Capability defined by DoD

by reader ilsm

From last week:

I said: “The government has no idea what is “required”, Anna Lee helped by commenting on “capability”. For ya’ all to study: CJCS M 3170.01.

This week how do they figure out what some “capability” is?

GAO is kind enough to help with this post: Missile Defense Agency: Actions Needed to Improve Process for Identifying and Addressing Combatant Command Priorities”. Jluy 2008.


“First, U.S. Strategic Command [Combat Developer, has the “capability gap”] and the Missile Defense Agency [Materiel Developer, fills the “gap”] have no ……..process, which would clearly define each organization’s respective roles and responsibilities for identifying, prioritizing, and addressing the combatant commands’ “capability” needs. This has left the combatant commands without an agreed-upon mechanism for influencing agency investments.”

So! They cannot tell if what they are working on has any meaning even in fictitious war games run by guys looking for careers after their 20 years.

Hard to argue with the next observation:

“Second, the Missile Defense Agency has lacked clear information about how to best address the commands’ needs”

“Third, senior civilian DOD leadership has not been involved in adjudicating potential differences among the commands’ priorities. Instead, U.S. Strategic Command has consolidated and submitted the commands’ prioritized capability needs to the Missile Defense Agency without first vetting these priorities though senior civilian DOD officials with departmentwide responsibilities for assessing risk and allocating resources. As a result, the Missile Defense Agency has not benefited from receiving a broader, departmentwide perspective on which of the commands’ needs were the most significant.”

Blame it on the civilian side of the DoD.

The things Missile Defense Agency develop for the combatant commands who go to war (the combatant commanders tell the combat developer how they think they need to “do it”), are mostly missile defense stuff, like upgraded Patriot systems (PAC-3), Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), and Mid Range missile defenses. The combatant commands do not talk directly to the materiel developer. The materiel developer talks “gaps” to the materiel developer, in this case Missile Defense Agency.

What is supposed to happen is the combatant command recognizes there is a gap between possible enemies missiles and the ability to stop those missile threats. What has happened they are spending all kinds of money and not filling the gaps. The second two observations describe how poorly combatant command gaps are filled and why the system fails. Even though they spend lots of money and have all kinds of unnecessary needs for the next budget.

What we do not see here, which is important, is the analysis which said the combatant command should hire MDA at all. Suppose there were better ways to meet the missile threat? That is not what MDA does and MDA is a priority. Not what gaps it fills. The solution of the past few decades has been Star Wars regardless of the gaps and threats ignored.

Almost as wasteful as all the do-overs and continuous renegotiation of work required.

Good for GAO!! The biggest gap is the gap between a rational defense and the “capabilities” bought with the scarce money we are borrowing from our progeny.

Don’t expect the beaks they whittle to fill any one’s gap.

And in in the extremely remote likelihood the gaps were identified correctly the materiel developers likely will miss the target.

More on that step next week.