Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Army Secretary John McHugh told Senators that “controlling requirements” is the key to avoiding failed acquisition programs.  Testifying on the Army posture and the FY2012 budget request with Gen. Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff, Secretary McHugh said the Army recognizes it must “control requirements” to be able to develop and field requirements effectively and control costs. 

Responding to a statement by Subcommittee chair Sen. Inouye (D-HI) that the Army has spent large sums on programs that it later canceled, McHugh acknowledged that failure to control requirements has led to increased costs, delays in fielding, and in some cases program terminations.  He said the Army is working hard to make systems requirements less reliable on “immature and unavailable technology.”  He pointed out that this change along with introducing more competition is proving effective in controlling costs in the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program.

Secretary McHugh said the Army has embraced the recommendations of the panel established to review the Army acquisition process.  He said that the Army is moving to implement all but 13 of the 76 recommendations of the panel and is taking another look at the remaining 13.  He said the work of this panel as long overdue.

Gen. Dempsey told the committee the Army must do a better job of merging requirements to procurement objectives.  He pointed out that the Army seems to fare well with rapid acquisition programs, but not so well with longer-term acquisitions.  He said he thinks the Army should “pull the future forward” and limit the time to deliver programs to between 7 and 9 years, after which programs lack credibility.

In their prepared testimony on the FY2012 Army budget, Secretary McHugh and Gen. Dempsey said the Army has placed a renewed emphasis of cost management in general.  They pointed to the implementation of training programs to improve cost management skills. (e.g., the Cost Management Certificate Course).  In addition, they stated that the Army is providing better tools to manage costs.  They cited fielding of the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), a new business system that provides greater capability to manage program cost, schedule, and performance.

On another issue of keen interest to members of Congress, senators questioned the planned 27,000 troop strength reduction that is set to begin in FY2015.  Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) asked how the Army can be sure that the security situation in FY2015 will allow such reductions given the current daily changes in conditions in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Secretary McHugh assured the subcommittee the planned reductions are “conditioned-based” and he is confident these plans can change if future changes warrant it.

Their testimony also provided an overview of how the Army will continue to focus on four main imperatives in the FY2012 Army budget.

To sustain soldiers and families, the Army will increase time between deployments (dwell time) with an interim goal of at least two years at home for every year of deployment, recruit and retain quality soldiers and civilians, and provide the best possible care and services for servicemembers, families, and civilians.

To prepare forces for success in current conflicts, the statement described how the Army is growing responsibly to meet requirements, providing necessary training, providing forces with effective equipment on a timely basis, and providing a steady and sure flow of trained and ready forces through the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN).

To reset units returning from current deployments, the statement said the Army must revitalize soldiers and families by allowing returning forces time to “reestablish, nurture and strengthen personal relationships,” and by repairing, placing, and recapitalizing equipment as forces are drawn down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To transform forces to meet future challenges, the Army will complete the modular reorganization plan to convert Army brigades and accelerate the fielding of proven technologies with an emphasis on versatile, affordable, survivable, and networked equipment, and institutionalize the investment in reserve components.