General Milley, the new Chief of Staff of the Army, is not afraid to speak his mind publicly. As all good leaders do, he is able to cut to the heart of the matter and say his two cents in order to find a solution. Perhaps it is time that the bureaucrats start listening?
The highly complex process by which the army is selecting its replacement to the M9 9mm pistol can seem exhausting. What began in August of 2015 is simply the latest installment of the perfect gun search by the military. It is likely to cost the government both time and money to study which pistol is best, and the outcome will be a handgun that is already commercially available today.
General Milley pointed out the absurdity of the process. The document identifying specific requirements behind the pistol is 367 pages long. Gun makers must provide a full-sized and a compact-sized version of their pistol, ammunition for testing, and must prove that they can produce thousands of guns per month and millions of rounds.
Acquisition processes seem out of touch with reality. They can take years to determine and have inane requirements that make no sense. The F-35 is a prime example, coming in years late, millions over budget, and still not meeting the ever-changing intent of the services. So what happened with an item just being good enough?
In 2006 as my brigade spun up for deployment to Iraq, we took part in what became known as RFI. Rapid Fielding Initiative, designed to bypass the majority of the acquisitions process and put needed equipment in the hands of deploying service members quickly and efficiently. Years were shaved off of the process and items still in testing but deemed necessary were issued. Some equipment, like camelbacks would go through multiple versions during the single deployment, but to the service member, it was an incredible change from the previous canteens.
The acquisition process is important. It determines the direction that millions of dollars’ worth of government money will head, and provides a product that hopefully will be worth the time and expense. If the process is too cumbersome, too bureaucratic, or too slow, by the time the process is over, the product will be unneeded. There has to be a middle ground by which common sense approaches are taken to determine what is good enough to solve the problem.
Wars are not fought with the perfect weapons or equipment. They are fought with what is available, and what is better is just around the corner. What used to be unarmed HMMWVs progressed to 1151 up armored HMMWVs, transitioned to MRAP variants, transitioned to V-Hull MRAPS, and so on. The next fight is not too far off, and one has to wonder if we will still be discussing the merits of the M9 or the M4 in another 10 or 15 years, simply because we cannot seem to get out of the acquisition process itself.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.