Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (left) and Vice-Chairman Adm. James Winnefeld.

CAPITOL HILL: The next Pentagon budget will almost certainly include increased spending for the Navy, Marines, and Air Force to boost their presence and operations in the Asia-Pacific region. That’s because the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon’s strategic review found we must “further prioritize missions within the context of a continued rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.”

Dempsey, who made the statement in written answers to questions from the committee in preparation for his nomination hearing this morning, also said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review “affirmed the fundamental soundness of the Defense Strategic Guidance,” which posited the initial strategic shift. So they must keep the shift to the Pacfic going and they don’t have the resources committed to accomplish it.

And if sequestration continues — as it looks likely to — the country faces what Dempsey coined “strategy insolvency.” This comes even as we face “fewer existential threats to the nation but far more threats to the nation by extremist groups,” the chairman told the committee.

If sequestration steamrolls ahead unchecked by a fractured and paralyzed Congress, this is what Dempsey thinks the military will face:

“Unready forces, misaligned global posture, inability to keep pace with emerging threats, reduced security cooperation , and failure to maintain a high quality All Volunteer Force are all becoming increasingly likely the longer sequestration in its current form persists.”

In the end, the military will run to the sound of guns, but, Dempsey told the Senate armed Services Committee, “we may not be ready to go.”

All this may well have been a topic during briefings of congressional leaders today on the classified version of the annual China report for Congress.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter generated the only real weapon system news, with Adm. James Winnefeld, Dempsey’s vice chairman, telling the committee that the Pentagon is “doing everything we can to protect the numbers” of F-35 it plans to buy. “We really want to ramp up production as soon as we can to gain economies of scale.” That echoes comments made earlier this week by Frank Kendall, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, to my colleague Tony Capaccio. So we now see both the military and civilian sides of the Pentagon committed publicly.

Best line of the hearing comes from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He asked Adm. James Winnefeld, Dempsey’s vice chairman, about the impact of sequestration. The Air Force, he noted, had (until recently) grounded one-third of its combat aircraft due to sequestration. What kind of enemy force would it take to have that same effect, he asked? Winnefeld dodged the question, so Graham offered his take:

He would, if he were Iranian, send Congress “a thank-you note for Congress’ inability to stop sequestration.”



  • Don Bacon

    “SCMR Concludes Pacific Pivot Needs More Cash, Missions: Gen. Dempsey”

    Why am I not surprised. The Pentagon ALWAYS concludes that it needs more money. “We must further prioritize missions” means they don’t have a clue as to what they’re going to be doing over there, but it will cost more whatever it is.

    So cut ’em, and cut ’em deep.

  • Bobby of Tara

    It is sad that Australia like most western allies run defence budgets of 1.5% to 2% of GDP when the US runs 4-5% GDP budgets.
    Australians are too keen on football and cricket to seriously think through the consequences of their actions.
    If Australians had a taste of invasion in WW11 before the battle of Midway we probably would not be so laid back about defence.

  • PolicyWonk

    This comes even as we face “fewer existential threats to the nation but far more threats to the nation by extremist groups,”


    This assumes that the USA continues on its flawed path of using the military as its first line of defense w/r/t terrorist organizations, when all 16 of our national intelligence agencies recommended using law enforcement as the preferred method (using the military as a back-up when dealing with heavily armed terrorist strongholds, etc.).

    Law enforcement is much cheaper (and far more palatable diplomatically to other nations) than military action – maybe its time to reconsider our strategy.
    And even considering sequestration in the mix – the US still outspends the top 10 other nations combined budgets for military spending. If the USA really wants to save a lot of money – then they need to fix the *entire* acquisition system.
    In return for more (or restored) funding – the Congress should require the DoD’s entire acquisition system to be put under a form of receivership. The US taxpayer gets by far the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent in the western world.

    • Colin Clark

      An EXCELLENT point about how to handle terrorism. We should have learned this ages ago from our friends the British, French, Germans, Italians and Israelis. But we continue to engage in this misguided effort to militarize what is, in the end, a crime. I think our initial foray into Afghanistan was warranted because the government openly supported and worked with Al Qaeda. Now we should hunt them quietly and kill them or capture them and bring them here for trial or hand them over to friendly regimes where they have violated laws. Terrorists are criminals with a political agenda. Period.

    • M&S

      Remember, military intelligence was given the whip hand in The Great Wombat Hunt as the CIA (IMO) was sent back to school to prepare for the overthrow of nations in the event we call ‘The Arab Spring’.
      If you look back at the CIA and MI6’s (as BP and Standard Of Ohio) previous actions in the ME, this is what they have always been about.
      Now that that has happened, the CIA et al want their turf back.
      We don’t have a lot of depth on what happened with Bin Laden (certainly none that is trustworthy), in particular why his wives were able to escape unnoticed and he was able to buy a new one and have her shipped in.
      We don’t know how the house was erected in a manner that should have been trackable.
      We don’t know where he was -before- the house and in particular how he got out of AfG alive.
      We don’t know who betrayed the courier or why. We don’t know where Ayman Al Zawahiri is as the real brains behind AQ.
      We don’t know how deep in the stewpot ISI was or is.
      What we do know is that we spent 800 billion dollars over a decade, propping up primitive socities and that it will all be wasted as fall-back to social entropy, particularly in AfG, when we leave.
      Could we have Mounty’d Bin Laden without the threat of “Or we’ll come looking ourselves!” right over the border? I don’t know. I do realize that short of his head on a stick, the bullying and laughter never would have stopped.
      I also _know_ that this nation cannot afford to get so little (no oil, no strategic positioning as control over Iran) for the expenditure of so much.
      Ever. Again.
      This, IMO, is our chief problem with ‘defense’ spending. It lacks the Roman realism that a Legion which doesn’t pay for itself via tribute as infrastructure building is a useless appendage and affectation of State.
      Militarism has always been the business of ‘acquisition’ as social amalgamation and access to resources, and strategic positioning.
      If we are no longer in the business of conquest for useful gain, we are indeed salamandering ourselves right into the poor house.

  • Don Bacon

    “We really want to ramp up production as soon as we can to gain economies of scale.”

    Good luck on that. The increasing cost of the F-35 is causing major political problems in other countries, including Italy and Canada. Unit price has gone from from 75 million to 133 million USD, and the latest news out of Italy is an astounding $200 million unit cost.

    gazzettadelsud, Politicians outraged over action on purchase of F-35 jets, July 3, 2013 — The defence council, chaired by President Giorgio Napolitano, includes high-ranking cabinet ministers. Its statement came one week after the Lower House voted to go forward with the purchase of 90 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets in a decision that risked splitting the left-right coalition government. Cabinet members from clashing political parties inside the government were at odds leading up to the vote. Italy plans to purchase the stealth fighters, which at an estimated $200 million per unit are the costliest fighter jets in the world.

    Oh — The estimated cost of flying the new F-35 fighter approaches $30,000 per hour. — GAO Rpt

    • Don Bacon

      It seems like only yesterday.

      The Aviationist, Feb 8, 2012

      Italy buys its first three F-35s. With a shocking announcement: “a JSF will cost less than a Eurofighter Typhoon”

      On Feb. 7, 2012, Gen. Claudio Debertolis, head of the agency that is responsible for the procurement of new armaments, has announced that Italy has already ordered the first three Lockheed Martin F-35s.

      Unit price: 80 million USD.

      Which slightly exceeded the original Lockheed F-35 unit cost estimates of about $70m. Now? $200m ea

  • Don Bacon

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter generated the only real weapon system news, with Adm. James Winnefeld, Dempsey’s vice chairman, telling the committee that the Pentagon is “doing everything we can to protect the numbers” of F-35 it plans to buy. “We really want to ramp up production as soon as we can to gain economies of scale.”

    The influential Navy blogger Galrahn spoke to this “protect the numbers” on Mar 18, 2013.

    Navy Stuck Between the Rock and Hard Place on Joint Strike Fighter

    In public statements, it has become very common to hear Admirals say the Navy ‘needs the F-35C,’ but it has become uncommon to hear any Admiral praise the aircraft. Why the Navy needs the F-35C is never addressed in context, primarily because the well documented problems of the F-35C make it clear that the Navy needs are not yet met by the F-35C at this time, and it is unclear if some of those problems can ever be truly fixed.. . . In my opinion if (and this is a BIG “if”) the cost of the F-35A comes down to $90 million per aircraft because the Navy spends money on the F-35C, and if international partners ultimately buy a bunch of F-35As at that price, then the Navy’s investment in F-35C is simultaneously a poor investment for the Navy and a good investment for the country.

    What makes all of this really frustrating though is that a poor investment for the Navy and a good investment for the country is the best case outcome of the Joint Strike Fighter as things are today, and it should be noted there is no evidence to date that this represents the most likely outcome. At this point, all it takes is one country to bail out and the whole plan falls apart.

    • M&S

      What makes all of this really frustrating though is that a poor investment for the Navy and a good investment for the country is the best case outcome of the Joint Strike Fighter as things are today, and it should be noted there is no evidence to date that this represents the most likely outcome.

      For all it’s whiz-bang data fusion and system integration baseline capabilities, the F-35C is lacking in some critical hardware to make it work.

      1. Tanking.
      I say this first because you typically have 4 F/A-18E conversions on deck: 2 with 2 tanks as strike pushers and 2 with 4 tanks as overhead recovery (marshall stackers).

      It takes anything up to 4hrs per jet to convert them (mount the hardware, putty and run seal tests) and with only a single 20 airframe, squadron on deck and as many as 4 of those aircraft not on the daily flight schedule for deep maintenance reasons, you are talking about severely limiting your primary, ‘long range’, bomb truck force to push 200-300nm Classic Hornets with more tanking (such as OEF represented).

      With much of the PacRim being either out of range or no mans lands for landbased systems, there will be limited USAF support for missions over Taiwan or the Straits of Malacca as indeed the SCS in general.

      And when-not-if the DF-21D/D-10 are brought to full capability, the push back from the other direction is going to take the radius up to the same kinds distances (1,200nm+) we were facing over AfG in the first days.

      It is the latter which makes a joke of our present strike warfare doctrine because the F-35C itself has maybe a 700nm radius but, to protect the fleet, you are now talking about as much as doubling this. Which means ‘more gas onboard’ (functionally killing aerodynamic performance and a large part of why the jet is so weight-as-cost bloated) really isn’t the solution we thought it was because each Hornet KF-18 will have to supply almost -double-, per airframe, compared to what it would have to prior generations.

      Which means more tankers overall have to be committed to the mix. Period.

      In this, I think you will see the real consequences of making the worlds most expensive self-protecting-whale as a function of transferrable fuel vs. lost mission role. 14,000+6,500 = maybe 12,500lbs of transferrable fuel. When in reality, a dedicated CSA would have brought maybe 30,000lbs of which 22,000lbs would have been transferrable. And not being ‘anything else’ there would be no knock-on effect.

      This, btw, is one of the many reasons I think that switching to Marine style STOVL idiocy as LHA-replaces-CVN is a total joke. Because they have no tanker ability -at all-.

      Unfortunately, there is no adhoc cheap answer here. With CSA long dead and the S-3 gone, the only real remaining option is a COTS buy similar to what the USN looked at in converting Gulfstreams to a navalized configuration with folding wings and carrier capable structure.

      This would mean another 10+ years of major airframe development to support the F-35C but if we accepted reduced lifing from the outset in trade for minimal, local, beefing in the form of hook, gear and catapult load bearing structural enhancements, we -might- be able to forego full navalization, simply by flying the jets in and out of theater every day, using the carrier as an intermediate staging point to refuel.

      KC-130s might also fulfill this role though they lack the up and away performance to be effective in getting above the weather at reasonal airspeeds to support a bombed up aircraft.

      2. Munitions.
      GBU-53/B isn’t funded for integration on the JSF. It’s not even a Navy weapon. It doesn’t have a booster as AASM can and so it’s uncertain whether or not it can function in the fast suppression mission so necessary to rapidly reducing an IADS to enable followon, conventional signature, force attacks. Which is the F-35s true raison detre`.

      The preceding GBU-39 small diameter weapon is too long for the F-35 weapons bay. With a redesigned wing system and warhead, the 53/B is not. Both SDB models (39 and 53) deploy their wings immediately upon launch which -massively- slows down their flying speeds to 250-300 knots, leading to flight times measured in tens of minutes.

      Adding a booster kick motor means changing the way the bombs work (a ballistic loft -then- glide kit extension) which will require almost a total requalification of the weapons flight profiles.

      And such rocket pack almost assuredly means that the only two bombs will fit in the weapons bay as the booster will add back length and this will sterilize the rear stations on the BRU-61.

      We have -got- to have this weapon if the F-35 (any model) is to make sense however because flying long range missions at subsonic speed means your flying day comes down to ONE sortie evolution.

      T3 aka ‘Triple Target Terminator’ is currently just a back-of-napkin wishlist missile designed to be capable of engaging aircraft, cruise missiles and surface radars with a single munition (all capabilities onboard each round). Yet if we are to move forward, with the F-35C, it needs to become a crash-efforted major program investment because the F-35C will be operating at ranges where Super Hornet support is questionable and F-22 may not have access as a function of base denial.

      With a Mach .8 to 1.2 acceleration time roughly 43 seconds longer than specified, the F-35C is no more a ‘fighter’ airframe than the A-12 would have been which means that waiting until we are within a 20-40nm extended range AMRAAM condition to begin threat attrition is no longer a survivable option, not least because each F-35 will, as of present, only have two such weapons.

      In performance, T3 most closely equates to the GD/Westinghouse AAAM in that it needs speed more than absolute range and so is better tailored to a boost-sustain-cruise-relight profile rather than burn-all-the-way as Meteor does. AAAM also combined IIR with ARM and SARH which means that it is instantly capable of the SEAD mission simply because you have an optical imaging seeker which can track hot radar antennas after having the F-35’s ASQ-239 suite provide geolocation of their rough position as a search restrictor. A weapon which hi-lofts to get range and then comes downhill on a steep ramp also negates most of the VLO advantages of ‘hotsided’ stealth jets. Including the Pak-FA and J-20 class.

      3. EWP.
      Honestly, we all ‘hear’ about how as many as 8 AMRAAM will fit into an F-35 weapons bays but there is no proof, and no racking system in even initial design to show we are intended to resolve this crucial shortcoming in the types ‘both pylons today I tell’ya!’ loadout shortcomings of the JSF. Something which is particularly crucial when you are on the wrong side of a 4hr return flight at best-range throttle settings and so have no choice but to win the fight you’re given. Lest it run you down from behind and force the conclusion to a combat you don’t have the weapons to continue.

      In this, it is _crucial_ to acknowledge that, against increasingly capable (IRBIS-E and NO-50, AMSAR, RBE-2) radars Stealth protection inside 20nm is no longer possible and committing to a 30-40nm (AMRAAM) launch will bring the midcourse to this point in a ‘fighter’ airframe whose acceleration really isn’t worthy of the class definition.

      Outside 50nm however, the combination of natural attenuation and total volume search means that stealth requirements take a major dive in terms of functional RCS to defeat detection.

      Which means that you can start to mount podded weapons on stealth-kitted pylons (fairings to enclose the sway braces etc.) to provide serious increases in mission capability (3-4 munitions per pod) at minimum integration risk because _you are not stacking multiple weapons ontop of each other_. And by using individual ejectors, you are not restricted by internal rack configuration to the type of munition you can carry.

      External Weapons Pods, similar to those shown on the Boeing Super Hornet, thus provide a genuine ability to max out weapons loads for an incremental increase in parasite drag, which means little to a JSF-C which is already such a drag pig that it can’t be crippled by a little more.

      EWP is a quick fix that would work with minimal Seek Eagle clearances as design work, _tomorrow_, if we let it.

      4. NGJ.

      With the 1991 DS ‘gorilla’ package efforts to hit Downtown Baghdad as a casepoint example of how not to do things, strike tactics model almost always work best when they are carried about by common types with common performance capabilities.

      Here it is essential to understand that the F-35C’s stealth will always be maximized in the mid-outer BVR (40-70nm range point) by active EA coverage to degrade the receiver Signal:Noise gain thresholds in picking up residual ghost tracks.

      It is equally important to realize that the biggest radar target out there is going to be the EA-18G itself.

      And that, because 3 pods, 2 HARM and 2 480 gallon tanks add up to quite a bit of drag, the Growler is also going to be the most difficult of aircraft to push forward as an enabler mission in a DF-21D dominated engagement scenario.

      Indeed, the entire /concept/ of the EA-18G is flawed IMO, not just of itself but because of the knockon effects it will have in any attempt to create a followon capability specific to the Stealth Force.

      NGJ or the Next Generation Jammer pod is an obvious illustration for this in that, on the Single-Seat F-35C, it will need to work like the French Cayman escort jammer: with minimal requirements to stress the lone operator/pilot.

      It will need to be mounted in a VLO enclosure with good side and aft vs. forward coverage (the difference between an escort and a standoff jammer lies in coverage vs. signature thresholds).

      And it will need to be available in a unit which has both multiple band coverage in a single pod and which has all pod support capabilities (cooling and electrical generation) be amenable to a single engine, LO configured, airframe mounting as possible.

      Ideally, we would be procuring a two-seat F-35 for most specialist missions, not least being Congressional ride alongs to ‘prove capability’ in trade for Rah-Rah cheerleading for the cause.

      But we are not.

      And so we need to create design thresholds for Gen-5 _munitions and support systems_ that are just as advanced as the airframe itself.

      So that one man can manage the tactical situation from a distance where he is not time-compressed and task-saturated trying to do too many things at once.

      Spending on the F-35 program has not even -begun- to cover these issues.

      If the U.S. wants to hold it’s ranking as lead high tech weapons system exporter, we really need to start thinking about investing in these kinds of layered synergistic improvements. Because the ROW is now basically caught up with us on basic PGMs (AASM and Damocles vs. PIV and LITENING) and ahead of us in some key areas like fighter Cruise (Storm Shadow and KEPD) and lightweight ATGW (Brimstone) and LRAAM (Meteor).

      That’s where your ‘does good for the nation = good for the USN?’ question achieves crossover.

  • Sunbird

    Ahh poor babies in their costumes with all the pretty ribbons not getting enough money for their toys! Graham, our enemies are your cronies war profiteers running our nation into bankruptcy. Who is going to attack us? They have been poking a stick at the little demented North Korean Dictator with their extravagant war games but he hasn’t taken the bait. Now what?