Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/16/11 RD Bulletin: Panetta Reveals His Worst Fears

ed. Ethan R. Rosenkranz

State of Play

Legislative: With only one week left before the deadline to submit draft legislation to CBO, Republicans and Democrats on the Super Committee remain far from a deal. However, there has been talk in recent days of enacting a two-step process whereby the Super Committee would direct Congress's standing committees to find the requisite amount of savings required by the Budget Control Act. Super Committee member and freshmen senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) says that Congress will likely "reconsider the configuration" of sequestration should the special panel fail to produce a deficit reduction plan. Although President Obama warned the co-chairs of the Super Committee to avoid efforts to undo the trigger, Rep. Hensarling (R-TX) also appeared open to the idea this weekend. And there is still interest on both sides to use war savings to pay for spending items such as the Medicare "doc fix" or the AMT patch.

CQ Today
reports that senators are growing increasingly concerned that the Pentagon may move to shutter military bases in the U.S. as a cost-cutting measure, and in response, some senators have been urging the Super Committee and Pentagon to examine the utility of certain overseas bases and related troop presences. House and Senate conferees have concluded a conference report on a mini-omnibus appropriations measure, which will also serve as a vehicle for a Continuing Resolution to fund the remaining parts of government through December 16.

Executive: In a letter to Senators McCain and Graham, Panetta provided his most detailed account to date of what the Pentagon would look like under automatic sequestration cuts. Among the issues he raised: Panetta says the Navy would shrink to under 230 ships, ground forces would be cut to pre-WWII levels, and the following programs would face cancellation: F-35, Air Force's new bomber, littoral combat ship, European missile defense, and the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad. In several aspects, Panetta's fear list recalls the recommendations of the Sustainable Defense Task Force. During a debate this weekend, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged to root out waste and inefficiencies at the Pentagon and use the savings to rebuild the Navy and Air Force. Britain has agreed to sell the United States 74 decommissioned Harrier jets, which should allow the Marine Corps to operate the aircraft into the 2020s. This is being seen by some as a hedge against potential delays in the F-35B.


The Hill: Panetta Warns Lawmakers of Huge Military Cutbacks If Supercommittee Fails
John Bennett contrasts PDA's recent reports showing that significant defense reductions are possible without sacrificing security with Panetta's letter warning of dire consequences if $1 trillion in defense cuts are enacted. (11/14/11)

National Defense:
Commander-in-Chief Hopefuls Conveniently Ignore Debt Elephant in Room
In a piece by Sandra Erwin, Christopher Preble and Gordon Adams discuss the GOP Presidential debate and the lack of attention paid to the burgeoning defense budget. (11/13/11)

National Interest:
Why Defense Debates Are Unbalanced
Benjamin Friedman explains why the Pentagon budget debate is so one-sided. (11/8/11)

Other News and Commentary

U.S. Senate Defense Panel Cuts $27 Billion From Pentagon Budget
In order to align it with discretionary spending caps implemented by the Budget Control Act, the SASC cut $21 billion from the defense authorization bill. However, timing for Floor consideration of the measure is uncertain. For a list of the cuts, click here. (11/16/11)

Defense News:
USMC Helo Programs Could Help Pay for F-35
The Marine Corps may slow down modernization efforts for the UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopter programs in order to help pay for the F-35B. (11/15/11)

Defense News:
$130B Hit for U.S. Modernization
The Pentagon is expected to release a 5-year budget that may include $130 billion in cuts to modernization programs, $60 billion in cuts to force structure, and $60 billion in savings from efficiencies. (11/14/11)

Army Times: Odierno: Cuts Could Shrink Guard, Reserve
Gen. Ray Odierno told a HASC hearing that defense cuts in excess of $460 billion would necessitate significant reductions in the National Guard and Reserve. (11/12/11)

Early Warning Blog: What If Europe Could Defend Itself
Dr. Daniel Goure argues that if NATO allies step up and provide more for their own defense, it could strengthen the trans-Atlantic alliance. (11/11/11)

Foreign Policy: This Week At War: Doing More With Less
Looking to the future, Gen. Dempsey expects the military to carry out the same strategic responsibilities albeit with less troops and funding. (11/11/11)

Market Watch: Nukes, Overseas Bases Ripe for Budget Cuts: Senator
In an interview on Bloomberg, SASC Chairman Carl Levin says that bases in Europe and the nuclear weapons budget are potential areas for savings. (11/11/11)

Businessweek: The U.S. Marine Corps Fights for its Budget
In an era of fiscal austerity and high-tech warfare, the Marine Corps is struggling to define its relevance as it increasingly assumes missions traditionally executed by the Army. (11/10/11)

Defense News: DoD to Settle on Portion of Spending Cuts Soon: Panetta
Pentagon officials hope to finish within "the coming weeks" a budget review that will include $260 billion in cuts. (11/10/11)

National Journal: Panetta Plays Last Attack Card, Warns Defense Cuts Could Lead to Another Attack on the U.S.
Speaking last week, Secretary Panetta warned that sequestration cuts to defense would "in effect, invite aggression" from America's adversaries. (11/9/11)

Federal Times: Experts: State Dept. Unprepared to Oversee Contracting in Iraq
At the end of the year, following the U.S. military's withdrawal from Iraq, the State Dept. will be overseeing roughly 14,000 contractor personnel, which Dov Zakheim, a former member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, says is at "huge risk" for fraud and abuse. (11/8/11)

Events and Hearings

11/17/11 House Armed Services Committee Hearing: Industry Perspectives on Achieving Audit Readiness

11/17/11 U.S. Institute for Peace: Can Less Be More in Afghanistan: State-Building Lessons from the Past to Guide the Future