Friday, February 3, 2012

2/1/12 RD Bulletin: Air Force Axing Five A-10 Squadrons

State of Play

Executive: Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 14, one week later than originally scheduled, to discuss the administration’s FY13 budget request for the Pentagon.   The White House plans on releasing its full budget submission on February 13.  In his budget request, the President is expected to outline an alternative to sequestration that would reduce the budget deficit by the same amount while avoiding automatic cuts.  Politico’s Morning Defense reports that SASC, HASC, and some appropriations committee members from both parties will be briefed today and tomorrow on the administration’s FY13 defense request.  And CQ Today points out that the White House is likely padding its FY13 war funding request to provide appropriators some room to shift base budget funding into the OCO account – especially in the event that sequestration occurs.  However, CQ also notes that the OCO account may be subject to sequestration – a determination that OMB will make in January 2013. 

Admiral Greenert, chief of naval operations, has ordered a new force structure study, based on the recently released strategic guidance, which may reexamine the 313-ship fleet goal set by former CNO Adm. Mike Mullen.  Speaking at the Foreign Press Club, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, says the United States has no interest in establishing new military bases in the Asia Pacific region, but will look to increase rotational presences there.   

As part of its forthcoming budget request, the Air Force will seek to cut five A-10 “Warthog” tactical squadrons from its fleet.  Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told reporters last week that the Air Force, which did not see any base closures as a result of the last BRAC round, currently has twenty percent excess infrastructure.  Schwartz predicted that Air Force bases would be closed if Congress approves two new rounds of BRAC.  The Air Force chief also indicated that the service was considering placing into storage its C-27Js and Global Hawk Block 30 drones after the administration decided to terminate both procurement programs. 

Legislative: The Congressional Budget Office released its Budget and Economic Outlook for FY2012-22, which includes projected baselines both under current law as well as under alternative CBO scenarios, such as a cancellation of sequestration or an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.  The CBO document seems to support the notion that the administration will need to request a debt limit increase from Congress before the end of the calendar year – setting up a contentious lame duck session.  Lawmakers from both parties continue to push back against the administration’s request to implement a new round of BRAC closures, with SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) saying that, while he generally supports BRAC, he will not favor closing domestic facilities until more U.S. bases abroad are shuttered.  The most vocal Congressional opposition to a new BRAC round is coming from lawmakers in New England and Alaska.

Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), a member of HASC, has released a matrix of various defense savings recommendations, entitled Comparing Defense Savings Plans Across the Political Spectrum.  The matrix includes recommendations put forth in the Sustainable Defense Task Force report (June 2010), a summary of which can be found here.


National Interest: The New Pentagon Budget, Better Not Great
While Benjamin Friedman sees many positive elements emerging from the Pentagon’s FY13 budget, he urges the services to go further by cutting its procurement of F-35s and reducing additional ground forces.    (1/27/12)

Financial Times: Pentagon to Cut $485bn Over Next Decade
The Financial Times discusses the Pentagon’s measures to reduce projected growth in its budget, while noting that the FY13 defense budget will be 46 percent larger than it was in 1998.  (1/26/12)

Other News and Commentary

DoD Buzz:
Your Piece of the Sequestration Pie
Philip Ewing discusses a report issued by the Center for Security Policy which purports to show the economic impact of sequestration cuts on a state-by-state basis.  (2/1/12)

Chicago Tribune:
U.S. Navy, Marines Say More Capable Arms Offset Costs
While discussing how the increasing technological capabilities of weapons systems may help offset smaller procurement buys in the future, a senior Marine Corps official hinted that the service may decrease its planned purchase of V-22 Ospreys in the upcoming budget.  (1/31/12)

Army Times:
DoD Official Discusses Unified Health System
A Pentagon task force has found that a unified command to oversee all DoD medical operations would not produce significant savings up front, but could help increase efficiency and eventually lower costs.  (1/31/12) Venerable A-10 Warthog Faces Extinction
As part of its upcoming budget request, the Air Force is shedding seven air force squadrons, including five A-10 tactical squadrons, one Guard F-16 squadron, and one F-15 training squadron.  Pilots from the decommissioned squadrons may be retrained to fly unmanned aerial drones.  (1/31/12)

Early Warning Blog:
Obama Critics Need to Explain Where They’ll Get the Money To Keep Military Spending High
Dr. Loren Thompson defends Secretary Panetta’s recent budget proposal and challenges fiscal conservatives to show how they would maintain burgeoning military spending while curtailing the federal deficit.  (1/30/12)
Battleland: F-35: Out of Altitude, Airspeed, and Ideas — But Never Money
Chuck Spinney compares the troubled histories of two aircraft programs, the F-111 “TFX” and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and points out that “Like the TFX, the F-35 is suffering severe cost overruns, and horrendous schedule slippages as production rates are cut back.”  (1/30/12)

New York Times:
New Strategy, Same Old Pentagon
The New York Times editorial board gives President Obama credit for “putting the brakes” on Pentagon spending, but urges him to go further by reducing planned procurement of the F-35, shrinking the nuclear weapons budget, and reducing to ten the number of U.S. aircraft carriers.  (1/29/12)

CNN Security Clearance:
Audit: U.S. Defense Department Can’t Account for Billions for Iraq
A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found that the Department of Defense cannot account for two thirds of the $3 billion to which it was given access by the Iraqi government to fund local reconstruction projects.  (1/29/12)

Associated Press:
Cuts Give New Life to Old Weapons Systems
Despite the President’s earlier commitment to eliminating “outdated Cold War-era systems,” Robert Burns notes that the upcoming defense budget will rely on such relics as the U-2 spy plane and the B-52 bomber while maintaining the United States’ robust nuclear arsenal.  (1/28/12)
Danger Room: Pentagon Confused by Its Own ‘Subs vs. Terrorists’ Plan
The Administration is seeking to resurrect the “Conventional Prompt Global Strike” concept, however concerns remains that a nuclear-armed country could mistake the conventional ballistic missile for a nuclear-armed one thus sparking a nuclear confrontation.  (1/27/12)

Center for a New American Security:
What Americans Think About the Defense Budget
A CNAS analyst examines the results of a New York Times survey that allowed readers to rank defense savings options.  His takeaways: Respondents prefers ground troop strength and air power over shipbuilding; support eliminating one leg of the nuclear triad; and wants to close overseas bases.  (1/27/12)

National Defense: Pentagon 2012 Budget Wars: Ground Forces Lose
In a piece by Sandra Erwin, Bill Hartung argues that delaying procurement of some F-35s and cutting one version of the Global Hawk drone were “managerial decisions, not tough budget choices,” whose “goal is to buy time to improve cost and performance of key systems and capabilities, but they don’t go far enough in assessing the need for those capabilities.”  (1/26/12)

Reports and Publications:

Center for Security Policy:
Defense Breakdown Economic Impact Reports  (2/1/12)

Center for Strategic and International Studies:
The New U.S. Defense Strategy and the Priorities and Changes in the FY2013 Budget  (1/30/12)

Center for Strategic and International Studies: The DoD Threat to US National Security: Controlling Costs and Demanding Effective Program Execution (1/28/12)

Congressional Budget Office:
The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022  (January, 2012)

Congressional Budget Office:
Military Retirement – January 2012 Baseline (January, 2012)

Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction: Development Fund for Iraq: Department of Defense Cannot Fully Account for the Funds Used After the Coalition Provisional Authority Dissolved  (1/27/12)