Lost in the Orange Triangle

The Pentagon may go on a research and development hiatus for a few years in all but a few carefully chosen areas if sequester isn’t repealed, said Pentagon acquisition, technology and logistics chief Frank Kendall Thursday. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Kendall said, “We’re in the ‘orange triangle,’” which refers to “a graph of cuts that we have to take,” due to the ongoing sequester. Because “we can’t remove force structure . . . (or) civilian workforce instantaneously, but the cuts do occur instantaneously,” money will have to be raided from investment accounts, for “a period of three or four years,” he said. His deputy, Katrina McFarland, told the Daily Report afterwards that Kendall has walled off five high-risk/high-payoff technology areas where R&D will continue during the lean years, and these will be consistent with areas Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mentioned Tuesday in his own CSIS speech. Hagel said DOD would protect the areas of “space, cyber, special operations . . . and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.” Kendall said that in many ways R&D is “a fixed cost” because “if you want to keep (current systems)” at a “state of technological superiority relative to the adversary, then you have to do the R&D” to support them. Kendall admitted he’s “particularly worried about the research and development accounts . . . and what we’re being . . . forced to do to them.”