US Military Struggles To Get Weapons to Soldiers

US Military Struggles To Get Weapons to Soldiers

( – One of the most important reasons for having a federal government is found in the preamble to the US Constitution, which is to “provide for the common defense.” To that end, Congress allocates well over half a trillion dollars each year to the military, but in many cases, there are severe delays in getting the modernized weapons into the hands of the country’s warfighters.

Needed Changes

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Comptroller General work as auditors of how and where those huge sums of money are spent in an effort “to improve government and save taxpayers billions of dollars.” They work with departments throughout the government to continually provide updated information and develop plans to optimize how the behemoth spends all the money.

The GAO’s June 2023 “Weapon Systems Annual Assessment” found that many military “programs are not consistently implementing practices” that can speed up the process from approval to fielding of the weapons. Their broad stroke overview found that from 2020 to 2022, the actual number of programs dropped by 11%, while the cost increased by 1%, and the “average cycle time” lengthened by 7%. According to the report, most of the increased $37 billion spent was attributed to “rising modernization costs, production inefficiencies, and supply chain challenges.”

Congress recently ordered the Department of Defense (DOD) to institute a system of modular open systems approach (MOSA) in order to make the process and the platform being developed easier to update as time goes by. This includes the software that is integrated into many combat weapon systems that need to be optimized so that the end-user warfighter can perform his or her duty as efficiently as possible.

One specific program that the report brought attention to was the construction of the USS District of Columbia (SSBN-826), which is the first in a new class of ballistic missile submarines. The project is running behind schedule for a variety of reasons, including quality problems. In order to try to overcome them, the contractor shifted workers from their construction of the Virginia class fast-attack submarines, causing delays in that program.

The letter of transmittal to Congress by Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro did find “a few bright spots” but said the overwhelming majority were “experiencing delays in delivering capabilities.” One of the problems he highlighted in the letter seems to imply that the DOD likes to get their brand-new shiny toys off the drawing board and into production but does not necessarily “set them up for success throughout the acquisition lifecycle.”

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