DOD Has “Risk-Averse Culture”

Retired Brig. Gen. Scott Bethel blasted the Department of Defense bureaucracy Tuesday and singled out the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for being “not very tolerant of risk or mistakes.” Innovative ideas and programs are strangled, he said, because “almost everything has to run through a lawyer.” Bethel, who retired in 2012 and is currently a vice president at JMark Services, made his remarks at a cyber warfare event sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association in Vienna, Va. The DOD has had difficulty finding solutions for cyber defense in the gaps between intelligence and communications operations, he said, because there is “no reward for risk, there is only reward for success, or contrived success.” Bethel recalled his days as a general officer, when he would visit units that would clean up their operations for the occasion and put their best foot forward. Underneath, he said, was always the reality that “one-third of all employees in the government, civilian or military, do almost nothing.” He said that to be effective, the DOD needs to “allow the ISR entity to manage its own resources” in order to escape the “giant bureaucratic process.”