New Approach To Defense Spending?

5 comments February 23rd, 2009at 11:07pm Posted by Eli

I hope this is for real:

President Obama late this afternoon nominated Harvard professor Ashton B. Carter, a leading authority on arms control, to take on a surprising new role, according to top administration officials — as the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.


Unlike most of his predecessors selected to be under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Carter has no professional ties to America’s arms makers or manufacturing industry, nor has he spent his career in government procurement. Instead, from his perch at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Carter has been criticizing the Pentagon for buying too many armaments it doesn’t need, decrying what he calls a lack of discipline and “failure to take account of cost growth in weapons systems and defense services.”

A trained scientist with a doctorate in theoretical physics and a degree in Medieval history, Carter’s advocates say the long-time Harvard professor and national security specialist is being chosen because his combination of technical expertise and knowledge of defense strategy will be needed to make what Gates calls “difficult choices” about which weapons programs to invest in and which ones to terminate.

“He is not being brought in to help the defense industry thrive,” said Loren Thompson, president of the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va., think tank. “He is being brought in to decide what we need and what we can do without.”

It would be a refreshing change to see something other than a blank-check approach to defense spending.  Now if Obama can get us out of Iraq, we might actually save some real money.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama


  • 1. Cujo359  |  February 24th, 2009 at 3:10 am

    The DoD procurement system is impossibly complicated and arcane. Start by knowing the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations, then learn what all the hundreds of agencies in the DoD’s materiel commands do, and why they do it. If he’s never been in the business, It will take him quite some time just to get acclimated. In the meantime, people will be snowing him right and left.

    There’s plenty of waste there to be found, given time and motivation. Don’t expect any for the next few years, though. Best I think you can hope for is that he cans a major weapons system or two (the F-22 or F-35 might be a good choice). Of course, the Pentagon’s been trying to get rid of the V-22 for years, and they’re still stuck with it.

    That’s another lesson he’ll need to absorb – many problems aren’t the DoD’s making. Maybe we should create jobs using other federal departments.

  • 2. woody  |  February 24th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The B-2 Bomber is the paradigm case for the problems and perils of Pedentagon procurement.

    Some part of every one of those $3Billion Birds is manufacured, or inspected, or polished, or installed, or shipped, or tested in EVERY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT in the country. A minimum of 435 ‘suppliers’ preside over jobs that NO Congresscritter could EVER let get away.

  • 3. Cujo359  |  February 24th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    That’s the sort of thing I was referring to in the last paragraph, Woody. Doing such things makes the program far more costly than it ought to be, yet it ensures the program’s survival. We’d have been far better off to spend the difference between what it could have cost if they’d co-located aspects of the program that were closely tied and the way they actually did it on infrastructure spending or education.

  • 4. nexuslex  |  February 24th, 2009 at 7:28 pm , that is a brochure for Bush’ s 2000 election thingy. He did even overachieve. If Mr. Barack keeps his vision like that it might take some burden off many.

  • 5. Eli  |  February 24th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Oh wow. I didn’t realize he was playing the “dangerous world” card even before 9/11. Amazing.

    And even more ironic that he ignored all the warnings about terrorism and potential attacks.

Contact Eli



Most Recent Posts




February 2009
« Jan   Mar »

Thinking Blogger

Pittsburgh Webloggers

Site Meter

View My Stats *