The difficulty in procuring for America an arsenal adequate to ensure national security at the lowest possible price is no more insolvable than dozens of other problems the American people face. Critics of the procurement process too often fail to understand, though, that the business of supplying our nation's defense needs cannot be analyzed in exactly the same terms as, for example, the business of supplying consumer goods - or even most commercial goods and services. The purchase of a hammer from a defense contractor may in fact be a different kind of transaction than the purchase of a hammer from a hardware store. How it is different - and whether it should be different - is at the heart of the defense procurement debate. Understanding the differences will point the way toward potential solutions of very real problems.

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