March 29, 2006:
One of the more scary aspects of the Internet, especially for the U.S. military, is how much it improves the speed with which information can be obtained, and new equipment purchases speeded up. This is scary for the United States, because the Pentagon has well developed, and well funded, bureaucracies for collecting information, and managing procurement programs. That's the problem. Increasingly, nations, or terrorist groups, just using the Internet, have been able to beat the American intelligence establishment, in terms of getting what is needed, and doing it really fast. Same thing with procurement. Suppliers are very much on the web, and ready to make their sales pitch thoroughly and efficiently, and allow for quick, and accurate, buying decisions to be made. American officers, visiting nations receiving U.S. military aid and advice, were surprised to find that these much-less-wealthy military operations, were able to find, evaluate and purchase needed gear much more quickly using the web. In the United States, it takes the military 4-7 years to get through a complex "procurement process." The only exception to this lengthy process is outfits like the Special Forces or CIA, who have special funds for "rapid acquisition." Questions are being raised more frequently, in Congress as well as the military, about why the web isn't used more for intelligence collection, and procurement.