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WASHINGTON: One of America’s most respected strategists is calling for a comprehensive review of the military’s roles and missions to prepare the way for revision of the basic law undergirding the modern force, Goldwater-Nichols. The combination of an excellent quartet of lawmakers leading the armed services committees; the markedly complex and global set of threats… Keep reading →

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jack Reed SASC hearing

UPDATED: With Thornberry Comment Supporting Reform WASHINGTON: Sen. John McCain plans a long-term review of the law underpinning the modern American military, the Goldwater-Nichols legislation that created the current chain of command from president to defense secretary to combatant commanders. “The Committee will be conducting a preliminary examination of the structure, roles, and missions of civilian… Keep reading →

Rep. Mac Thornberry at work.

WASHINGTON: The House Armed Services Committee will be led through the shoals of sequestration, military pay, weapons costs and a volatile world by a reform-minded and dynamic legislator. I’ve covered Rep. Mac Thornberry since before the turn of the century (that hurt) and have always found compelling his willingness to delve beneath the surface of what the… Keep reading →

Army soldier with radio entering Stryker - Baghdad

AUSA: A new generation of generals is rising in the Army. It’s a generation forced to get creative by more than a decade of ugly unconventional conflicts. It’s a generation disillusioned by the mistakes of superiors, military and civilian alike. It’s a generation willing to take on the Army’s bureaucratic culture of top-down management, which… Keep reading →


Like the Holy Trinity or the designated hitter rule, the concept known as AirSea Battle has been much discussed but little understood. The Defense Department released an official and unclassified summary of the concept for the first time this evening on a Navy website . (BreakingDefense got the document before it was made public). AirSea Battle would break down longstanding barriers:… Keep reading →

NATIONAL HARBOR: The top officers in the Navy and Marine Corps defended their most expensive program, Lockheed Martin‘s troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while acknowledging the way the Pentagon buys such weapons is not merely broken but “constipated.”

“There’s no alternative for the United States Marine Corps to the F-35B,” Commandant Gen. James Amos said at the opening session of the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference. “I want to make that crystal clear to everybody in the audience.” All the great aircraft of the past have gone through teething troubles in development, said Amos, a pilot himself. Keep reading →

The Pentagon needs to trim its overhead, many senior officials and experts argue, because it sucks scarce resources away from military weapons and personnel. To understand the root cause of this problem, one must return to the fundamental national security legislation passed in the wake of World War II.

Before becoming president, Harry Truman chaired a Senate Select Committee charged with evaluating the US military’s performance during World War II. He and many of his colleagues were appalled at the waste and inefficiency of operating separate and uncoordinated military departments. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: In a remarkably non-partisan moment amidst the current strife over budget cuts and Chuck Hagel, Ronald Reagan’s Navy Secretary and George W. Bush’s Chief of Naval Operations told a Republican-helmed committee that the Navy’s real problem was not the Obama administration’s budget but decades of creeping bureaucracy that have eaten every budget’s buying power.

“I hate to say anything particularly in praise of this administration’s defense policy,” said John Lehman, Navy Secretary from 1981 to 1987 and national security advisor to Mitt Romney in 2012, at a hearing of the seapower panel of the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Randy Forbes. But, Lehman went on, a recent report by the Defense Business Board really shows “how to get at the bureaucracy and the overhead.” Keep reading →

Our 2013 forecast series continues with a call for new strategic thinking from the first man to serve as Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, Lt. Gen. (ret.) David Deptula.

Whatever happens with sequestration, Pentagon planners are now struggling to fit the services’ myriad programs under a reduced budget topline. Advocates point to their particular project or personnel as vital to US warfighting capacity. Technologists point to new capabilities that will allow us to do more with equal or even fewer resources. Traditionalists encourage maintaining or even increasing manpower to achieve security objectives the old fashioned way, boots on the ground, airmen in the air, sailors at sea. Keep reading →

The final debt plan being considered by Congress punts the issue of defense spending to a super-committee of legislators. Composed of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from both houses, these members will be charged with hashing out the details. Not only will this new process circumvent existing congressional appropriations process, it will also rob the Pentagon of an incentive to truly structure itself in the most efficient way.

There’s a good chance this group will find it impossible to agree on the way forward. If that happens, then 50 percent of all reductions will come from the “security sector”, which includes DoD, as well as the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs, among others. Whether this super-committee achieves agreement on future budget cuts may, in fact, be immaterial because, either way, the Defense Department will be caught in a fiscal vise. This measure will also be a back-door way for those opposed to our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan to get us out of those wars without having the rigorous debate about our national strategy that we so desperately need. Keep reading →