Magazine article National Defense

Acquisition Failures

Magazine article National Defense

Acquisition Failures

Article excerpt

In reference to several articles in the April 2011 issue of National Defense ("Contractors Advised to Focus Less On Stock Prices, More on Customers," "Gates: My Words Have Been Distorted," "Challenges Remain as JLTV Competition Heats Up" and "Ghost of Comanche Haunts Army Helicopter Leaders as They Push for New Models."), the endless confusion only continues amidst military acquisition because it starts at the top.

Sandra Erwin passes on some odd advice for contractors to focus less on stock prices and more on customers, but she fails to recognize the hopeless befuddlement of the customer, the Department of Defense. She writes that the mantra of Defense Acquisition Chief Ashton Carter is to do "more without more." Oh yes, that's such an improvement over the old banal, "Do more with less." Yes, a veritable sea change. Then she adds: "The other big problem that Defense wants solved has to do with innovation." Got that, industry? You should provide an innovative solution to a customer who cannot even articulate a problem, never mind a desired solution.

Where does this nonsense start? Well, on page 8, Defense Secretary Robert Gates laments that his public statements are distorted and misunderstood. Well, gee, perhaps he should have spoken plainly and clearly. The responsibility for communication is always from higher to lower

So how confused are things at the joint level? Well, according to the story by Eric Beidel, the Army and Marines are still trying to build a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle even though both have distinctly different requirements. The Army wants to buy 50,000 and is already cutting back requirements in order to satisfy a desired weight of 15,629 pounds, light enough for it to be air lifted by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Meanwhile, the Marines are concerned that even this ever-shrinking and limited capability vehicle will be too heavy and too costly for the specific needs of their desired fleet of 5,500 light trucks. …

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