Perry Says Efficiency Leads to Savings
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
MONTEREY, Calif., Dec. 5, 1996 DoD must do business more efficiently so more money can be spent on soldiers and modernization than on overhead, said U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry.
"Transforming our acquisition process is the linchpin of this strategy," Perry told about 1,500 students of the Naval Post Graduate School and members of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronomics here Dec. 3. Acquisition reform is necessary if the United States is to maintain force dominance into the next century, he said.
U.S. forces used technology to dominate the battlefield during Desert Storm, Perry said. "We used technology to cut through the fog of war. Our commanders had sophisticated sensors and intelligence technology that provided almost complete, realtime battlefield awareness. Enemy commanders' battlefield awareness was limited to what they could see from their bunkers."
While visiting troops in Bosnia Nov. 28, Perry said he saw how advanced technology is serving troops there. "As I toured one of our base camps, a young soldier showed me a computer terminal hooked up to a satellite dish outside. Using this system, the troops download highresolution aerial imagery of the Bosnian countryside."
Reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned Predator drones collect the imagery. It's then analyzed in England and sent on demand to the computer terminal in Bosnia within hours after it is collected, he said.
"This imagery helps our troops see any movement of heavy weapons in violation of the peace agreement," Perry said. "And they see any gathering of troops or mobs that could harass them on patrols. This makes our troops more effective in their mission and saves lives."
Maintaining force dominance means keeping welltrained forces combat ready and requires an expensive modernization program, Perry said. DoD must increase its modernization budget by at least 40 percent over the next five years, he said.
As the administration works to balance the federal budget, he said, he expects to see no increases or cuts in the defense budget during this period. Funds for modernization will have to come from savings resulting from base closings, reduced inventory and acquisition reform, he said.
Transforming the acquisition process means more than overhauling the way DoD buys its systems, services and supplies, Perry said. It means an earthshaking shift in the way DoD acquires and adapts technology from the commercial sector and gets it into the hands of the troops, he said.
The Army, for example, is experimenting with new ways of acquiring technology as part of Force XXI, its experimental, digitized force for the future. Instead of acquiring new equipment, then developing the tactics and training to use it, teams of designers, acquisition specialists, evaluators and soldiers are working together simultaneously. This team approach can speed up the acquisition process by decades, Perry said.
Soldiers are a critical part in the Force XXI process, he said. "It was soldiers who created a special device to diminish the light emitted from computer monitors, which could have given away a soldier's position and interfered with his night vision," he said.
Soldiers also wrote instruction books on how to use new digital technology. "These instructions were made crystal clear from the perspective of the warrior rather than the perspective of a contractor in the laboratory."
DoD can also save money using commercial standards and buying practices, Perry said. A pilot program to buy joint direct attack munitions, for example, will save $3 billion, he said.
The program turns "dumb" bombs into "smart" bombs through adding a Global Positioning Satellite receiver and a control system to guide the fins. DoD is converting thousands of these bombs, Perry said. Under the old acquisition system using DoD specifications, conversion kits were going to cost about $42,000 per bomb. Under the new acquisition system, using commercial standards, the kits cost $14,000 per bomb.
Acquisition reform will also speed up DoD's access to rapidly advancing technology in the commercial marketplace. "In the long run," he said, "it will give us better and faster access to new generations of computers, microchips, communications and software."