With American elections approaching, questions are being asked in the industry about the potential implications for American defense policy. In January 2007, “The Impact of Recent Political Changes on the Defense Sector” transcribed Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank, during the Raymond James Washington Technology & Services Summit. It offered some interesting thoughts on the contractor/ military political gap, and added:
“The bottom line on the Democratic defense agenda is that it doesn’t reflect much support for new technology outlays, but it also doesn’t herald an era of rapidly declining defense budgets. What’s likely to change is the composition of defense spending rather than the scale.”
Fast forward to February 2008, where Thompson is speaking to US Army Leaders at the RAND Arroyo Center. “The Role Of Party Politics In Shaping Defense Priorities” offers an impartial presentation of how the two major parties evolved, how they think about national security, their inclinations and allocation preferences with respect to the defense budget, and what a victory by either side probably means. Unusually, it is a fair presentation that puts forward each party’s broad view reasonably faithfully. Which matters, because:
“…we need to understand how party politics shapes defense policy — not because we like it, but because it is a fundamental reality of life in a democracy. Did you know that a recent study of weapons outlays found 91% of all the variation in spending over the last four decades was traceable directly or indirectly to which party controlled the Senate and the White House? Like me, you probably thought that threats were the main driver of weapons spending, but the data show otherwise.
Read both speeches, consider your own experiences, and decide what you think. Thompson also changes his tune slightly, however, when he says that:
“… if the Democratic Party wins control of the White House and Congress in November, it will take a huge demand stimulus from the likes of Osama bin Laden to prevent a leveling off and then decline in defense spending in subsequent years.”
With presentations a fact of corporate and military life, “Preparing More Powerful Presentations” offers tips that can help presenters improve, and links to additional resources. One way to ensure better presentations is to use shorter presentations, with advance hand-out or held back Appendices that offer key details and information.
In order to really make shorter presentations work, however, one must think about them in a different way. Silicon Valley has its own semi-standard 12-slide pitch format for entrepreneurs, but it doesn’t always translate directly into corporate presentations. Enter Bill Jensen, whose best-selling book “Simplicity” speaks to the internally-generated, productivity-sapping “fog of business,” and discusses ways to think and act differently in order to create more clarity. Jensen’s site, SimplerWork.com, also includes a number of resources – one of which is “The Ultimate 10 Page Presentation” [PDF, 350k]. Tips include:
“People will tolerate your logic for no more than a couple minutes. (Usually less!) After that, they start forming their own conclusions – whether or not you’ve gotten to your point…”
US aeromedical evacuation has changed. Forward-based units or helicopters are still the primary link from the battlefield during the “golden hour” that follows major trauma. Once a patient has been stabilized, however, more advanced care at more advanced facilities may be needed. For several decades, the USA had a fleet of dedicated aircraft, the last being its DC-9 derived C-9A “Florence Nightningale” fleet. In its place is a new approach devised by USAF Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton Jr., the Air Force surgeon general until 2002. The idea is that every USAF Air Mobility Command aircraft can become an aeromedical aircraft, as newly arrived aircraft on the tarmac are loaded with about 800 pounds of gear and supplies per patient and diverted to hospitals like Landstuhl in Germany. Instead of waiting for days to stabilize a patient, outbound flights are sometimes coordinated while a patient is still in surgery. The result? Lower average cargo volume and weight statistics for US transport aircraft missions, and a 90% survival rate for troops injured in current operations. In Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the rate was about 75%.
On to the next step in quality improvement, which could have significant implications for civilian disasters as well. USAF aircraft without organic litter systems rely on the patient support pallet (PSP), whose weight and bulk make it heavily reliant on cargo handling equipment for loading and unloading. This assumes the PSP is even present with the evacuation crew, of course; if not, additional stops will be required to pick up the equipment. In an age of rising fuel prices, those side-trips get very expensive, and time is always of the essence.
Enter the Air Mobility Battlelab. They were established in 2001, and will deactivate in September 2008 as part of a USAF cost-savings initiative. Before they go, however, they’re developing an idea that might solve these problems…