Camarillo: Army Adapting to Meet Soldiers’ Needs

Camarillo: Army Adapting to Meet Soldiers’ Needs

Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo speaks at AUSA Global Force
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

As warfighting innovations advance, a “quiet revolution” is taking place in the Army that promises to change the way the service does business with industry, Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo said.

“Our innovation challenges aren’t technical, they really are institutional,” Camarillo said March 26 in his keynote address at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.

He acknowledged that the Army’s processes are designed around “two relatively fixed constraints” that include the two-year appropriations process and the time it takes to run the competitive contractor process required by law.

Some flexibility will help with both constraints, Camarillo said, but the Army must now work around them for a subset of new capabilities. This will require an ongoing conversation between the Army and industry for an outcome that’s beneficial to each.

“We need to work with all of you as we both learn how to adapt our processes and become much more creative in how we structure our approach,” Camarillo said. “The conversations about the defense industrial base are poised to take a U-turn.”

“I know that most of our industry partners that rely on traditional buying models might think that some of this is a big shift, [that] some programs may only be profitable once you achieve a large run of production over several years,” he said. “But if the Army is going to keep changing its technologies, and if it’s going to adopt new innovation, we need to ensure that there are incentives in place to continue to invest in the new generation of capabilities that we need.”

Changing the Army’s buying models would not be a luxury but an imperative if soldiers are to receive what they need as technology advances, he said. Camarillo acknowledged that the Army must be a good partner to industry, which must remain profitable and resilient.

“There’s a quiet revolution in the Army,” Camarillo said, pointing out that the Army is realizing now that it does not have to field new capabilities to the “entire Army,” that different capabilities can be fielded to different types of units and formations over time.

He also noted that as the Army looks at smaller production quantities of certain items, the service has to be willing to pay more to keep pace with required investments.

“All of this for some could be new, and it could be uncomfortable, but I think it can definitely work, and there are significant upsides, I think, both for industry and certainly for the Army to adapting our buying models to keep pace with the changes that I’ve described,” Camarillo said.

He pointed to the importance of events such as Global Force as a place for these critical two-way dialogues to take place.

“It provides a great opportunity for all of you to hear where we’re headed, where we’re placing emphasis in our modernization, what investments we’re making, and it also provides, very crucially, an opportunity for the Army to hear from all of you, hear from you about your capabilities, what challenges you face and where you are placing emphasis for the future,” he said.

The two-way dialogue, he said, “is at the heart of this event.”