First read this for an idea on where I stand on this issue:
The piece below says deliveries of the Light Air Support aircraft for the Afghans will be at best 14 months late since Beechcraft challenged the DoD on selecting Embraer’s product last year. In reality this concept is at least eight years too late. Now we are in crisis mode. It’s bad enough the brain-trust at the Pentagon blew our treasure and threw away valuable fast jet hours by using fighter aircraft to prosecute our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These aircraft were incredibly expensive to operate and ill-suited weapons to fight men with AK-47s living in caves and mud huts, now we cannot even get a couple dozen of these relevant turboprops to the Afghans so we can at least begin to actually leave that mess of a land. Couldn’t a child have figured this out as an essential priority as we entered this conflict over a decade ago? It all makes you wonder if those at the top are actually interested in a sustainable force or is it more important to give everyone some green ink, a piece of the “I went to war pie,” even if by doing so you are mortgaging your force’s ability to fight wars in the future and burning through cash and air-frame life at jet turbine speed that will never be equally replaced.
The Pentagon has almost always made itself a weak partner in big defense procurement programs instead of a customer so that they could have more “control” over their pet projects (see constantly change the initial requirements, irrationally accessorizing like a 12 year old girl). In the end this has proven to be a reliable recipe for disaster. Tell the manufacturer what mission you need to cover, let them come up with the damn solution if they are willing to risk their funds to compete in doing so. If nobody wants to compete than the idea is probably not a worthwhile one anyway or it is so big that it is a strategic liability to begin with. Once the DoD is involved as majority risk taking partner the politics start pouring on at a rapid rate as does the cost and developmental timelline and you end up with flying, driving, or floating pork that goes boom.
I don’t know, I have trouble even reading about these programs anymore. Without a White House that actually understands the military I doubt change will ever come. If we allow this never ending bureaucratic garbage to go on without a major change of direction, in the end we will get the military we deserve, which is one that is inflexible, unsustainable and unprepared for battle. Oh wait, that package has already arrived, it took years of wrong turns and uphill dead-ends to finally show up at our door and it was driven here by a guy named Mr. Sequester who said he took it the last few blocks as the original driver, a military leadership man, retired early and went to work at a major defense firm who offered him a massive salary and golden parachute for his “unique knowledge and connections.” Strangely enough, that same firm actually supplied the tires for the delivery van that delivered our “modern military force,” they cost twice that of the commercial alternative’s price per set and they only go flat three times as often, but the rubber is touched by Congressional Representatives from all lower 48 states before it is shipped to China and made into its final form and shipped back for installation. The driver, Mr. Sequester, also said that similar broken militaries are being made in a common, mass produced but budget breaking form now, principally in Texas in a massive building that sits next to an airport. He also said that they too are one day going to be shipped around the world for delivery to their weary customers. Although like our package, the ETA and true cost is really anyone’s guess…