Squadron commanders could see the possibilities & potential beneath the rusted, 20 year old fighter jets they had been flying for years but knew deep down in their hearts the mission-critical assets required weapons system modernisations to stay in the fight. The lion’s share of the aircrafts capabilities would stay, but other equipment parts would just have to go.
In their place, commanders knew they needed 21st Century upgrades in order to complete their new mission requirements, but the pilots knew they needed new missiles, radar systems & stealth capabilities to put the finishing touches on their combat handy work.
Renovations needed to begin & things were initially going well – even the fiscal house appeared to be in order. DoD even thought they scored a Discount on the maintenance & upgrade prices b/c the Suits at the Pentagon said the contract was competed according to stated requirements & they had connections that told them the shop was in order since they had an established track record, at least according to all DoD had required in terms of accolades that were by and large self- reported.
They slashed the costs that had generated so much concerns in the past even while the future prospects for cost, schedule performance & most of all delivered quality we in reality really up in the air. Excited about the prospects of a gleaming new fleet, DoD publically trashed even new firms, stating that much paperwork was required to meet the "standards" of the defence maintenance & supply contracts, thinking that the operations would go on at speedy rates & without a hitch.
Too bad DoD didn’t realise that the new candidate offered a breakthrough in both process & technology, while the existing contractors were still stuck using the same old tricks they had been using for years to cover-up their shitty work, characterised by the now infamous reports in the press about overcharging for spare parts. Incredibly, in some cases, contractors even charged for new parts when they simply used what was sitting on their shelves, while DoD auditors were none the wiser, since cost estimates were self-reported & treated as classified, proprietary information.
The reality, of course, is that squadron commanders were in more need than ever of quality weapons systems—many times the modules would not talk to each other because they were produced at different times following, and even before all the requirements & testing milestones were achieved, so DoD was forced to struggle on w/o the resources that needed to be deployed in order to accomplish the missions they had been tasked with. "We were sitting around w/ nothing to do for months but play cards," as one fighter pilot put it
And the money DoD had thought they saved by going with the least cost providers? "We’ll have to put all that money back into future years budget submissions b/c the weapons systems on the fighter jets, helicopters & other mission-critical assets will fail sooner rather than later because critical maintenance was deferred."
Any squadron commander that has survived nightmares like this can relate to this all-to-familiar & unfortunate state of affairs scenario in mission-critical battlespace. Perhaps the problem is delay in supply, or maybe the weapons system programme has experienced cost & schedule overruns, or maybe the capability in strike performance has suffered as a result.
Or maybe the torture comes in more subtle forms, such as what results from messy billing standards or incomplete, even made-up work orders that budget estimators have to put up with when they present the results of their efforts to command, who are often unaware of the many idiomatic tasks that make up supply, maintenance & modernisation logistics—notwithstanding the stress that comes with having to rely on equipment in disrepair.
Whatever the case, it is almost impossible to find an instance where the boots on the ground look back at not having mission-critical components w/o chills running up & down their spine. "I was pissed to find out our crises could have been avoided with a little bit of up-front planning & preparation of contractors who were supposed to be on our team."
Bypassing problems often times requires the presence of independent, third-party evaluators that keep the contractors at honest, at least the companies most heavily involved in providing DoD with weapons systems supply, maintenance & modernisation services. Relying on the contractors themselves or even auditors at the Pentagon is simply a recipe for distaster. But therein lies the problem. Even while most contractors say they have good track records, current DoD systems evaluation contractor performance need serious assistance. Many bend the truth, often times as frequently as soldiers are promised a good meal but only can get their hands on MREs. Dissatisfied squadron commander numbers are only a bit less prevalent than the actual offenders, but only b/c they are the most used to putting up w/ Bullshit.
What DoD needs is our insider guide to holding supply, maintenance & modernisation contracts accountable to higher standards of Service. You need to read our report detailing the treacherous world of Defence Contracting, which will be forthcoming in subsequent digestible batches. Stick with us to learn the details surrounding each one of the Top 10 things contractors will not tell you:
10. "I love it when your performance evaluation systems are disorganised."
9. "A Contractor can be your best friend if you have your head in the sand"
8. "We may not really have any equipment upgrade qualifications at all."
7. "I may have pulled your repair/modernisation quote out of thin air."
6. "New Contractors with crazy/innovative ideas are nothing but trouble."
5. "You can save a bundle by having your auditors ignore our billing records."
4. "If I can start tomorrow, you will most certainly be dissatisfied w/ work."
3. "Every job needs a contract you cannot adjust based on performance."
2. "Permits for providers of new, competing services are not optional."
1. "You will forget we were ever here."