Josh Rogin. Foreign Policy, 15 February 2012.
The Pentagon’s new budget request moves $3 billion of military pay and benefits out of the base budget into the war budget in an accounting maneuver experts and congressional staffers say is meant to get around legally mandated budget caps…
Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis. Armed Forces Journal, February 2012.
I first encountered senior-level equivocation during a 1997 division-level “experiment” that turned out to be far more setpiece than experiment. Over dinner at Fort Hood, Texas, Training and Doctrine Command leaders told me that the Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) had shown that a “digital division” with fewer troops and more gear could be far more effective than current divisions. The next day, our congressional staff delegation observed the demonstration firsthand, and it didn’t take long to realize there was little substance to the claims. Virtually no legitimate experimentation was actually conducted. All parameters were carefully scripted. All events had a preordained sequence and outcome. The AWE was simply an expensive show, couched in the language of scientific experimentation and presented in glowing press releases and public statements, intended to persuade Congress to fund the Army’s preference.
…when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.
Paul Chapin and George Petrolekas. CDA Institute, February 2012.
Christopher Preble and Charles Knight. Huffington Post, 20 January 2012.
Balance depends on what you are standing on. With respect to our physical security, the United States is blessed with continental peace and a dearth of powerful enemies. Our military is the best-trained, best-led, and best-equipped in the world. It is our unstable finances and our sluggish economy that make us vulnerable to stumbling.
Unfortunately, the new strategy does not fully appreciate our strengths, nor does it fully address our weaknesses. In the end, it does not achieve Eisenhower’s vaunted balance.
Nathaniel H. Sledge Jr. National Defense, 20 January 2012.
When crises fade and wars end, the services, ever focused on the resource war, fight to ensure the inevitable budget reductions are minimized to preserve readiness and modernization accounts, or whatever is the highest priority at the time. The drums of outrage and indignation beat loudly as each service warns of catastrophe if their budgets are reduced too much or at all. The services eventually shed people, infrastructure, systems, and capabilities they do not deem critical to their futures. What is left is, to a large extent, what is already in their plans, and what is in their plans is whatever is critical to their identities and helps them win the resource war.
DefenseTracker.com, 18 January 2012.
Part of the “Doomsday Mechanism” hysteria spread by Defense Secretary Panetta and his comrade in the budget wars, Cong. Buck McKeon, has been the automaticity of the across-the-boards cuts that sequester would impose on the defense budget next January–in the likely event that the lame duck Congress and its successor next year will both be as dysfunctional as the can of red and blue worms we have now. (The other part of the hysteria is the “horror” of returning to 2007 levels of base budget defense spending.)
It seems that the president has existing statutory authority to modify the sequester mechanism–but not the amount of cuts required.
Nathan Freier. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 17 January 2012.
Like any change in strategy, however, the new approach has risk embedded in it. One of the more prominent risks involves the wholly predictable and complete triumph of classical realism in DoD’s future outlook. It appears that high-tech war between states is back in vogue as the single most important core planning scenario; this at a time when war within important states may be increasingly likely and, depending on location, equally impactful. How defense leaders account for and manage this risk will determine whether or not the guidance survives first contact with global uncertainty.
Philip Taubman. New York Times, 08 January 2012.
If the president pushes back against the defenders of the old order at the Pentagon and other redoubts of the nuclear priesthood, he can preserve American security while making the United States a more credible leader on one of today’s most critical issues — containing the spread of nuclear weapons. Like a chain smoker asking others to give up cigarettes, the United States, with its bloated arsenal, sounds hypocritical when it puts pressure on other nations to cut weapons and stop producing bomb-grade highly enriched uranium…
Defense Strategy Review Page Nuclear Debate
Loren Thompson. Forbes, 2 January 2012.
In a striking departure from the ideological preferences of the post-Vietnam Democratic Party, President Barack Obama has made overseas arms sales a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. The President and his advisors apparently have decided that well-armed allies are the next best thing to U.S. “boots on the ground” when it comes to advancing America’s global security interests.
Winslow Wheeler. TIME Battleland, 13 December, 2011.
Without the inclusion of war spending, the DOD base budget under the “Doomsday Mechanism” is no longer at or near its post-World War II high, but it is also not near any of the historic lows. In fact, it is roughly $38 billion above annual spending during the Cold War…
Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 01 December, 2011.
…offshore balancing is the right strategy even when our coffers are full, provided that no peer competitors are threatening to dominate key strategic regions. Even during good times, it makes no sense to take on unnecessary burdens or to allow allies to free-ride on Uncle Sam’s hubristic desire to be the “indispensable nation” in almost every corner of the world. In other words, offshore balancing isn’t just a strategy for hard times; it is also the best available strategy in a world where the United States is the strongest power, prone to trigger unnecessary antagonism, and vulnerable to being dragged into unnecessary wars.
Galrahn. Information Dissemination, 30 November 2011.
Robert Haddick. Small Wars Journal, 29 November 2011.
Sara Sorcher. National Journal, 29 November 2011.
President Obama recently announced steps to strengthen the architecture of an American foreign policy with new focus on the Pacific, including plans to deploy 2,500 troops to a base in Australia—all the while insisting that any reductions in U.S. defense spending will not come at the expense of priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. Even as many in Washington warily eye China’s rapidly modernizing military and expanding naval presence in the Pacific, 39 percent of Insiders said the next move is to improve American engagement with Beijing while avoiding any military-related steps.
Paula G. Thornhill. CNN, 23 November 2011.
The nation’s leadership needs a Plan B so that a heroic assumption — or hope — about the unlikelihood of future wars does not inadvertently lead to strategic disaster. This is harder than it seems. Plan B would allow more flexibility to meet what could go wrong in the strategic environment rather than just making budget cuts.
Plan B is to maintain a good ‘strategic reserve.’ As neo-conservatives like to point out the United States spends only 4.5% of its GDP on its military. If new threats pinch, the U.S. can easily ramp up spending and engage its still considerable industrial and knowledge base. The problem this country faces with a reconstitution strategy is lack of political will. Civilian leaders are loathe to ask the American people to sacrifice. A robust National Guard and Reserve force that is not abused by frequent deployments to unnecessary wars and a societal expectation to pay a tax surcharge in times of national emergency are the fundamentals of what this country needs to be strategically prepared while maintaining a small standing peacetime force. With such a strategic plan the U.S. can be well provisioned for any threat.
Matthew Leatherman. Bloomberg Government, 21 November 2011.
Michael E. O’Hanlon. New York Times, 14 November 2011.
By keeping a ship abroad for a couple of years and having two crews share that vessel as well as a training ship at home, the Navy could improve its deployment efficiency by up to 40 percent per ship, accomplishing with about three and a half ships what, on average, might have required five. Focusing on the Navy’s large surface combatants, cruisers and destroyers, this approach could theoretically allow roughly 60 ships (with slightly less than half of them deployed abroad at a time) to maintain the global presence that the Navy says it needs, rather than the 94 ships it is currently pursuing.
Loren B. Thompson. Lexington Institute, 11 November 2011.
Gen. Odierno’s November 2 remarks indicate that he realizes it isn’t just contractors who drive up the cost of programs. The cost overruns are often baked in at the beginning by the baroque demands that the acquisition system imposes on developers. These demands result in long schedule delays, unaffordable unit costs, and weapons features that can’t meet the expectations of appropriators. More importantly, they slow the delivery of better combat systems to warfighters.