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01 February 2011

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Jim,

I heartily agree. DoD has suffered in just the same way as has our education system: too much $ allows too many sloppy theories, pet projects, hemming & hawing, and endless mulling to survive otherwise necessary scrutiny and gettting down to more straight forward forms of doing business. What you've hit on is when there is a clear, or reasonably clear, and easily expressable operational utility that is desired (I'd say "required" but we are making choices here - we merely decide what we think we require), then the acquisition system sometimes works out fairly well and can provide timely and useful tools for our operators. Less largess, fewer all-encompassing grand schemes (e.g. FCS), abandoning favored wonder widgets (e.g. JSF) will certainly result in clearer and more useful thinking and tool-making. The leaner times in DoD have more often than not been rather fruitful (e.g. the Navy post-Civil War, the Marines in the early 20th century).

This is the best thing I've read on this subject in a very, very long time. Really outstanding work. I hope I can build on your thoughts in a future post about the potentially positive impact of austerity on doctrine, concepts, and adaptability in force employment, but for now I just want to say thanks for a really great essay.

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, and an associate professor of the practice of industrial studies at the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, a college of the National Defense University in Washington DC. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them. His opinions are not necessarily those of the NDU, the Defense Department, or the US federal government at all.

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