Bryan Bender – ‘How Do You Buy $7 Billion of Stuff You Don’t Need?’

Bad things happen when the Pentagon tries to run itself like a business.


ifty-four years ago, the brand-new Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara thought he could bring Pentagon spending on everyday items under control by applying efficiencies he had used to help turn around Ford Motor Co.

Instead, he created a monster. McNamara’s creation, known as the Defense Logistics Agency, has grown into a global, $44 billion operation that, were it a private enterprise, would rank in the Fortune 50. Its 25,000 employees process roughly 100,000 orders a day for everything from poultry to pharmaceuticals, precious metals to aircraft parts. In terms of Pentagon contracts, it is nearly as large as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest contractors, combined.

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