Our enthusiasm must be tempered by an understanding of the wartime circumstances that made it work and the downsides that were accepted.
Every time the Marine Corps sent me back to Operation Iraqi Freedom, new and better equipment awaited: radios, armored vehicles, electronic jammers to foil roadside bombs. It was clear that the rapid acquisition policies created or updated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were sending high-performing, technical systems to the battlefield much faster than conventional acquisition could. They helped me do my infantryman’s job better, and helped our force adapt to evolving threats in months rather than years or decades.
Sensibly, policymakers are trying to figure out how rapid acquisition ideas could help the conventional acquisition system perform better. Early this year, the Pentagon enshrined rapid acquisition by including a dedicated section on it in the latest regulations governing acquisition. The Air Force recently announced that it is procuring its new B-21 bomber through its rapid capabilities office, and the Navy is setting up a similar office to speed up acquisitions.
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