Cost as a Military Requirement
By: Jacques Gansler, William Lucyshyn
In 1916, Frederick Lanchester theorized that the power of a military force is proportional to the square of the number of its units. Despite technological advances in military weaponry, Lanchester’s basic observation—that quantity is essential to military success—remains true today. Yet weapons system performance is frequently prioritized over affordability during the development process. As a result, Department of Defense (DoD) programs must often reduce planned quantities in order to stay within budget. Ironically, the expensive, yet marginal increases in system performance that result, measured in terms of their contribution to overall military effectiveness, could have been achieved by acquiring a greater number of less capable systems.
Today, new and frequent mission changes are fueling the increasing costs for both goods and services. At the same time, there is little doubt that the DoD will see significant budget cuts in the coming years. Given these conditions, the DoD must reorient its priorities so that it is able to acquire essential systems in the required quantities.