Defense-Industrial Policy Series

  • Army Vision and Modernization Priorities

    On May 1, 2018, Mr. Steven Grundman, director of the Emerging Defense Challenges Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, welcomed Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, as a featured speaker in the Council’s Defense-Industrial Policy Series.

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  • State Secretaries on Supply and Demand

    Learnings on comparative defense-industrial strategy during lunch two NATO defense ministry officials

    Last week the Atlantic Council hosted senior defense-industrial officials from Germany and Turkey for discussions about their evolving plans. Taking the time to reread their biographies, we remembered that some of NATO’s member states are clearly finding accomplished people to run military materiel management. But while the backgrounds of these two officials are similarly impressive, their approaches to industrial strategy are very different.

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  • Turkey's Defense-Industrial Policy

    This event was a part of the Atlantic Council's Defense-Industrial Policy Series, featuring a discussion on Turkey's defense-industrial policy with Dr. Ismail Demir, Turkish undersecretary for defense industries, on Thursday, May 26, from 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

    Dr. Ismail Demir was appointed head of the undersecretariat for defense industries (SSM) in April 2014. Prior to this, he worked at Turkish Airlines, beginning in 2003 as training director before being promoted to senior technical officer in 2005 and chief executive officer in May 2006. Dr. Demir has also worked at several universities and research institutions in Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Canada between 1992 and 2003. He earned two master of science degrees in the United States and completed his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at Washington State University. Dr. Demir earned his bachelor's degree from the aeronautical engineering department of Istanbul Technical University in 1982.

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  • Think Small

    Economies Of Scale Ain’t What They Used To Be.

    Last month, while the world’s elites were gathering in Davos, Switzerland for Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum (WEF), I was in Washington hosting an address by the acquisition executive of the U.S. Special Operations Command, James “Hondo” Geurts. While the setting for these two occasions could not have been more different—our beverages were self-served in paper cups, it shall suffice to say—their central messages bore a striking consonance. Both underscored that talented, focused people are the keys to progress and effectiveness in an age of increasingly complex challenges. However, listening to Geurts and thinking about the particular significance of this people-first maxim for aerospace and defense brought into focus what I regard as an important corollary to the rule: economies of scale just ain’t what they used to be. Small is the new black.

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  • Recombinant Lethality

    What the military departments can learn from SORDAC

    Yesterday evening, the Atlantic Council hosted James “Hondo” Guerts, chief of the US Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center (SORDAC), for a speech and discussion about what makes his organization different. Uniquely amongst the US acquisition executives, Geurts has integrated responsibility for research, development, procurement, and logistics across Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Contrary to some presumption, he also has no unique authorities in law. Somehow, his organization still works through the feared Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs) to produce some impressive material successes. Something in its secret sauce is the envy of military departments trying to figure out how to quickly and cost-effectively buy hypersonics, anything labeled cyber, and those swarming refueling drones. So how can the rest of the military do some of what SORDAC does? Actually, they are already having...

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  • Defense-Industrial Policy Series: Acquisition for Special Operations Forces

    On January 19, 2016, the Atlantic Council hosted Mr. James F. Geurts,the Acquisition Executive for US Special Operations Command, for a Defense-Industrial Policy Series event entitled, “Acquisition for Special Operations Forces.” In a discussion moderated by the Council’s Steven Grundman, M.A. and George Lund Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Mr. Geurts spoke about the challenges of planning and executing acquisition to equip our forces' most elite warriors. His comments focused on the unique role of United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in planning and acquisition management; how acquisition for Special Forces differs from and parallels the military departments; and the key technology and system priorities of US SOCOM heading into the FY17 budget and programs.

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  • PowerPoint Guys versus Bean Counters

    The Battle for the Soul of the American Military, Part 1

    Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, who is now running for president, wants a bigger Army, a bigger Navy, and a bigger Marine Corps: 50 brigades, 300 to 350 ships, and 36 battalions. How would she pay for it? The debate at which she asserted those numbers provided little time for detail. Earlier, though, she had offered at least that she wouldn't replace thousands of retiring federal workers, in order to decrease “the weight, the power, the cost, the complexity, the ineptitude, and the corruption of the government.” In contrast, at the...

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  • Now How Much is Enough? The Contemporary Challenge of Cost and Program Analysis at the Pentagon

    On September 17, the Atlantic Council hosted Dr. Jamie Morin, Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, for a rare public appearance at the event, "Now How Much is Enough? The Contemporary Challenge of Cost and Program Analysis at the Pentagon." Borrowing the title of Alian Enthoven's celebrated book on defense planning and analysis from the McNamara era, the event delved into a number of issues at the heart of the Pentagon's recent deliberations on squaring fiscal resources and program requirements with the nation's overall defense strategy.

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  • Cases, Cables, and Kernels

    A role is emerging for small firms that connect defense to commercial technologies.

    On his recent pilgrimage to Silicon Valley, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tried hard to stoke enthusiasm amongst commercial software firms for working with the Pentagon. So far, they’re not buying the pitch. To start, they’re just not interested in ten percent margins and the burdens of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. More so, as a vice president at an aerospace company out there recently explained to me, the problem also lies in Californian culture. “I sell weapons,” she said; “my husband works in the oil business. We live in Santa Monica. You can imagine that we’re really popular with the neighbors.” So there’s a gap, and no amount of hectoring by cabinet officers will close it.

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  • Modernizing Army Acquisitions

    On June 10, the Atlantic Council welcomed Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics, and Technology. She spoke on what it would take to modernize Army acquisition as part of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security's Defense-Industrial Policy Series.

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