When push comes to shove, the military always wins. That is because, unlike many of their civilian counterparts, if the military does not get what it wants, the troops will just do without. This was true before, and is true today, which is why it is so interesting to see senior leaders push back at the industry and their own acquisition process.
Previously, General Milley got so fed up with the cost and delays behind the pistol acquisition process that he threatened to go down to a major hunting store with a government travel card and purchase the pistols himself.
Now the Marine Corps is starting to get fed up too. General Neller, the senior Marine Corps officer, is putting his expectations out there and he is not holding back. He wants equipment to be provided in a timely manner, of the correct quality, and with replacement parts available on hand. He is tired of seeing equipment over budget, with constant delays, and then when the product does arrive, it cannot be used because there are no replacement parts for when components break.
He also expressed his dismay at the acquisition process too, identifying that when the extensive paperwork requirements are complete, and the product arrives meeting all specifications, the wars have already been long complete.
So what is the way ahead? Obviously the status quo cannot continue. The acquisitions field has become a bureaucratic quagmire which can stop equipment fielding in its tracks. Yet the leaders continue to cry, ‘The Troops! The Troops!’, as if that explained the constant need for more. It is true that new equipment can provide a tactical advantage in the fight with the enemy, but more often than not the new equipment is theoretically great, but mismanaged down to the issuing level.
From Afghanistan to Iraq, we signed for all manner of equipment that confused and perplexed us at the Company-level. From dismounted counter-ied jamming backpacks that were in excess of 20lbs. each to soldier intercom systems that do not talk to other systems on hand, these products were designed with a purpose, but were clearly mismanaged when they arrived at our location.
Surely a senior leader will see the benefit in providing dismounted back packs, but none of them will ever understand the limitations it imposes on a tactical mission when all other weight is added and the service member is burdened to the point that they can hardly keep up.
Or the fantastic UAS capabilities that are pushed down to the company level, but are not able to fly in the thin air at altitude in Afghanistan without high altitude propellers and small screws, which must be beg, borrowed, or stolen because the resupply process is so tenuous and slow that when a UAS crashes, it can take two weeks to get new parts in.
Acquisitions is about more than just finding new and interesting equipment. It is about getting it down to the right users to take full advantage of the capabilities. Military leaders need to understand identifying the requirements and ordering the product is only the first step. Putting the product to use properly is even more important. Otherwise, after years of production, the military could just have very expensive F-35 paperweights.
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.