Senate Armed Services Holds Hearing On F-35 Joint Strike Program

WASHINGTON: The Defense Department will create at least five defense budgets this year as a result of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today, and some of those alternative plans “could entail significant risk.”

Carter appeared to engage in something we have begun seeing from a range of senior uniformed officers, offering a careful escalating set of scenarios — think nuclear targeting plans — for the damage to America’s national security resulting from the inability of Congress to fix sequestration, the half-a-trillion in defense budget cuts mandated over the next decade by the Budget Control Act.

If Congress cannot grant the Pentagon some budget flexibility “or if the cuts are too large, we will be forced to take risks in some of our strategy, excessive risks in some of our strategy,” he said.

The first two plans for 2014 will be built “over the next few weeks,” Carter said. “Our objectives are to make sure we are prepared as well as we possibly can be for a wide range of possibilities.” Sequestration requires $37 billion in cuts to this year’s budget, fiscal 2013, which ends in October.

For fiscal year 2015, the department is going to create  “one done at presidential level, one at the sequester level, and then at levels in-between using those choices that we have teed up in the [strategic] review as building blocks,” Carter told more than 600 people at the Center for a New American Security‘s annual conference this morning.

What does all this say about America’s national security posture? “it is, at a minimum, embarrassing,” Carter said. “It is, at a maximum, unsafe.”

The Army will absorb the brunt of change as the Pentagon rebuilds the force, draws down from Afghanistan, and shifts its focus to the Pacific, a process which Carter characterized  as “a great weight physically and intellectually.”

The new Army will be “smaller, much more agile” and be able to handle a wide spectrum of threats, Carter said. To do that, the service must be networked, mobile, able to rapidly deploy, and suited to international partnering. This would seem to raise significant issues about the Army and industry’s approach to the Ground Combat Vehicle, which is trending upwards of the Abrams tank’s 70 tons as currently conceived, which means it is not suited to rapid deployment in any numbers. In fact, the more one hears about what the new Army will be, the more one is reminded of the enormous challenges the service faced after the fall of the Soviet Union as it tried to develop lighter, lethal and deployable weapons for the core force.

Finally, Carter put to rest speculation that the military might move to a truly joint cyber force, as well as the debate about whether dual-hatted command of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command would end any time soon.

“it may come to that someday; we are not at that point yet,” he said in response to a question about a joint cyber force sent, appropriately enough, via Twitter.

And the split between NSA and Cyber Command won’t happen any time soon, he said, because the Pentagon doesn’t, “have enough good people to scatter them all over. Over time we may evolve in a different way but we will retain dual hats for now.”

Comments

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    >>
    The new Army will be “smaller, much more agile” and be able to handle a wide spectrum of threats, Carter said. To do that, the service must be networked, mobile, able to rapidly deploy, and suited to international partnering. This would seem to raise significant issues about the Army and industry’s approach to the Ground Combat Vehicle, which is trending upwards of the Abrams tank’s 70 tons as currently conceived, which means it is not suited to rapid deployment in any numbers. In fact, the more one hears about what the new Army will be, the more one is reminded of the enormous challenges the service faced after the fall of the Soviet Union as it tried to develop lighter, lethal and deployable weapons for the core force.
    >>

    A lighter Army that shut down the 9th ID as High Tech Test Bed two decades ago?

    >
    Following the Vietnam War the division was stationed at Fort Lewis Washington until its inactivation in 1992. Beginning in the mid-1980s the division served as the high-technology test-bed for the army. This led to the division testing the concept of “motorized infantry”, designed to fill the gap between light infantry and heavy mechanized forces. The idea was to create lighter, mobile units capable of rapid deployment with far less aircraft than a heavier mechanized unit. Motorized infantry doctrine concentrated on effectiveness in desert warfare.[citation needed]

    By 1989 the division had fielded two complete brigades of motorized infantry in battalions designated as “Light Attack”, “Light Combined Arms” and “Heavy Combined Arms”. Motorized battalions traveled in the new Humvee and generally fought as traditional light infantry once engaged. Attack battalions utilized the Fast Attack Vehicles (later re-designated the Desert Patrol Vehicle), first developed at Fort Lewis. Essentially a Volkswagen- engined dune buggy mounted with either a 40mm Mk 19 grenade launcher or .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun, the FAV was designed to provide highly mobile firepower that could attack the flanks of heavier mechanized units. Some variants also mounted TOW missiles. All of these weapons systems were attached to the FAV by a mount designed to break away if the vehicle rolled over, which they were prone to do. The FAVs were problematic at best and were eventually replaced by various versions of the HMMWV.[citation needed]

    The 9th Infantry Division (MTZ) tested motorized infantry doctrine at the Yakima Firing Center in Eastern Washington, at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin California and in Korea during the annual Team Spirit exercise. While the motorized units performed well they were vulnerable to heavier mechanized forces, particularly if forced to stand and fight. They were also extremely vulnerable to indirect (artillery) fires.[citation needed]
    >

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9th_Infantry_Division_(United_States)

    An Army that refused to purchase the type-qualified M8 Buford for the 82nd airborne and which, according to one of the ‘rumors’ that circulated at the time, had to be bent over a barrel by Shinseki in a trade between Hummers with LOSAT (a video of which showed the 3,800fps, 10ft long, weapon going through the front slope of an M1A1 and coming out the rear engine grille) for the ‘Wheeled Army’ transition to the equally abysmal Stryker?

    The LOSAT was of course cancelled, despite being vastly superior to any existing tubed (M256) or missile (TOW) weapon in the ‘first ten seconds’ which typically decides LOS anti-armor engagements because of it’s multi-target track/simultaneous-guide capabilities.

    And we now have Strykers which can’t be loaded on a C-130, have massive armor, mobility and reliability shortcomings and for which the MGS 105 gun vehicle is still a lesser option than the original Buford and certainly the Thunderbolt, even in the infantry fire support (i.e. non anti-armor) mission.

    Note: the 82nd still doesn’t have an organic deployable armor company (though they play about with four Bradley and four Abrams I believe) -or- the Stryker. Going on 20 years after the last Sheridans were retired, they are still basically a boot infantry speed bump force whose sole purpose in a major campaign would be similar to that of Task Force Smith-

    >
    The Battle of Osan, the first significant American engagement of the Korean War, involved the 540-soldier Task Force Smith, which was a small forward element of the 24th Infantry Division.[140] On 5 July 1950, Task Force Smith attacked the North Koreans at Osan but without weapons capable of destroying the North Koreans’ tanks. They were unsuccessful; the result was 180 dead, wounded, or taken prisoner. The KPA progressed southwards, pushing back the US force at Pyongtaek, Chonan, and Chochiwon, forcing the 24th Division’s retreat to Taejeon, which the KPA captured in the Battle of Taejon;[141] the 24th Division suffered 3,602 dead and wounded and 2,962 captured, including the Division’s Commander, Major General William F. Dean.[141] Overhead, the KPAF shot down 18 USAF fighters and 29 bombers; the USAF shot down five KPAF fighters..
    >

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War

    We have dropped FCS which means we don’t have a mix of LOS/NLOS capabilities to deploy in alternative to heavy armor. GCV is the Maus of Modern Armor and a critical mistake has been made in the cancellation of the Netfires system which means that we are also -dependent- on heavy forces like the Apache and HIMARS to provide organic fire support to ground combat elements dropped into a potential surrounded airhead meatgrinder condition with only Javelin and harsh language to defend themselves _because they cannot leave the fire locus point as a mechanized force_.

    Remembering the utter fiasco in the Balkans, if you have time to move in an attack helicopter battalion and set up FOL/FARP bases, you probably don’t need motorized infantry anyway.

    Obviously, the Marines disagree with this piecemeal, adhoc, approach to light maneuver warfare doctrine and as such are, IMO, our SOLE survivable combined arms rapid response available in many theater response conditions. Traditionally seen as amphibious-only units, they are now also fully center-continent capable-

    >
    An Maritime Prepositioning Force MEB can be much larger, and project offensive combat power throughout its theater of operation. An MPF MEB would deploy to a theater where it would offload the required equipment from an MPF ship. Because this is a land-based force, it can be much larger than an amphibious MEB, bringing more than 16,000 Marines and Sailors to the theater of operation quickly.

    A NALMEB can be as large as an MPF MEB, and project offensive combat power throughout the European theater of operation. A NALMEB would deploy to the Northern Atlantic theater where it would retrieve the required equipment from caves in Europe. Because this is a land-based force, it can be much larger than an amphibious MEB, bringing more than 16,000 Marines and Sailors to the theater of operation quickly.
    >

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/meb.htm

    While, by comparison, what should give you an idea of how utterly unresponsive the Army is to changing mission needs is CENTCOM (of which the 82nd is the designated ‘first responder’ ground combat element) that came online in the 1980s as the RDF or Rapid Deployment Force response to the perceived dual vulnerability of a Soviet client state attacking Iran from the West and a the Soviets themselves being in Afghanistan, just to the East.

    At the time we had nothing but light air assault infantry forces and 40 years later, the Army still have no way to deal with medium-high intensity warfighter conditions in a ‘more than SOCOM in technicals’ (FAC for airpower) force v. force condition.

    And A2DA may put an end to that on the base-in rights.

    The Army has had their chance to ‘be all they can be’. And should be recognized for the honorable occupation force service they have logged in Desert Storm and the various peacekeeping as well as post-9/11 actions. But it is the Marines who are positioned to deliver anything up to a division sized maneuver force capable of independent maneuver in just hours while operating without a coastline in sight. And so, no matter what color the uniform, it should be the Marine Corps doctrinal model that we carry forward as rapid response forces into the 21st century.

    We could do a great deal to fund the transition to this new expeditionary model by combining the two services with independent specialize brigades for the core SPOD and APOD (point of entry) seizure missions. And greatly decreasing the topweight in the upper echelons of the Army in particular.

  • Tholzel

    Baloney. Just another PR tactic to get as many people as possible to urge Congress to back off the cuts to the military. Good tactic, though.

    • KAB

      Actually the DOD does try to eliminate wasteful spending, and every time it does Congress overrules them so they can keep a little extra money in their district. The primary cause of the bloated defense budget is ironically not the DoD but Congress.