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Acquisition as Deterrent

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Journal Article

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Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Integration Washington United States

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The other night I had a dream. I was walking through a deserted part of the Pentagon, down a hallway Id never seen before. I suddenly realized I had a slip of paper in my hand and, unsurprisingly, no clothes on whatsoever. Scrawled on the paper, in handwriting I did not recognize, were the words 6th floor, F-ring. Huh, I thought to myself. I didnt know there was a 6th floor, or an F-ring. Must be new. Dreams are funny that way, you know, with that funhouse distortion of reality they so often contain. There was a staircase ahead, and I began to ascend, climbing endless steps with a dreamy slow-motion pace with which you are no doubt familiar. My legs felt like lead while my gut screamed to go faster. I briefly wondered where my clothes were. Suddenly, I found myself wearing a formal uniform, standing outside a door that said, Welcome to the Office of Acquisition Deterrence. There was no sign the door actually said the words out loud. It was one of those kinds of dreams. The door swung open invitingly, and I walked into a lush foyer with dark paneling. An elegantly calligraphed sign on the wall displayed a dictum by Sun Tzu All warfare is based on deception. The rest of the walls were decorated in the traditional decorating scheme of military facilities, with imagesof high-tech weapons systems in action. I perused the photos of artillery pieces, jet fighters, and helicopters for a few moments before something struck me. Thesewere not just any old weapons. They were the Navys A-12 Avenger, the Armys RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, and the Crusader field artillery. A one-fifth scale model of the Sgt. York Division Air Defense Gun sat on a mahogany table. Those weapons, every single one of them, had been cancelled after significantly overrunning their budgets and schedules, often because the hopelessly complex technologies had become operationally irrelevant, ineffective, or both.

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