Someone Has to Pay

Funding the production of new weapons will be one of the next administration’s biggest challenges, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said Wednesday. Speaking at the ComDef conference in Washington, D.C., Kendall said the Pentagon has invested heavily in research and development in recent years to move the ball forward on the early-stage risk reduction phase of a number of programs. “It’s the right place to put the money first,” he said. “But what we don’t have in the five-year plan right now is the follow-on funds” to turn demonstration items into acquisition programs. During a separate panel discussion, Todd Harrison, the director of budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said any new programs or even just upgrades that have to come at the expense of a legacy system, will be a tough sell to Congress because it could mean less money and less jobs for certain lawmakers’ districts. “Whoever comes into office is going to have a set of problems that they will inherit, which is pretty severe,” Kendall said. “And innovation is one of the things that we’re doing to try to make those problems less severe. In fact, I believe we may have created a misimpression—the misimpression being that our problem is the lack of innovation. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think we have a lot of innovation. The problem that we have fundamentally is the lack of resources to take that innovation and make into products that we can provide to our warfighters and to our friends.” (See also: Suggestions, but Little Detail and Big Bow Wave Coming.)