Retro Innovation

The Senate Armed Services Committee thinks the best way for the Pentagon to achieve its “Third Offset” strategy is to replicate how it pulled off the “Second Offset” during the Cold War. To that end, the committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act calls for a retro shake-up in how the Defense Department plans and buys its weapons. The markup, which is expected to be released in full next week, eliminates the Defense acquisition chief position currently held by Frank Kendall and resurrects the the position of undersecretary of defense for research and engineering—the position that helped lead “the development of stealth, precision guided munitions, and other advanced capabilities as part of the so-called “Second Offset” strategy,” according a summary of the bill released Thursday evening. To allow the USD (R&E) to focus on innovation, some of the duties now handled by undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics’ would be handed off to the undersecretary of management and support—a position mandated by the Fiscal 2015 NDAA and set to be filled in 2017—and a new assistant secretary of defense for acquisition policy and oversight position that would report to the USD (R&E). The move is not about Kendall and the job he’s doing, but the job he has, a SASC aide told reporters Friday. (See also: An Air Force of the Future from the April issue of Air Force Magazine.) (For more coverage of the SASC’s markup of the NDAA see: SASC Approves Policy Bill and McCain: NDAA Really a Reform Bill.)