B-21 avoided the Tree of Woe
Oh, if only….. A bloated bureaucracy is only one of the many sources of Navy cost overruns. My Ph.D dissertation was on the subject of DoD cost overruns, so at least at that point in my life I had a pretty clear picture of the problem and at least two quantitative means of avoiding them. You may note for the record that no one in DoD has contacted me about the study or its conclusions.
But let us carry on to the more general collection of sins that befell the LCS and DDG 1000. Too many high risk technologies in DDG-1000, including a main battery the Navy couldn’t afford to fire; and too little attention to basic engineering in LCS (mission module interfaces that didn’t). Both also failed the up-front test of being required in the first place. I’ll leave details for others.
Did a quick Google search of the mentioned "Rapid Capabilities Office", which seemed to work for the USAF. In 3 pages I only found such an entity within the Air Force, Army, Space Force and the Marines. Didn't see that the Navy had a bureau like that, but might have missed it. If they don't then it is probably too late now to field one that'd be effective. To create such an office as a "Navy Rapid Capabilities Office" (NRCO, pronounced "NECRO" to the dyslexic) would entail manning* it with HR vetting of the new hires to assure equity and diversity goals were met. Once formed, I just don't see NRCO getting anything meaningfully done until their committee can agree on the selection of office furniture and deck chairs. 2030?
*("manning" is my preferred present participle, even if I use it as a verb or adjective.)
When they can't do something as simple as get the sailors a good working uniform it should come as no surprise that they cannot run a ship building program. There are multiple causes for the Navy's dumpster fire acquisition process and that it had to commit fraud to get a "success" in the Super Hornet illustrates that. However it primarily boils down to quality of leadership. When you have one former CNO going on to to become Chairman of the Board for BAE systems ( a major defense contractor), another former CNO becoming a board member of Theranos Inc. (WTH?) it points to the serious moral/ethical shortcomings of those who are supposed to lead the acquisition process as well the Navy as a whole. These leadership failures are service wide: LHD-6 fire, CVN-73 living conditions/suicides, ship collisions, USNA cheating scandals/drug, the ship building maintenance fiascos, botched JAG prosecutions etc. all are a problem of leadership.
Sometimes it’s just nice to see something work for once. Having lived thru army acquisition programs of the SGT York anti aircraft system and the YAH 66 Comanche, I would be amused at the ineptitude of the system. Except for the fact that I’m the bill payer.
During the transition from sail and wood to steam and steel in the late19th Century, the Navy looked to French and British models of navalism. Having studied the procurement failures of the Marine Nationale in that period, a certain historical resonance is apparent to me. All those "checkers of checkers" sounds like the complex bureaucracy that made battleship construction times as long as a decade.
on 9/11, the OPNAV Staff had less than 1,000 people... ~996 or something like that. 20 years later the OPNAV Staff had over 2,200 ...and that doesn't count the 'loaners' from Ech 2 commands, contractors, et al. Bureaucracy's are living, breathing, organisms that will try to grow and survive irrespective of their harm to the overall enterprise. Then add is the useless Ech 2 and 3's like CNIC, etc.
in the 70's the Navy got rid of NAVMAT... and the Savings? One 4-star billet, an aide billet, and an MS. everyone else burrowed into the other SYSCOM's that were suddenly moved from Ech 3 to Ech 2.
just cutting Flag Officers doesn't work... becuase the line always wins. that's why the Supply Corps and the Engineer Duty Officer flags are half as large as they were ten years ago. The JAG has a 3 star leader, the 'Information Dominance' corps is growing, and the Navy keeps throwning Flag Officers into new jobs that are completely made up.
My two cents. Harumph!
Me again... and don't get me started on sustaining these new white elephants. program offices constantly want to build programs with "a new approach' to sustainment... e.g. the prime contractor will do it! ha! that works until they get the bill! every program does the same thing until the money runs out! then... it's HELP!
Can we trust a Navy that believes a front line warship should have a main battery consisting of an optically aimed 57mm gun?
But the B21 isn't even in service yet... long way to go?
“uproot the not fit for purpose, accretion hobbled, rent seeking, and self-satisfied [government] system that best seems to serve itself. “. There, fixed it.
If you’re constantly operating by exception you’re in crisis management.
If you have to operate by exception to the point of deceit to get anything done...
You could look at the Pigs of corruption and stop trying to find the right shade of lipstick, > meaning say this organization and government are now hopelessly corrupt and no reform is possible, but you want to save the institution , I guess.
DOD and the Navy like the Army are part of the government, the GOFOS are part of the elites. They chose, not they made a mistake, they chose.
If you want to know your actual present bearing it isn’t a miracle of reform, its the corruption spreading down and out. That’s the course you’re on.
Sorry . Its them or us, and they want it more.
It is worth noting that the B21 is the second bomber program the AF has run since the B2. The first one was cancelled right before the competition as the technology was deemed immature.
Former engineer supporting acquisition here. It did kill my will to live to the point I quit to do other more worthwhile things....
I spent fifteen years in Navy procurement--at NAVAIR--from 1981 to 1996. I remember Cap Weinberger slashing the systems acquisition approvals by rewriting DODI 5000.1/5000.2 to require just three approval meetings for a major (ACAT I) system. I remember John "Fightin' Jack" Lehman taking on the bureaucracy--uniformed as well as civilian--and the contractors.
I remember Ev Pyatt saying to a senior Air Force officer in a class I went to "Competition works. It just...works."
Reforming the system is not about reforming the process or the institutions. It's about the people. In the Reagan administration the received view was that "Policy is personnel." You couldn't get anything done unless you had people who were ready, willing and able to storm the ramparts of the entrenched bureaucracy.
As Hayek famously observed, "True change requires a new way of thinking, not merely a new organization." And I used to regularly see a quote attributed to a Soviet military leader that said something like "It's pointless to fight the paperwork. You have to find the people producing it and kill them."
Until we get a team into the Pentagon that remembers all this, we will continue to pour money down the usual ratholes, or--worse yet--into pernicious initiatives whose only effect is to weaken and demoralize the fighting man.
Getting through EMD is one thing. Let’s not celebrate until we see if this thing is actually producible and meets its specs. Just saying.
I like what you say but despise the way you say it. "If you ignore the pile of pants that is maintenance, the sub side of the house seems to be doing quite well, but they're a special case in a variety of ways." What does that mean? "pile of pants" seems to be something bad, right? And then "sub side of the house" means the bottom of the house, or those who have subscribed to something? But then we read "they are a special case..." implying that they are a group of people who, I don't know. I am sure that this makes sense to people that are more closely involved in the world you are a part of, but what you are saying is of general importance and interest and deserves to be communicated in standard English. Please.