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From Pants to Guns the DoD Acquisition System is broken

In response to the Christian's WTF Army Pants post:

When I was the west coast SEAL Sniper Program manager I saw first hand how the products we wanted didn't ultimately end up in our hands, mainly due to the complicated DoD acquisition program aka FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations).  We actually received child size cold weather sleeping bags when I was first in Afghanistan (thanks to our lovely supply system trying to save money in the sale bin)!!!  You can imagine what it was like to finally get some good cold weather kit, pull it out of the bag and realize it's sized for a six year old.

Now that I'm on the outside looking in and have successfully bid (and lost) on DoD contracts.....I can tell you first hand that the best kit/service and ultimate value to the government usually goes by the wayside to more powerful companies that are embedded in the system and out spend on lobbying. There's also a HUGE problem with internal agencies that are supposed to be at the forefront of developing new concepts (DARPA, Natick, etc..). While there is some great (and I mean that) folks at these places, there are also a lot of ego's to match. More than a few companies I know will not shop concepts at places like these for fear that these agencies and "ego's" will steal their Intellectual Property as their own.

After all, they have to justify their existence.....I've seen it first hand and it's a shame. You just have to look at Multi-cam and how long it took to get the best pattern....these internal agencies fought it for a while and luckily the best pattern prevailed.....

Bottom line is that until we overhaul the process and make it truly fair and competitive we will continue to see issues like the Army pants (coming apart in the field) surface. Maybe we eliminate or downsize these internal DoD think tanks that rarely come up with any ground breaking innovation, are a huge drain on our Defense budget (DARPA comes in at $3.2 Billion annually) and are known to be predatory towards new concepts/small companies? We have to overhaul the system and pressure our elected officials. There are some great people in government contracting and they need our support to make things right.  We all know that a lifetime guarantee on any piece of gear doesn't mean S%^T when you're in the field.

Brandon

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