, or Army labs, but OSD
[Office of the Secretary of Defense] labs.
“And then you need to encourage the industrial base and say,
‘Look, we really are trying to innovate.’ ”
For more information on DOD S&T resources, go to http://www.
acq.osd.mil/chieftechnologist/index.html; for more on DIUx,
go to http://www.diux.mil/; and on the Army Innovation Cam-
MS. MARGARET C. ROTH is an editor of Army AL&T magazine.
She has more than a decade of experience in writing about the Army
and more than three decades’ experience in journalism and public
relations. Roth is a Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Award
winner, and is a co-author of the book “Operation Just Cause: The
Storming of Panama.” She holds a B.A . in Russian language and
linguistics from the University of Virginia.
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