Friday, February 10, 2012

2/8/12 RD Bulletin: Rep. Markey Drops Bill to Cut Nuke Budget by $100B

State of Play
Executive: On Friday, the Air Force released a white paper that will guide service decisions on saving $8.7 billion.  The Air Force has indicated that funding for cyber-operations, long-range strike capabilities, and nuclear weapons will be preserved in its forthcoming budget.   Despite Congressional appropriators’ move to terminate the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) last year, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has listed the vehicle program as one of his top three priorities. The White House has nominated former Raytheon executive Heidi Shyu to serve as the Army Under Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, a position she currently holds in an “acting” capacity. 
The administration has ruled out military intervention in Syria, after it announced earlier this week that it had closed the U.S. embassy in Damascus and evacuated all embassy staff.  However, CNN reports that the Pentagon has begun a “preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities,” in the event that President Obama does decide to take some military action against the Syrian regime.  Meanwhile, the State Department is considering cutting in half the 16,000 personnel assigned to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. 
Legislative: SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) have sent a letter to the Pentagon questioning Secretary Panetta’s decision to remove the F-35B from “probation.”  The two senators have also written GAO requesting an investigation into whether previous developmental issues with the aircraft have been resolved.  And although Sen. McCain last week introduced legislation to prevent sequestration cuts to discretionary spending by shrinking the federal workforce, the White House is standing firm in its insistence that any compromise to avoid automatic cuts must include new government revenues. 
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) says his budget likely will not reflect sequestration cuts to defense, commenting “I think replacing the sequester is where our conference is on this.”  The Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Jeff Miller (R-FL), has written the White House seeking clarification on whether or not VA medical care programs are subject to sequestration cuts under the Budget Control Act – a determination Miller says the Office of Management and Budget must make.  An unnamed White House aide is quoted by CQ Today saying “Details of sequester implementation are still in development, so it’s premature to know precisely how it would be applied.” 
Polling: A poll conducted on February 2, 2012, by Pulse Opinion Research, found that forty-nine percent of likely voters oppose cutting military spending in order to balance the federal budget, while forty percent support it as a means of deficit reduction.  A further forty-two percent of likely voters polled believe the U.S. military presence in Europe and Korea should be reduced, while thirty-six percent of those surveyed believe the U.S. presence should be maintained.  Please click here to view data from the poll. 
The National Priorities Project and the Project on Defense Alternatives: Talking About Military Spending and the Pentagon Budget – Fiscal Year 2013 (And Beyond)
NPP and PDA have released a new analysis of U.S. defense budgets – past, present and future. The report looks at many of the current issues relevant to the ongoing debate over the appropriate levels of U.S. military spending.  (2/8/12)
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has introduced H.R. 3974, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act of 2012, which would cut the nuclear weapons budget by $100 billion over the next ten years.  (2/8/12)
Defense hawks have been warning that excessive defense cuts will harm men and women in uniform, prompting Bill Hartung to ask how “thousands of nuclear warheads and massive nuclear overkill help the troops?”  (2/3/12)
Center for International Policy: Military Spending a Poor Job Creator
CIP has updated a fact sheet on military spending and job creation based on the latest University of Massachusetts, Amherst, study on the issue.  (1/17/12)
Other News and Commentary
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: Military Retirement Needs Reform
CRFB examines the trend of rising military pensions for high-ranking officers and argues that “Reforming the military retirement system isn't about punishing military members, but about fixing problems with the system in ways that can also have positive budgetary impact.”  (2/7/12)
Despite the announcement that the Navy will retire and delay procurement of some vessels, the service’s fleet size will remain at 285 over the next five years.  (2/7/12)
The AP reports on two weapon systems facing funding cuts, the Global Hawk drone and the Littoral Combat Ship, and how lawmakers whose districts manufacture and host these systems are reacting to proposed reductions.  (2/6/12)
While speaking about the broken procurement system at a CSIS event, acting Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall stated that “putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice.” (2/6/12)
The Will and the Wallet: Lonely Amphibs
Russell Rumbaugh points out that the services are proposing cutting items, like the A-10 “Warthog” and dock landing ships, that they don’t really want instead of making hard decisions in a resource-constrained environment.   (2/6/12)
As the United States begins drawing down combat operations in Afghanistan, it may increasingly rely on special operations forces and the CIA to hunt down and kill terrorists.  Although the number of special operations forces operating in Afghanistan is not expected to increase.  (2/4/12)
CNN Security Clearance: U.S. Weapons of the Future
Jennifer Rizzo discusses the Pentagon’s plans for future weapons, including the new long-range bomber, which may be developed to fly with and without a pilot, as well as the new Virginia-class submarine, which will be outfitted to carry forty Tomahawk missiles and an undersea conventional-strike missile that could hit any target in the world within one hour.  (2/3/12)
Chinese cyber-attacks targeting developing weapons systems in the United States may be delaying production and development as manufacturers have to redesign critical equipment that has been compromised.  (2/3/12)
The Army may rely on new voluntary retirement incentives and temporary early retirement authorizations, contained in the recently enacted NDAA, as a means of trimming the service by 80,000 over the next five years.  (2/3/12)
Armed Forces Journal: Truth, Lies and Afghanistan
In an article quickly circulating through Washington, active duty Lt. Col. Daniel Davis reports what he sees happening on the ground in Afghanistan and how it conflicts with reports given to members of Congress and the public by senior Pentagon officials.  (February, 2012)
Reports and Publications:
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Affairs: $trategy in a Year of Fiscal Uncertainty  (2/7/12)
Congressional Budget Office: Monthly Budget Review  (2/7/12)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Chairman’s Strategic Direction to the Joint Force  (2/6/12)
Congressional Research Service: War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance  (2/1/12)
Congressional Research Service: Iran’s Threat to the Strait of Hormuz  (1/23/12)
Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin: Enabling Intelligence Analysis  (July-September, 2011)
Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin: Intelligence in the Current Environment  (April-June, 2011)