Change or Suffer the Consequences

There is a “critical need” for DOD to establish a national security industrial vision to support the needs of warfighters for world-class weapon systems and services in the 21st century, a Defense Science Board task force chaired by former Pentagon acquisition czar Jacques Gansler reported July 31. “The nation currently has a consolidated 20th century defense industry, not the required and transformed 21st century national security industrial base it needs for the future,” reads the task force’s report (caution: somewhat large file). The four-pronged vision that the task force recommends should focus on: maintaining competition among industry; searching ceaselessly for superior technology, manufacturing, and logistics; applying increased attention to C4ISR, information technology, and services; and building a true partnership with industry. Without such a vision, DOD likely will not be able to deliver new capability on time or within budget, the task force warns. The panel also highlights familiar themes that DOD should address: do more to facilitate the rapid and affordable acquisition of world-class weapon systems and services; drive business practice transformation within the department; and strengthen the acquisition workforce. Specific recommendations by the panel include focusing on interoperable, network-centric systems, training as one fights, adequately funding “engines of innovation” to stay ahead of potential adversaries technologically, and understanding the dynamics of globalization and realize its benefits.