DoD Needs to Invest More in Innovation — Security Today

DoD Needs to Invest More in Innovation

An old Navy way of saying something is a dumb idea is to say, “that makes as much sense as a screen door on a submarine.” While the Navy is smart enough not to use them on submarines, the way that DoD runs its acquisitions makes about as much sense as putting a screen door on a submarine. And, it’s costing us in the taxpayer’s wallet and the country in national security. We prepare for the last war while our adversaries plan for the next conflict.

Numerous commissions, studies and papers continue to point to the stifling effects of the DoD procurement system on production, efficiency, and innovation as well as lead to bloated price tags like the F-35. The cost of one F-35 is now “only” $78 million, the next five years of development will be billion, and the lifetime cost of the program is $1.73 trillion. That is just one (albeit expensive) weapon system. That is a lot of money for a system that has not been actively in regular national security headlines or conversation (except to debate its controversial efficacy). With drones, autonomous weapons, artificial intelligence and other innovations on the battlefield, what will be its comparative value in the next conflict? 

Our adversaries have three advantages over us: 

  1. They’ve already stolen what works. The most effective way to do research is to not have to do it at all and go straight to an advanced final product. China ensures that it keeps up with the United States in the technological race, and saves billions of dollars, by stealing the results of our expensive R&D efforts.

    According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, U.S. companies have suffered “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.” China’s economic power strategy also includes the Belt and Road initiative – where they invest in infrastructure in developing countries. But they are doing the same thing here, as well, as China directs equity investment in cutting-edge U.S. technology start-ups.

  2. With U.S. power as the relative benchmark, Russia and China are choosing how to contest us. “[W]e should expect China and Russia to come after us with irregular-war strategies….”

    This means breadth and innovation are key for our defenses since what has worked for us before is exactly what they are going to avoid.

  3. They do not have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation or deal with a dizzying array of rules, regulations, policies and statutes that stifle innovation. As Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services recently stated, “in my view, where we need to make the Pentagon more effective: […] our acquisition and procurement process over the last 20 years can only be described as a complete disaster.”

Source link

DOD and DOE Face Challenges Mitigating Risks to U.S. Deterrence Efforts

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to replace or modernize existing triad platforms including submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bomber aircraft, as well as many of the nuclear command, control, and communication systems that facilitate control of them (see below). The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to modernize its nuclear infrastructure to life extend and produce warheads and bombs. DOD will be challenged to meet some U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) operational needs with existing triad systems, shown below, through the end of their service lives. DOD must manage shortfalls in quantities of systems that it can field and capability limitations that reduce effectiveness of these systems. For example, the Navy will have to carefully manage resources to meet USSTRATCOM’s operational requirements for the Ohio class submarine. Further, DOE faces a long-term sustainment challenge with one of its bombs, the B83-1.

Existing Nuclear Triad Platforms

Existing Nuclear Triad Platforms

DOD and DOE are working to replace triad systems nearing retirement, but these replacement programs face schedule risks that could exacerbate challenges with existing triad systems. Replacement programs have risk factors that include concurrency between phases of acquisition programs from development through production, immature technologies, and limited schedule margin. For example,

  • The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program includes limited schedule margin for testing, and if it fails a major test event it would likely delay initial fielding.
  • The schedules for DOE’s life extension programs are highly dependent on the availability of suitable facilities to manufacture, assemble, and assess bomb and warhead components. However, many DOE facilities needed for these efforts are outdated or obsolete, as more than half of DOE’s facilities are over 40 years old.

DOD and DOE have limited ability to mitigate risks to the efficacy of the nuclear deterrent with their current strategy, and are beginning to consider alternatives.

Why GAO Did This Study

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review indicates that DOD’s highest priority is the nuclear deterrent, made up of sea, land, and air legs—referred to as the nuclear triad. DOD has reported that due to prior delays and challenges with aging nuclear triad systems, there is little to no margin for delaying replacement systems without incurring risk to the nuclear deterrent. Similarly, DOE faces a demanding schedule for infrastructure projects and programs for the life extension and production of warheads and bombs.

In this report, GAO examines (1) the challenges DOD and DOE face in meeting operational needs with existing triad systems; (2) the extent to which DOD and DOE triad acquisition programs face schedule risks, and the implications of delays; and (3) whether DOD and DOE have strategies to mitigate risks to the nuclear deterrent, including acquisition delays. To do this work, GAO analyzed DOD and DOE documentation, interviewed officials, and leveraged GAO work on acquisition best practices, triad systems, and the nuclear enterprise.

This is an unclassified version of a classified report we issued in June 2020, and specific classified information has been removed.

Source link