Report: Army wastes billions each year on weapons systems it abandons
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 17, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army is wasting billions of dollars each year on weapons programs that will never be fielded, causing a crisis of confidence over the service branch’s capacity to manage its acquisition programs, according to an internal study obtained by the Washington, D.C., newsletter, “Inside the Army.”
“Inside the Army” was allowed to review the document, which was marked for presentation to Army Secretary John McHugh but has not been released to the public. The study showed that the Army has wasted between $3.3 billion and $3.8 billion per year on canceled programs since 2004.
At the heart of the problems is the Army’s penchant for starting programs it can’t afford. The Army also “lacks the resolve to work through program difficulties, cannot seem to get new equipment and technology to the operating force in time, [and] has not fielded a new-start ground combat vehicle in decades,” the newsletter reported last week.
The independent study, commissioned by McHugh, was led by former army acquisition chief Gilbert Decker and former Army Materiel Command chief, retired Gen. Lou Wagner. Wagner is expected to present the panel’s findings next week at the Association of the United States Army three-day winter symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which attracts many senior leaders and looks at the challenges facing the Army.
Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Alayne Conway said the Army did not have any immediate plans to release the document in advance of that conference, though senior leaders are taking the study’s recommendations into consideration.
“The big thing is determining the way ahead,” Conway said. “Some recommendations have been implemented and some we’re still taking a look at.”
Canceled programs represented an average of 35 percent to 45 percent of the Army’s annual budget for development, testing and engineering, according to Inside the Army.
With the Army’s budget is expected to tighten in the years ahead, the study raised concerns about the component’s ability to make efficient development decisions.
“The Army lacks a credible, quantitative model and process for determining realistic, achievable requirements for modernization and recapitalization given reduced budgets,” according to the “Inside the Army” account of the study.
The acquisition-reform review recommended that more organizations outside of TRADOC be included in the development process, which requires more oversight, the newsletter reported. Army leaders also should abolish its Research, Development and Engineering Command and more closely monitor the work done at the service’s research labs to eliminate costly redundancies in development.