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Rearming for the Cold War, 1945-1960 for the Cold War, 1945-19602018-07-16T04:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClassF3E3DE8594334157B4F13D30A69F4EF1"><img alt="rearming-the-cold-war-book" src="" style="margin-right:4px;margin-left:4px;float:left;" /> <header> <h1>Rearming for the Cold War, 1945-1960</h1> </header> <p><strong>Author(s):</strong> Elliott V. Converse III</p> <p><strong>Publisher:</strong> Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense</p> <p><strong>Copyright Date:</strong> 2012</p> <p><strong>Available Online:</strong> <a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>Hard/Softcover:</strong> Hardcover, 781 pages</p> <p><strong>Reviewed by:</strong> Dr. Roy Wood, Dean, Defense Systems Management College, DAU</p> <hr /> <header> <h1>Summary</h1> </header> <p>The first publication in a multivolume series on the history of the acquisition of major weapon systems by the Department of Defense, author Elliott Converse presents a meticulously researched overview of changes in acquisition policies, organizations, and processes within the United States military establishment during the decade and a half following World War II. Many of the changes that shaped the nature and course of weapons research and development, production, and contracting through the end of the century were instituted between 1945 and 1960; many of the problems that have repeatedly challenged defense policymakers and acquisition professionals also first surfaced during these years. This study is the first to combine the histories of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the military services into one account. The volume is organized chronologically, with individual chapters addressing the roles of OSD, the Army, Navy and Air Force in two distinct periods.</p> <hr /> <h1>Review</h1> <p>If Dickens were to have written about the years following World War II, he might have started this tome, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” It was certainly the best of times. The United States and its Allies had just waged a war against global domination and won, liberating Europe and the Pacific from aggression and devastation. Economies were on the mend and diplomacy again took center stage. Yet, it was also the worst of times. The Soviet Union had just cordoned off much of Eastern Europe behind an “Iron Curtain” and aimed nuclear-tipped missiles at its former allies.</p> <p>It is within this context that Elliott Converse chronicles the evolution of the U.S. military from waging the largest and most deadly war in history to managing a tense and competitive “Cold War.” As the title suggests, Converse focuses on America’s efforts to rearm and modernize its arsenal in the face of this new and dangerous threat. The author tells an engaging story of the rapid emergence of technology and how a wartime bureaucracy was transformed and reengineered to acquire advanced missiles, aircraft, computers, and of course, nuclear energy and weapons.</p> <p>At its heart, however, is the compelling story of the people who led this transformation. There are familiar players, like Vannevar Bush, James Forrestal, and Hoyt Vandenberg. But there are also intriguing stories of lesser know, but no less influential bureaucrats, including Wilfred McNeil, Clay Bedford, and Walter Whitman.</p> <p>This is a well-researched and engaging book. The author captures the human side of the story through liberal use of quotes and good storytelling to get at why and how important decisions were made. In the process, Converse explores Service rivalries, budget battles, high-stakes intrigue, and behind-the-scenes dealing – and sometimes double-dealing – within Washington’s halls of power. The book is richly footnoted and laced with data charts, tables, period photographs, and biographical sketches of many of the key players.</p> <p>This book is of particular importance to today’s defense acquisition community because it explores our roots. Many of the decisions and actions from this time period are still evident in the organization and processes we use today. Sir Winston Churchill once noted, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Through the clear lens of hindsight, therefore, we should read this book and learn from the brilliant successes and sad foibles of those who came before us.</p> <hr /> <p>  </p> To print a PDF copy of this article, <a href="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Professional%20Reading%20Program/rearming-for-the-cold-war.pdf">click here</a>.</div>string;#/library/professional-reading-program/blog/Rearming-for-the-Cold-War,-1945-1960
Adapting to Flexible Response to Flexible Response2018-07-17T04:00:00Z to Flexible Responsebanner.jpg, to Flexible Responsebanner.jpg to Flexible Responsebanner.jpg<div class="ExternalClass2087227872A34D64AD027942D08A7939"><img alt="book-cover-adapting" src="" style="margin-right:4px;margin-left:4px;float:left;" /> <h1>Adapting to Flexible Response</h1> <p><strong>Series:</strong> History of Acquisition in the Department of Defense, Volume II</p> <p><strong>Author:</strong> Walter S. Poole</p> <p><strong>Publisher:</strong> Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office</p> <p><strong>Copyright Date:</strong> 2013</p> <p><strong>ISBN:</strong> 978-0160921834</p> <p><strong>Hard/Softcover:</strong> Hardcover, 467 pages</p> <p><strong>Reviewed by:</strong> Dr. Roy L. Wood, Dean, Defense Systems Management College, Defense Acquisition University</p> <hr /> <h1>Summary</h1> <p>Volume 2 of History of Acquisition in the Department of Defense. Contains a history of Federal defense acquisition of major weapon systems by the United States armed forces from 1960 to 1968. Organized chronologically, with individual chapters addressing the new needs for flexibility in defense acquisition in response the rapidly changing security environment under two periods: the President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson administrations.</p> <p>Covers weapon acquisitions for the Vietnam War, and the rise of nuclear threats, strategic missile systems, military helicopters and nuclear submarines. Includes topics such as dissolving the link between incentives and profits, total package procurement, creation of Federal program managers, prototyping vs component-based systems, and more.</p> <hr /> <h1>Review</h1> <p>John F. Kennedy had won the 1960 Presidential election and entered office with a strong and growing Soviet menace held at bay by his predecessor’s threat of mutual assured nuclear destruction. The Cold War strategy of containing communism also meant fighting surrogate brush wars and conducting bold—sometimes rash—covert operations. Many of these were underway in Europe, Southeast Asia, and in the Caribbean. Vietnam was quickly becoming a focal point for U.S. military support and intervention in this ideological battle of wills. For the United States, 1960–1968 was a time of strategic change abroad and brewing social upheaval at home. This was the environment President Kennedy stepped into when he took the oath of office in 1961.</p> <p>Meanwhile, within the Pentagon, under the newly appointed Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, change would likewise become the order of the day. Supporting President Kennedy’s shift from a military strategy of mutual destruction to one of “flexible response” meant moving away from near total reliance on nuclear weapons to building capable new conventional forces and weapon systems. This tumultuous period of change and refocus is the backdrop of Walter Poole’s book, Adapting to Flexible Response, 1960–1968. This important book is the second volume in the acquisition series from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office (released in 2013).</p> <p>Poole discusses the acquisition of new systems to support the flexible response strategy. Some of these included producing and fielding helicopters in large numbers and in direct combat roles for the first time, continuing to build nuclear submarines and surface ships, and creating fleets of aircraft including the F-111 fighter-bomber and heavy cargo lift C-5A. To produce these systems, defense acquisition management changed dramatically under McNamara’s Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System and Five Year Defense Plan. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and McNamara’s “whiz kids” applied systems analysis to requirements and acquisitions, and encroached as never before on what had previously been Service prerogatives.</p> <p>Poole’s book masterfully sets the stage for this complex drama and describes the forces inside and outside the Pentagon that drove defense acquisition during this period. He then dives deeply into individual weapon systems acquisition, creating rich case studies that give us glimpses into the policies and practices that went well—and those that did not. For instance, he compares the successful C-141 with the troubled C-5A programs to provide long-range airlift and describes the Army’s fascinating political struggle to choose between the M-14 and the AR-15 to outfit its infantry. He discusses Navy shipbuilding and the love-hate relationship with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and nuclear power, as well as the reliability issues of the Navy’s “3-T” missile (Talos, Terrier, and Tarter) and the move toward a “standard missile” replacement program.</p> <p>Poole’s tome is highly recommended reading for today’s acquisition professionals. Many of the challenges Poole highlights from programs in the 1960s will seem familiar to those encountered in today’s programs—stringent requirements, tight schedules, emerging technologies, a risk-averse bureaucracy, and an assertive Congress that purports to “help.” Set in a tumultuous period of evolving threats, international crises, domestic social unrest, and Pentagon bureaucratic struggles, there are important lessons to be learned and insights to be gained from Poole’s well-written and thoroughly researched history.</p> <hr />To print a PDF copy of this article, <a href="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Professional%20Reading%20Program/adaptingto.pdf">click here</a>.</div>string;#/library/professional-reading-program/blog/Adapting-to-Flexible-Response
Defense Acquisition Reform, 1960 – 2009: An Elusive Goal Acquisition Reform, 1960 – 2009: An Elusive Goal2018-07-17T16:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClassD44DE20890A7443F9A9A8A561FD7C566"><img alt="book-defense-acquisition-reform" src="" style="margin-right:4px;margin-left:4px;float:left;" /> <header> <h1>Defense Acquisition Reform, 1960 – 2009: An Elusive Goal</h1> <p><strong>Author(s):</strong> J. Ronald Fox</p> <p><strong>Publisher:</strong> Center of Military History, United States Army</p> <p><strong>Copyright Date:</strong> 2011</p> <p><strong>Available Online:</strong> <a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>Hard/Softcover:</strong> PDF, 287 pages</p> <p><strong>Reviewed by:</strong> John Alic, former staff member of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment</p> <hr /> <h1>Summary</h1> <p>From 1960 through 2009 there were more than twenty-seven major studies of defense acquisition commissioned by presidents, Congress, and secretaries of defense, government agencies, studies and analyses organizations, and universities. Numerous other noteworthy studies of defense acquisition have been conducted and published by the General Accountability Office during the same period. Much to the surprise of many, the reform studies over the forty-nine-year period arrived at most of the same findings and made similar recommendations. But political will to make the changes, combined with internal dynamics resistant to change, led to only minor improvements. The problems of schedule slippages, cost growth, and technical performance shortfalls on defense acquisition programs have remained much the same throughout this period. Defense Acquisition Reform, 1960 – 2009: An Elusive Goal provides historical and analytical accounts of the defense acquisition process for major weapons systems in order to identify long-term trends, insights, and observations that could provide perspective and context to assist current defense decision makers, acquisition officials, and the acquisition schoolhouse.</p> <hr /> <h1>Review</h1> <p>The Harvard Business School’s J. Ronald Fox, a long-time student of acquisition, prepared this volume drawing on work by the other contributors. All five have been associated with the Defense Acquisition History Project. Although the book’s front matter implies that the project ended in 2009, incomplete, in fact it is now housed in the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and further volumes can be expected. This is something to look forward to, since Fox’s volume itself offers little that is new; as a review of past studies, it will be most useful to newcomers to the subject of acquisition reform.<br> <br> There are some fresher sections. In one of these, Fox and his colleagues relate how the Air Force, Navy, and to a lesser extent the Army, sought, with considerable success, to circumvent or otherwise neutralize provisions of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act (see pp. 127–146). Mostly, however, and despite considerable use of oral histories and internal DoD documents, Defense Acquisition Reform adds only marginally to our understanding. This is not so much a criticism of the book as an acknowledgement of how many studies have gone over the ground reviewed, reaching many of the same conclusions.<br> <br> What is needed most is analytical insight. Six decades of attempts at reform have largely failed. The message is plain in Defense Acquisition Reform, if largely implicit, soft-peddled even in the subtitle.</p> <p>The book’s treatment of workforce quality illustrates the unsatisfactory state of analysis. The subject is one that Fox has examined previously and mentions repeatedly here. It is well and good to urge more and better training of the acquisition workforce, stronger incentives for exemplary performance, and lengthier tenures, especially for program managers, to build capability through experience. But a quick glance at the private sector is enough to show that a skilled and experienced workforce is no assurance of organizational performance. For decades, U.S.-based firms like General Motors and IBM had their pick of the best graduates of the best schools. With the help of formal training and internal labor markets that rewarded experiential learning, they held onto many of these employees. IBM, after running into competitive difficulties some years ago, managed to revivify itself. But smart and capable employees were not enough for GM to find its way out of the organizational routines that entrapped the firm beginning in the 1950s. Will GM finally make it this time? How about Hewlett-Packard? Sony? DoD would certainly benefit from a better qualified acquisition workforce. Yet how much difference would this actually make for major programs dominated by bureaucratic power politics? The audience for studies of acquisition, certainly the policy-making audience, would benefit from attempts to answer questions of this sort, no matter how tentative the answers might be.</p> </header></div>string;#/library/professional-reading-program/blog/Defense-Acquisition-Reform,-1960-–-2009--An-Elusive-Goal
The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program2018-07-17T16:00:00Z,<div class="ExternalClass92A5D8C7EB794E139812428A8B92F2EC"><img alt="" src="" style="margin-right:4px;margin-left:4px;float:left;" /> <h1>The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program</h1> <p><strong>Author(s):</strong> James P. Stevenson</p> <p><strong>Publisher: </strong>Naval Institute Press</p> <p><strong>Copyright Date:</strong> 2001</p> <p><strong>ISBN:</strong> 978-1557507778</p> <p><strong>Hard/Softcover:</strong> Hardcover, 483 pages</p> <p><strong>Reviewed by:</strong> Stafford A. Ward, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)</p> <hr /> <h1>Summary</h1> <p>In April 1990 the U.S. Navy’s A-12–a replacement aircraft for the outdated A-6Intruder–had the support of the Secretary of Defense before Congress. Nine months later Secretary Cheney cancelled the A-12, making it the largest weapons program ever terminated by the Pentagon and the first cancelled for default with the Pentagon making demands that the contractors return the money already paid them. Ten years later, questions remain unanswered and lessons are still to be learned.</p> <p>With access to a wealth of government and contractor documents and more than a hundred players at all levels of involvement, James Stevenson takes readers into the once-forbidden world of classified “special access” programs to examine the demise of the A-12, charging that the documents exposed fraudulent and even illegal activity. He faults the navy not just for mismanagement but for ignoring the statutes and regulations that require Congress to appropriate money before entering into contracts. Rather than a single big mistake, he finds the A-12’s path from honor to derision to be littered with hundreds of mistakes and attempts to right wrongs or cover them up. In recounting the events that eventually led to the Stealth bomber’s cancellation, Stevenson cites countless examples of the mismatch between perception and reality experienced by navy program managers, the defense department, Congress, and the contractors. In the process of telling the story, he takes on the entire defense acquisition process and its responsibility for the program that cost American taxpayers over $5 billion yet produced not a single airplane for their defense.</p> <hr /> <h1>Review</h1> <p>In the first few pages of the <em>$5 Billion Misunderstanding</em>, the reader immediately feels the author’s disbelief, anger, and disappointment with the actors and events leading to the cancellation of the A-12 “Avenger” Carrier-Based Strike Aircraft Program in January 1991. The ramifications of that cancellation still sends uncomfortable ripples of emotion throughout the U.S. defense acquisition community. The turbulence of the A-12 program found itself against the backdrop of the reorganization of the Department of Defense (DOD) under the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986; force posture reductions by General Colin Powell (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) towards the end of the Cold War; and during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. The author, James P. Stevenson, provides a well-documented, well-researched, and a highly technical account of the beginnings of stealth aircraft technology; the costly technical challenges of the nearly $5 billion A-12 program; and the intertwined actors involved in the fateful program including DOD officials, defense contractors from Northrop, McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing), and General Dynamics, and Members of the U.S. Congress. Mr. Stevenson’s central thesis was his assessment of how senior-level officials within the Department of the Navy violated the Anti-Deficiency Act through its awarding of a contract to develop the A-12 aircraft without the legal authorizations, or appropriations from Congress. The author crafts a story of the doomed A-12 program like a mystery novel where he uncovers the seemingly lack of awareness among several senior-level officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) regarding the most troubling aspects of the A-12 program. Mr. Stevenson also describes how many lower echelon Navy and OSD policy and cost officials willingly provided misinformation, and, at times, false information to those senior officials including former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.</p> <p>The <em>$5 Billion Dollar Misunderstanding</em> raises the ongoing debate around the appropriate use of contract types: firm-fixed price (FFP) development contracts and cost-reimbursement contracts. Under a FFP development contract, requirements are stable, prices are fixed, the technologies are mature, and contractors have the capability to absorb necessary costs. With a cost-reimbursement contract, requirements are less defined, costs and technical integration issues are undetermined, and the U.S. government collaborates with contractors on a cost-share ratio basis at a pre-established cost ceiling. The author notes that senior-level Navy leadership had a fundamental misunderstanding of the two contract types believing they awarded a cost-reimbursement contract when they, in fact, awarded the winners of the A-12 contract to the McDonnell Douglas-General Dynamics team with a FFP development contract. This misunderstanding proved detrimental where the Navy neither defined its requirements nor addressed the immature stealth technologies, aircraft weight challenges, and composite materials designed for the A-12. Simultaneously, the contractor team could not absorb the massive cost overruns in their attempt to employ those untested technologies. As a result of the A-12 program, the passage of the 1988 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the Reagan Administration placed a prohibition on FFP development contracts for programs over $10 million (which was later reversed by the 2007 NDAA).</p> <p>The <em>$5 Billion Dollar Misunderstanding</em> is an excellent tome for those wanting to learn the lessons of the canceled A-12 program. However, the reader must be steeped in defense acquisition and federal contracting principles such as acquisition phases and milestones, Pre-Planned Product Improvement (now called Evolutionary Acquisition), or advanced payment contracting vehicles. In addition, the reader would have benefited with an enumerated list of all the actors and their roles in the A-12 program such as Secretary of the Navy Larry Garrett (who later resigned in the wake of the Tailhook scandal), or Les Aspin (then Chair of the House Armed Services Committee during the Congressional A-12 investigation who later became Secretary of Defense). Despite these shortcomings, the <em>$5 Billion Dollar Misunderstanding</em> should be required reading for the defense acquisition workforce at all certification levels.</p> <hr />To print a PDF copy of this article, <a href="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Professional%20Reading%20Program/5-BIllion-Misunderstanding-review.pdf">click here</a>.</div>string;#/library/professional-reading-program/blog/The-$5-Billion-Misunderstanding--The-Collapse-of-the-Navy’s-A-12-Stealth-Bomber-Program