Thursday, January 19, 2012

1/17/12 RD Bulletin: Army May Cut 10 Brigades in Upcoming Budget

State of Play

Executive: Obama Administration officials are saying the President’s budget, to be released early next month, will focus on creating jobs and rejuvenating the economy rather than cutting the deficit as did last year’s budget.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced this week that the United States will enter into negotiations with the European Union and other space-faring nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for space.  This follows comments last week by Undersecretary for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher that a draft European code was “too restrictive.”

Amid escalating tensions with Iran, the United States and Israel have cancelled a joint military exercise that was scheduled for this spring.  The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the United States has “begun contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region" in the event that Israel strikes Iranian nuclear facilities or conflict breaks out.  Meanwhile, Iranian speed boats harassed two U.S. ships near the Strait of Hormuz last week, though no fighting broke out.

Legislative: The House returns to session this week to pass a resolution disapproving of the administration’s request to increase the statutory debt limit.  The Senate will reconvene next Monday.  CQ Today reports that the Obama Administration will need to request another debt limit extension following the November election setting up a contentious lame-duck session in which Congress will need to address the debt limit, expiring Bush-era tax breaks, and looming sequestration cuts.  According to Politico, Senate Democrats will avoid bringing a budget resolution to the Floor for the second year in a row.  Speaking at the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, a group of hawkish senators said the United States will strengthen its deployment of air and naval assets to ally countries in the Asia Pacific region amid territorial disputes with China.

Highlights European Unit Withdrawals Could be Only 1st Step
As a result of impending budget cuts, the Army is considering cutting ten combat brigades, bringing its active duty end strength to 520,000.  However, additional brigades could be cut if Congress fails to prevent automatic sequestration cuts from occurring next year.  (1/17/12)

Politico: Congress Tries to Disable Automatic Spending Cuts
As lawmakers return to Washington following the holiday break, analysts expects them to redouble efforts to prevent automatic sequestration cuts to discretionary spending.   Senate Republicans plan on introducing legislation later this month that would prevent sequestration cuts to defense by implementing savings proposals put forth by previous deficit panels in addition to non-tax revenue raisers.  (1/17/12)

Washington Times: New Navy Budget May Sink Plans for Aircraft Carriers
While the administration’s FY13 budget request will likely seek to maintain 11 aircraft carriers, some analysts suspect that the military may downsize to 10 carriers within the next five years due to budget constraints.  (1/15/12)

Other News and Commentary

CNN Security Clearance: Former CIA Chief: Military Is “Bad Option” Against Iran
During comments at an Aspen Institute-sponsored event, former Bush Administration CIA acting director John McLaughlin said the idea of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities was “a very bad option” for combating the nation’s nuclear program.  (1/17/13)

National Defense: Pentagon Resource Wars: Why They Can’t be Avoided
Former Army colonel and acquisition program manager Nathaniel Sledge, Jr. argues that, through war and peace, the services focus on maintaining big-ticket procurement items rather than purchasing systems that support short-term goals and needs.  (1/17/12)

National Defense: Defense Industry Policy Myths Debunked
In order to preserve essential components of the military-industrial base, Harvey Sapolsky argues the U.S. should institute a “BRAC-like process that closes private arsenals by buying out companies, workers and communities to reduce political demand for continuing unneeded projects.”  (1/17/12)

National Defense: Air Force F-35s, Drones May Square Off in Budget Battle
Due to ballooning F-35 costs and declining OCO funding, unmanned aerial drones may soon be competing with the Joint Strike Fighter for procurement dollars.  (1/17/12)

Navy Times: Despite Cuts, Navy Shipbuilding Gets Priority
Speaking at a conference last week, the Navy’s top acquisition official may have let slip that the Navy plans on retiring early some of its Ticonderoga-class cruisers.  (1/16/12)

AOL Defense: Navy Struggles to Keep Ships Up to Snuff
As Pentagon budget growth decreases, Navy leaders are trying to figure out how to keep “the service’s aging warships viable.”  (1/13/12)

Cato & Liberty: Misleading Images on Defense Spending
The Cato Institute’s David Boaz responds to charts put out by the Heritage Foundation that compare defense and entitlement spending as a portion GDP.  (1/11/13)

Reports and Publications:

Government Accountability Office: Defense Contracting: Improved Policies and Tools Could Help Increase Competition on DOD’s National Security Exception Procurements   (1/16/13)

Government Accountability Office: DOD Addressed Many Specific Reporting Elements in its 2011 Arctic Report but Should Take Additional Steps to meet Near- and Long-Term Needs  (1/13/12)

Congressional Research Service: “Surge Recovery” and Next Steps in the War in Afghanistan: In Brief  (1/6/12)

Congressional Research Service: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress  (1/3/12)

Congressional Research Service: Kim Jong-il’s Death: Implications for North Korea’s Stability and U.S. Policy  (12/22/11)