Readers Sound Off on Recent Stories

Acquisition Reform
In his President’s Perspective column, “Budget Pressures Beg for a Serious Look at Overhauling Acquisition System,” May 2012, Lawrence Farrell suggests that budget pressures should lead to an overhaul of the acquisition system. This is a quixotic call that will not be heeded since the acquisition morass has nothing to do with the budget. Not only does the acquisition bureaucracy not know what it wants, but in the interest of streamlining, it closes off options.

For a perfect example, consider the effort to acquire Special Operations Command trucks (May 2012, p. 44). The vast difference in the potential candidates immediately suggests that the actual requirement is very vague. According to the article, the program is using a two-phase approach. First, written proposals and test data will result in an award of up to two contracts for further evaluation. The second phase includes purchasing two prototypes from each vendor for testing. A single winner will then get the full contract.

So with no clear requirement, SOCOM is only shopping for proposals and yet will immediately narrow down to only two, from which one will eventually be the winner. So two vendors that have divined correctly SOCOM’s nebulous and evolving desires get chosen while all the potential expertise and capabilities of others are ignored, eliminated by their inability to read the mind of a SOCOM evolving-requirements writer.

This is stupid. SOCOM should only consider these first-round proposals and prototypes as “what is available and feasible” and use that information to then revise its operational and technical requirements.  That next revised requirement document should then be put out for another round of proposals. Only then should the competition begin. You have to let industry know what you want before you can get successful, creative solutions.

Chester A. Kojro
Rolla, MO

Energy Security
Regarding Lawrence P. Farrell’s President’s Perspective column, “New American Oil Boom: Will It Slow DoD’s Renewable Energy Momentum?” (June 2012, p.4), the oil boom is a blessing, not an obstacle to the Defense Department’s renewable energy momentum.

The administration and Defense are all hung up on human-caused global warming to the detriment of recognizing the incredible opportunity the “boom” presents to significantly reduce our strategic dependence on foreign oil while modernizing our ground transportation industry. Let the airline industry, and the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Agriculture provide the impetus for alternate liquid fuels, while the Defense Department exploits the boom in domestic oil production to its strategic advantage, directing funds saved to refurbish an over-worked military and to modernize to the maximum extent budgets will tolerate.

Your reliance on studies done by the Center for Naval Analysis undercuts the message that this President’s Perspective should be giving. Both of the studies were conducted several years ago, well before the domestic oil boom, and were based on erroneous assumptions built into United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models. The resulting flawed projections of global temperature, which are now challenged by a wide body of scientific authorities, do not reflect the actual global temperature history nor its steady value since 1998.

The sooner we reject the global warming theory and get on with the “boom,” the sooner Defense can develop strategic plans based on greater independence from foreign sources. The nation remains without a credible, coherent energy strategy that truly exploits the “all of the above” advantage now before us with the abundant natural resources at hand.

Adm. Tom Hayward (Ret.),
former chief of naval operations
Vice Adm. Ed Briggs, USN (Ret.)
Capt. Deke Forbes, USN (Ret.)

Energy Security
I write this letter in response to Lawrence Farrell’s June 2012 editorial, “New American Oil Boom: Will it Slow DoD’s Renewable Energy Momentum?”

Outside the defense sector, renewable energy technologies are being adopted at a very rapid rate. This is readily apparent driving through the countryside. Large wind farms are visible throughout the Midwest, California, Texas and increasingly Pennsylvania.

One recent survey found that Americans by and large favor renewable energy solutions to fossil fuels. The reasons are two-fold: Americans want to be self-reliant for their energy and, perhaps more surprising, they have discovered that wind mills, solar panels, fuel cells and other alternative energy devices are manufactured in great proportions here in the United States.

By purchasing and installing these systems to provide for our own energy needs, we keep the money circulating in this country and put labor back to work in well-paid manufacturing jobs. According to the Pew Foundation, currently there are twice as many U.S. jobs in “green tech” compared to the fossil fuel industry. This rapid adoption rate is causing costs to plummet. As a result, solar-power systems are one-third the cost of what they were just two years ago.

Surely we will need fossil fuel for the foreseeable future. But where we can provide for those needs using renewable technologies, we should.

Defense needs to get its procurement systems “un-fossilized” (pardon the pun) and adopt commercial practices for incorporating renewable technologies through commercial-type power purchase agreements that leverage all federal and state incentives.

If Defense gets onboard with commercial practices, the market transition to renewable energy will snowball and the nation will truly lead the world in adopting renewable energy technologies and in doing so will achieve energy independence.

Norma Powell Byron,
The Ashlawn Group LLC

Topics: Defense Department, DOD Budget

Comments (0)

Retype the CAPTCHA code from the image
Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Please enter the text displayed in the image.