Posts Tagged ‘Modernization’

Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) 2010

Office of the Secretary of Defense, 01 February 2010. Hosted on the Commonwealth Institute website.

Quadrennial Defense Review 2010

An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending

Carl Conetta. Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Report 20, 18 January 2010.
Executive Summary:


… DoD’s total workforce is probably as large today as it was in 1989 (or even larger), but less of the total is in uniform. This accords with the rise in O&M spending and also with studies… which suggest that the contractor workforce may have grown by as much as 40% since 1989. By comparison, the full-time military and DoD civilian workforces are both about 32% smaller today than in 1989.

When strategic discipline is lax, legacy modernization tends to predominate, due to its institutional momentum. Eventually, external circumstances may compel a rush of ad hoc adaptive measures – as is the case today with regard to procurement to meet counter- insurgency needs. These may then come to predominate, prematurely. The only remedy is to strongly discipline force modernization in accord with a sustainable, adaptive, and cost-effective national security strategy. The various scenarios and missions that define military requirements must be strongly prioritized, and these priorities must be enforced from the center.

A permissive spending environment is the precondition for the types of problems identified in this report. It is easy enough to point to the 11 September 2001 attacks as the progenitor of this condition. However, as we note, the surge in spending began before 2001. Moreover, Gallup polls show that public support for increased spending was higher in the two years prior to the attacks than in the two years after. And it has receded significantly since then. This points to a more fundamental enabling condition: presently there seems to be little political gain (and much risk) in pressing for the type of tight DoD budget constraints that might prompt through-going reform and transformation. Nonetheless, emerging fiscal realities may soon compel increased attention to how the nation allocates scarce resources among competing national goals — foreign and domestic, military and non-military. And this might put the nation on the road to a disciplined defense.

F-35 (JSF) Section of the 2009 Annual Report of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)

Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), pp. 21-25, January 2010. F-35 JSF 2009 Annual Report.pdf

Lockheed Martin F-35 Flew 10% of Planned 2009 Tests

Tony Capaccio., 19 January 2009.


Sixteen of 168 planned flights were completed in fiscal 2009, the second year of flight testing, according to Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of weapons testing. The program calls for 5,000 sorties to prove the aircraft’s flying capabilities, electronics and software.

The development phase must now be extended by at least one year, to October 2015, according to Gilmore, the former head of the Congressional Budget Office’s defense unit.

Forward Observer: F-35 Challenges Gates

George C. Wilson. Government Executive, 19 January 2010.


“There ain’t no education in a second kick of a mule.”

for more on the F-35 see:

NavAir Offers F-18 Ammo Amid JSF Woes

Colin Clark. DoD Buzz, 12 January 2010.


That would put operating costs of the F-35 B and C versions some 40 percent higher than the cost to operate the existing (larger) fleet of F-18A-Ds and AV-8s.

Gates Calls for Delay in Pentagon Purchases of Lockheed F-35s

Tony Capaccio. Business Week, 07 January 2010.


One recent study agreed with a similar one from a year earlier that predicted a 2 1/2 year delay in development beyond the current target of October 2014 and an added cost of $16.5 billion. The new estimate recommended the Pentagon add $314 million to the five-year plan to beef up testing. Gates did so.

Editor’s Comment:

With Afghan war costs rising and political pressure to reign in the federal deficit mounting Gates needs to reduce the year to year Pentagon procurement budget for big ticket items. Postponing and stringing out the acquisition of major platform buys (such as a new fighter aircraft like the F-35) is one way to get some of those savings without having to take on the much harder political task of canceling programs or cutting structure. Unfortunately such an approach usually makes an acquisition program more costly when production efficiencies of scale are lost as fewer units are manufactured each year over a longer period.

This article says, “More than $2.8 billion that was budgeted earlier to buy the military’s next-generation fighter would instead be used to continue its development.” So it may seem that this decision simply shifts spending from production to development accounts with neutral effect on the Pentagon topline. However the article doesn’t adequately address whether Gates may have been facing increased development costs overlapping ambitious production schedules which would have cost much more in the next five years than had been previously planned. This decision delays the onset of large production costs to the years after 2014.

The Navy has indicated it will need to buy more F/A-18s if the F-35 doesn’t appear when it had previously been promised. But the Navy’s requirement assumes there are no carrier cuts (and associated Naval combat wing cuts) in this period. If there are, it will make those F/A-18s redundant.

And what if five years from now drones are proving themselves to be the combat craft of the future at the very time the F-35 is meant to start appearing in operational units in significant numbers? Maybe then the buy of the next generation manned fighter plane can be in the range of 1200 units instead of the 2400 units in the current plan. Then we could realize real savings in this acquisition program. (for some options on future fighter buys and program savings see: David Axe, “Congressional Budget Office’s Plans to Save the Air Force”, War is Boring, 18 May 2009.)

If five years from now drones play a more central role in air combat power and there are fewer carriers in the fleet the decision to slow the F-35 acquisition program down will prove to be a very practical one.

Industrial Policy Debate: Should The Pentagon Pick Winners and Losers?

Sandra I. Erwin. National Defense Magazine, November 2009.


Acquisition and R&D accounts now make up 34 percent of the defense base budget. Assuming a flat budget and growth in personnel a bit above inflation, modernization accounts 10 years from now will be down to 25 percent of the budget, according to TechAmerica estimates.

Unless the Defense Department decides to reduce the size of the force, procurement spending will continue to be squeezed, says budget analyst Steve Daggett, of the Congressional Research Service. He estimates that the average service member costs 45 percent more — including salary and benefits after adjusting for inflation — than in 2000.

Industry analyst Jim McAleese, of McAleese & Associates, says he is certain that the Obama administration has effectively flat-lined defense spending for the foreseeable future. But many major decisions have yet to be made regarding how money will be allocated within a flat budget.

“I would caution you to really pay attention to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ vision,” McAleese says in an interview with Federal News Radio. “I believe he is fundamentally using the QDR [quadrennial defense review] to put the finishing touches on his legacy. Gates wants to “optimize” the Army for long-duration counterinsurgencies, he says. “The priority in the Army will be investing in a world-class quality combat force, that is well-supported, and that the soldiers’ families are well-supported.” The upshot is that many of the expensive weapons systems that the services have been accustomed to buying will no longer be affordable.