Modernizing the US Military by Learning from the Past

In an article for Defense News, Navigant discusses the future of military innovation

The flattening of the technological landscape and emergence of peer adversaries requires that the U.S. military innovate to remain dominant. 
 
In an article for Defense News, Lou DiStasi, associate director with the defense and national security advisory practice, said, “for the first time in decades, the U.S. military apparatus does not seem to possess a clear advantage on the world stage.” 
 
DiStasi said recent modernization have not been as successful as past programs, citing the recent failings of the Future Combat Systems. He goes on to explain how two decades ago the “Big Five” programs (M1 Abrams, M2 Bradley, Patriot missile, Black Hawk, and Apache) demonstrated a successful approach with each program arguably providing 5 to 10 times the capability improvement over its contemporary system moving through the procurement cycle more efficiently.
 
“Like the 'Big Five' programs of the 1980s, innovation will be focused on integration and modest technical breakthroughs rather than attempting to push the boundaries of what is possible,” said DiStasi. He highlighted the key successful commonalities from the 'Big Five' including, each program exhibited close partnerships between industry as well as science and technology; prototyping and experimentation occurred early and often between industry and operators; and all programs began with a relatively mature technological foundation.
  
Recent advancements provide greater opportunity to innovate and reduce risk. Technology is put in the hands of operators much faster and with limited investment — the Department of Defense is finally positioned to move beyond the failed programs of the recent past.

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