Thursday, September 18, 2014

One For One

ComNavOps happened to read an article the other day describing how Air Force leaders were bemoaning the state of the aircraft in their fleet.  Apparently, the F-16 and B-1, among others, are suffering from age induced physical failures such as cracking.  AF officials were voicing the need for modern, replacement aircraft.  Oddly, though, the official’s list of top six programs did not include F-16 or B-1 replacement aircraft although I suppose it depends on whether you consider the F-35 to be a direct replacement for the F-16.

The article prompted some thinking about replacements in a generalized sense.  The typical replacement program attempts to replace the current platform with a vastly improved, almost leap ahead technology, replacement.  We all know the inevitable result.  The program encounters huge cost overruns, long schedule delays, and failed technology.  Again, inevitably, the program numbers are cut and the capabilities are scaled back.

Two specific thoughts occur:

  1. Have we reached a point where leap ahead technology is simply not possible?

  1. Is there a place for simple, one for one replacements?

Let’s look at the leap ahead technology question first.  It’s one thing to attempt a leap ahead design of a better nut and bolt.  You can probably achieve it.  While the nut and bolt may be a radical design, all the underlying technologies (manufacturing, metallurgy, design services) are known and already exist. 

It’s another thing to attempt leap ahead stealth or 360 degree integrated sensor awareness.  Not only do the target technologies not exist but neither do the manufacturing techniques, material sciences, physics theories, supporting software, or software modeling, among other required foundation technologies.  So, not only are you attempting to create a new target technology but you have to simultaneously create all the foundation technologies from scratch.  No wonder such programs “fail”!

It’s obvious then, and history overwhelmingly supports this, that leap ahead programs are very difficult to achieve.  However, given enough time and money they can succeed, at least, to a degree.  Examples, include Aegis and the F-22.  Unfortunately, there is a second order problem with leap ahead programs.  Even after they achieve a degree of success they must be capable of maintaining that degree of success operationally and that has, so far, proven even more difficult than achieving the initial production success.

Consider Aegis.  It was a technological breakthrough and achieved initial success.  However, that success was predicated on intense contractor support and the highest level of Navy attention and support in the form of the very best technicians and material support.  Over time, the contractor support was decreased and the Navy support returned to more normal levels.  The result was an Aegis system that experienced fleet wide degradation which persists to this day.  Aegis is simply too complex for “normal” maintenance and support.  Simply, the R&D and initial production succeeded but the daily operations failed.

Consider the F-22.  We’ve produced the most advanced aircraft in the world and yet we struggle to keep it operational.  I’ve previously cited the readiness statistics and they’re terrible.  Even the readiness goal is deplorable.

The point is that creating a leap ahead “thing” is only half the battle.  If it requires a Ph.D technician to keep it operating then it’s probably not a realistic program from a daily operational perspective.  Especially in today’s tight budget and lean manning climate, the required level of expertise is just not available.  There’s no point to having the most advanced “thing” in the world if you can’t keep it fully operational.  It would be better to have a less advanced “thing” that operates at full capability than a more advanced “thing” that’s continually degraded or unavailable.

Now, let’s look at the second question which derives, in large measure, from the first.  Is there a place for less advanced replacement programs whose goal is to simply replace the legacy “thing” on a one for one basis with, perhaps, a few modest improvements thrown in?  Rather than replace the F-16 with the F-35 would it have been better to replace the F-16 with a Super F-16:  same body, same basic performance, same capabilities – just newer and with, perhaps, a better sensor or somewhat improved engine?  Most importantly, the cost (adjusted for inflation, of course) would be about the same which would allow for a one for one replacement.  This approach keeps production lines operating (for those of you who believe we must maintain the industrial bases as a strategic resource), refreshes the inventory with new platforms, offers modest, incremental improvements, and, most importantly, gets functional platforms into service while they can still be useful.

A very important aspect of this approach is the one for one replacement concept.  A hallmark of modern programs is that the replacement ratio is never one for one;  it’s always less and usually significantly so.  We (and RAND) have already demonstrated that numbers are the single most important factor in winning a war.  The consistent trend towards ever fewer numbers is counter productive and increasing the likelihood of defeat.  Attrition is a fact of war that we’ve forgotten but which will rear its head the next time we get into a serious war.  The ability to replace on a one for one basis is vital and can only be achieved through this type of approach.  Leap ahead programs simply will not produce the required numbers of “things”.

Some good examples of this approach are the P-8 replacement for the P-3 and the Super Hornet replacement for the Hornet.  Neither represented leap ahead improvements but both were able to be implemented at a reasonable cost and in a timely manner while incorporating some modest improvements.

Specifically, in the case of the Hornet, the implication is that the Advanced Super Hornet would be the preferred approach over the F-35B/C until such time as the F-35 is fully developed.

Of course, ComNavOps is not suggesting that we never attempt leap ahead technologies.  Quite the opposite!  We must develop such technologies but not as part of production programs.  That approach has proven to be the path to failure.  Leap ahead technology is what R&D is for.  LCS and F-35, for example, should have been kept as R&D efforts until they were ready for production.  In the meantime, one for one, modest replacement programs should fill the gaps.  We should have bought new, somewhat upgraded Perrys instead of leaping into the LCS rabbit hole.  We should be pursuing the Advanced Super Hornet until the F-35 is fully ready.  And so on.

The paradox is that we can have a military that has more capability and is more ready by accepting a somewhat lower level of complexity in our acquisitions.  It’s common sense and it’s backed by a wealth of history.  Learn the lesson, Navy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sea Basing

What the heck is sea basing?  Ten different people will give you ten different answers depending on their particular agendas.  Is it a means of providing direct fires ashore?  Is it the stepping off point for an amphibious assault?  Is it an aviation-centric floating base?  Is it a transfer point for movement of materials from one ship to another?  Something else?  All of the above?

Of late, the term sea basing has come to be associated with amphibious assault, particularly as a means to transfer material from larger cargo ships to smaller ships or connectors for subsequent movement to the beach.  OK, fair enough.  That’s the flavor of sea base that we’ll confine this discussion to.

Before I go any further, let me relate a brief, totally unrelated anecdote.  The other day I was returning from a trip to the grocery store.  I exited the store, hopped in my car, and drove to within about a mile of my house at which point I stopped, got out, and transferred the groceries to another car.  I then drove that car to my driveway at which point I stopped and transferred a few of the grocery bags to a small cart which I then pulled up to the house.  As I was doing so, I couldn’t help but reflect on the incredible inefficiency of the whole process.      That’s it.  End of story.  OK, possibly the anecdote wasn’t totally unrelated.  I take it you see the analogy?

The inefficiency of using a sea base to transfer cargo from one ship to another, just miles away from the ultimate destination is striking.  Constructing an actual platform, be it a Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB), a simple barge, or whatever, is an expensive inefficiency in the process of moving equipment and supplies to their destination.  It’s also an incredible inefficiency in terms of the time and effort required to unload a previously loaded large ship just to reload the items onto a smaller vessel so that they can be unloaded yet again a few miles further on.

Are we sure that designing ships that can unload directly over the beach wouldn’t be a better way to go?  We had such a vessel, the LST, and opted to retire them with no replacement.  Was that really a wise move?  But, I digress ….

What’s that, you say?  What sea state can this sea base material transfer operation take place in?  Good question.  I don’t know but I suspect not much.

The Sea Base is not only expensive, inefficient, and time consuming in use, but it offers the enemy an incredibly lucrative target.  We aren’t planning on having many platforms that can fill this function so destroying a couple of them can halt an assault in its tracks.  In this age of aircraft and missiles with ranges of hundreds or thousands of miles, the Sea Base will always be within range of enemy weapons.  Of course, there’s always submarines – an SSK assigned to take out our Sea Base is a highly effective tactic and very difficult to prevent.  I’m sure we’ll provide protection but the enemy only needs one aircraft, missile, or torpedo to get through and they’ll undoubtedly devote some pretty substantial efforts to that end.

A Sea Base is one of those ideas that probably makes an impressive PowerPoint presentation but suffers a bit in the real world.

On a related note, there are other types of sea base operational concepts that may make sense such as basing for an offshore Army aviation unit but those are topics for another time.

I can’t help but think that the time and money spent on developing the sea base concept would be better spent on designing and building cargo/transport ships that can unload directly over beaches and/or in far more shallow water ports than currently accessible.  Perhaps something along the lines of a RO/RO LST is what we need?

The Sea Base should be a candidate for base closure in the next round of cuts!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shiny New Aircraft or Dirty Old Mines?

USNI’s website has an article about the next generation Navy aircraft that prompted a few thoughts.  The article discussed several of the options that the Navy is considering (1).  Here’s a couple of tidbits,

“Under the Navy’s vision for its Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) battle network, an individual platform would not necessarily need to have a full suite of sensors—rather it could rely on off-board data. Data-linked information from another platform in the air such as the Northrop Grumman E-2D or at sea like an Aegis cruiser or destroyer could provide targeting information or even guide a weapon launched from a platform like a future F/A-XX.”

“... Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s director of air warfare, told USNI News that the F/A-XX would carry missiles, have the required power and cooling for directed energy weapons and sensors target the smallest radar cross-section targets. Manazir also said the F/A-XX family of systems might incorporate the use of cyber warfare capabilities at a tactical level—which the Navy is currently exploring.”

What do these have in common?  They’re incredibly advanced concepts that propose non-existent technology.  We’ve thoroughly discussed the pitfalls in initiating programs based on non-existent technology:  schedule slippages, cost overruns, quantity reductions, and technology failures. 

Oh good grief, ComNavOps is going off on another rant about program management failure.  We get it, already.  Haven’t we read enough about this?  Well, relax.  We have read enough about that (for the moment!) and we’re going in a different direction for the rest of this.

What occurs to me is that the Navy is pouring an enormous amount of effort into its combat aircraft (whether wisely directed or not is an issue we’ll set aside for another time).  The article discusses the Navy’s interactions with industry to try and capture the best technologies.  Numerous studies are being conducted to define the aircraft’s requirements.  Further, the level of technology being contemplated for this program is mind-boggling (again, we’ll set aside the problems inherent in that).  Let’s assume, for sake of discussion, that it all works perfectly and the Navy produces a reasonably priced plane that can network, interface, shoot thousand mile weapons using some other platform’s sensor data, mounts lasers and railguns, is totally invisible to any enemy sensor, requires no maintenance, and can be optionally manned or unmanned.  Wow!  What an achievement!  No enemy could stand up to that combat force.

Of course, a single diesel sub with a couple of torpedoes could sink the entire airwing.

Of course, a single mine could sink an entire airwing.

You see the problem?  The Navy is so focused on the ultra-high end technology toys that they’re failing to see the weak links in the overall naval warfighting machine.  When you’re putting the bulk of your effort and resources into the very high end and ignoring the lowly mine or submarine that can destroy it all, you’ve lost sight of the overall picture.

Where’s the equivalent emphasis on MCM?  Our current MCM capability has atrophied almost to the point of non-existence.  What new mine detection technology have we developed (don’t say unmanned – that’s the same old technology, just remotely controlled;  great from a safety perspective but still the same old technology)?  Where’s the push for new MCM technology development?  What new focused MCM platforms are we developing?

Where’s the equivalent emphasis on ASW?  Our Burkes are woefully undertrained for ASW.  We have no focused ASW platform.  To be fair, the SSN fleet should be a potent ASW force although I have no idea whether their level of training is compared to what it once was during the height of the Cold War.  I suspect it’s dropped off but I don’t know that.  What new ASW technology advances have we made?  Where’s the push for ASW research?  What new ASW platforms are we developing?

Let’s be fair, here.  There have been some minor improvements or, at least, attempts at improvement.  The LCS was a well-intentioned attempt at MCM and ASW, although it failed miserably.  The P-8’s multi-static sonobuoy system is an attempt at improving detection although it is currently non-functional and its actual benefits (as opposed to manufacturer’s claims), if any, have yet to be demonstrated.

You get the idea.  The amount of effort and resources being poured into advanced aircraft design and procurement dwarfs the amount going into MCM and ASW by a staggering margin and yet it is the lowly MCM and ASW capabilities that will determine whether the airwing can even survive long enough to get to the fight and stay in it.  The Navy is focused on the glittering toys and ignoring the down-in-the-bilges capabilities that will safeguard the new toys.

(1) US Naval Institute, "Navy Taps Industry in Quest For Next Generation Fighter", Dave Majumdar, September 10, 2014,

Friday, September 12, 2014

LCS Secrecy

We’re all aware that the Navy is conducting a highly suspect process for selecting the next version of the LCS.  The main flaw in the process is that instead of tying the ship requirements to operational needs, the Navy has jumped right to the specification of the ship.  This is exactly what was done with the original LCS and, in large measure, why it failed so badly. 

Note:  The definition of insanity is to repeat a set of actions and expect a different result.

That aside, the Navy has kept the results of their LCS replacement study under wraps.  In fact, as reported in many sources, the Navy just cancelled a planned classified briefing of the House Armed Services Committee on the subject.  The kicker, here, is that the Navy is going to insert the results of the LCS replacement study into the 2016 budget.  That budget is due in early 2015 – less than a year away.  That leaves very little time for due consideration by Congress or anyone else.

While most of us learned lessons from the LCS debacle like avoid concurrency, or have a concept of operations before you design, or avoid overreach on technology, or some such, it appears that the lesson the Navy learned was to restrict information so that critics can’t get in your way.

The Navy has burned a lot of good will with Congress over the last several years and this secrecy is only going to make the situation worse.

What the Navy should be doing is openly discussing alternatives, inviting Congressional input and buy-in, and engaging the public from whom good will and tax dollars flow.  The best way to minimize the number of critics is to involve them in the process.

Think about it.  The Navy is already laying the groundwork for the next round of criticism.  The Navy’s (presumed) choice of a slightly larger version of the LCS isn’t going to sit well with many critics who are desperately hoping for a true frigate and the lack of analysis of alternatives, lack of a concept of operations, and over the top secrecy is just begging for criticism.  Five years from now when the Navy is once again blaming critics for the failure of the LCS replacement program (just as they did for the original LCS) rather than the ship itself, the process by which it was selected, and the Navy's own flawed management of the program, we can look back to this moment and see the roots of the problem.

Navy, you have a golden opportunity, right now, to positively shape opinion on this program and foster buy-in.  Seize the moment! 

Of course, I know you won’t and, in fact, you’re already moving in the opposite direction but, hey, I tried.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 To 1

In ground combat, it is generally accepted that an attacker must own a 3:1 local advantage to achieve a breakthrough against a defended front.  History has shown that rule of thumb to be reasonable at least in concept if not exact numerology.  Indeed, the development of maneuver warfare is, partially, a recognition of that concept and an attempt to bypass its requirements. 

Of course, this concept is applied to land warfare but does it offer any insights for naval warfare?

At the level of the individual sea battle, outcomes are usually determined by the maxim that the side that fires first, effectively, wins.  Of course, there are other factors but the point is that sea battles seem not to adhere to the 3:1 rule.  Why not?  Well, the aspects of a land battle that grant the defender the advantage do not, for the most part, apply to naval battles.  Bunkers, fortifications, overlapping fields of fire, concealment, etc. don’t exist at sea.

So, does that mean the 3:1 rule offers no insights for naval combat and that this will be one of ComNavOps shortest posts?  I think you can anticipate the answer to that!

The 3:1 rule does, I think, offer some insights but not at the level of the individual sea battle.  Instead, it applies to the broader and higher level of strategic naval operations, specifically the Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) scenario. 

The attacker, attempting to penetrate the A2/AD zone, will have to face a defender able to utilize a limitless supply of assets (limitless in the sense that the defender’s entire air, naval, and land resources will be readily at hand) with multiple widely dispersed bases.  In contrast, the attacker will be operating far from home bases and at the end of a long supply chain.  While the attacker can bring all of its naval forces to bear, if it so chooses, its air forces will be only partially and sporadically present due to the likely ranges. 

In addition, the defender will be able to utilize mines to attrite and, more importantly and more likely, direct the movement of the attacker along predictable paths to predictable locations. 

The defender will be able to utilize land, sea, and air assets in a coordinated fashion while the attacker has only sea and air assets.

The defender will be able to obtain sensor information from mobile air and naval platforms, of course, but also land based radar and passive sensing stations.  The attacker will be limited to airborne sensors and, to a limited extent, submarine sensors.  Further, the attacker’s sensing platforms will be limited in persistence and vulnerable in operation.  To be fair, the defender’s airborne sensing platforms will also be vulnerable but the attacker will have fewer assets available to prosecute those platforms.  Last but not least, the defender will likely have installed underwater acoustic sensing systems (SOSUS-like).

The tyranny of range strongly favors the defender.  Defending aircraft can operate for longer periods, achieve greater persistence, and generate higher sortie rates.  Similarly, defending surface forces are closer to their bases for refueling, rearming, and repair.

The defender will be able to utilize land based anti-ship cruise (and ballistic?) missiles thereby achieving a large numerical superiority over the attacker’s missile reserves.

The defender can achieve a large degree of land based dispersion of assets which will greatly complicate the attacker’s targeting efforts and enhance the survivability of the defender’s assets.  By comparison, the attacker’s weapons will be concentrated in a relatively few platforms and, probably, a relatively few groupings.  While that concentration offers some defensive advantages (concentration of defensive firepower), it also offers a very tempting and exposed target for the defender.

Finally, the defender has the ability to repair combat damaged assets due to the proximity of manufacturing support and repair depots.  The attacker will generally be unable to affect repairs and damaged assets will, to a large extent, be rendered “killed” for the duration.  The days of slapping a patch on an aircraft or welding some plate on a ship are gone.  The attacker, without access to depot level support, will be generally unable to make the complicated electronic, structural, and stealth repairs required to return assets to operational status in a relevant time frame.

The A2/AD scenario is not totally one-sided.  The attacker retains the advantage of choice of time and, to a limited extent, place to initiate hostilities.  This includes retaining the advantage of surprise to the extent that such can exist in this day of satellites, world wide communications, long range airborne sensors, etc.  The attacker can also concentrate his available forces to the maximum extent possible against the specific chosen target.  In contrast, the defender must defend a broader area until the attacker clearly indicates the specific target.  A final advantage is that the attacker can retreat, if necessary, to fight another day if things aren’t going well.  The defender has nowhere to go if things are going badly.

Considering the relative advantages and disadvantages of both sides in the A2/AD scenario, it seems obvious that the defender possesses some significant advantages compared to the defender.  Reason would suggest that the attacker will require a significant numerical advantage in order to overcome the defender’s advantages.  Whether that number is on the order of 3:1 or some other ratio is debatable but the concept seems valid.  All else being equal, meaning approximately equal tech, training, tactics, and morale, the attacker will require a significant numerical advantage in order to overcome a defender’s A2/AD defenses.

Of course, if “all else” is not equal, the required numerical superiority of the attacker may be altered.  If the defender is technologically deficient, poorly trained, poorly maintained, etc., the attacker’s required ratio may decrease.  Still, as the Navy (and Air Force) contemplates penetrating China, N. Korea, or Iran’s (and Russia??) A2/AD zones, it would do well to carefully examine its current trend towards ever smaller fleet and aircraft numbers.  We may find ourselves needing a 3:1 advantage and not having it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hi-Lo, War-Peace

Discussions of the LCS, missile boats, green water combatants, and even frigates ultimately lead to a discussion of the roles these vessels ought to play within the Navy.  Inevitably, the roles resolve into one of two broad categories:  high end combat or peacetime presence.  The discussion is further complicated by the fact that many of the requirements for either category are not needed for the other and only increase construction and operating costs for no gain in performance.

For example, a notional smaller combatant, let’s say a beefed up LCS or a true frigate would have sophisticated sensors, combat systems, VLS, etc. – none of which are necessary for peacetime presence tasks.  They simply add cost to a vessel that is only required to show the flag, cross-train with foreign small navies, perform boardings and inspections, dissuade pirates, host dignitaries, and so forth.  They add no useful functionality for the peacetime tasks.

On the other hand, a vessel designed for peacetime tasks would have a basic sensor suite, 25 mm – 76 mm weapons, a basic RAM or CIWS self defense fit, RHIBs, and perhaps a small UAV.  While quite adequate for peacetime activities such a vessel would be only marginally useful (as in not useful) in a high end combat scenario.

Of course, we can build ships that are capable of fulfilling the roles in both categories.  A Burke is expected to be our main surface combat vessel of the future and is certainly capable of carrying out any peacetime presence task.  The problem is that the Burkes are very expensive and we can’t afford to build them in the quantity required to meet all the peacetime missions.

In the past, we tried to span the two categories by building a Hi-Lo mix of ships.  That effort gave us the Perry FFG’s.  While very useful ships and moderately affordable, the ships were oversized and over spec’ed for peacetime tasks and barely adequate for combat (under the right circumstances).  In other words, the Perry’s were a less than optimal fit for either category.  Thus, the Hi-Lo mix program, while not a failure by any means, was not a complete success, either.

I think the Hi-Lo mix concept was in the neighborhood of correct but missed the mark by trying to straddle the line between the two categories.  The concept compromised the needs of both categories while increasing costs.  What’s needed is not a Hi-Lo mix but, rather, a War-Peace mix. 

Instead of trying to straddle the line between War and Peace, we need to build a mix of ships that are optimized for one or the other category.  Let’s build peacetime vessels with the aforementioned minimal equipment fits required to carry out the peacetime presence tasks.  Let’s build combat vessels that are intended to fight.  When war comes, the Peace vessels would step out of the way.  When War comes we’ll let the optimized combat vessels do their job.  During peace, which is most of the time, the combat vessels, no longer needed for peacetime tasks since we’d have a fleet of peacetime vessels, could largely revert to “garrison” status and focus on maintenance and combat training.  This would markedly extend the life spans of these ships and produce a fleet with a greater degree of readiness.

Of course, the main characteristic of the Peace side of the mix is numbers.  Numbers, in turn, implies affordability.  This should be readily achievable since the vessels won’t need high end combat systems and would have no need to be built to any significant survivability standard.  They would be not much more than civilian vessels with a bit more sensing and a rudimentary self-defense capability. 

Further, since the ships would not need to be built for any function beyond the intended peacetime tasks, they should be able to be significantly smaller.  A Cyclone patrol vessel, for example, could handle the vast majority of peacetime tasks and a handful of larger, Coast Guard-ish vessels could handle the slightly more demanding tasks.  Regardless, the average vessel size ought to be quite small compared to frigates or corvettes.

In addition, the crews could be downsized a bit since, by definition, there would be no need for damage control or significant battle station manning.

Now, here’s an interesting thought.  If we had a peacetime fleet and a combat fleet we might be able to utilize the peacetime fleet crews in the combat vessels when war comes since the peacetime vessels would be set aside, anyway.  Of course, we’d have to rotate the peacetime crews through the combat fleet during peacetime but, given that the combat fleet would be fully focused on training, there would be plenty of opportunities.  Thus, we might be able to operate two fleets with only one fleet worth of manning.  Of course, I don’t mean that literally.  The combat fleet, even in a “garrisoned” status, would require additional crews.  Further, some combat functions can’t just be occasionally trained for – some, such as ASW, require constant, intense training to acquire and maintain proficiency.  Still, the concept of shared manning has validity to some extent, probably significantly so.

ComNavOps has expressed dissatisfaction with the NNFM force structure due to its emphasis on green water combatants that are neither combat worthy nor peacetime efficient.  This alternative, then, offers the possibility of merging the two concepts into a single, affordable force structure which formally recognizes the inherently contradictory roles, peace and war, that the Navy is tasked with.  As I so often say, it’s worth some consideration given that the path the Navy is currently on is unsustainable.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pentagon Problems Solved!

It’s been obvious for some time now that the US is losing its technological edge.  This is worrisome because the Pentagon has historically made the conscious decision to emphasize technology over numbers.  We’ve conceded the advantage of numbers to those of our enemies who wish to pursue that route while we have operated under the assumption that superior technology will more than offset our numerical disadvantage.  Setting aside the wisdom of that path, if our technology edge lessons or reverses we’re in serious trouble since we’ve opted not to emphasize numbers.

It’s also recently become clear (say, in the last 70 years or so) that our acquisition process is badly broken.

Technology edge loss and broken acquisition.  Are we worried?  Nah.  The Pentagon has things well in hand.  From a USNI website article (1),

"The Pentagon is launching a new “third game-changing offset strategy” to maintain America’s decisive technological military edge well into the future. The new strategy will be developed by deputy defense secretary Bob Work and Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall."

Alright, well there you have it.  We’ll simply develop a “third game-changing offset strategy” and remain invincible.  I know, you’re thinking that this sounds like just another game of buzzword bingo but I think this time it’s going to be just what we need.  What’s that, you ask?  Am I being sarcastic?  Ahh …  OK, fine, I am.  This is the same garbage we’ve heard many times before.

Still, on the plus side, the effort will be overseen by Bob Work and Frank Kendall, the men who brought us the LCS and any number of current acquisition disasters, respectively.  While I may doubt their individual abilities, they’ll be operating under the able guidance of SecDef Hagel so that should eliminate any problems that might otherwise arise.  What’s that, you ask?  Am I being sarcastic again?  Ahh …  OK, fine, I am.  Seriously, the Three Stooges would do a better job of managing the Pentagon. 

Work championed the LCS and guaranteed us that it was the finest warship in the world.  Yes, that’s literally what he said and he said it repeatedly.  This is the guy whose judgment we want to trust?  Kendall, for his part, has overseen some fantastic acquisition debacles. 

Still, the Pentagon appears to have solved the acquisition problems, at least.  From the article,

"... the Pentagon is making another effort to streamline its cumbersome acquisition process with an initiative called Better Buying Power 3.0."

Outstanding!  Better Buying Power can’t help but be successful.  The very name says it all and virtually guarantees success.  Further, 3.0 is way better than 2.0 and is, like, you know, around three times better than 1.0.  The only unfortunate aspect to this is that we didn’t think to initiate acquisition reform before this.  Imagine all the money we could have saved if someone had thought to reform acquisition five years ago, or ten, or twenty.  We’d be swimming in surplus budgets by now.  Oh well, better late than never.  I would guess the Pentagon will be showing a profit within a year, two at the outside.  What’s that, you ask?  Am I being sarcastic yet again?  You don’t really need to ask, do you?

The Pentagon’s problems are solved.  I will sleep better tonight!