Last summer the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, co chaired by Senators Levin and McCain, asked several individuals to write about the process of getting equipment for our fighting forces, or in the shorthand of Washington, defense acquisition. Those papers were recently published, Defense Acquisition Reform: Where Do We Go From Here? A Compendium of Views by Leading Experts. My contribution in the volume looks at this problem from a leadership perspective.
There have been well-documented problems in the area of acquisition for decades. Thus the problem is not just a descriptive one, but something more basic. I wrote that several decades ago, all of the four Services inadvertently divided the responsibility for who manages their most crucial asset, their manpower (e.g. who parses the talent that will be devoted to warfighting from the talent that will be devoted to acquisition), and since the Service Chief kept only the responsibility for providing and training the warfighting talent, each Service’s overall process of defense acquisition has degraded over time.