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To Clip an Osprey's Wings

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Old news Maybe so, but it makes an understanding of how decisions affecting our national security strategy are made more important than before. Why Because, if a military service is to compete effectively for a fair share of the smaller defense pie, it must sharpen its skills at bureaucratic politics. While bureaucratic politics may be a four letter word to some readers, it is a fact of life in any organization military or civilian. Influence is wielded unevenly by individuals and organizations in a bureaucracy. Therefore, organizational success is ensured only by knowing how to influence the bureaucratic process which allocates the resources to carry out the national security strategy. Mow can skills in bureaucratic politics be sharpened One way is by examining lessons learned from case studies of the process of awarding major defense contracts. The case study chosen for use here is of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft program. The Ospreys wings were first clipped by Secretary of Defense Cheney in April 1989, when he decided to reprogram FY89 long lead procurement money for the V-22 but allowed the RD program to continue. Given the backdrop of the drastic decline in real buying power in the defense budget in the near term, it should not be surprising that the rationale cited for clipping the Ospreys wings was affordability and relatively low priority Jensen within the larger scope of our national defense needs. However, the Osprey still flies. Secretary Cheney has not succeeded in killing it to date. The story of the Ospreys development has as many twists as the road to the top of Pikes Peak. It is an example of how bureaucratic politics --writ large-- function today in Washington.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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