MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- Some of the Marine Corps' top acquisition officers had strong words for defense contractors about the need to move gear into warfighters' hands far more quickly.
Col. Michael Manning, portfolio manager for ground combat element systems, said at the Modern Day Marine expo here Tuesday that his sole focus is getting next-generation weapons and systems out to the operating forces on the front lines.
"I've got to get the best product out to them as quickly as possible," he said. "And you telling me it's going to take three years to get something out there? You're dead to me."
Manning joined six other presenters who briefed industry leaders on what they see as their top needs in the years ahead. That includes everything from squads' next weapons systems to gunners' turrets, better radios, protections for Marines moving ashore, and strong cyber security tools.
Getting that into play not only requires innovation from industry leaders, but also a culture change, said Col. Benjamin Stinson, the portfolio manager for supporting establishment systems.
Cyber Marines, for example, are at war every day as adversaries try to breach the service's systems, he said. Those Marines can't accept two-year-old products that are outdated before they even hit the fleet.
"We need to go faster," Stinson said. "... What we're doing now doesn't work."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis echoed the need for speed in the National Defense Strategy, released earlier this year. New equipment must be delivered to troops at the speed of relevance, he wrote.
"We must not accept cumbersome approval chains, wasteful applications of resources in uncompetitive space, or overly risk-averse thinking that impedes change," Mattis said.