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Rapid Acquisition Cell Chief Says Mission Will Continue

Oct. 24, 2014 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

The director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell is stepping down, but the mission will continue, he said yesterday.

Andrew Hunter, the executive secretary of the Warfighter Senior Integration Group and the director of Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, said he is proud of the group he led and that the need still exists for such a capability.

Hunter is moving to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Rapid Acquisition Successes

Quickly fielding intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and putting together the effort to destroy Syrian precursor chemicals aboard the MVS Cape Ray are two aspects he is most proud of, he said during a roundtable discussion with reporters yesterday.

The effort around the Cape Ray could be used as a prototype for rapid acquisition and “how it can work,” Hunter said.

“It was something very difficult to do,” he said. “The department had to bring the pieces together very quickly.”

To destroy the chemicals, the department was not buying new systems, but adapting existing systems to new uses or platforms. “That’s the way rapid acquisition works,” Hunter said.

The process used Army technology and placed it aboard a Navy Military Sealift Command ship. The Army engineers and the Navy’s civilian mariners worked well together and accomplished a critical mission under the eyes of the world, he said.

“We started looking at the mission long before there was any kind of agreement to destroy the precursors,” Hunter explained. “I would like to believe that the fact that we had begun and were working on technology and identifying technology played some role in the fact that an agreement was reached -- that it was doable and could be done.”

Hunter is also proud that rapid acquisition is now part of the DoD Instruction. “For years people asked how to do rapid acquisition and now we can point to an enclosure in the instruction,” he said. “It’s not perfect and we will have to do some tinkering with it, but it is there and it emphasizes the importance of the process.”

Acquisition workforce improvement

The cell is involved in acquiring more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets for commanders around the world. ISR is the one capability everyone seems to agree on, he said, and the cell has and will continue to work on getting this enormously helpful capability to into the hands of war fighters.

It all comes down to people, Hunter said, and the acquisition workforce is getting better. “My view is that the hiring and training initiatives funded through the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund have been and will remain critical and have led to real improvements in the acquisition workforce in the last five years,” he said.

The department must guard that progress as many employees are retiring, he noted. “It will take significant effort to make sure we are gaining and not losing in terms of acquisition workforce capability over the next several years,” Hunter said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)