A U.S. defense official has warned the Pentagon that China is buying new, high-end equipment at a rate "5-6 times" faster than the United States, suggesting that a heated arms race could be developing between the superpower nations.
According to The Drive, which tracks advancements with military-related technologies, Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt, a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, recently informed Department of Defense officials about China's push to develop perhaps the world's finest airborne military fleet.
As a counter, from Holt's perspective, it is urgent that the U.S. overhaul the way it goes about fielding new weapons.
The major general oversees all aspects of acquisition for the Air Force, according to The Drive, "from buying new weapon systems to logistics and operational support."
Citing the same piece, Holt's remarks about China were made at the recent Government Contracting Pricing Summit. It also occurred before Holt resigned from his current post with the U.S. military.
Holt asserts that the Chinese are also operating far more efficiently.
"In purchasing power parity, they spend about one dollar to our 20 dollars to get to the same capability," Holt reportedly told his audience. "We are going to lose if we can't figure out how to drop the cost and increase the speed in our defense supply chains."
Holt also raised concerns about the U.S. military's logistical means for promptly acquiring high-tech equipment, and then providing enough training and support to utilize the enhanced technology.
Releasing budgetary funds for the equipment may be "slow and stodgy,"according to The Drive, via Holt, but the greater concern lies with the resourcing system.
"If we don’t change our resourcing system, none of the rest of it matters," Holt reportedly said. "If you just change the execution year flexibilities and modernize Congress's oversight of it to be more patient."
The current model for purchasing and acquisitions resembles a typical bureaucracy, Holt said. It starts with the "painfully slow" process of getting budgets approved at various levels, and then writing up formal requirements for a project — including the sustainment and life cycle costs.
Put another way: Those who control the budgets, from Holt's perspective, have the power and influence to recalibrate the speed of finalizing major purchases with DOD.
"We also have gotten a very centrally and micromanaged system of appropriations that have served the Cold War well," Holt said.
He added: "In this environment today, it is absolutely going to kill us. We cannot have a system where the appropriations — where it's in statute that the name of the program is on that money, and the phase within the program is on the statute, so it's illegal for a program executive officer inside of execution year to look at that and say — 'no, there's a better way to allocate those resources.'"
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