country as a whole are considered and that unifying strategies such as network-centric operations and interoperability are addressed.

The Air Force and the other military services should establish a development planning organization like that which existed in the early 1990s.

The roles and functions of the various organizations involved in acquiring major weapons systems need to be clearly defined. The responsibility for executing systems engineering and program management in the pre-Milestone A and B phases should be vested in the military departments that do the actual development planning functions. This should not be the responsibility of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) or of the Joint Staff. Instead, those offices need to enable the creation and functioning of military department development planning organizations with policy measures, and, where appropriate, resources. The Joint Staff, under the auspices of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), may help to define the requirements for major programs in the course of the development planning process, but it should not run the process itself.

The existence of “joint” programs or a program such as Missile Defense, which has several related systems being developed by different military services, requires clear guidance from both OSD and the Joint Staff about who is in charge. These programs need to be harmonized and integrated by the responsible integrating agency. However, development planning activities should still take place in the military departments where the expertise resides. Consequently, the development planning should be managed by that agency.

While this committee cannot predict how Congress will view the revival of a good planning process to support pre-Milestone A program efforts, it is still important for the Air Force and DOD to make the case for the critical importance of this process before Congress and others. A development planning process is important not to start new programs, but rather to ensure that any new program (or a new start of any kind) is initiated with the foundation needed for success. Funding for this planning function needs to be determined by the military services, including both the acquisition communities and those (the warfighters) who generate the operational requirements.


Many of the conclusions reached and recommendations made by the committee are similar to those of previous reviews. Most of the past recommendations were never implemented, so one of this committee’s most critical thoughts relates to the importance of implementation. Successful implementation of these recommendations requires the “zipper concept”—making connections at all levels, from the senior leadership of the Air Force and DOD down to the working levels within key program management offices and supervisory staffs.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement