Army acquisition exec hires AFC official to bridge 'valley of death'

By Ethan Sterenfeld / May 11, 2022 at 2:22 PM

The former director of an Army Futures Command Cross-Function Team will help the service's acquisition executive ensure that new technology survives the process from development to production, Army acquisition chief Doug Bush said May 10.

Bush told the Senate Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee that he has made it a priority to “improve our batting average” at moving new capabilities from the science and technology portfolio into programs of record.

Pentagon acquisition officials and department leadership have said they are committed to bridging the “valley of death,” a budgetary and regulatory gap where technology is too advanced for more research but not ready enough for acquisition through traditional pathways.

Willie Nelson, previously director of the Assured Position, Navigation and Timing CFT, will now serve as the Army deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, Bush told Inside Defense after the hearing.

A directive last week from the Army secretary clarified the civilian-led acquisition executive’s primary role in acquisition policy. There had been confusion and occasional tension between the acquisition executive and the military-led Futures Command since the command’s 2018 creation.

“Building those bridges between the organizations to make sure things work better is one of the things I’m committed to,” Bush told the subcommittee.

Nelson will also serve as the acquisition executive’s chief scientist, according to a May 5 Army press release.