In the United States, figuring out
what military equipment to buy, and then developing it, suffers from what can
be called, the "American Disease." Put
simply, there are so many special interests involved in spending all that money
(currently over half a trillion dollars a year), that much of the money
allocated for developing and producing new gear, is wasted. Military people
have been complaining about this for decades. Well, make that centuries. It's
not a new problem.
good and effective weapons are produced, it's the enormous amount of waste that
is at issue. In contrast, note how quickly and efficiently military equipment
is developed in wartime. There's a long tradition in the United States military
of creating new weapons or equipment in a very short time. This usually only
happens during wartime, however.
many examples. During the 1991 Gulf War, a heavy "bunker buster" bomb
was developed in six weeks, and put to use. During the Afghanistan war, the air
force again developed a fuel-air explosive bomb in 30 days and used it during
the Tora Bora battle in late 2001. There were many similar "rapid
development" examples during Vietnam, the Korean War, World War II and
this, the Department of Defense is now encouraging weapons and equipment
developers to rapidly get their new gear ready for use in the field. Then the
stuff is shipped off to military training areas so troops can learn how to use
it, and then sent off to Afghanistan or Iraq for actual combat use. It's not as
dangerous as it sounds, as most of these "fast track" items are not
weapons, but electronic gear or off-the-shelf equipment adapted for military
use. In peacetime, it could take years of testing, paper shuffling and bureaucratic
delays before the troops got the stuff. Now, delivery time is sometimes
measured in weeks.
is not unknown in the Department of Defense, for the U.S. Army Special Forces
have long had their own equipment budget, and permission to get new stuff into
the field as quickly as they wished. Troops are increasingly unofficially
adopting new civilian gear (and sometimes weapons) for military use. The
widespread availability of email, even in combat zones, makes it easier for the
troops to share new discoveries in this area. As a result, the Department of
Defense has been under pressure to allow some of these troop level initiatives
to become official issue equipment.
these wartime interludes of sanity, most of the time, the "American Disease" rules. Projects are loaded
down with useless requirements (to keep politicians or special interests
happy), and kept alive long after their time has passed.