The U.S. military’s Achilles heel in future conflicts will not be inferior technology. Rather, it will be an antiquated, industrial-age sustainment model. The way the Pentagon is organized to conduct maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work gives rise to endless parts shortages, large numbers of so-called “hanger queens” and fleets of aircraft, ships and vehicles with availability rates well below the minimum levels needed to meet global mission requirements. Congress needs to pay as much attention to reforming the military sustainment system as it has to reforming acquisition. Reforming sustainment not only can save billions of dollars that could go to modernization, but it can also ensure that more capability in the form of available platforms and systems are in the hands of the warfighter. Oh yes, it can also help save lives today. I have written more about this for RealClearDefense here.
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