What if defense spending doesn’t matter that much, and national R&D is a better measure of the future of national security?
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
I was reading a new CNAS study on technology and defense yesterday and this thought occurred to me: If we really are in an era of rapid technological change, then maybe current defense spending doesn’t matter so much, and the real measure of competition with other nations should be defense spending plus all R&D in the country, including by non-defense corporations?
The report notes that, "a survey of defense experts by the Center for a New American Security found that 71 percent of these experts believe that future innovation is more likely to be derived from commercial technologies than from purely defense technologies."
The report, by Ben FitzGerald and Kelley Sayler, ends with a series of recommendations, but the more I read of them, the more I thought that what we really need to do is shut down the entire Defense acquisition system and start over with a clean slate and 10 people in a room, none of them veterans of the existing system.