WASHINGTON: Turmoil, fear and a certain resolute grimness marked this week at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. The military scrambled to cope with a range of new threats as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Pentagon leadership begin to grapple with the grim future posed by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Put it all… Keep reading →
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
AI FORCE ASSOCIATION HQ: For more than 60 years, most Americans have thought of nuclear weapons as an all-or-nothing game. The only way to win is not to play at all, we believed, because any use of nukes will lead to Armageddon. That may no longer be the game our opposition is playing. As nuclear… Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: The best case for sequester is still a disaster – but we’re not going to get the best case. That’s the common denominator from a range of budget options rolled out today by an extraordinary alliance of four thinktanks. Their consensus recommendations to cut military readiness, Army brigades, Navy carriers, Air Force ICBMs,… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The future of Special Operations Forces may look less like Zero Dark Thirty and more like Lawrence of Arabia or Rudyard Kipling’s Kim – with just a dash of 007. It’s a future that builds on the last ten years of raids and advisor missions, then adds solo operators in foreign lands, proxy wars… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: What homemade roadside bombs could do to Army and Marine ground vehicles was the ugly surprise of the last decade. What sophisticated long-range missiles could do to Navy aircraft carriers could be the ugly surprise of the next. “I think it would almost follow like the night to the day,” Rep. Randy Forbes told me in a recent interview. “The last decade… we asked a disproportionate sacrifice from the Army and Marine Corps,” he went on. “The next decade’s going to be the decade of seapower and projection forces, [and] some of those ugly surprises we see bits and pieces of already.”
As chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, Forbes wants to refocus fellow legislators, the Pentagon, and, for that matter, the media from a narrow debate over the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to a wider look at all the capabilities that a carrier can support. That includes not just traditional manned fighters like the F-35, but also unmanned drones like the X-47B and the future UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System), electronic warfare aircraft like the EA-18G Growler, and even cyber attacks. Keep reading →
America’s Army has developed a bit of a split personality of late. On the one hand, the top brass has very publicly embraced the administration’s January 2012 strategic guidance that emphasizes “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches” and “building partner capacity” in lieu of large ground force deployments. Leaders from Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down talk up the Army’s capabilities in cyberspace, missile defense, seaborne operations, and small advisor teams.
At the same time, the service’s biggest new weapons program remains the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle, an estimated $34 billion program to build what could be 70-ton-plus behemoths optimized for all-out land war. “Low-cost” and “small-footprint” it ain’t. (“Innovative” it may be; read on). And GCV is just the tip of the armored iceberg. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: As House Speaker John Boehner went to the White House for fruitless talks on sequestration, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon convened reporters to tell both the President and his own party leadership, “we are done cutting our defense.”
But the very fact that McKeon had to send this message via the media shows just how irrelevant the traditional Republican devotion to defense spending has become in the current fiscal crisis. To the extent anyone is in the loop on solving sequestration — and no one on either side is negotiating all that seriously — McKeon and the HASC are not. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: With the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration set to start taking effect March 1st, we’re going to see a lot of interesting last-minute plays to stop them. It’s almost certain none of them will work. But Rep. Randy Forbes’s bill introduced this morning, H.R. 773, at least offers the virtue of simplicity: At the stroke of a pen, it would erase half of the sequestration cuts — about $50 billion this year, $600 billion over a decade — those that apply to the Department of Defense.
“Yep, that looks like it would do it,” budget expert Todd Harrison of the Pentagon’s favorite thinktank, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, wrote in an email to Breaking Defense after a quick look at the short, three-page bill. (Click here to read HR 773 yourself). “This bill would turn off the sequester for national defense and increase the deficit by $600 billion over the decade. Chance of passing: 0.0001%.” Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Tomorrow morning, overshadowed by sequestration, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a rare full-committee hearing on a topic that would normally be high-profile, even explosive: whether to give the Defense Department, and especially its elite special operators, broader legal authority to work with foreign forces worldwide, from Colombia to Mali to the Philippines.
To implement the administration’s January 2012 strategy, with its emphasis on supporting foreign partners rather than committing large numbers of US troops, “we need to overhaul our authorities to provide assistance to other security forces,” HASC vice-chairman Mac Thornberry told Breaking Defense. And despite the bitter partisan divisions on most other issues, he said, “there is interest — equal interest — on both sides to examine existing authorities and see how they can be improved.” Keep reading →
[UPDATED and CORRECTED Jan. 31 at 3:45 pm Shipbuilders' Council Says Job Loss Numbers Are Estimates And Not Official Council Numbers]
WASHINGTON: For anyone who believed those who have claimed that defense cuts don’t affect “real” jobs or the economy, today appears to be a sobering day. Keep reading →