Accession Number:

ADA576026

Title:

Untying Gulliver: Taking Risks to Acquire Novel Weapon Systems

Descriptive Note:

Occasional paper

Corporate Author:

RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

16.0

Abstract:

Traditionally, the defense acquisition system equips relatively large forces for major combat operations involving weapon systems that are produced in significant quantities and intended to be operational for decades. However, today there is a growing need to equip smaller forces to respond to asymmetrical threats using novel weapon systems that can be quickly developed and fielded. Novel systems -- often an integration of several known technologies, coupled with doctrinal and organizational changes -- have more uncertainty when compared to traditional acquisition programs, and they present a challenge to the traditional acquisition process. Acquisition policies and procedures in place today are designed to deliver new systems based on a stable design to minimize risk. However, to quickly field innovative and novel systems, the acquisition community must accept precisely the uncertainties and risks that the traditional acquisition process has been deliberately designed to avoid. The aversion to risk that is built into the current acquisition process impedes rather than encourages the development of novel systems, especially those based upon disruptive rather than evolutionary technology. Although DoD has established a number of organizations and undertaken numerous initiatives to manage the identification, test, and deployment of novel systems, creating capabilities in the absence of any expressed warfighter need -- that is, technology push -- continues to run too much against the political, bureaucratic, and regulatory grain of the defense acquisition process. If it is allowed to continue, this aversion will have serious consequences for the long-term quality and capability of future U.S. combat forces. Creating an environment that fosters innovation and novel system development is one of the tough, but fundamental challenges facing senior leaders in DoD.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE