Committee will push for fielding new IT faster

The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has vowed to boost the speed of bringing new technologies to warfighters.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who assumed committee leadership last month, said the threat of war with Iraq makes it imperative that the military has the latest technologies.

He said the modernization budget must grow to keep up the pace of development. In the 2002 Defense budget, $71.8 billion was earmarked for modernization'an increase over the $45 billion to $50 billion in funding for modernization during the Clinton administration.

'Technology is improving dramatically,' Hunter said. 'It's very important that we get new technology to the R&D and procurement processes very quickly. We haven't seen that in the past.'

Hunter said his committee would work with a blue-ribbon panel assembled by Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, logistics and technology, to speed up the fielding of new technologies.

Hunter said a conflict is often what accelerates rollout. For example, during the conflict in Bosnia, the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle was brought into battle with remarkable results, even before it had completed testing.

Later, Hunter said, the Predator failed a round of testing, but because of its successful war missions, it stayed in use. Telling the story of a war commander who was told of the Predator's failure, Hunter said the commander responded: 'You send me some more of those failures.'

Take center stage

Likewise, Hunter said, the modified Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System was in the R&D phase when it was drawn into the theater for the first time during the Gulf War.

'They escaped the bureaucracy and couldn't be recalled,' Hunter said of Predator and JSTARS.

Other plans for the House committee include rolling out more precision munitions and ensuring that soldiers are well compensated, Hunter said.

He said he plans to restructure the committee into six subcommittees:
  • Tactical Air and Land Forces will be responsible for Army and Air Force acquisition programs, Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs, National Guard and Army and Air Force reserve modernization, and ammunition programs.

  • Readiness will handle military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance programs.

  • Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities will be responsible for Defense counterterrorism programs, Special Operations Forces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, IT policy and programs, force protection policy, and oversight and intelligence support.

  • Total Force will handle military personnel policy, employment, health care, education and POW/MIA issues.

  • Strategic Forces will oversee space programs, ballistic missile defense and Energy Department national security programs.

  • Projection Forces will be responsible for Navy and Marine Corps programs except for IT accounts, deep-strike bombers and related systems.


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