March 29, 2005

Bureaucracy Always Wins

Not going to get into the merits of the new "Future Combat Systems" proposal that the Pentagon's cooking up right now. That's a post for another day. For now, there are far, far more urgent matters to attend to, namely Kevin Drum's misguided praise for Donald Rumsfeld:
But whatever else you can say about Don Rumsfeld, one of his undoubted virtues is that he possesses the kind of bullheadedness it takes to force change on a recalcitrant military bureaucracy.
But no! He doesn't! He can't! Okay, deep breath. Recall back to 2001. Rumsfeld swept into the Pentagon expecting to usher in the newfangled "Revolution in Military Affairs." New weapons, new management priorities, new missions, all of these very cool things were supposed to help Rumsfeld and his gang restructure and revamp the Pentagon's budget and take the military in a bold new direction. New, new, new. And indeed, Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone and the rest ended up angering a lot of the top military personnel and marching all over various finely-polished boot toes, so naturally, the press assumed that the civilian leadership was actually carrying out all those sweeping changes.

Sadly, 'twas not to be. Last fall, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments took a look (PDF) at the FY2005 budget and found that "the administration's defense plan fairly closely resembles those of the previous years, and the plan it inherited from the Clinton administration." There was a heap more money for missile defense and a few other nifty high-tech gadgets, but that's about it, nothing else had really changed. Each of the services (Army, Navy, Air Force), it seems, managed quite nicely to resist the budget axe, halting the revolution in its tracks. Rumsfeld fought the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy won.
-- Brad Plumer 3:04 AM || ||