Today seems like a good day to discuss ways in which the government doesn’t work (well).


Kingston Reif- the nukes of hazard- tweeted a link out about the F-35. (This is the reason that I social media is neat, I would be unlikely to have come across an article in vanity fair).

it is here. The procurement process for new weapons systems is always a little bit frustrating, but this one is right up there with missile defense on the FUBAR scale. I’m not sure whether I am more concerned about the dysfunctional outcomes of anything involving congress generally, or what seems like a complete disconnect between our current military decisions and any kind of grand strategy.  First the politics. As my colleague Andrew Tyndall noted ” The political costs are embedded in every dollar. ..US fighter procurement costs are increasing exponentially as we try to keep ahead of tech globalization(5th gen. fighters). Meanwhile producing 4.5 generation fighters are getting cheaper. We’re getting closer to global equality of arms, that scares me.”  The F35’s existence behind schedule and over budget is also tied to the political nature of weapons systems procurement- as the article explains  “The political process that keeps the Joint Strike Fighter airborne has never stalled. The program was designed to spread money so far and so wide—at last count, among some 1,400 separate subcontractors, strategically dispersed among key congressional districts—that no matter how many cost overruns, blown deadlines, or serious design flaws, it would be immune to termination. It was, as bureaucrats say, “politically engineered.”’ If you want more on politics and weapons boondoggles there is a good RAND report here on Nunn-McCurdy breaches.


If all that weren’t enough I am perhaps even more troubled by the appearance of a disconnect between our defense allocations and any kind of strategy. Sure- a military beyond approach by any near peer- but for what? so that we can bomb Libyan convoys? Protect Taiwan? South Korea? I’m really at a loss for what we intend to do with all this hardware. I don’t have a sense that the US has a real idea of what it’s role will be in the 21st century. Without knowing what we want to achieve how could we possibly know what tools we will need?


(Published in the Athens banner herald)

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