By Nick Schwellenbach
Nearly 20 years ago, military reformer Col. (Ret) John Boyd testified before the House Armed Services Committee on a "reform perspective on the Gulf war." C-SPAN has done the public a service by putting this and numerous other hearings online—but this one is truly special.
Boyd is considered by some to be "America's greatest military theorist" and played critical roles in the development of several successful military aircraft programs, such as the F-16 and A-10, and in helping the Marine Corps and Army embrace "maneuver warfare." However, there are few videos of him expressing his ideas and few fully fleshed-out written materials by him. For more on Boyd, I highly suggest Robert Coram's exceptionally well-written biography of him, and recommend reading writings by several of his acolytes at dnipogo.org.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on several occassions has invoked Boyd's name in speeches. "For the kinds of challenges America will face, the Armed Forces will need principled, creative, reform-minded leaders—men and women who, as Boyd put it, want to do something, not be somebody," Gates said to the Air War College in 2008.
You can watch the whole video, including prepared testimony by the other witnesses, who include former Navy Secretary John Lehman and former Senator Gary Hart (D-CO), and the question-and-answer period. I have queued up the video to play Boyd's prepared testimony by default.
Also, if you click here you can view a .pdf transcription of the hearing, although there are numerous flaws (for example, at one point, the transcriber wrote "P.R. Spray" although it should be "Pierre Sprey," the famous weapons designer; another example is "Martin Ben Craybell (sp)" when it should be "Martin van Creveld," a noted Israeli military historian).
Worth noting as well: Boyd and Hart, especially, say that there needs to be a serious assessment of how well military hardware worked in the Gulf War. Eventually, some years later, the Government Accountability Office (GAO; then called the General Accounting Office), which is Congress's investigative arm, was very critical of some of the high-tech weapons of which Boyd and Hart are suspicious. The GAO also found much to praise in the A-10, designed by Sprey, who worked closely with Boyd. A currently active military reformer—Winslow Wheeler—directed this GAO study.