by Mark Perry, POLITICO
That article has weaknesses (particularly the lines about tanks), but it nicely summarises an example of Niskanen's bureaucrat and the principal-agent problem in effect, two models that I've described and applied on D&F repeatedly:
The U.S. Army has a couple rock stars; two of them are mentioned in the article (MacGregor and McMaster). Honestly, I was never terribly impressed by their output. They're often referred to as intellectuals, smart and great thinkers and so on, but their published writings never seemed to be particularly impressive to me.
MacGregor's signature book "Breaking the Phalanx" featured some nonsense (mostly about organic army aviation) and otherwise only unimpressive ordinary stuff. I was told that it was still a ground-breaking book in its context (U.S.Army) and that it broke with certain anachronisms specific to that armed service, but to me it looked not terribly different from what Europeans did in the 60's already.
So in addition to that principal-agent / bureaucratic behaviour thing, I'd also like to point out that we better not buy into descriptions of people as particularly bright ones. Form your own opinion based on their actual output!
It is noteworthy that the U.S.Army's complaints about being outgunned and outranged have at least some merit regarding tube artillery.
Yet this is of their own making. They failed spectacularly with their Crusader project, developing an SPG with little more performance than the PzH 2000, but multiple times its price per copy - and got it cancelled because of the excessive costs. Another attempt was to shoehorn a M109 replacement into the FCS boondoggle - but that, too, would have had no greater range than the M109. FCS was cancelled as well, and with it the SPG ("NLOS") version that offered almsot no improvement over the M109.
So instead, the U.S.Army is using a M109 that's no M109 any more because every single part (hull, turret and gun) was replaced in some upgrade sometime during the M109's long time in service (with only fire control making much progress after the first very early gun upgrade). It's essentially a 3rd class SPG with an ordinary 39 cal. barrel, mediocre mobility (at least able to pass over weaker bridges than PzH 2000, though) and no particularly impressive rate of fire.
The U.S. Army's "outgunned and outranged" problem is even worse in its light and medium brigade types (Infantry BCT and Stryker BCT), for they use towed 155 mm howitzers (instead of M109 SPGs) which lack 360° traverse, are slow loading and feature a 39 cal. barrel as well. The U.S. airborne forces have essentially no artillery for use in conventional warfare and would thus be near-useless as reinforcements to the Baltic region, South Korea or Taiwan, for example. The USMC has the same inadequacy.
Yet again; these are shortcomings of their own making - the bureaucracies failed to replace equipment of the 1970's that was outperformed in the 1980's already. Often times they failed with successor projects or introduced overhyped yet obsolete-by-design systems (M777).