Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11/30/11 RD Bulletin: Updated UMASS Report Hits Back At Jobs Hysteria

ed. Ethan R. Rosenkranz

State of Play

It appears as if Congress is mobilizing toward an end-year omnibus spending bill to complete appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012, however a number of highly controversial riders and disagreements between the House and Senate over spending levels spell problems for the measure’s prospects.  If too many amendments are offered to the spending package, another Continuing Resolution may be needed before the current one expires on December 16.   On Monday night, the Senate adopted an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would add a seat for the National Guard on the Joint Chiefs of Staff; even though the Pentagon is opposed to the idea.  The Senate also retained controversial detainee language in the bill despite protests from the Obama Administration.  SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) have come out in support of the President’s proposal to create a commission to recommend ways to reform military pay and health benefits.  Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) repeated his intention to introduce legislation with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that would block defense sequestration cuts. 

Inside Defense reports that sequestration cuts to defense may “be drawn in part from unobligated prior-year balances, which could put at risk more than $8 billion appropriated for major weapon system acquisition” in FY11 and 12.  Iraq is in final negotiations to allow up to 763 civilian contractors and 157 U.S. military troops to remain in the country following the United States’ planned exit at the end of 2011.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently announced that more than half of Afghanistan will be under local control following a second wave of planned withdrawal that could see all foreign forces exit the country by 2014. Following a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops this weekend, the country has blocked supply routes into Afghanistan and demanded the United States close a drone base.  Bloomberg Executive has obtained a DOD estimate that shows operating costs for the V-22 Osprey have risen by 61 percent, or $46.1 billion, over the past three years. 


DoD Buzz:
Study: Defense Spending is ‘Weak Job Engine’
Philip Ewing covers the updated UMASS jobs study and concludes that it was “clearly intended as… an arrow for the quiver of congressional Democrats.”    (11/29/11)

Project on Government Oversight and Reform:
Today’s Military: The Most Top-Heavy Force in Decades
In a new look at star creep, Ben Freeman concludes that the U.S. military is more top-heavy than it’s ever been.  (11/29/11)

The Real News:
Will 50% Cuts “Hollow Out” the Military?
In a video interview with Paul Jay, Jo Comerford explains how the SDTF report recommends $1 trillion in defense cuts without harming national security interests.  (11/28/11) 

National Public Radio:
Navy Blue Angels Fly Into Era of Budget Questions
Appearing on NPR, Laura Peterson advocates for the cancellation of the $37-million Blue Angel program.  (11/23/11)

U.S. News and World Report:
It Is Time for Discipline, Defense
Dr. Gordon Adams argues that, not only are significant reductions in defense spending possible, but the U.S. military would also remain a dominant global force.  (11/21/11)

Other News and Commentary

Kendall Cites Flawed Army Future Combat Systems As Costly Lesson
While discussing the cancellation of the troubled Future Combat Systems program, the Acting Undersecretary for Acquisition noted that the Pentagon’s weapons system portfolio has increased in cost by $135 billion, or 9 percent, since 2008.  (11/29/11)

Star Wars: Congratulations to the Air Force’s 39 Newest Generals
Mark Thompson examines “star creep” at the Pentagon following the latest nomination of thirty-nine Air Force colonels to the rank of brigadier general.  (11/29/11)

Mandatory Budget Cuts After Super Committee Failure Will Trigger Pain For Some
Politico provides an overview of how sequestration will work unless Congress and the President undo the trigger.  (11/28/11)

Washington Post:
How Much Defense Is Enough in the Asia-Pacific Region?
The United States has had a robust military presence in Asia for over 50 years, prompting Walter Pincus to ask why it is shifting its attention to the region in times of fiscal constraint.  (11/28/11)

AOL Defense:
Navy Amphib Plans Fall Short For Marine Corps
Carlo Munoz covers a recent CBO report on the Navy’s amphibious ships plan, which concluded that the Navy will be able to hit its goal of 33 amphibious ships by 2016 but the Marine Corps will be unable to reach its goal of a 38 ship amphibious fleet.  (11/28/11)

$1 Trillion Pentagon Budget Cut is Possible, But Not Wise
Robert Levinson with Bloomberg Executive has surveyed several defense reduction plans and has come up with his own list of $1.2 trillion in savings over the next eight years.  (11/27/11)

Washington Post:
Boeing May Exceed Aerial Tanker Cost Ceiling by $500 Million
Boeing expects cost-overruns for the KC-46A tanker to exceed $500 million, up from $200 million, however the manufacturer will absorb all of the excess costs.  (11/27/11)

F-35 Makes Headway Amid Criticism, US Budget Crunch
In a piece detailing the troubled history of the F-35, Winslow Wheeler hits back at proponents of the JSF, saying it’s “an illusion that anybody can get the cost of this thing to a level that’s affordable.   (11/25/11)

AOL Defense:
‘Majority’ of Cuts to Come From Weapons; Stealthy UAVs Likely Winners
At a press conference, Todd Harrison of CNAS predicted that under sequestration weapons modernization counts could take a 21 percent cut absent serious reforms to Tricare.  (11/23/11)

National Defense:
Analyst: If Panetta Wants to Avoid Doomsday Cuts, He Should Budget for Doomsday
In a piece by Sandra Erwin, Todd Harrison of CNAS argues that Panetta should produce an FY13 budget that conforms to sequestration in order to show lawmakers what his “hollowed-out” military would actually look like.  (11/23/11) 

New York Times:
Russia Elevates Warning About U.S. Missile-Defense Plan in Europe
Russia is threatening to withdrawal from the New Start treaty over U.S. plans to base missile-defense systems in Europe.  (11/23/11)

Early Warning Blog:
The Consequences of Defense Spending Cuts Will Be Different This Time
In a piece seemingly directed at members of SDTF and BPWG, Dr. Daniel Goure argues that the upcoming defense builddown will be dangerously unlike previous drawdowns.  (11/23/11)

Reports and Publications:

Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst:
The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update  (11/28/11) 

Congressional Budget Office:
Cost Estimate: S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012  (11/28/11)

Congressional Research Service:
Detainee Provisions in the National Defense Authorization Bills  (11/18/11)

Center for Strategic and International Studies:
The Afghanistan-Pakistan War At the End of 2011: Strategic Failure?  Talk Without Hope?  Tactical Success?  Spend Not Build (And Then Stop Spending)?  (11/15/11)

Congressional Research Service:
The Unified Plan and Combatant Commands: Background and Issues for Congress  (11/7/11)


12/1/11 U.S. Institute of Peace:
Rewiring the Diagram: Regional Conflict Management and Global Security
On Thursday, December 1, USIP is hosting a panel discussion with regional and global security experts who will discuss the “links between the fields of security and conflict management and the balance between regional/local security initiatives and global ones.”