WASHINGTON: On the margins of the $550-plus billion defense budget, the Army and the defense industry are quietly working on a program that could potentially replace 3,000 geriatric armored vehicles. So far, in this year’s budget, Congress is going along, but the real money — and the real battle — loom in the years to come.

The $1.7 billion Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program is the Army’s blandly named initiative to replace the M113, an all-too-lightly armored transport — sometimes called a “battle taxi” — that first entered service in 1961. Over 3,000 M113 variants serve in a host of unglamorous but essential roles from troop carriers to armored ambulances to mobile command posts. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: It’s spring, and 70-ton Marine Corps M1 tanks rumble through the flowers in southern Afghanistan (pictured above), while at home, both chambers of Congress are adding funds for armored vehicles to the Pentagon spending bill.

It may seem counter-intuitive that a nation shifting from hearts-and-minds counterinsurgency to “AirSea Battle” in the Pacific would need intimidating land juggernauts for either style of operations. It doesn’t hurt that armored vehicle construction is one of the last vestiges of highly skilled, highly paid blue-collar jobs in the US economy. But there are solid strategic arguments for armor as well as political ones. 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 →

Ayotte re sequestration ( "It is the elephant in the room …. we cannot afford to kick this can to the lame-duck." SydneyFreedberg

WASHINGTON: The House passed the annual defense spending bill this afternoon, 299 votes to 120, after two days of amendments and debate that hit election-year hot buttons hard but largely ignored substantive military issues or the looming threat of sequestration.

“If January comes and the Budget Control Act remains in effect as currently written, everything they’re doing now will be overridden by a preexisting law,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a member of Breaking Defense’s Board of Contributors. “Yet there’s almost nothing about the mark-ups that woud lead you to think that Congress is focusing on that issue. [And] unlike some of the military programs, the sequestration issue is very much a partisan divide: Anything that will work in the House will not work in the Senate, as of right now, so we are hurtling towards a meltdown.” Keep reading →

WASHINGTON — The House passed a defense budget Friday that exceeds the deal cut by Congress and President Barack Obama last summer, and that would have to be paid for with cash taken from poverty programs, health care and the federal workforce. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON — A judge may have found unconstitutional the law that allows people to be held indefinitely without trial by the military, but the House of Representatives voted Friday to keep it anyway. Keep reading →

HASC votes to restrict Administration’s ability to negotiate international "space code of conduct" — explained here: SydneyFreedberg

WASHINGTON: Even as two Navy admirals praised the Littoral Combat Ship to reporters in a hastily convened conference call, the House Armed Services Committee ordered the Government Accountability Office to investigate the program.

[CORRECTED (9 p.m. Wednesday) To Reflect That Navy Had Planned Interview For More Than A Week] Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Congress orders up innumerable reports, and the Pentagon routinely delivers them months late, but the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan is one report that actually matters. That’s why Rep. Todd Akin, seapower chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, will offer an amendment to the defense authorization bill at Wednesday’s mark-up session that will demand that the Navy Secretary start turning the 30-year plan in on time — or lose access to a small but highly sensitive spending account called the “triple E” fund. Keep reading →

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