Since 1996, China’s military has beaten countless U.S. forecasts for how long it would take it to develop and field new weapon systems. By comparison, the U.S. military has lagged in its military modernization even as it receives increasing attention and resources. In this context, Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten’s comment that the Defense Department will take the next 10 years to manage its data effectively should disturb U.S. policymakers and mobilize them to act.

While this timeline may seem forgivable given the magnitude of the Defense Department’s data management problem, decades’ worth of data debt, and dearth of data expertise, it’s nonetheless woefully inadequate. It also helps explain why the U.S. military has an eroding military advantage relative to China’s military forces.

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