March 1, 2009  

In this issue

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pointed out that since the end of World War II, there have been nearly 130 studies on problems related to defense acquisition.

Weapons spending woes are nothing new. Nor are calls for defense acquisition reform.

But as Gates said, the problem lies in the yawning gap between saying and doing. “It’s one thing to speak broadly about the need for budget discipline and acquisition reform; it’s quite another to make tough choices about specific weapons and defense priorities based solely on national interests.”

The economic crisis makes fixing the defense acquisition mess even more critical.

In our three-part cover story, defense analysts Loren Thompson and Bernard Finel examine what the economic downturn means for defense funding. And former Missile Defense Agency director Ron Kadish warns against making short-term slices in the missile defense system that could end up being highly costly to national security in the long term.

Ralph Peters returns to AFJ this month with a review of what he delicately calls “the curious legacy of the Bush administration.” His point, deliciously delivered: that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. had some militarily sound ideas but so badly botched their execution that these useful concepts have been discredited.

And when it comes to discredited concepts, few are creating more controversy than effects-based operations. Is EBO a victim of misunderstanding and urban legends? Lt. Col. Jeff Hukill, an analyst at the new Air Force Research Institute, defends EBO through the lens of the concept’s original intent and doctrine.