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[updated with final results] CAPITOL HILL: Bipartisan majorities in the House Armed Services Committee have steamrollered proposals to slow down the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and to permit the Pentagon to plan for base closures, but reformers at least made a respectable run at the windmill during markup of fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Congress seems increasingly resigned to sequestration cuts and base closures, ideas which once met fierce rejection on Capitol Hill. That’s the counterintuitive takeaway from Chuck Hagel’s first hearing as Defense Secretary on the 2014 budget request, one largely overtaken by events.

The weary notes that legislators struck on the budget probably had something to do with the nearly four-hour session required to take questions from almost 60 HASC members on everything from the new Distinguished Warfare Medal to missile defense against North Korea — and even then not everyone on the committee got a turn. But there’s a much deeper layer of exhaustion, one that comes from two years of budget gridlock. What once seemed intolerable now looks inevitable. Keep reading →

If you want to know how important conferences such as AUSA, AFA, Navy League, AUVSI or GEOINT are, just consider the fact that Lockheed Martin chose to write this MEADS op-ed and submit it so it would appear just as AUSA opened. Let the show begin! — The editor.

Last month, a congressionally-mandated, Missile Defense Agency-funded National Research Council report stunned lawmakers by revealing the extraordinary cost to keep the Patriot missile system repaired and operating. It quoted Army sources saying that each Patriot battalion costs between $735 million and $809 million annually. So every year, the Army’s 15 Patriot battalions cost taxpayers over $12 billion dollars to operate and maintain. Keep reading →

Anyone who has served in the military knows there is plenty of fat to be cut in the Pentagon budget. But rather than take a “meat ax” to the budget — as Defense Secretary Panetta famously described sequestration — there are more targeted ways to reduce and reform defense spending.

Whether it’s procedural inefficiencies, duplicative programs, cost overruns, or endemic waste, there are billions upon billions of Pentagon dollars that could be eliminated without undermining the Defense Department’s ability to execute its Constitutional mandate-to “provide for the common defense.” Keep reading →

THE CAPITOL [updated 9:40 pm with details from Senate press release]: The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously passed its mark-up of the annual defense spending bill, rejecting all proposed cuts to the Air National Guard, cutting the Defense Department’s civilian and contractor workforce by 5 percent over five years, and restricting aid to Pakistan.

The bill is silent on detention of terrorist suspects. Keep reading →