The U.S. Marine Corps' rapid acquisition system has failed repeatedly, unnecessarily delaying and, in some cases, denying urgent requests by Marines for equipment, according to a document made public by POGO today. The document was first reported on by the Associated Press last week. Click here to view the document.
The document consists of briefing slides which were part of a cancelled March 2007 presentation to the Defense Department's Office of the Director for Defense Research and Engineering by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's (I MEF) technology staff, after a year long deployment in Iraq . Though the document is unclassified (it is marked "For Official Use Only"), only the first eight pages are being made available due to some schematics which give insight into how some of the requested systems work. POGO has, however, transcribed the names and timelines of those systems below.
Despite over 130 urgent need requests (known as Joint Urgent Operational Needs (JUONs) or Urgent Universal Needs Statements (UUNSs)) from 1 MEF while it was deployed in Iraq, less than 10 percent were fulfilled and many were "cancelled, delayed" or led to solutions which were not asked for.
Before November 2006, the document says that the requests "frequently languished" at Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) level until Central Command Chief of Staff (CoS CENTCOM) "intervened," restoring urgency to the process.
Among the most "outstanding urgent deficiencies," according to the slides, is the need for Counter Improved Explosive Device (CIED) technology, including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and for Area of Responsibility (AOR)-wide surveillance, including Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The AP story last week describes the delays in the MRAP program and Wired News today broke news on the Scan Eagle deficiency.
The presentation describes some of the most dire threats Marines face such as an anticipated larger number of explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) and more victim-operated improvised explosive devices (VO IEDs), also known as suicide bombers.
"The Congress should undertake an in-depth investigation into the situation with rapid acquisition at the Defense Department to ensure that the right balance is struck between getting equipment into the field rapidly while maintaining accountability," said POGO's defense investigator Nick Schwellenbach.
He added: "There is obviously some healthy tension between the traditional acquisition community's desire to ensure that money is spent well on tested and robust systems and the need to get systems into the field rapidly, but Marines in the field cannot wait years while known and proven off-the-shelf solutions exist. The authority for rapid acquisition is there, unfortunately breakdowns in the system are leading to unnecessary delays."