2008: The U.S. Department of Defense has done yet another study on why weapons
systems are so expensive, and take so long to develop, and got the same answer
it has been getting for decades. Basically, it's poor management. 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 a
long time. 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 when there's a war
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
earlier, and continuing to the present.
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 dared. Now troops are increasingly, and
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. 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 bureaucrat backsides covered), and kept alive long after
their time has passed.