Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Now That's Scary!

It’s a shame it isn’t Halloween because I can’t think of anything scarier than what Navy Secretary Mabus is hinting at which is abolishing DOT&E (Director of Operational Testing & Evaluation).  You’ll recall from numerous previous posts that ComNavOps considers DOT&E to be the saving grace of the military – the only reality check on the otherwise unbounded fantasies of the military where every weapon works perfectly and none need testing.  Check this out from Breaking Defense (1),

“The Navy Secretary even had an unkind word for the Pentagon’s independent testing process. (He didn’t name names here, but the key player is the congressionally-mandated Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, DOT&E, which most on Capitol Hill consider a vital watchdog agency). 'Testing proves that testing works,' Mabus said, but not necessarily much more. ‘We spend sometimes hundreds of millions on these tests and it’s unclear what the tests are telling us.’ ”

Let me make it clear to you, Secretary Mabus, what the testing is telling you.  It’s telling you that most of your weapons and systems are heavy on fantasy and light on performance – that your Navy is buying into the manufacturer’s claims hook, line, and sinker without asking for proof of performance.  DOT&E is the only thing saving you from unmitigated performance disaster.  You, sir, are an idiot to fail to recognize that DOT&E is the best thing the Navy has going for it.

The current crop of Navy leadership, significantly including civilian leadership, is as bad as I can remember in my lifetime.  This kind of thinking is just scary beyond belief.

Note:  For those who read the entire linked article, and in fairness, the rest of the proposed cuts described in the article may well be valid and worthwhile.

(1)Breaking Defense, “Cut ‘Pure Overhead,’ Navy Sec. Mabus Says: DFAS, DLA, DOT&E”, Sydney J. Freedberg, June 02, 2015


  1. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen someone try to cover their ineptitude by blaming another organization or person. This is teenage behavior that should not be tolerated in adults, much less supposed leaders.

    Own up to the fact that the ships and aircraft being procured cost too much and don't perform as promised.

    Jeez who picks these people? - oh right we do with the advice and consent of the MICC.

  2. Replies
    1. Military Industrial Congressional Complex. The term Eisenhower ORIGINALLY wanted to use in his famous speech, but took out because he was proud of his ability to work with Congress.

      Although he clearly saw the potential if there was not a strong executive in Defense to say no to the pork.

  3. Who watches the Watchmen, is a famous saying and a valid one. A organization like DOT&E, which is assigned a mandate by Congress will always try to fulfill that mandate finding and many flaw systems as possible. The problem is that not all those flaw are as sever as my state.

    What is needed I think is a separate group to set up testing standard before the design phase group. A group like DOT&E to do the testing and evaluation. And a separate to performs what scientific journals call a per review.

    1. GLof, you may be misunderstanding the role of DOT&E. They take the claimed performance criteria, as supplied by the Navy, and develop a plan to test and verify that performance. Nothing more and nothing less. They do not go searching on their own for tiny little flaws that they or others can turn into major problems and publicity issues. They merely verify the claims the Navy supplies to them.

      Check out the DOT&E website and the rather substantial explanations of methodology that DOT&E supplies along with their reports.

    2. If your spec is written correctly Section 4 contains how every requirement is to be verified. I realize that most O-6 PMs can't be bothered to read the standard for writing a spec, but if they DID there wouldn't be any confusion over the testing methods.

      For example I wrote a spec that had 2 sets of testing requirements. 1 set for when the gear was boxed up for manpack and another set for when it was open and being used. It allowed me to use COTS equipment with reasonable cost in the nasty Marine environement where we ford creeks and drop things but once we are set up and operating the laptop will not get submerged in water.

      Hey PMs read the standards and learn how to do you job so that DOT&E doesn't have to rain your miserably performing system.

  4. Secretary Mabus claimed that the F35 will be the last manned strke fighter.This statement is hard to fathom. Perhaps a manned platform can control drones for strike missions. But is the next generation computer and software ready for the air superiority and strike role for un-manned aircraft ?
    Mabus has a lot of confidence that progress will be made in developing technologies, so that un-manned strike fighters can take over for manned.. Hopefully DOT&E will test this technological marvel when it matures.

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  6. If you think about it, this is not entirely expected. As the first comment has pointed out, this is the MICC in control here.

    Without DOT&E and GAO, we'd be in total chaos with no real way to see whether or not the claims match the reality - in other words much like many tinpot dictatorships.

    Perhaps that's what they want - open season for the defense industry.

  7. I hate to agree after having served for 20 years. But the evidence is pretty clear that the senior folks are only in it for themselves.

    I had a rude wake call moment a few weeks back when one of my kids said what do you want that is the American way now.

    Wow where did we go wrong?


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