Defense and the National Interest

Weapon System Effectiveness

By examining how well our forces perform in the field against today's threats, we can gain some insight into what sorts of forces and weapons we will need in the future. Are our Cold War era weapons, perhaps employed with new doctrines and tactics, suitable for this new world?  Or do we need to develop new (and not necessarily just cheaper) weapons?

4/10/04 Rise of the Machines Foreign Policy in Focus by Conn Hallinan.  Boyd's imperative as "People, ideas, and hardware in that order!"  The Pentagon's idea of utopia appears to be "Hardware!" (no ideas and no people.)

Stryker Brigades vs. The Reality of War.  Will the Army's new light armored vehicles do the job in the real world of 21st Century warfare? Noted author Victor O'Reilly (Games of the Hangman, The Devil's Footprint) looks at this issue and the answer isn't good.  Read this well-publicized report and decide for yourself. (3.4 MB PDF)

Phase Four Operations in Iraq and the RPG-7, by George J. Mordica II, Senior Analyst, Center for Army Lessons Learned, November - December 2003

"Comanche Program Objectives Need to be Revised to More Achievable Levels," latest GAO report (June 2001, 336 KB .pdf) The title pretty much says it all for this program, which began in 1983 and has been restructured five times.  In the last 18 months alone, projected costs have increased over 10%.

The latest F-22 Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) report.  Overview of F-22 testing during FY 2000.  As major procurement decisions loom on the program, this report observes that "The F-22 flight test program has fallen considerably behind schedule during the last year ... As of January 3, 2001, flight test aircraft have only accumulated 324 hours of the 590 hours planned just one year ago."  The full report on all DOT&E activity for the year is available from their web site at

"The F-22 Program: Fact Vs. Fiction."  Retired USAF fighter pilot, designer, and tactician, E. E. Riccioni, takes on the F-22 as the wrong airplane at the wrong price for the 21st Century.  Offering only a marginal increase in capability over the F-15C, it will absorb money badly needed to solve our real problems, which include fire support for land forces and the emerging threat of 4th generation warfare.  In MS Word format, 196.5 KB.  Also available in HTML from the POGO site.

"Three Reasons Why the ATF Should Not Be Approved for Engineering and Manufacturing Development," Franklin C. Spinney, July 23, 1991.  Author’s Note: In 1991, the F-22 was known as the ATF or Advanced Tactical Fighter. When this paper was written the AF planned to buy over 648 as part of its plan to retain a force structure of 26 tactical fighter wings. Since that time, the force structure has been reduced to 20 wings and the number of F-22s has been reduced to 341 F-22s, so the basic problems outlined in this paper remain uncorrected. (554 KB PDF document)

"Recent F-22 Production Cost Estimates Exceeded Congressional Limitations," GAO Report NSIAD-00-178, 8/15/00. The GAO concluded that F-22 production costs, as estimated by both USAF and OSD, are at risk of breaking Congressional caps.  If the OSD estimate is correct, the overrun could amount to 22%. The primary reason, according to GAO is that contractors have been unable to achieve promised cost reductions.  Also in .pdf format.

Military Analysis Network.  Probably the best single source for information on any weapon system worldwide.  Published by the Federation of American Scientists.


483 Terminate the Hog that Saves the Grunts!!! May 27, 2003
471 Grisly Accidents Call 'Precision Warfare' Into Question, February 10, 2003
445 Ex-Green Beret Surprised by Business as Usual in Versailles on the Potomac, April 23, 2002
443 Why an Early Onset of Alzheimer's Does Not Hurt Defense Reformers, April 5, 2002

The Mineshaftgap Report: Star Wars for Dummies, February 15, 2002


Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle: Cold-War Dinosaur or Techno Revolution for the 21st Century?  July 11, 2001

410 What Revolution in Military Affairs?  April 23, 2001

"Buy Before You Fly" & the Asymmetric Politics of Risk Reduction, January 5, 2001

347 Hill Staffer Changes Decisions in Washington—Degraded Pilot Skills, February 28, 2000

Was Task Force Hawk a Blessing in Disguise? January 27, 2000


Why Did Slobo Cave? (II) ... or ... Why America Needs an Independent Bomb Survey, June 28, 1999


Why did Slobo Cave? -- The Case for a G-8 Trojan Horse … and … Why America Needs an Unbiased Strategic Bomb Survey, June 26, 1999


INTERVENTION IN KOSOVO: Can Airpower Pull America's Fat out of the Fire, April 1, 1999


TOYS vs BOYS -- F/A-18E/F Freaks Out the Pentagon, January 27, 1999


F/A18E/F Reveals 2 Rules for Real Decision Making Reform, January 14, 1999


F-22, F-18E/F, JSF, and V-22: A Trip Report to Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and Bell-Textron by a Member of Congressional Staff, January 13, 1999

164 How Effective Are Air Power & Precision Weapons in Urban Combat? (III)  August 5, 1998
163 How Effective Are Air Power & Precision Weapons in Urban Combat?  August 4, 1998
162 How Effective is Air Power in Urban Combat?  August 4, 1998






CERTAIN TO WIN: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business, by Chet Richards. Boyd's real OODA loop and ancient strategies working for business today. More...
Advance Reviews;
Amazon and B&N


RAISING THE BAR, by Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.) Published by the Center for Defense Information Press. Read the DNI review. Order from Amazon.


SCIENCE, STRATEGY AND WAR, by Col Frans Osinga, RNAF. Read the DNI Review.  Order from Amazon or B&N. New! Now in paperback directly from Routledge, $35.95.


NEITHER SHALL THE SWORD, by Chet Richards.  If you thought A Swift, Elusive Sword was too tame.  Read the Introduction and view the Briefing. Podcast review.  Available now on Amazon


BOYD: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
Amazon & B&N.


BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION : A Future Worth Creating, by Thomas P. M. Barnett. Read the DNI review. Buy at Amazon and B&N


NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, by Sean Naylor. Read the DNI Review; Amazon and B&N


THE WASTRELS OF DEFENSE: How Congress Sabotages U. S. Security by Winslow Wheeler.  You'll be disgusted, then just mad.
Read Comment #527.
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THE AFGHAN CAMPAIGN, by Steven Pressfield.  Read the DNI Review. Amazon and B&N.


The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
Read the DNI Review.
Amazon and B&N. Now in trade paperback.


The Sling and The Stone by Col T. X. Hammes, USMC
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