Noah Schactman uncovers the reason it takes a decade for the Pentagon to buy new weapons:
And you thought winning the Afghanistan war was tough. Try building the Army’s new armored vehicle. Or piecing together the Navy’s new network.
All of the complexity of the Afghan conflict — and all of the bureaucracy NATO used to manage the counterinsurgency effort — was summed up by a single spaghetti monster of a PowerPoint slide. “When we understand [it],” war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal joked when he saw the slide, “we’ll have won the war.”
But that slide was child’s play compared to the three-foot wall chart the military uses to explain its gajillion-step process for developing, buying, and maintaining gear. The “Integrated Acquisitions Technology and Logistics Life Cycle Management” diagram is kind of a precis to the whole interminable progression, from “decompose concept functional definition into component concepts & assessment objective” to “execute support program that meets materiel readiness and operational support performance requirements and sustains system in most cost-effective manner.” Stare long enough, and you’ll start to see why it takes a decade for the Defense Department to buy a tanker plane, or why marines are still reading web pages with Internet Explorer 6.
The chart is put out by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisitions University, where the Pentagon educates 180,000 people a year on its, um, unique process for purchasing equipment.
Full-sized horror of the slide at the link. If you think you can survive the insanity of it.