Monday, July 23, 2018

Priorities, Money & ... Good Googly Moogly I Need a Drink

The vastness of the manpower pool and resulting intellectual capital available for our national defense is hard to grasp - the size of the budget even more so.

Just look at the numbers; 2018 Defense Budget (~$700 billion). DOD employees; 1.3 million on active duty and another 742,000 civilians. That doesn't even tap in to the reserves and National Guard.

To justify such a mass of capability, you would assume that the fundamentals would be sound, understood, and fully connected to all we do and invest capital in.

If so, then ask yourself why Rand's David Ochmanek would need to call out to...
... the secretary and deputy secretary of defense should engage personally in a thorough review of the major war-fighting challenges facing U.S. forces and options for reshaping the defense program. Over the next 12 months, they should implement a five-step process:
What are these five things that, apparently, "we" are not doing sufficiently well or at all - in spite of the largess provided to the American defense establishment?
1. Glean. First, empower someone within the Department of Defense to gather, review and synthesize existing assessments of the war-fighting scenarios encompassing the state adversaries in the DoD’s “four plus one" problem set: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. The “gleaner” should create four presentations that, collectively, would constitute a baseline assessment of the programmed joint force’s ability to achieve war-fighting objectives against each of these state adversaries.

2. Engage. Next, the secretary should sponsor a series of meetings of the Senior Leadership Council or other senior groups to review each of the four assessment briefings. These meetings would ensure that all senior stakeholders share a common picture of the state of affairs.

3. Focus. Next, there should be a fifth meeting to discuss a (short) list of priority challenges facing U.S. forces. The challenges should be cast at the operational level of warfare. The secretary could table the draft list at the meeting and invite comment, putting out the final list shortly after the meeting. Once approved and promulgated, the list could be used to focus concept and capability development efforts, with an eye toward filling the most serious gaps and shortfalls in capabilities, as revealed by the assessments. Getting there will require new hardware, but also new operational concepts and enhanced regional force and base postures.

4. Incentivize. Once the list is finalized, the secretary and deputy could announce that, beginning in six months, they will begin to review proposals that address each of the priority operational challenges and start to allocate money to develop and evaluate the most promising concepts. This is critical: If the “prize” for coming forward with the best new concept for, say, defeating advanced integrated air defenses is to have an unfunded mandate added to one’s program of record, the leadership is unlikely to spur much innovation. Rather, the leadership must declare and then demonstrate that money will flow to organizations that bring forward winning concepts.

5. Share. When the secretary is satisfied that the department has satisfactory briefings that present the DoD’s assessments of the adequacy of programmed U.S. forces vis-a-vis their adversaries, he or his representative should brief congressional committee members and staff.
OK, I'll ask the question for you,"You mean we're not doing this now?"

But wait. Let's boil this down a bit so we're all sure what we're talking about here.

Step 1: Assign an action officer to create four PPT presentations because no one else seems to have done their job?

Step 2: Let's get a bunch of 4-Stars and SES together to watch a bunch of PPT presentations created in Step 1. This is a radical departure from normal DC workflows, I know - but why not?

Step 3: We need a 5th meeting so leaders at the POLMIL level can step down to the Operational Level they are more comfortable at - as it appears they have no confidence that their existing 2, 3, and 4-Star junior GOFO have communicated the right priorities over the last few years? You know, the people now doing the job the people in Step 1 & 2 had a few years ago. Yes, those people, the ones who now will ask why the pogue two PCS cycles ago (themselves) did such a shitty job that put us where we are today. Yes, someone needs to diagram this human centipede of bureaucratic fail, but I'm not going to.

Step 4: After however long it takes to suffer through the five PPT presentations and meetings, let's chew on it for another six months and then - as no one seems to want to do a good job because that is their damn job, let's tickle the base of the brain stem and find some way to use the taxpayer's money (and that we borrowed from their grandchildren yet born), to bribe people to ... well ... do their damn job.

Step 5: After we have socialized the hell out of this Ottomanesque process for two or three POM cycles, let's trot up to The Hill and brief a mostly empty committee room, a gaggle of 20-something staffers who are nursing a hangover, a clutch of bitter press types, and a few hundred people on C-SPAN about our briefs and meetings.

Good googly moogly ... David, you're a smart guy and I love you like a brother ... but this needs to be nuked from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.

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