When it comes to putting the best and latest gear in the hands of America’s war fighters, a common concern levied by those in the know pertains to the U.S.’s treacherously slow, expensive, and convoluted acquisitions programs.  With high-dollar defense systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the USS Gerald R. Ford super carrier running past deadlines and significantly over budget, one could hardly be blamed for suggesting the U.S. government has done a poor job of getting the most bang for their buck in terms of defense expenditures.  Perhaps an even more crucial complaint has involved America’s recent focus on the wars we’re fighting, rather than the wars we can see potentially approaching from the horizon, allowing competitors to close the technological gap that once ensured American dominance over the battlefield.

A new restructuring effort included in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act aims to address these concerns by changing how the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics operates.  What was once one, all-encompassing, office will now be divided into two branches which will each be led by an undersecretary: the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, and the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.

In a statement released by the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan explained that this shift will emphasize “the speed of relevance,” and will lead to making America’s military more lethal while encouraging “partnerships within the department and with allied nations and to ensure acquisition processes fulfill the needs of service members now and in the future,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan went on to agree with the concerns voiced by many in the defense industry in recent years, saying that the Department of Defense has spent too much time and money focusing on the “here and now,” and now needs to redirect its focus on investing in the systems that will ensure the U.S. military retains its place as a technological leader in the global theater.  An important part of that shift, he claimed, is expediting the process.