By Pappalardo, Joe
National Defense , Vol. 90, No. 621
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be teaching the military and defense contractors equipping lessons that may not be applicable in the future, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac Jr., the Army's military deputy for acquisition, logistics and technology.
Yakovac voiced concern about keeping the ability to rapidly field new technologies, losing mobility by buying equipment that relies on static infrastructure and depending too heavily on contractor support in the field.
In the current fight, operational needs have been pushed to the forefront, and funded with emergency war appropriations from Congress. However, Yakovac said he worries about what will happen when the fighting slackens and the money is not as forthcoming.
"I lose sleep over losing supplementals," he said. "They have allowed the Army to have a future." He suggested continuing supplementals for two years after hostilities end--he did not suggest a timeline for the conflict's end--to ensure the sustainment of new programs that proved themselves in battle.
The ability of the Army to respond quickly to equipment requests is far from sacrosanct, Yakovac said. Experiments with the concept of autonomous rapid fielding failed during 1997-8, when a $100 million program fell victim to congressional oversight, Yakovac said. The idea was for the Army to use the money and report results back to Congress. However, he said the Army received a "laundry list" of oversight demands and the program eventually died. "It was like a regular program," he said. "It became part of the bureaucracy."
Yakovac said he fears the streamlined system that has brought useful equipment to war zones will suffer when the fighting ebbs. To continue rapid fielding initiatives will take enthusiastic support from the secretary of defense and Congress. "We have to get the rest of the team to play," he said. "When money is dedicated without being tied to something concrete, normally it's gone. …