Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Engineering support contracts indicate the Pentagon is sinking into the Mothball Strategy

Posted by John Keller

THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 26 Nov. 2013. Engineering services and support. That's what I'm seeing for the vast majority of today's Pentagon contract announcements. Not new procurement or research programs, but engineering services and support.

Not that there's anything wrong with this, but it's a big indication that the technology base of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is at best standing still, and more likely is slowly slipping backwards.

When the DOD is operating in a healthy way it's common to see new programs in the contract announcements, or additions to existing programs such as systems upgrades and technology insertion. But engineering services and support? This is basically just keeping the lights on.

What I see at work for the U.S. military is what I call the Mothball Strategy. We've seen it before, back in the late '70s during the Carter Administration, and in the mid-'90s under the Clinton Administration.

The Mothball Strategy means the DOD simply is hunkering down, and trying to keep its existing weapons and systems functioning adequately, and its manufacturing base from disappearing. Real capability and real technology development is put away in the closet because for now the DOD can't afford it. All efforts go into maintaining what the military forces have today, not in moving forward.

The Mothball Strategy for the Pentagon is like a drowning man who's just been thrown a life preserver. He's just gasping for air and grateful still to be alive; for the moment, he's not concerned with getting anywhere, just with keeping his head above water.

The Mothball Strategy for the Pentagon means nothing much happens, except keeping the military forces alive as best that leaders can. In the long term it means a stationary military force that decays into obsolescence more each day.

... and it means more engineering services and support contracts to plug the inevitable leaks.

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