Monday, January 9, 2012

1/6/12 RD Bulletin: Pentagon Strategy Review Released, Details Forthcoming

State of Play

Executive: At a press conference yesterday, President Obama, Secretary Panetta, and Gen. Dempsey released a new strategic review that will guide decisions on trimming $260 billion from the President’s previous budget request over the next five years.  The strategy reviews calls for the U.S. to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific region, while maintaining its presence, albeit in a lesser role, in the Middle East.  During the press conference, the President indicated he would terminate Cold War-era systems and increased investments in intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, counter-terrorism, counter-WMD, and the ability to operate in anti-access environments.  The review also hinted at reducing ground forces, “evolving” the U.S. mission in Europe, and retaining investments in special operations capabilities and new technologies designed to beef up cybersecurity and protect access to space.

It had been widely reported that the administration would officially renounce its Major Regional Contingency strategy that requires the military to be able to fight two major ground combat operations simultaneously.  While Gen. Martin Dempsey declined to formally abandon the policy, it is clear that it is no longer the driving force behind defense planning.  Some analysts had expected the Pentagon to delay development of the next-generation stealth bomber; however the strategy review seems to nix that idea.

Unnamed administration officials have hinted at a number of policy changes that may be forthcoming from the strategy review and incorporated into the President’s FY13 budget request, which is expected to be released in late January or early February.  The Army’s end strength will likely be brought down to 490,000 over the coming decade; the Marine Corps’ end strength could be reduced by 10-15 percent; procurement of the F-35 JSF will likely be delayed; and the Air Force’s fleet may be reduced.

Legislative: Lawmakers responded to the President’s strategy review along mostly partisan lines: HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) characterized the review as a “lead from behind strategy for a left-behind America,” while the panel’s ranking member, Adam Smith (D-WA), voiced support for the President’s strategic shift.  SASC Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) vowed to “carefully and thoroughly review” the strategy document.   And Kansas lawmakers are up in arms over an announcement by Boeing that it plans to close a manufacturing facility for B-52s and KC-767s in Wichita, citing the high costs of labor in the region.


Project on Defense Alternatives:
Keep Pentagon Cuts in Perspective: What the Administration Proposes is Hardly Dramatic
In a new memo, Carl Conetta analyzes the President’s upcoming budget figures and concludes that the request would institute a four percent cut in real terms over a five-year budget window.  (1/5/12)

Wall Street Journal:
Military Faces Historic Shift
The Wall Street journal covers reaction to the strategic review, with Charles Knight pointing out that the “first strategic priority of the United States is getting its economic house in order.  Doing this means spending less on the military in coming years.”  (1/6/12)

BBC: Pentagon Cuts: What Will the New US Military Look Like?
Heather Hurlburt discusses potential policy changes that may emanate from the Pentagon’s strategy review, including decreased Army troop levels, while Charles Knight points out that a smaller Army would increase pressure on the National Guard and Reserves should a large scale counter-insurgency or ground war occur.  (1/5/12)

The Will and the Wallet: Something Happened, But What?
Gleaning intel from different news articles, Russell Rumbaugh predicts how the administration will achieve defense savings in its upcoming budget request.  (1/5/12)

Democracy Arsenal:
When Are Two Wars Not Two Wars?
Heather Hurlburt surveys budget experts Winslow Wheeler and Charles Knight’s thoughts on the Pentagon’s “two-war” strategy.  (1/5/12)

Foreign Affairs:
Why Panetta’s Pentagon Cuts Are Easier than You Think
Larry Korb argues that the key to sustainable defense budgets is better management at the Pentagon and increased efficiency in the armed services.   (1/4/12)

Other News and Commentary

U.S. to Delay Lockheed F-35 Planes Again; Sources
In a move design to save money and give Lockheed Martin more time to work out kinks in the program, the Defense Department will likely cut its procurement of F-35s in half over the next five years delaying purchase of some 120 aircraft.  (1/6/12)

Battleland: Why Are DoD Service Contractors Getting a Pass?
Despite the fact that contracting services constitute a large portion of the defense budget, a plan to curtail rising contractor costs was not included in yesterday’s strategy review, prompting Nick Schwellenbach to ask, “Why aren’t we hearing more about service contractors?”  (1/5/12)

National Journal: Shifts At Pentagon Reflect Dual Realities of Different Threats, Tighter Budgets
Yochi Dreazen opines that the Pentagon strategy review release was designed to deflect GOP criticism over coming budget cuts and mark a shift away from large-scale counter-insurgency operations.   (1/5/12)

Early Warning Blog:
Big Winners and Losers in the New Defense Strategy
Dr. Daniel Goure picks winners and losers from yesterday’ strategy review and echoes Winslow Wheeler’s assertion that the administration seems to have picked former Secretary Rumsfeld’s strategy of relying on a “leaner, meaner” force with increased emphasis on AirSea power.  (12/5/11)

AOL Defense: Obama Drops Two MRCs; Invests in ISR, Counter-Terror, Pacific
Colin Clark survey’s analysts thoughts on the military’s “two-war” strategy, also known as MRC, and quotes Winslow Wheeler as saying, “Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan qualify as 'major' in that regard; both were much smaller, and they totally crapped out our forces as regards both manpower and equipment. In other words, we were not able to even support two minor conflicts, let alone major ones.”  (1/5/12)

Defense Tech: What DoD’s New Strategy Means for Post-9/11 Tech
Although declining to cite specifics, President Obama insisted that the United States would end outdated Cold War-era systems at yesterday’s press conference.  John Reed attempts to read the tea leaves to see what this means for future defense technologies.  (1/5/12)

New York Times:
In New Strategy, Panetta Plans Even Smaller Army
The New York Times reports that Secretary Panetta, in consultation with the President, has endorsed downsizing the Army’s end strength to 490,000, while avoiding cutting an aircraft carrier.  (1/5/12)

Stars and Stripes: Air Force Continuing to Trim Workforce With Second Round of Buyouts
In keeping with DoD guidance to maintain civilian contracting at 2010 levels, the Air Force is commencing with a second round of buyouts.  (1/4/12)

Reports and Publications:

Department of Defense: Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for a 21st Century Defense
The Defense Department released the results of an eight-month strategy review that will guide decisions on cutting roughly $260 billion from the defense budget over the next five years.  (1/5/12)


1/10/12 Center for a New American Security: Cooperation From Strength: The U.S., China and the South China Sea
At an event on January 10, 2012, keynoted by Admiral Jonathan Greenert, CNAS will release a report entitled “Cooperation from Strength: the United States, China and the South China Sea,” which will examine the future of U.S. strategy in the region.