DEFENSE SHOULD NOT BE A SACRED COW

Congress appears to like new toys for Defense because they bring-in lobbyists campaign contributions and other perks. But, this all just increases the costs. And, let’s not forget about the cost overruns that can be caused by Congressional Maneuvering.

Common sense doesn’t seem to even be in the picture when it comes to bidding on defense contracts. Congress sometimes forces the Pentagon to keep products, that it doesn’t want, under consideration, lest the various Congressional Districts lose their share of jobs from the unnecessary weapons systems

For instance, consider the planes intended to replace Air Force tankers that were built in the 1950s. Airbus beat Boeing a couple of years ago; however, Congress found reasons to cancel the bidding and it is now going through the process all over again. Someone pays for the expense of redundant bidding processes and I would bet money on it (perhaps indirectly) being the American Taxpayers.

These tankers had components that would be produced in 42 different states. That is not cost efficient because the completed items would then have to be transported to the common assembly location. It would make more sense to have everything produced among several locations. That would also enable better coordination in the production process.

The Generals and Admirals also need to update their tactics and strategies. There has always been a knock on them for “fighting the last war”. There should be more feedback from junior officers who are actually on The Field of Battle. Keep in mind that many senior officers in the Pentagon either cut their teeth on the latter stages of the Vietnam War–or were trained by officers who were. For instance, why are cadets and midshipmen still studying battles that were fought 2,500 years ago?

Lastly, as we saw during the build-up to Iraq, the Army and Marines were forced to go to war with less troops than their own field manuals called for. Some heads rolled as several generals protested, perhaps losing some good senior officer in the process. General David Petraeus, who literally wrote the manual that called for the higher troop levels, maintained his silence on the matter.

There is a lot of money that could be saved if the Generals and Admirals could update their thinking, if there was less interference from Congress and the Administration, and a more efficient weapons bidding processes. This could reduce production delays which merely contribute to cost overruns.

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