America’s Defense Meltdown

Sometime within the next few weeks, the Center for Defense Information will publish a major anthology by the A-List of the shadow defense establishment.  Plus, I have a chapter.

This is a unique volume by a collection of authors that have never collaborated to this degree before and, it is safe to predict, will never again.  They include:

  • Tom  Christie, close colleague of John Boyd’s, co-author of the energy maneuverability papers, and my boss at the TACAIR shop in PA&E
  • Bob Dilger, guru of the A-10’s gun, the GAU-8, and who showed how competition could reduce the cost of munitions by 90% while improving quality; long-time advocate for close air support
  • Bruce Gudmundsson, retired Marine and author of seven books, including the classic Stormtroop Tactics (available from our book store)
  • Bill Lind, who needs no introduction to DNI’s readers
  • Doug Macgregor, hero of 73 Easting, author of Breaking the Phalanx and Transformation Under Fire
  • John Sayen, also retired Marine, author, and one of the best military analysts writing today (he and Doug Macgregor co-reviewed my chapter)
  • Pierre Sprey, another of Boyd’s closest colleagues, driving force behind the A-10 and a major influence on the F-16.  Now runs Mapleshade Studios in Maryland.
  • Jim Stevenson, long-time author, publisher, and defense analyst; wrote the classic study of defense program mismanagement on the A-12
  • Don Vandergriff, another author who needs no introduction; probably the leading expert on instituting leadership programs for 4GW
  • GI Wilson, another colleague of Boyd’s, member of the team that put together FMFM-1, and co-author of the paper that coined the term “fourth generation warfare.”
  • Winslow Wheeler, who also edited the volume, long-time congressional staffer, and author of another classic, The Wastrels of Defense.

I’ve attached the TOC, Preface, and Exec Summary (186 KB PDF).  More information soon on how to obtain the complete volume when it’s published.  [The title page of this version is for a notional Obama administration — had to be one or the other; I’m not making predictions.]

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Filed in Misc. | 11 responses so far

11 Responses to “America’s Defense Meltdown”

  1. Maxon 30 Oct 2008 at 10:15 am 1

    Congradulations Chet, and good luck.

    I can’t claim to speak for everyone, but imagine that
    most among this group are behind you 100%, and perhaps
    through humble participation in exchange of ideas
    and opinions, in this forum have in some
    sense also participated in this noble endevour.

    Perhaps with Robert Gates at the helm, and with the prospect
    of at least some degree of changes coming to Washington
    starting next week, things might be looking up, just a little.


    For those who are not familar, Bob Dilger is a longtime
    friend and asociate of cols Boyd & Riccioni, a fighter pilot,
    and Vietnam era Mig Killer.

    [CR: He’s also the inventor of the weapon sometimes known as “Dilger’s Baby,” which is featured in Victor O’Reilly’s The Devils Footprint and is mentioned in George Crile’s book Charlie Wilson’s War.]

  2. KevinMon 30 Oct 2008 at 11:34 am 2

    Very exciting essay collection on the future of our defense and national security programs. I certainly hope that it gets widely circulated around DC.
    – In William Lind’s discussion of employing more brown/green water vessels, forces and strategies, does the thinking include more integration between the Navy and Coast Guard? Certainly, 4GW tactics would suggest more homeland protection and intelligence is required for our nation’s success.
    – Separately, the collective thought of these wise and experienced men seems to want to maintain (albeit more closely integrated) a silo-ed structure of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. While a new model is being discussed, I’m curious what the thinking is toward a combined military force with functional units (spawned or formed for a specific task or purpose) rather than separate organizations trying to work together under a unified purpose? I think that such a system would better leverage the conclusion of the essay that people come first, followed by ideas and equipment.

    [CR: Kevin — while the majority probably would keep the current service structure, I proposed a completely new system several years ago in A Swift, Elusive Sword. The land warfare component would be built around the current USMC plus Army & Navy Special Warfare. Most of the rest of the Army would eventually go away, joining the threat that justified it. In Neither Shall the Sword, I suggested privatizing a large fraction of it.]

  3. zoagriaon 30 Oct 2008 at 4:12 pm 3

    Very nice collection!

    Here is a link to an article from Defense AT&L from earlier this year titled: “Krog’s New Weapon”, by Maj. Dan Ward, Maj. Chris Quaid, and Capt. Gabe Mounce:

    In the spirit of keeping direct posts short, I honestly cannot think of an article that better sums up the weird dilemmas and squandered resources with more wit and insight (I wish I’d written it myself!)… and humor. These officers are anti-wonks in the best sense of the term. Enjoy.

    A. Scott Crawford

    [CR: Thanks! You’re right, the Rogue Project Leaders are doing some great work. Readers might also like Dan’s book, The Simplicity Cycle.]

  4. […] America’s Defense Meltdown […]

  5. loggie20on 31 Oct 2008 at 6:08 pm 5

    GAO each year tracks schedule slips and cost overruns of the top US doD weapons acquisitions.

    GAO Testimony: Fundamental Changes Are Needed to Improve Weapon Program Outcomes

    In 2000 the defense acquisition portfolio was: 75 programs with planned commitments of $790B, increases from planned R&D of 27% and average schedule delay of 16 months.

    In 2005 the defense acquisition portfolio was: 91 programs with planned commitments of $1500B, increases from planned R&D of 33% and average schedule delay of 17 months.

    In 2007 the defense acquisition portfolio was: 95 programs with planned commitments of $1600B and increases from planned R&D of 40% and average schedule delay of 21months.

    R&D represents a small fraction of costs to deliver the equipment and operate and support it.

    The observed trend is cost increasing along with schedule slips.

    Krog’s allegorical tale is quite accurate.

    The non existent Mammoths represents the misrepresentations of threats and capability gaps to solve the risks posed by the threats. JCS is in on this part.

    The need to sneak up on the mammoth represents the acquisition system, both government specifiers and industry designers to failure to solve the problem posed by the gap/risk equation.

    The lateness is related to ineptitude in the acqusition processes as well as the tolerance of the budget folks, congress more about jobs in districts, to live with the obvious misrepresentation from the requirers and the specifiers.

    A tribute to OSD that they allow Maj Ward to publish.

    What could the US do with 2% or so of GDP freed from military industrila complex waste. A lot of shirts for working people, maybe lowered infant mortality…..

  6. max161on 02 Nov 2008 at 9:36 am 6

    I thought HR McMaster was the hero of 73 Easting?

    [CR: You only have to phrase your answer in the form of a question if you’re playing Jeopardy. Battles can have more than one, you know.]

  7. loggie20on 02 Nov 2008 at 10:46 am 7

    Interesting thread at Economists view on Militarist Keynesianism. Seems in quarter from July to Sep ’08 military expenditures grew by 14% year over year, the brightest growth spot in an otherwise dismay quarter.

    Lots of end of FY fall out, so unplanned so much waste!

  8. Fighting the Next Waron 02 Nov 2008 at 3:54 pm 8

    […] Chet Richards of Defense and the National Interest via Mark Safranski I received a link to the introduction, table of contents, and executive summary […]

  9. […] One of the more provocative offerings in the maelstrom of think tank reports hoping to gain influence in the next administration and QDR is CDI’s forthcoming monograph America’s Defense Meltdown. […]

  10. […] citizen should read. For more about the book, from one of its organizers, Chet Richards, see this. Check it out. ____ * On blurbs: I have a bias in favor of giving blurbs for books, because in my […]

  11. Jaime Porrason 14 Nov 2008 at 8:49 am 11

    First let me start with an admission that I am currently a “Defense Contractor” as to not cloak myself in the illusion of“non-partisanship.”

    Ater reading the executive summary I am stunned by the inescapable fact that not a single one of the authors on not a single occasion mentions a single word regarding the largest negative factor contributing to America’s Defense Meltdown, namely the monstrous growth of utterly incapable and many times criminally incompetent civil servants i.e, DOD government employees.


    [CR: Well, Jaime, as a former US Government employee (Office of the Secretary of Defense) and a former defense contractor (Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin), could I ask you to be a little more specific?]