Military Minus $$$$

Zen is right. The entire debate is predicated on a perpetual excessive budget. A culture that has, for a generation, had the resources to debate whether to spend billions on fighter jets or reconstruction will quickly find itself unable to cope when it can afford neither.

Of course, constraints drive innovation, and we’ll see a new wave of officers that understand and operate from that perspective, and it will be those guys that take on the COIN crowd (and win). But that’s a reactive approach.

If you want to get ahead of the curve on this one, there is something you can do, and it centers on the acquisition system. I’m not talking about a top-down epic, four-star-involved overhaul, but rather a simple purchasing philosophy.

Don’t buy something expensive you’re not going to see until it is finished in a couple years. Instead, buy cheap, useful stuff that you can get, play with, customize and deploy pretty quickly. Think weeks and months rather than years and decades. Find and utilize processes that enable you to do this often, and in a way that lets you toss/abort what isn’t working without much wasted resources.

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  • I’d call that a Fail-Fast system:


    “A fail-fast system that is designed to halt as well as report the error on failure is less likely to erroneously perform an irreversible or costly operation.”

  • Exactly. Good enough etc.

  • Duncan Kinder
    Jan 25, 2010

    How do you propose to effect this new acquisition philosophy given the Supreme Court’s recent ruling regarding corporate campaign contributions?

    Defense contractors are corporations too; so they should yield even more influence of Congressional appropriations than they now do.

    And they are unlikely to be swayed by your arguments that the acquisition system be changed so that they get fewer contracts.

  • Whatever progress is to be made is going to be within the military, at the level of officers who have discretionary funds.

    That said, it’s probably not going to happen.

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