Acquisitions Requires Deliberation

The Third Offset focuses on the development of leap-ahead technology that will ensure the United States’ advantage over its adversaries, but the Pentagon must also follow a “more deliberate process” in military acquisitions, said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference in Washington, D.C, Kendall used the Army’s 2007 Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program as an example. He said the Army was able to deliver requirements to industry very quickly and get a capability in the field to meet a critical need in a short time. A total of 25,000 MRAPs were produced for operations in Iraq, he said, making use of existing technologies, but the Army soon found those vehicles were unusable in Afghanistan, and so a new version had to be developed. In the end, Kendall said, both MRAPs are being abandoned “because they don’t meet long-term requirements.” In this case, rapid development led to massive inefficiency. Acquisition programs sometimes need to operate “like a bat out of hell” to get systems on the field, Kendall said. But more often, acquisition needs to “balance time and quality” in order to meet the bedrock requirements of “reliability and maintainability.”