No More ‘Acquisition Reform Studies’
The Defense Department already has conducted 128 studies on acquisition
reform. Enough is enough, said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition,
Technology and Logistics Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge.
"The problem is the implementation," Aldridge told a
gathering of top defense industry executives. "The bureaucracy
is very slow."
He said that "some progress" had been achieved in acquisition
reform. "We don’t need to do any more studies,"
he argued. One of his goals is for the acquisition process to become
faster and more efficient, so it can anticipate requirements, rather
than react to them. The current acquisition problems, he said, cannot
be blamed only on contractors. "Responsibility cannot be outsourced,"
he said. "The government has to be a smart buyer."
Air Force Saved $20 Billion Through Acquisition Reform
Acquisition reform often makes Pentagon officials cringe, but it
has been good for the Air Force. The service saved $20 billion in
recent years, thanks to procurement reform initiatives, said Darleen
A. Druyun, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force
for acquisition and management.
Druyun recently unveiled a new series of reform efforts, called
"Agile Acquisition: Lightning Bolts 2001." These initiatives
were endorsed enthusiastically by the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen.
John Jumper, Druyun told industry executives during a recent meeting.
Among the most significant changes is the creation of a new program
executive officer for services. Congress has criticized the Air
Force in the past for not having enough oversight on service contracts,
which consume 54 percent of the Air Force dollars. The PEO for services
will concentrate on privatization issues, particularly the A-76
process, which sets the rules for public-private competitions for
government work. One of the PEO’s priorities will be to make
sure that the statements of work are simple to understand.
The Air Force has to make changes in the processes used to solicit
contractor bids, Druyun said. Otherwise, she said, it would be unfair
to ask contractors to spend millions of dollars to submit proposals.
Pentagon Reconstruction On Schedule
The Pentagon’s renovation office says its ambitious reconstruction
schedule is on track. The goal is to replace the sections of the
Defense Department building that were damaged in the September 11
terrorist attack. "We’ve already completed the demolition
and are currently reconstructing the area," said Rachel Decker,
communications officer for the Pentagon Renovation Program.
Approximately 400,000 square feet of the historic building was
torn down, which indicated that more damage had been done to the
area than was visible from the outside. "When the plane went
in, it broke all the way through to AE drive (a roadway within the
Pentagon’s rings that serves to move freight), between the
fourth and fifth ring." Because the plane went in low, it significantly
impacted the structure of the first and second floors," Decker
said. There are two projected dates for restoration of the building.
"The outer ring of the impacted area is projected to be completed
by September 11, 2002, as we plan to have people sitting out there
during the memorial service we will have on that day," she
said. The remainder of the project will be completed by the spring
Admiral Stresses Need for Missile Defense
The United States must do more to address the threat of ballistic
missiles, said Navy Rear Adm. Kathleen K. Paige, who is director
of theater air and missile defense and systems engineering at Naval
Sea Systems Command. "The ballistic missile is a terrorist
weapon," she said at a conference in Washington, D.C.
Paige said it is imperative that missile defense moves from a classic
threat–based model to a capability-based model. "What’s
even more sobering than what we know about the threat, is the number
of times that we have been surprised by specific, very critical
aspects of the threat," she said. One of the unknowns was the
range of the No Dong missile North Korea launched in 1993. "It
turned out that that missile flew over Japan, flying further than
we thought the missile capable of flying," Paige recalled.
"It was a fairly embarrassing diplomatic incident when we went
back to Japan and said, ‘Remember that missile launched from
North Korea four years ago? Well, Japan, that overflew your country.’"
Another incident Paige mentioned was when North Korea in 1998 launched
a Taepo Dong missile, and U.S. intelligence experts were certain
the missile did not have three stages.
"Guess what? It had three stages," said Paige. "It
is the surprises that get you on the defense. It is the surprises
that we need to cope with in this new approach to defense."
Cold War Not Yet Over, Says Senator
While Russia has serious economic problems, at the same time it
has been able to develop weapons technology that the United States
does not have, said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the
Armed Services Committee. "They have the Su-27 [air superiority
fighter], which is better in certain ways [than the F-15 as an air-to–air
fighter], and it is on the open market today," he said. "The
same I could say about the F-16" in air-to-ground capabilities,
which, in some areas, are not as advanced as the Russian Su-30.
He cautioned that the United States should start modernizing much
faster, because, if Russia gets "desperate enough, they will
continue to market that around the world, places where we don’t
want to be inferior in the sky. They have that capability."
Russians ‘Vindicated’ On Chechnya Policy
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, chairman of the National Commission on
Terrorism, said that, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks
on the United States, Russia has found vindication for its policy
towards the Chechen Islamic fundamentalists.
"I think [it’s] a message that we were inclined to discount
before September 11 as justification for what they were doing in
Chechnya, which is reprehensible in many ways," said Bremer.
In Bremer’s opinion, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
is seeking to enhance the integration of Russia into the West and
will start on a new footing. However, he noted, there are some skeptics
in Russia. "I think there is still a lot of old thinking around,"
cautioned Bremer. "We can’t make ourselves hostage to
Russian desiderata in this relationship."
Doug Feith: "We Are Collateral Damage"
One of the lessons the United States should have learned from the
Cold War is that morality is crucially linked to morale, said Douglas
J. Feith, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. "It
is one of the strategic vulnerabilities of our enemy that, in this
war on terrorism, … the killing of innocent people is morally
repulsive to decent people around the world," he said.
"We [the United States] are collateral damage in the attack
that some of these [terrorist] groups are directing at their real
targets, which are the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and
other governments in the Middle East," said Feith during a
conference in Washington, D.C.
"There is a battlefield of ideas on which we have to engage,
because efforts are being made by our enemies to recruit for their
cause. [We must work] to change the thinking of young people, especially
in the Muslim world that, for example, suicide bombing is martyrdom
rather than murder," said Feith.
Power Equals Control of Ocean "Choke Points"
For the United States, protecting its national security means having
control of the ocean’s choke points and their ports, said
retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, former commander in chief of the U.S.
During a conference in Washington, D.C., he cautioned that Desert
Storm was the first and probably the last military campaign with
fewer than five hundred casualties. "The tragedies didn’t
outweigh the gains.
"We go to war by sea," McCaffrey said. If it’s
ammunition, fuel, or equipment it has to go through a port, he said.
"And we can get there rapidly with our new transformed Army
divisions. But we will fight only when we control the sea."
Al Qaeda Fighters: ‘Ravenous Alligators’
Asked by a reporter whether U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan
only encouraged more retaliatory fighting from Taliban and Al Qaeda
warriors, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seemed puzzled by
The Taliban fighters don’t play by the conventional rules
of war, Rumsfeld said. "It’s kind of like feeding an
alligator, hoping it eats you last. You cannot defend against terrorists.
You must take the battles to them. It’s self-defense,"
he told reporters.