NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Army will reform its “industrial age” talent management system soon and is conducting research to find replacements for its aging fleet of helicopters, said the Army’s vice chief of staff.
Gen. James C. McConville served as the keynote speaker, Thursday, during the 2018 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. The event was sponsored by the Army Aviation Association of America.
The Army is using an antiquated talent management personnel system that assigns Soldiers to jobs and duty stations based on rank and military occupational specialty, McConville said.
That system is stove-piped into three personnel systems, one each for the active, Reserve and Guard components, he added.
“That’s no way to run the Army,” he said. “We’re going to change that.”
The Army is working on implementing the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, which will replace existing personnel systems in all three Army components. The IPPS-A will also function as a talent management system for the Army.
Within IPPS-A, the Army will be able to define talent with some 25 variables assigned to each Soldier, based on knowledge, skills and attributes, he said. It will include such things as languages spoken, countries visited, cognitive and non-cognitive skillsets, credentials and even interests.
In short, such a system “will get the most qualified people to the right place at the right time,” he said.
McConville offered one example as to how a robust talent management system can help the Army. If there’s a future disease outbreak somewhere in the world where Soldiers will be asked to respond — such as what happened with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example — a revamped talent management system would be a tremendous asset.
The new system would be able to identify Soldiers from the affected region or those who have visited the region and who speak the language, he said. It would also identify medical personnel with relevant experience or research into the virus, be they from the active, Guard or Reserve component.
The vice chief said he speaks to junior Soldiers and NCOs who tell him they want a smart talent management system, he said. It’s not just about the money. They want to serve and do something much bigger than themselves, but they want to be able to apply their talents to that end.
“Soldiers expect this from us,” he added. “If we don’t provide that, they will seek work elsewhere.”
In the future, it is likely that the Army will be contested not only on the ground and in the air, but also in space, cyberspace and at sea.
Regarding the air domain, there are only so many incremental improvements that can be made to the aging helicopter fleets the Army currently employs, he said.
That’s why the Army’s Future Vertical Lift initiative is so important, he said. FVL must have much greater range, endurance, speed, agility, and survivability than current helicopters, and also must be affordable.
FVL will have a manned and unmanned variant, he said. The unmanned variant could team with a manned variant, or it could even team with other unmanned aerial systems.
However, a human would be in the loop, either in the air and/or on the ground, adhering to the rules of engagement, so they would be autonomous only up to a certain point, he said.
Unmanned-manned teaming would be particularly useful for degraded flying conditions and inherently dangerous missions like anti-access/area denial, he added.
Besides FVL, McConville listed the other Army modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next generation combat vehicle, Army network, air and missile defense and Soldier lethality.
The vice chief noted why these priorities are so important: “You don’t deter near-peer adversaries with MRAPS, you do it with armor and attack helicopters and you do it with long-range artillery, and in the future, you do it with future vertical lift and next generation combat vehicles.”
This modernization effort is being spearheaded by Cross-Functional Teams, which will fall under the new Futures Command, he said. The idea behind this is to integrate material solutions, testing, experimentation, requirements, acquisition, and intellectual efforts in a unified approach.