Reports by Chuck Spinney & Others


Note: Links to Miscellaneous Reports at end of page.
Compendium of Colonel John Boyd’s (introductory bio) seminal briefings on the nature of conflict, strategy, and grand strategy.

Analyses of General Decision Making Pathologies.  
Taken together, this information is intended to explain why the Pentagon’s annual decision making process routinely creates long term program plans that are so unrealistic that they are doomed to the dustbin of history before the ink is dry.
  • Domestic Roots of Perpetual War (2011)
  • June 4 Statement to Congress (2002)
  • Defense Power Games (1991)
  • Defense Budget Time Bomb (1996)
  • What Went Wrong with the Quadrennial Defense Review (1997) [See last section of "Domestic Roots of Perpetual War to see what went wrong with 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review -- and ask yourself, "What has changed?"
  • Death Spiral (2002)
  • The Real Cost Of Spending 1 Percent More Of GDP On Defense, Defense Week, pp 7-8 September 5, 2000
  • The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It -- This pamphlet of 10 short essays aims to help newcomers and seasoned observers grapple with the problems of national defense.  Intended especially for readers who are concerned about the superficial nature of the political debate on national security, this handbook assembles the insights of ten professionals, each with decades of experience in the armed services, the Pentagon bureaucracy, Congress, the intelligence community, military history, journalism and other disciplines
  • Defense Facts of Life (December 5, 1980):  I am very proud of this work and think of this report as my most important original work. It summarizes my Defense Facts of Life Briefing. This was an internal Pentagon briefing I began developing in late 1977.  It describes how the increasing technical complexities of our weapons technologies and organizational arrangements fuel both cost growth and decision-making pathologies that undermine combat effectiveness, battlefield adaptability, and bias doctrinal development. This briefing was eventually presented throughout the Pentagon at very high levels. It became the basis of three annual Consolidated Guidance Documents (the PA&E Tac Air section) signed by the Secretary of Defense and used to guide the shape of the military's forthcoming five-year programs.  It was the subject of a specially convened Defense Science Board Study, and with the approval of the Secretary of Defense, I presented the briefing to the Readiness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator Sam Nunn.  The text at this link is a copy of the unclassified report I prepared at Senator Nunn's request. It has never been rebutted, either factually or logically.  This copy is maintained at the DoD Defense Technical Information  Center, or DTIC.  Mr. Nunn created a sensation at Casper Weinberger's confirmation hearing in 1981 by asking Weinberger if he had ever read it, and to my complete surprise, he warned Weinberger that my work was being "squelched." This created a media sensation and the report was been written about in hundreds of news reports and tens of books since then.  Good discussions of the this report and its evolution are in James Fallows, National Defense (Random House 1981) and Robert Coram, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Little Brown 2002).  There is also a highly flattering reference to it in General Sir John Hackett's international best selling novel, The Third World War: August 1985 (Berkley, 1987).  The text and some of the graphics in a lightly edited form became Part I of my book Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch (Westview 1985, out of print but can sometimes be found at Amazon.com at this link.) [For the Record: I refused any payment for this book, because the work was produced at the tax payer's expense.]
  • Friedman Report - Transforming Department of Defense Financial Management: A Strategy for Change, Final Report 13 April 2001.  This study was made by the Institute for Defense Analysis in response to a request by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  The opening paragraphs of the Executive Summary said that “Current DoD financial, accounting and feeder/operational management systems do not provide information that could be characterized as relevant, reliable and timely.”  It defined “relevant financial information [as information that will] tell will tell managers the costs of forces or activities that they manage and the relationship of funding levels to output, capability or performance of those forces or activities.” [Executive Summary page i].  In effect, The Friedman report concluded that DoD’s financial system is so corrupt that mangers and senior policy makers can not relate input budgets to desired output policies and strategies.  That renders budget documents, strategies reports like the Quadrennial Defense review, and policy statements meaningless.


Specific Reports on Tactical Fighters
When the Cold War ended suddenly 1991, it became clear to me that the Pentagon’s civilian and military leadership were intent on front loading the Pentagon’s modernization program with a new generation of high cost, high complexity weapons inspired by the obsolete thinking of the Cold War. Their aim was to get these high-cost cold-war cows out of the budget barn before the door slammed shut. By rushing these programs into concurrent engineering and manufacturing development, decision makers in the Pentagon and the Contractors knew they could quickly build political constituencies (in the form of dollars, jobs, and profits flowing to Congressional districts) in favor of high defense budgets in the later part of the 1990s, and thereby set the stage for robbing the United States taxpayers of their hard-earned, post-cold war peace dividend. 
Accordingly, I decided to begin documenting this decision-making process in real time, using case studies of the tactical fighter modernization agendas of the AF, Navy, and Marine Corps.  The reports below are some of the reports I produced during this period.  They show conclusively why the programmatic shambles in the Pentagon during the second decade of the 21st Century was easily foreseen and created with malice of forethought in the early 1990s, and most importantly, why this was unnecessary and could have been prevented.  A careful reading of these reports will provide the reader with specific examples illustrating how the Defense Power Games (described in the preceding section) were put into play in the specific cases of the F-22 Raptor, the F-18E/F Super Hornet, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 


  • F-22: ATF Memo.pdf --  Three Reasons Why the ATF Should Not Be Approved for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (1991)
  • F-18E/F:
    1. F-18E/F Memo for Record 1992.pdf -- F-18E Performance Uncertainties and Program Recommendation (1992)
    2. F-18 Ltr to Editor.pdf -- F-18E/F Letter to the Editor of Naval Institute Proceedings (1998) explaining how wing drop problem was covered up prior to the initial production decision.
    3. F-18E:F Wing Drop.pdf -- F-18E/F Wing Drop Briefing (1999)-- details how and why this program was rushed into production, even though it had a show-stopping aerodynamic flaw.  Rather than fixing flaw with a wing redesign, which would be too expensive (because the F-8E/F was already in production), the briefing outlines the “band aide” fix that eventually mitigated the wing drop, albeit at the cost of an undefined performance degradation.
  • JSF- One More Card in the House.pdf (2000) -- Op-ed I published in the Proceeding of the Naval Insititute that predicted the types of problems that are now plaguing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter


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Misc. Reports & Essays by Chuck Spinney and Others