House Spending Panel Rejects Air Force Requests
By Jen DiMascio firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: AWIN First
May 07 , 2012
When it comes to the Air Force’s request to pare back the Air National Guard and mothball the Global Hawk Block 30, the response from Capitol Hill is a resounding, “no.”
The House Appropriations defense subcommittee will consider legislation May 8 that blocks the Air Force request to revamp the National Guard and to mothball Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4B Global Hawk and Alenia’s C-27J Spartan.
The panel will mark up its version of the fiscal 2013 defense spending bill to provide $607.7 billion for the Defense Department, including war funding.
The panel’s displeasure is perhaps loudest with regard to a prohibition on transferring Air Force aircraft or converting or disestablishing Air Force units associated with those aircraft. Those fighting against the proposed changes to the Air National Guard see the draft of the bill as well as a bill being considered this week by the House Armed Services Committee as an encouraging sign of congressional support.
“It’s a pause. It’s clearly a pause,” in the Air Force’s plans to reduce the Air Guard, says John Goheen, spokesman for the Air National Guard Association. “We saw early on that many members of the House and Senate had difficulties. … Today we’re seeing the results of their concern.”
He adds that this is just the first of many steps, as these bills could be amended as the House continues its work or in the Senate to even more fully restore the proposed Air Guard reductions.
In addition to smacking down some of the Air Force’s choices that would have saved money for the military, House lawmakers are proposing an increase in funding for some shipbuilding programs – an 83% increase in funds for Virginia-class submarines and a 32% increase in the Navy’s request for the DDG-51 destroyer.
It also follows the House Armed Services Committee, which rejected the military’s request for $400 million as the last year of development funding for Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). If the Senate follows suit, the military will have to negotiate an end to its commitment to the program with Germany and Italy.
And the bill would provide $70 billion for research accounts, an increase of $576 million over President Barack Obama’s request, according to the committee.
Of course, it wasn’t a complete study in contradiction.
The House panel provides the full request, $5.2 billion, for 29 Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
It adds $3.6 billion for 12 Boeing E/A-18G Growlers and 27 F/A-18E/F Hornets, including money for advance procurement for 15 more Growlers, according to a committee statement.
The bill would provide $2 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment.
In terms of space programs, the bill would offer $1.7 billion for four Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, the committee says.
And it follows a late request from the administration to add $680 million to help Israel’s development of the Iron Dome counter rocket and mortar defense system.
To help pay for items that were not requested in the president’s budget, the bill pulls $1.6 billion from funds that were appropriated by Congress in previous years but not funded.
Analysts and defense industry officials do not have high hopes for an appropriations bill passing before the November elections or even before the end of the year. Still, the Senate committee intends to take up its version of the bill next month.
– Richard Mullins contributed to this report.
HASC Adds $2.8 Billion to Procurement Request
May. 7, 2012 - 03:53PM
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
The House Armed Services Committee committee denied the U.S. Air Force the ability to use any money in 2013 “to divest or retire, or prepare to divest or retire” the C-27J. (Alenia Aeronautica)
Consistent with a staunch resistance to further cuts in defense spending, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has added $2.8 billion to the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 budget request for ships, aircraft and weapons.
The full markup of the HASC bill isn’t scheduled until May 9, but details were released May 7 under a pledge from chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., to provide more transparency in the committee’s operations.
Overall, the committee’s bill provides $554 billion in defense spending with another $88 billion for overseas contingency funds.
That’s $29 billion over the Pentagon’s request for $525.4 billion in base defense spending, but on par with the contingency request.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking member of the committee, noted that “simply spending more money on defense does not make us safer.”
In an email statement, Smith said that “given the size of our debt and deficit and growing budgetary pressures, I am concerned that the top-line number is roughly $8 billion over the Budget Control Agreement. Congress made a commitment to get our budget under control, and I fully expect that the Senate will honor the Budget Control Agreement number. We should do the same.”
Compared with the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 budget request from earlier this year, the HASC made the following changes to the procurement budget:
• Aircraft procurement rose $389 million, largely on the strength of plus-ups to the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-9 Reaper UAV programs and $138 million to keep its C-27Js. Advance procurement funds deemed excessive for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter were cut by $64 million, along with another $23 million in “premature” spares for the aircraft, which has not yet entered service.
• Ammunition spending rose $163 million due to increases in Joint Direct Attack Munitions, general bombs, rockets and fuses.
• Missile procurement rose $95 million from increases to the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and Predator Hellfire missile.
• Missile procurement jumped $100 million, split between increases for the Hellfire and Patriot PAC-3 missiles.
• Weapons and combat vehicle procurement jumped $383 million, due chiefly to increases in Abrams tank upgrades, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle program and the M88A2 Hercules improved recovery vehicle.
• Ammunition procurement was reduced by $108 million, primarily because of cuts to 5.56 mm and 30mm ammunition and Excalibur 155 mm rounds.
• Funds under “other procurement” dropped $80 million, spread over several programs.
• Shipbuilding and conversion funds rose nearly $900 million, primarily for advance procurement of an additional submarine and destroyer to the 2014 shipbuilding program.
• Aircraft procurement rose overall about $100 million, and included an additional $170 million to restore five previously-cut MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
• Weapons procurement rose $113 million, spread over a number of programs.
• Total Marine Corps procurement funding dropped by $140 million due to a decrease requested by the Corps for the light armored vehicle product improvement program.
Across the Defense Department, the HASC recommends a rise of $2.141 billion in procurement spending, from $97.432 billion to $99.573 billion.
Procurement spending for overseas operations rose by $620 million, from $9.687 billion to $10.308 billion.
Responding to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report criticizing the lack of a senior-level “point of focus” for urgent operational needs and rapid acquisition efforts, the committee would require the defense secretary to designate a senior Pentagon official as that focal point. The official would “manage, oversee, track, and monitor all emerging capability gaps identified by the war fighter in theater.”
A Senior Integration Group established in June 2011 as a single authority to prioritize and direct fulfillment of joint urgent operational needs falls short of the GAO’s recommendations, the committee said, leading to the need for the “senior-level focal point.”
The committee also expressed its concern that a review of the Pentagon’s joint urgent needs process — mandated by the 2011 defense authorization act and required to be sent to Congress in January 2012 — is not expected to be completed before August of this year.
Iran’s development of nuclear weapons drew the committee’s attention with a provision stating, “it is the policy of the United States to take all necessary measures, including military action if necessary, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies, or Iran’s neighbors with a nuclear weapon.”
The committee directed that in addition to furnishing an annual report on China’s military power, the Pentagon must also report on that country’s space and cyber strategies, goals and capabilities.
In a new requirement, the Pentagon must also compile a report on North Korea’s military and security developments, due Nov. 1, 2013.
The committee also approved — again — a request to rename the Department of the Navy as the “Department of the Navy and Marine Corps,” a long-time request from Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.
Under Air Force provisions, the committee denied the service the ability to use any money in 2013 “to divest or retire, or prepare to divest or retire,” C-27J aircraft. A series of reporting requirements after 2013 would need to be met before the aircraft could be disposed of, including an affordable spending analysis for the plane’s operation by the Air National Guard.
More details are available at the HASC’s website.
Defense spending plan puts Rep. Buck McKeon, Leon Panetta at odds
Mark Wilson/GETTY IMAGES - Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has criticized a GOP plan, approved by the House on Thursday, to protect the Defense Department from a further $500 billion cut that could happen over the next 10 years should Congress and the president fail to agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction measure.
By Walter Pincus, Saturday, May 12, 7:59 AM
Debate has broken out over the nearly $4 billion in increased defense spending that the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee added to the Obama administration request in the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, pitting the panel’s chairman, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), against Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
In a letter sent Friday to Panetta, McKeon described as “false,” the defense secretary’s statement to reporters on Thursday that “every dollar that is added [to the defense bill] will have to be offset by cuts in national security.”
McKeon argued that House Republicans “were careful to identify other non-defense budget sources to accommodate the needed” defense increases.
That argument previews what will be an extended fight over defense spending through the presidential campaign and into an expected lame-duck congressional session in December. The first round of that fight will take place next week, when the defense authorization legislation is scheduled to be debated on the House floor.
Panetta has already begun meeting privately with senators in hopes that the Democrat-controlled body will oppose the House increases, some of which affect industries or military bases within their states.
“When Congress restores funds to protect particular constituencies that may not be critical to our national defense capabilities, then they risk upending the kind of careful balance that we’ve worked very hard to achieve,” Panetta said at a news conference this week.
The Obama defense request complies with the bipartisan agreement last year in the Budget Control Act and is the first step toward reducing $487 billion from planned defense spending over the next 10 years. The agreement also called for similar-size cuts in non-defense discretionary spending over that same 10-year period.
Panetta specifically noted that the committee prevented the retirement of “aging ships and aircraft that no longer fit strategic requirements.” If approved by the entire Congress, he said, the GOP spending plan would force him “to look elsewhere for these savings, areas like reducing modernization.”
He also has criticized a House GOP plan, approved by the House on Thursday, to protect the Defense Department from a further $500 billion cut that could happen over the next 10 years should Congress and the president fail to agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction measure.
Under the Republican budget plan, one proposal would keep active three of seven U.S. Navy cruisers that were to be given early retirement. Navy officials told Congress that retiring these ships would free up $4 billion in coming years to meet readiness requirements. Although the ships have 10 or more years of service left, they all would have required millions of dollars in defensive upgrades to remain active.
The committee also voted to block for next year a plan to retire strategic lift aircraft primarily flown by the Air National Guard and Reserves. This proposal, designed to save about $500 million next year, is being reviewed by Panetta after it drew bipartisan opposition from many state units. The House panel, however, passed language that would prevent any such change taking place next year.
Panetta also has criticized the committee’s language that limited changes proposed in Tricare medical fees paid by employed military retirees. McKeon said the action “restates the firmly held sense of Congress that prior service to our nation is a pre-payment of health-care benefits in retirement.”
House Republicans also proposed an additional $100 million for planning and development of a new U.S. missile defense site, “potentially on the East Coast,” that would meet the threat from Iran.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said, “The program of record for ballistic missile defense for the homeland . . . is adequate and sufficient to the task.”
U.S. Army Chief Disputes Latest Congressional Budget Submission
May. 16, 2012 - 02:31PM
By PAUL McLEARY
A fiscal 2013 budget proposal submitted by the House Armed Services Committee would force the U.S. Army to cap its planned force reductions at 552,000 troops, which Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said is at odds with the 543,000-soldier end strength he is planning to reach. (U.S. Army)
U.S. Army reset and modernization programs face several budgetary risks over the next several months, Army chief Gen. Raymond Odierno said May 16.
The biggest threat is sequestration, which would trigger almost $600 billion in defense spending cuts on top of the $500 billion already planned for, beginning in January 2013. Such reductions would be “disastrous” for the Army, Odierno said.
“It would cause a hollowness, a significant hollowness in the force,” he said.
While the service is already planning to cut more than 70,000 troops over the next several years, the congressionally mandated cuts would force the Army to cull another 80,000 to 100,000 troops from its active-duty and Reserve rosters, the general told reporters at the Pentagon.
While the threat of sequestration hangs over the Pentagon, a fiscal 2013 budget proposal submitted by the House Armed Services Committee would also force the Army to cap its planned force reductions at 552,000 troops, which Odierno said is at odds with the 543,000-soldier end strength he is planning to reach by the end of fiscal 2013.
The higher number is problematic because “we will not be able to use attrition — this might cause us to force more people out of the Army than we want instead of using natural attrition.” About 65 percent to 70 percent of the Army’s planned reduction-in-force size will come through natural attrition, the general said.
“I’ve talked with the House. I’ve told them that I don’t agree with those amendments. I’d like to see them adjustable,” he added. Specifically, if the higher end strength number carries the day, “we start to lose the balance between what I call the three rheostats, which are end strength, readiness and modernization,” he said. “What we don’t want is a hollow force.”
Sequestration, plus the larger force size, “would probably cause us to breach many contracts that we already have in place,” Odierno said, “because we would not meet the current requirements that we have on our developmental contracts, so it would affect every asset that we have in every area,” he said.
Odierno also said his staff is not planning for sequestration, which has been the official line coming from all the services and the secretary of defense.
$642.5 billion defense bill is approved by House
By Walter Pincus, Saturday, May 19, 8:07 AM
The House approved a bill Friday that would provide $642.5 billion in defense spending for the next fiscal year, despite a veto threat from the White House, which objected to a series of provisions that would limit the president’s authority and challenge administration policies.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 299 to 120, would authorize spending $3.7 billion above the amount sought by President Obama and $8 billion above the level agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in August as part of their budget deal.
House Republicans argued that they had identified non-defense spending to offset the increases and that they were careful not to provide more money than they thought the Pentagon needed.
“In an era of austerity, it is critical that we carefully allocate every penny that goes to the Defense Department,” said Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The debate marked the start of what will almost surely be a protracted fight over defense spending through the end of the year. The bill passed by the House provides $554 billion for core Defense Department activities in fiscal 2013 and an additional $88.5 billion for overseas activities, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Among other measures, the bill would provide money to build additional Navy ships and block the Defense Department’s plans to retire aircraft. It would limit health-fee increases for retired service personnel and their families. And it would slow down the reduction of military personnel that was part of the Pentagon’s plan to meet last year’s bipartisan agreement to cut $487 billion in defense spending over the next 10 years.
It would provide a 1.6 percent pay increase and add benefits and support programs for troops and their families that were requested by the administration.
While the White House expressed concerns with the overall increase in spending, it also made clear that it was opposed to a series of provisions in the bill.
One section of the bill that drew a specific veto threat would limit the president’s ability to retire, dismantle or eliminate non-deployed nuclear weapons. Other elements cited by the White House would restrict the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to the United States or foreign countries and prevent those transferred to Micronesia from traveling to the United States.
Another element would permit indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects, including American citizens, captured on U.S. soil.
Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, who had offered a substitute proposal, said after his amendment was defeated: “To give the president the power to take away a person’s freedom and lock them up, potentially simply based on allegations, without due process, and without the civil liberties protected by our Constitution, is an extraordinary step.”
The House measure would also ban same-sex marriages on military bases and force the president to approve the controversial sale of F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan.
In debating the bill for two days, the House dealt with about 140 amendments. The Senate Armed Services Committee will begin marking up its version of the bill next week, but it is unclear when it will reach the Senate floor.
The Senate is expected to approve a measure providing the Pentagon with less than the House bill, leaving it up to a House-Senate conference to work out the differences before sending the bill to the president.
DoD’s Next Crisis: Excess Inventory
May. 28, 2012 - 11:48AM
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS
Rows of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles are staged in the port yard of the Charleston, S.C., seaport prior to shipment to U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Army)
With billions of dollars in excess inventory stuffed in warehouses, and a flood of items expected to return from Afghanistan in the near future, the U.S. Defense Department is facing an inventory crisis without an easy way to eliminate extra items, a former director of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) said.
That could translate to yet another cost that Pentagon planners have failed to foresee, and one they’ll have to address as the department tries to cut expenses.
Keith Lippert, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral who stepped down as DLA director in 2006, told an audience May 23 at the Defense Logistics and Materiel Readiness Summit in Alexandria, Va., that the inventory problem facing DoD is troubling given current fiscal pressures, and certain to get worse.
“There is a need to dispose of material,” he said. “We have to free up this warehouse space, and in terms of priorities of all the things that they do at DLA and the services ... if there are 25 things that have to be done, disposal is probably number 26.”
The excess inventory is all-encompassing: parts and supplies for vehicles, gear, weapons — everything the U.S. military has needed over a decade of fighting two wars.
“You add to this everyone coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, all the material coming in, it’s just going to compound the problem,” Lippert said.
Beyond the issue of priority, Lippert said, excess inventory is also a practical problem. Many of the items must either be sold for pennies on the dollar, marketed for a higher value through foreign military sales, or destroyed, simply because the U.S. lacks enough space to store all the items once they return from overseas. All three solutions require manpower that is already stretched thin trying to keep track of needed parts in warehouses with too many items.
Lack of Metrics
Recognizing its growing stockpiles that include more than $9 billion of excess in an inventory valued at roughly $100 billion, according 2010 figures released by DoD, the department launched the Comprehensive Inventory Management Program in to 2010.
A Government Accountability Office report on the program, released in May, found that DoD has likely avoided $1 billion in cost, but that a lack of metrics could seriously harm its efforts to cut inventory.
“As part of the plan, DoD is developing metrics to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of its inventory management, but it has not determined if it will incorporate these metrics into guidance,” the report said. “This may hamper its ability to assess inventory management performance and sustain management attention on improvement.”
The report, however, did cite the systemic inventory issues that have plagued the Pentagon for years.
“Since 1990, we have identified DoD supply chain management as a high-risk area due in part to ineffective and inefficient inventory management practices and procedures, weaknesses in accurately forecasting the demand for spare parts, and challenges in achieving widespread implementation of key technologies aimed at improving asset visibility,” it said. “These factors have contributed to the accumulation of billions of dollars in spare parts that are excess to current requirements.”
Concerned about the pace at which the DoD is eliminating inventory, Lippert, who is the chief strategy officer at Accenture National Security Services, said that without action, the Pentagon will be overwhelmed.
“All the reduction that may happen will be offset because here comes this other stuff,” he said. “And if you think disposal is a challenge now, just wait till all this comes back, because inventory is going to grow and it’s going to become a bigger challenge.”
Although the GAO report points to concerns about DoD’s ability to reduce its existing stockpiles, Lippert said that stronger action, possibly in the form of congressional hearings, is likely needed to cause real change.
“It’s probably going to take some kind of burning platform to get everyone’s attention other than a new GAO report,” he said.
Part of what has made the process so difficult has been the lack of data on inventory, but that has changed in recent years, experts said.
“There’s a lot of data that’s being generated, automated data,” said Col. Edward Mays, assistant commander for acquisition, logistics and product support at Marine Corps Systems Command. “It exists, but we haven’t had the time to think about how to use it.”
Now, with usable data, the armed forces are starting to use statistical analysis to more intelligently manage inventory and service schedules, although on only a small scale.
Mays leads a small group at his command that is attempting to find inefficiencies and savings. In the year it has been operating, the group identified nearly $50 million in mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle servicing and parts savings, among other areas.
The emphasis on analysis comes as the focus on war fighting begins to decline and fiscal restraint enters regular parlance.
“We supported the war fighter, but many things fell to the side,” Mays said. “As we went off to war, we haven’t really thought much about policy. We’ve been running really hard, we’ve been doing a lot of things, but we haven’t thought about policy.”
Mays said that his work is being considered by the chain of command, but that the magnitude of the problem makes solutions difficult to implement. The use of the statistical analysis that and others are doing can be a boon in the new age of efficiency, Lippert said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that there are all kinds of savings here,” he said.
Carter to Congress: Don’t Mess With the Budget
May. 30, 2012 - 04:43PM
By KATE BRANNEN
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that every dollar spent on older, unneeded weapons means fewer dollars for newer, more capable systems. (Staff file photo)
When Congress adds money for things the U.S. Defense Department says it doesn’t need, it forces the Pentagon to make difficult choices elsewhere in the budget, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Carter’s message for Congress was simply: Stop messing with the Pentagon’s budget.
His remarks come as the House and Senate are midway through crafting the defense policy and appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013, which begins Oct. 1. The House has passed its version of the 2013 defense authorization bill.
The Senate Armed Services Committee finished its markup last week. The Senate is expected to debate the bill in late June or July.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee has approved a defense spending bill while its counterpart in the Senate has yet to complete its work.
As happens every year, the congressional defense committees have adjusted the budget request the Pentagon submitted, cutting in some places in order to increase funding in others. This year, however, the stakes are somewhat higher as there is less room to maneuver due to the Budget Control Act’s spending caps.
Since the president’s budget request was first submitted in February, top defense officials — including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey — have said the budget is carefully balanced with little margin for error if it is to fulfill the Pentagon’s new strategy.
While the House’s defense authorization bill makes the most drastic changes to the Pentagon’s request, all of the current markups make significant changes to DoD’s spending plans.
For example, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup would freeze the Air Force’s cuts to the Air National Guard, prohibiting the Pentagon from retiring aircraft and reducing force structure. Both the House and Senate bills add funding to buy M1 Abrams tanks that the Army says it doesn’t need.
Pushing back against these moves, Carter said that every dollar spent on older, unneeded weapons means fewer dollars for newer, more capable systems.
When something is added to our budget that is not needed, we are forced to take out something that is, he said.
Carter urged Congress to let the Pentagon make its proposed changes so that it can scale back where it thinks it is safe to do so and invest in areas it considers more important for the future.
He said the Pentagon needed to be able to make changes to its health insurance coverage because costs are spiraling out of control. The savings are needed so that money can be invested elsewhere, he said.
He also explained that the Pentagon wants to retire older, single-purpose aircraft so that it can invest in newer, multipurpose planes.
“All of our modeling shows that we have excess inter-theater lift,” Carter said. “We just can’t afford it. We don’t need it.”
The military also has extra intra-theater lift, Carter said, naming the Air Force’s C-130s. He said the Pentagon would be flexible about where those planes are stationed and how many are ultimately needed, but some of the older aircraft need to be retired to make room for the new, he said.
The same is true for the Navy, according to Carter.
If the Navy is forced to maintain older ships that will come at the expense of buying new ones, he said.
For the Army and Marine Corps, Carter said that a balanced force requires both services to reduce their end strengths.
The Pentagon does not plan to enter into another decade-long war that involves heavy counterinsurgency and stability operations, he said. If that happens, “we’d mobilize the Reserves and rebuild.”
All of these changes are necessary to maintain a well-balanced force prepared for a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
The battle for the military’s future
By Walter Pincus, Thursday, June 14, 8:02 AM
“The face of war, the face of how we do business, is changing.”
That’s retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sharing how he sees the military’s future at a National Press Club session for reporters Tuesday. Cartwright, who was known for his forward thinking while on active duty, has apparently decided to share his ideas through a series of public appearances.
One area that he sees changing in the military is what he calls “the platforms” — by which he means tanks, troop carriers, ships, aircraft, heavy guns and even rifles. They are becoming less important in Cartwright’s view than the new electronics, sensors and other gadgetry.
He recalls being with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Georgia reviewing an Army unit ready to deploy to Central Asia with new systems that included iPads and droids for individual soldiers. Cartwright said Gates asked one sergeant during a barracks walkthrough, “What do you think of all this stuff?”
The sergeant replied, “I’d sooner leave this barracks without my rifle as to leave without these things.”
The lesson for Cartwright was that the new electronics, which the military calls information technology (IT), will replace in importance the current platforms — in which the side with the most modern guns, tanks and aircraft often won. Platforms, however, take time to develop.
“We’re starting to move away from platform-centric towards the leverage that is gained by IT systems that allow us to gain advantage no matter what the platform is,” said Cartwright, who holds the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Another factor is the time available to make changes for the new battlefield.
“Spending 20 years in development of a platform [such as an armored personnel carrier] and then building it,” as well as taking two or three years to make adjustments, all “seems somewhat irrelevant,” Cartwright said. In the future, there will be much shorter time periods in which to upgrade systems.
This was one lesson he learned from combatting IEDs [improvised explosive devices], first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where they continue to be the greatest threat to U.S. and coalition forces.
As Cartwright described it, dealing with IEDs has become super fast-paced. The enemy invents a new fuse to detonate an IED; someone on the U.S. or coalition side invents a counter to that fuse and by the time it is deployed another new fuse has turned up. “It’s about a 30-day cycle to try to stay up with that fight,” he said.
Cartwright says cyberwarfare will determine leverage on the next tactical battlefield. And that cyberfight, he said, will have a time cycle “somewhere between nine and 14 days.”
A second issue for the future in Cartwright’s view is maintaining the all-volunteer force.
“Their expectations of service [personnel] are substantially different than a conscript force,” he said, referring to past wars followed by peacetime cutbacks when the military draft provided the basic manpower needs. The more professional, career-minded all-volunteer force expects “to come to work and have equipment that works,” Cartwright said. “They expect to come to work and do training that is relevant to what they think is going to happen next, so that they are ready.”
During the years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, from 2001 to today, the services have expanded in numbers and have had all the funds needed to arm their forces with new types of weaponry. There was so much money that the Defense Department by 2008 was paying cost overruns of $295 billion on 95 weapons systems, according to the Government Accountability Office. Now the Obama administration is proposing cutting 80,000 soldiers from the Army and 20,000 Marines from the Corps over the next five years.
“This is the first time that we have gone through a fiscal downturn with an all-volunteer force. What are the dangers of not preparing for the realities of that downturn?” Cartwright asked.
“If we hollow that force out, their ability to vote with their feet is pretty significant,” he said, meaning many would resign if their activity slows down, pay stagnates, promotions become limited or their equipment deteriorates in quality.
The $487 billion in Pentagon cuts over 10 years agreed upon last year represents about an 11 percent reduction in defense spending. As Cartwright points out, “Historically after a conflict, we come down somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent to 25 percent,” which would mean more cuts can be expected.
Unofficially, the Pentagon is looking at how to manage spending on personnel not just in the face of further funding reductions but also when the economy revives and civilian jobs tempt highly trained military personnel while, at the same time, quality enlistments drop off. Retirement and health-care costs are already a focus, no matter what further cuts are made.
Each service is studying retention — “how you keep the ones you want to keep” in the words of one Pentagon official. There are leading and lagging factions when it comes to incentives that range from money to housing to long-term health care for retirees. Looking out 10 and 20 years, the official said, “It takes fine tuning to get the right formula.”
Cartwright said the military services “don’t want to give away anything they are planning” because if they announce it, “then all of a sudden it happens.”
Instead, some serious planning about further cuts are probably being discussed behind closed doors, according to Cartwright, where defense officials “feel safe that they can explore the options without having somebody take the decision away from them.”
U.S. Sequestration Won’t Happen, Levin Predicts
Jun. 14, 2012 - 01:55PM
By RICK MAZE
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman predicted June 14 that Congress will find a way to avoid automatic budget cuts in January that could hurt national security, but he added that any ultimate budget agreement won’t leave the U.S. Defense Department unscathed.
Pressure is building, particularly within the defense industry, to head off the automatic across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January under terms of last year’s Budget Control Act.
Beginning as early as October — perhaps sooner — layoff notices could be delivered to defense industry workers, and possibly to some DoD civilian employees, as officials prepare for the possibility that Congress and the White House won’t come up with a compromise to avoid the automatic cuts.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who has chaired the armed services committee since 2007, said Thursday during a breakfast with defense reporters that he believes sequestration will be avoided in January, although he isn’t sure how — or when an agreement might be reached.
He said he is optimistic about avoiding the cuts, which could reduce defense spending by 10 percent, or about $55 billion, next year, “because 80 to 90 percent” of members of Congress want to prevent sequestration.
Levin is concerned, however, that harm may result from waiting for lawmakers and the White House to reach the almost inevitable post-election, last-minute agreement to either avoid or postpone the budget cuts.
Even if agreement is reached, he said, “If it comes too late, the specter of it could have a negative effect on the economy and on people’s lives.”
Levin is pushing the idea of a pre-election bipartisan announcement of the intention to come up with a later budget agreement. He said such an announcement might soothe the stock markets and reassure the public, and could include some details on areas where lawmakers agree, such as extending middle-class tax cuts.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a budget plan that would avoid sequestration while also reversing the cuts in defense approved last year as part of the Budget Control Act, but Levin discounted that plan as unworkable.
Defense cuts, he said, will have to be part of any final agreement to achieve $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. He suggested a plan that would include about $200 billion over 10 years in cuts in discretionary spending, with half coming from defense. The impact of a roughly $10 billion annual reduction in defense spending would be far less than the consequences of sequestration.
Levin declined to specify how that $10 billion savings could be achieved, saying providing details at this point would not make it easier to get an agreement.
Lockheed calls for review of sequestration
19 June 2012 - 15:04 by Andrew White in Washington, DC
Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Bob Stevens has described the 'uncertain' consequences of sequestration as company officials outlined their visions for the next decade in the face of looming defence cuts.
Referring to the 'meat axe' of defence cuts which is scheduled to fall on 3 January, Stevens said the 'near-term horizon was obscured by the fog of uncertainty'.
'In January, defence accounts will be cut by ½ trillion dollars. There is no strategy or concept of operations for our nation that is supported by these reductions,' Stevens continued.
'There is no insight into how this law will be implemented. Which technologies will be discontinued? Which suppliers, especially our small business participants, will be impacted? How many people are going to be affected and how many families are going to be disrupted?' he asked.
'[Sequestration] is the wrong process to secure greater reductions in spending. But this is not a synonym to say we don't need to reduce spending. It is flattery to think our industry is so durable so to absorb the impact of sequestration without breaking stride.
'I fear our industry will suffer a loss of learning, depletion of talent and erosion of quality. I call for a review of sequestration without delay,' Stevens concluded.
Meanwhile, Marillyn Hewson, currently executive VP for Electronic Systems who will take over as COO on 1 January next year, described sequestration as a 'significant challenge for our industry and our country'.
Hewson said: 'We are very concerned about the devastating impact on the defence industry from the standpoint of global security and the standpoint of hi-tech jobs.'
Having been in post for just seven months, business strategy VP for electronic systems Barry McCullough also outlined his vision for the next decade, acknowledging that the next ten years would see a 'contraction' in the US defence budget.
'This is my own projection and based on my experience in the US Navy. There will be continued requirements for increases in capabilities and if you can't buy new platforms, you have to develop capabilities in spirals for existing platforms,' he said.
'There are many countries in a similar position to the US in terms of economy. So we have heightened our commitment to customers to develop innovative solutions at the most affordable cost possible,' McCullough continued.
Referring to US proposals outlined by President Barack Obama to expand its military footprint in South-East Asia, McCullough described opportunities in a 'multitude' of nations including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
He highlighted the forthcoming deployment of Littoral Combat Ship 1 USS Freedom to Singapore later this year and described a 'very good relationship' with Australia regarding the MH-60R helicopters.
McCullough also made reference to a roll-on/roll-off P-3 capability for C-130J aircraft although he assured that Lockheed Martin would continue to support P-3 and P-8 platforms.
He also described the importance of situation awareness, saying: 'You can have the most sophisticated kinetic weapons but if you can't use them, they're useless.'