18 April 2015

America's Military Is the Best: What about the Acquisition Process?

April 16, 2015 

According to Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology—in other words, the Pentagon’s top arms buyer—the state of military acquisition in the United States is fairly good today.

Whether one ultimately agrees or not, this is a welcome antidote to the more frequent media focus on nonperforming weapons, cost overruns, Congressional logrolling, and other narratives that characterize much of the discussion of the state of American military acquisition in the modern world.

Kendall appeared at a Brookings event on Monday April 13, at which he again discussed his “better buying power” initiatives that have characterized his tenure at the under secretary position, a job he has held since 2012.

Eschewing any belief in silver bullets as a way to improve how DoD equips today’s American soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine, he made a pitch for a broad-based, incrementalist approach focused largely on making gradual improvements to the quality of the Pentagon’s acquisition workforce. That is a civilian-dominated group, numbering some 150,000 full-time federal employees, in DC and around the country.

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