One hates to dismiss what looks to be a good-faith effort on the part of SecDef Robert Gates to push the defense budget toward slightly more sensible priorities and introduce some modest reforms in the procurement processes. As this Register editorial explains, however, SecDefs including Cheney and Rumsfeld have tried it before, and it just hasn't worked. The F-22 super-fighter he wants to phase out has subcontractors in 44 states -- concentrated even more in disricts of congresscritters with direct influence, like those on defense or appropriations committees. The Iron Traingles appear unbreakable.
When I was just a pup and my father worked for a defense contractor he got me a summer job two different years, including between high school and college. They did manage to build things eventually, but there were so many convoluted processes and procedures that it took forever. Everyopne who worked there knew about the inefficiencies and the more decent people complained and tried to do something about them. But the Defense Dept. and Navy had their ways and they stuck to them even whe everyone knew they were making things more expensive and less efficient. Things are much worse now.