Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/23/11 RD Bulletin: Super Failure, Obama Threatens Veto

ed. Ethan R. Rosenkranz

State of Play

Legislative: On Monday, the co-chairs of the Super Committee confirmed what many suspected, that the special panel was unable to produce a deficit reduction plan.  Congress still has until January 2012 to pass legislation that reduces the deficit by $1.2 trillion, however most political pundits aren’t holding their breath.  Meanwhile, HASC Chairman Buck McKeon is the latest lawmaker to advocate walling off the Pentagon from sequestration cuts, despite President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s opposition to the idea.  It appears as if Congress is coalescing around a nine-piece omnibus spending measure to complete appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012. 

Executive: On Monday night, following the failure of the Super Committee, President Obama vowed to veto any legislation that seeks to undo the sequester mechanism without supplying the requisite deficit reduction savings.  And, ironically, Secretary Panetta joined the President in warning against undoing sequestration cuts without substituting other cuts or revenue raisers.  A senior administration official told the Washington Post that “when appropriate, OMB will take necessary steps to ensure that…the government is prepared” for sequestration.   Inside Defense reports that Panetta has summoned “top brass” from around the world to come to Washington to discuss looming defense reductions.  

The Pentagon’s upcoming strategy review, which is still being debated internally, will likely call for a shift away from counter-insurgency operations, a smaller Marine Corps and Army, and a more focused approach to Asia and China.  The review is expected to be completed next month; however some are already questioning its relevance following the Super Committee’s failure.  Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos “hopes” Panetta will soon take the F-35B off of “probation.”  Amos also says the service is planning on shrinking well below the preferred level of 186,800 troops.   The United States and Singapore are in the final stages of negotiation to allow U.S. warships to base in Singapore.  And GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called on President Obama to undo sequestration cuts following the Super Committee’s failure. 


Spencer Ackerman discusses the upcoming political battle over sequestration cuts to defense, while Carl Conetta predicts that “Panetta will not go quietly into sequestration.”   (11/21/11)

Christopher Preble argues that both Democrats and Republicans share blame for supporting a foreign policy that requires the United States to subsidize our allies’ security costs.  (11/21/11) 

In a new resource page, PDA examines the AIA jobs study and provides a list of resources that combat the notion that defense spending is an effective means of economic stimulus.  (11/20/11)

PDA takes a look at the Pentagon’s dismal financial track record and compiles the most egregious examples of DoD waste, fraud, and abuse.  (11/20/11)

In a letter to the Super Committee, HASC Chairman McKeon warns that despite the ability of Congress to roll back sequestration cuts over the coming year, the Pentagon must still account for the automatic cuts as it prepares future budgets; although PDA-published reports show the Pentagon can make sizable reductions in spending without harming its interests.  (11/18/11)

National Journal: Power Down
As the U.S. seeks to reset its global engagement strategy following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Charles Knight argues that we should “pivot from a model of forward military presences to one of basing U.S. forces largely in the United States but preparing them to mobilize in the event of a crisis.”  (11/17/11)

Other News and Commentary

Panetta has instructed Pentagon budget drafters not to include any cuts in excess of the planned-$460 billion in the 2013 DoD budget.  (11/22/11)

In a piece by Charles Keyes, Winslow Wheeler rejects Panetta’s “hollow force” assertions and quips that “less money is always good shock therapy for over-stuffed bureaucrats.”  (11/21/11)

Battleland: War (un)Planning
Mark Thompson finds it ironic that the Pentagon plans for every contingency scenario, including war with Iran, but has not “planned” what to do if the Super Committee fails. (11/21/11)

Lawmakers may offer amendments to the annual defense authorization bill to prevent future sequestration cuts to defense.  (11/21/11)

Using the V-22 Osprey as a model, Elizabeth Bumiller shows how difficult it can be to cancel an expensive weapons program.  (11/19/11)

The Will and the Wallet: The Smallest Ever
Russell Rumbaugh responds to Panetta’s recent letter to Sens. McCain and Graham and points out that the U.S. military is already headed in the direction that Panetta fears most.  (11/18/11)

Gen. Dempsey believes that the Pentagon can safely absorb modernization cuts if they are spread out over ten years instead of five.  (11/18/11)

Despite speculation that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs may be open to canceling the Marine Corps variant of the F-35, he now claims that sequestration cuts won’t impact the costly aircraft program.  (11/18/11)

Bill Hartung hopes that weapons manufacturers don’t stand in the way of Congress enacting sensible defense cuts as a means of deficit reduction.  (11/18/11)

Reports and Publications:

Congressional Research Office: The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response  (11/21/11)