WASHINGTON: As the crisis over China’s self-declared “air defense identification zone” hits its tenth day with no signs of de-escalation, leading Republican lawmaker Rep. Randy Forbes questioned an apparent concession by the administration over commercial flights. Meanwhile, South Korea is contemplating expanding its own long-standing ADIZ to challenge China’s — but it might do so in a… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: For “at least 50 years of frustration,” the Vice-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said this morning, people have kept trying to fix the Pentagon’s procurement problems, but the problems keep on getting worse. It’s time to stop layering one band-aid atop another and look at the system as a (dysfunctional) whole, said… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Acquisition reform. It almost makes you feel good to hear those words. They connote improvement, reason and good government. But the more acquisition reform America gets from Congress and the Pentagon, it seems, the less return we get on each dollar we spend. Estimates of the cost of government oversight of Pentagon acquisition range… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Turmoil, fear and a certain resolute grimness marked this week at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. The military scrambled to cope with a range of new threats as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Pentagon leadership begin to grapple with the grim future posed by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Put it all… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The US presence in the remote northern Australian port of Darwin will soar from its current 250 troops to 1,000 next year and ultimately to 2,200, granting a full Marine Expeditionary Unit an effective base of operations. Although the general agreement had been made in 2011, the renewed commitment is likely to elicit a… Keep reading →
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to address the subtleties that are being missed or ignored by most critics of the NSA’s recently revealed PRISM program, but it’s gotten lost in the process of readying for the Paris Air Show and covering those things that the famous Washington journalism pack isn’t following in… Keep reading →
The Obama administration’s highly touted “rebalancing” of U.S. military forces to the Asia-Pacific region attracted a barrage of flak during a briefing at an influential Washington think tank Monday.
A group of former senior defense and State Department officials criticized the Pacific tilt at the Center for Strategic and International Studies saying the U.S. lacked a coherent, understandable strategy and failed to adjust the plan in light of shrinking funding and trying to hide the strategy’s aim to counter an increasingly aggressive China. (Of course, some in the national security community praise this “strategic ambiguity,” saying it allows us to manage the relationship with China without as much nationalistic chest-thumping as there might be.) Keep reading →
WASHINGTON, DC: “Don’t push China.” Even as the Chinese and America’s Philippine allies engage in their latest standoff at sea over the disputed Scarborough Shoal, the message from an array of elder statesmen is that the U.S. needs to avoid any kind of confrontation with China – and the Obama Administration seems to be listening. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Given earlier comments by the F-35 program head, today’s remarks by the acting head of Pentagon acquisition that “putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice,” isn’t really news so much as confirmation that senior Pentagon leaders know mistakes were made.
Frank Kendall, who has been nominated to take the chair as undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told a Feb. 6 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies here, that the decision “should not have been done” and that “now we’re paying the price for being wrong.” This was Kendall’s first public appearance since he was nominated to lead the Pentagon’s acquisition efforts.
He went on to say that the Pentagon “didn’t model everything as precisely as we thought.” Improvements in modeling and simulation were thought to help make possible the aggressive approach to concurrency that the Joint Strike Fighter’s builder Lockheed Martin adopted and the Pentagon approved. It looks as if they just weren’t that much better. The F-35 isn’t alone in having gone to production too early, Kendall said: “I think there’s been a tendency to go to production too early and the F-35 is an extreme example of that.”
Perhaps the most interesting comment from Kendall was about Sen. John McCain’s floor speech, in which the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee slammed the F-35 as a “scandal and a tragedy,” among other things.
Kendall, who claimed he wasn’t “sucking up” to the senator, said the remarks were “pretty much spot on.” Later in the event, Kendall mentioned that he had met with Sen. McCain last week, though he provided few details.
If Lockheed Martin, builder of the F-35, can take comfort from Kendall’s comments today, it is because he made clear that the Joint Strike Fighter was not the only major program that the Pentagon and industry have screwed up.
Pointing to the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle and its predecessors, Kendall said the Pentagon’s “biggest problem” in acquisition may be “starting programs we should never have started.” Do we hear a few amens from the audience?