Sustainment Observation from Defense Strategy Commission
Entitled “Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission”, the report, “…offers (the commission’s) recommendations for ensuring the United States maintains the strong defense the American people deserve and expect and that current and prospective circumstances require”.
While the primary focus of the commission, which was established by Section 942 of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was on broadly-based national security issues, they also sounded a note of caution related to product support and sustainment, saying, “while innovation is a first step, what matters most is whether new technologies can be rapidly acquired and fielded to keep pace with changing threats. DOD has appropriately increased its focus on rapid prototyping and the military departments are striving to get prototypes out to operating forces for experimentation. Often, the forces keep the prototypes because they provide capability unavailable in existing programs. Yet if this approach provides advanced capabilities quickly, too frequently these prototypes are not accompanied by the sustainment, training, and integration into existing systems needed to provide enduring military advantage.”
The commission is not the first to remind us of the criticality of weapon system product support and sustainment in conjunction with rapid prototyping/acquisition initiatives. See ”Sustainment Considerations for Accelerated Acquisitions” and “Sustainment Planning and Other Transaction Authorities (OTA)” for several related perspectives.