Thursday, January 26, 2012

1/24/12 RD Bulletin: Administration Sticking With 11 Carrier

State of Play

Executive: Despite earlier reporting to the contrary, this weekend Secretary Panetta announced that the United States would maintain its fleet of 11 aircraft carriers instead of downsizing to 10.  Panetta also reiterated the department’s commitment to the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 while declaring that the weapon system was no longer on “probation.”  The F-35 is set to undergo weapons testing this year, both on the ground and in the air, while next year will see shipboard testing for the Marine Corps and Air Force variants of the jet fighter.  However, the Pentagon is expected to delay procurement of some F-35s in its upcoming budget request. 

Dr. James Miller, another veteran of the Center for a New American Security, has been tapped to replace outgoing Under Secretary for Policy, Michèle Flournoy.   Inside Defense reports that the Navy is considering retiring early two of its amphibious transport dock ships due to budget constraints. 

Legislative: Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on February 7 to discuss the administration’s FY13 budget request.  The administration was originally planning on releasing its full budget on February 6; however it has now pushed the official release date back to February 13.  Despite the delay in the overall budget release, some details of the administration FY13 defense request will be made public on January 26. 

HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) is seeking to pass legislation by this summer that would exempt DoD from sequestration cuts in order to remove uncertainty from the department’s budgetary planning process.  The chairman says he has received assurances from the House GOP leadership that automatic cuts to the Pentagon, scheduled to take effect next year, won’t occur as current law mandates.  Meanwhile, HASC Republicans have released a new video calling on the President to shield the Pentagon from sequestration cuts.  The Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget released sequestration reports last week that project defense and non-defense discretionary spending out over ten years – revised to reflect the failure of the Joint Select Committee and the possibility of sequestration cuts to defense and non-defense accounts.  

Polling: Gallup has released a new poll, conducted from January 5-8, 2012, surveying Americans’ satisfaction with the country’s state of affairs.  71 percent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the military’s strength and state of preparedness, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2008.  Additionally, 72 percent of those polled said they were satisfied with the nation’s security against terrorism, a 14 percent increase from 2008.  For the full results of the poll, please click here


Huffington Post: Obama’s Missed Opportunity on Defense
William Hartung highlights the most positive elements of the recent strategic review and urges the President to abandon unnecessary missions that foster global over-reach.  (1/23/12)

Huffington Post: Regaining Our Balance: the Pentagon’s New Military Strategy Takes a Small Step
In a new op-ed, Chris Preble and Charles Knight opine that “the twin constraints of fiscal insolvency and dwindling public support for a grandiose foreign policy present an opportunity for rethinking U.S. security commitments, as well as what we spend to fulfill them.”  (1/20/12)

Washington Post:
Weapons Testers Fault Key Pentagon Systems
The annual report by the Pentagon’s top weapons testers has found reliability problems in a number of weapons programs, including the Littoral Combat Ship and the MQ-9 Reaper and Global Hawk unmanned drones.  (1/20/12) Mitt Romney Says U.S. Navy is Smallest Since 1917, Air Force is Smallest Since 1947
The Tampa Bay Times fact-checks Mitt Romney’s assertion that the Navy and Air Force are smaller than they’ve been in decades, with Charles Knight pointing out that “the vast superiority of the U.S. Air Force has little to do with number of planes, but with vastly superior training, in-flight coordination and control, as well as precision targeting and superior missiles.”  (1/18/12)

Other News and Commentary

Danger Room:
On Navy Issues, Newt and Mitt Are Lost At Sea
Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman critique the GOP frontrunners’ comments on seapower at last night’s debate.  (1/24/12)

Army Times: Major European Pullout Could Start in October
The administration’s FY13 budget request is expected to endorse withdrawing two combat brigades from Europe, possibly as soon as this October, and replacing them on a rotational basis.  (1/22/12)

Associated Press: U.S. to Keep 11 Aircraft Carriers to Show Sea Power
Despite earlier reporting to the contrary, the President has decided to maintain eleven U.S. aircraft carriers, instead of downsizing to ten vessels, in order to project power in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.  (1/22/12)

Lockheed’s F-35B Said to Be Getting Panetta’s Backing
Secretary Panetta recently lifted the F-35’s probationary status indicating a positive shift for the program as the Pentagon readies for a fight with Congress over the expensive aircraft program.  (1/20/12)

National Defense: Augustine: Defense R&D to Take Hit in Budget Battles
The former head of Lockheed Martin, Norman Augustine, believes that the Pentagon’s R&D accounts will be slashed as a result of budget constraints.  (1/20/12)

Stars and Stripes: Navy’s LCS Tests Delayed by System Failures, Report Says
After a year of trials, the Pentagon’s top weapons testers have found that the Littoral Combat Ship’s mine detection systems are “deficient,” which will affect the ship’s “operational effectiveness.”  Other issues with the ship include propulsion problems, hull corrosion, and lift platform failures.  (1/20/12)

AOL Defense: Army Eyes Kiowa Coffers to Fund Replacement
The Army expects funding for its air directorate to remain flat in the upcoming budget request, which means the service will have to shift funding from other aviation modernization programs in order to fund the Armed Aerial Scout, a high priority system for the Army.  (1/19/12)

AOL Defense:
Some HASC, SASC Members Think $1 Trillion Cut Doable
An aide to HASC Chairman Buck McKeon says that while most members of the committee are opposed to sequestration cuts to defense, some committee members think that the department can safely absorb $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade.  (1/18/12)

Pentagon Budget Feels Pinch Already
For the first time since the 1990s, the administration is expected to request a smaller amount of funding, roughly $8 billion, for the defense department than in the previous year.  The administration is also expected to request $32.5 billion less in war funding.  (1/18/12)

Reports and Publications:

Congressional Research Service: Circular A-76 and the Moratorium on DOD Competitions: Background and Issues for Congress  (1/17/12)

Congressional Research Service:
Assessing DOD’s New Strategic Guidance  (1/12/12)

Congressional Research Service: FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues  (1/5/12)

Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E):
FY 2011 Annual Report

Foreign Policy Research Institute: How to Cut a Trillion Dollars from Defense

U.S. Army: Army 2020 Generating Health and Discipline in the Force, Report 2012