Alien Life


Life in a Systems Command is different. It is not like life on earth, as we know it. It is alien.

Alien in the sense that all the laws of physics don’t work any more. Up is down. Old rules no longer apply. Alice wasn’t in Wonderland. She was in a SYSCOM.

So was I, a few years ago. The day I reported, I became Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes, only instead of apes there were a whole bunch of acquisition professionals running the world.

I did not belong.

They have their own language, on Planet Acquisition. The thesaurus they use is at the Navy Research, Development and Acquisition website.

Recognize those terms? Me neither and I worked there.

Time moves slower too. A day in a SYSCOM is roughly equivalent to a week in human terms. What should take a year becomes seven in real life. The introduction of a new system seemingly takes an eternity, and the outside world wonders what is taking so long. Inside the building, however, the acquisition moves in a blur, and everyone is in a hurry.


Metamorphosis is a way of life in that alien world. A concept becomes a design. A design becomes a plan. A plan becomes a Gantt chart, which becomes a series of major milestones, which turn into tests. Tests become prototypes. Prototypes turn into installs.

Unless something goes wrong.

But despite it all, SYSCOMs outfit our military with some of the most sophisticated military equipment in the world. It may look like controlled chaos to the rest of us, but to the acquisition people it is all a beautiful symphony.

And it is tough to argue with the results.


About Author

Leave A Reply