The undersecretary of the Army today pledged to win the trust of the defense industry as part of a new strategy to rebuild the service.
Karl Schneider said Congress has promised help the Army modernize and grow its end-strength on one condition: the Army must reform the way it does business with the defense industry.
“Maintaining our advantage as the world’s most dominate land force requires that we re-imagine how we work with the defense industry,” Schneider told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Our focus must be on providing solutions and solving problems, not simply on checking a list of requirements.”
For a long time, DoD led the way in fielding new capability, but industry is now ahead of the Army in technological advancements and the Army has to take advantage of it, he said.
“Today there are potential adversaries fielding missile, rocket and artillery systems that outrange our own systems,” Schneider said. “They are capable of defeating even our most heavily armored vehicles.”
The Army needs to provide active protection systems to armored vehicles, modernize its Multi Rocket Launch Systems and develop a new suite of systems to counter enemy unmanned aerial systems, Schneider said.
To do that, the Army will need to change its culture to ensure better partnerships with industry, he said.
“Often I think our inflexibility frustrates those who have worked with us for a long time and it deters new innovative companies from partnering with us in the first place,” Schneider said. “They just don’t want to put up with the bureaucracy.”
One way to gain the trust of industry is to embrace a system that opens the door for the Army to be audited much like corporations constantly work to improve the audibility of their books.
“They do that because they want their investors to trust them,” Schneider said. “We need to be able to the same things with our books. … It has to be about how can we get people to trust us.”