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Army pushes back on agile practices

The Army is looking to the Government Accountability Office to get on board with the agile practices of its new Army Futures Command.

James A. Faist, Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Advanced Capabilities, wrote in reply comments to a largely positive GAO report that one recommendation didn't take the AFC's game plan into account. The recommendation asked AFC to demonstrate technology "in an operational environment prior to starting system development."

"The AFC and the Army, at the behest of Congress, are trying to break the linearity of the modernization process," Faist wrote. "As is, this same linearity is implied in Recommendation 1."

GAO declined to alter the recommendation.

"We understand the Department's desire for flexibility, but continue to believe that reaching higher levels of technological maturity, through demonstrating technologies in an operational environment prior to beginning system development adds significant value by reducing risk; something that could help the Army deliver capabilities it believes are urgently needed," wrote Jon Ludwigson, the acting director for contracting and national security acquisitions.

AFC, with headquarters in Austin, Texas, is expected to be fully operational by July. The command is charged with leading the Army's most pressing modernization goals, including developing mobile networks capable of operating in contested environments and creating "future vertical lift" platforms to support manned and unmanned missions.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

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