Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter today told the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan that the DoD must institutionalize a rapid and flexible acquisition process to meet the unpredictable demands of 21st Century contingency operations and low-intensity wars.
Calling the Pentagon's annual budgeting process a relic of the Cold War designed to "prepare for war not to wage wars," Carter reiterated the calls for a streamlined acquisition process that can rapidly deliver the goods and services needed for the fight in Afghanistan.
"We have to create a fast lane for contingency acquisitions so requirements are not done in the ponderous usual way but quickly so that we do the acquisitions quickly," said Carter.
This means the Pentagon must establish permanent ways of giving contracting officers all the power they need to implement contracts fast, and that Congress must develop a quick way of approving the Pentagon's wartime budget reprogramming requests. He also called for faster methods for fielding weapons systems once they are purchased.
"All those things, the normal system won't do, so we're constantly hot-wiring and working around and so forth; that is not satisfactory," said Carter. "We need a better system."
Carter is moving to "put on a more permanent footing the constellation of ad hoc systems that we've been using" to rapidly but goods and services for the war effort.
He went on to say that if the U.S. moved to buy weapons and services under the traditional budgeting process it would "constantly be behind the 8 ball in Afghanistan and Iraq."
He cited everything from a surge in the numbers of bomb-sniffing dogs to tethered surveillance balloons as the sometimes unpredictable purchases that must be made quickly in order to succeed in wars such as Afghanistan.