With procurement bottlenecks worse than ever and R&D dollars shrinking in the face of an increasingly expensive war without end, a new trend is emerging: Smaller organizations with the savvy to act as middlemen in order to get the right stuff to warfighters in time for it to actually matter.
Defense experts like Edward "Otto" Pernotto have the potential to make a difference because they understand how to exploit the system in effective ways. Otto recently launched Excalibur R&D, LLC, which he calls a "small business focused on providing rapid, innovative, and collaborative national security solutions.""We cannot continue to throw money at huge military programs that in many ways are breaking the bank of this country," Otto said during a discussion with DT at the recent Milblogging conference in DC. "We need to do things smarter and quicker."
During our discussion Otto offered a number of examples of the sort of "low hanging fruit" that the current DoD procurement system is incapable of dealing with. Among his initiatives is an attack variant of the H-47 that he claims can be fielded for around $5 million per copy. He also submits that his plan would get these aircraft to the battle in months, not years.
"From the initial thoughts for this rapid response team, my thinking on the subject has evolved," Otto said. "I have watched with great fascination the evolving nature of the Internet and certain collective activities that have gone on. I'm convinced those sorts of activities are the way of the future."
Whether Otto and others like him are tilting at windmills or not remains to be seen, but this much is obvious (and heartening): Those who really care about the heath of America's forces aren't waiting around for the machine to fix itself.
(Image from Otto's site. Think this guy believes what he says?)