Lessons to be Learned

By Mandy Smithberger

Mandy Smithberger is the Director of the CDI Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight. She is a former national security policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and worked on passing key provisions of the Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law. She also worked on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

By Capt. Dan Grazier, USMC

Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan fellow at the Project on Government Oversight. A former Marine Corps officer, he served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror. His various assignments in uniform included tours with 2nd Tank Battalion in Camp Lejeune, NC, and 1st Tank Battalion in Twentynine Palms, CA. Prior to his time in the Marine Corps he worked as a television journalist in Maryland and Missouri.

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or not the qualitative advantage of the F-35 is something to be thankful for.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was supposed to be an affordable plane for the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Instead, it has become the ultimate case study of the Pentagon’s failed acquisition system­­­—it is years behind schedule and nearly double the initial cost estimates.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles