Sunday, April 1, 2012

3/29/12 RD Bulletin: Navy Releases 30-yr Shipbuilding Plan, Foresees 300-Ship Fleet by 2019

State of Play 

Executive: The Navy has released to Congress its long-term shipbuilding plan, which raises concerns about the affordability of the Ohio-class replacement submarine program and says the service will consider building an additional destroyer.  The 30-year plan also projects achieving a 300-ship fleet by 2019.  The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, has reversed a decision to deactivate one of the service’s ten carrier-based wings, following Congressional opposition to the move.   The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, walked back comments he made earlier this year, in which he warned that sequestration cuts to defense would mean the United States would “no longer be a global power.”  Dempsey clarified his comments to reporters traveling with him in Brazil, saying that were automatic cuts to occur next year as scheduled, the United States would remain a global power, “We have demonstrated that we can provide the nation options.”

The Government Accountability Office released a report this week that warns of concurrency risk in the KC-46 next generation tanker program later this decade when low-rate production of the tanker begins as development continues – a feature currently being experienced in the F-35 program.  Following reports that Sen. Claire McKaskill (D-MO) will hold up any BRAC authorizing legislation, the Department of Defense told lawmakers that it will move forward with plans to close bases with fewer than three hundred civilian personnel if Congress rejects its legislative request for new base closures and realignments. 

The head of U.S. Europe Command and the military commander of NATO troops, Admiral James Stavridis, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Afghan forces would soon take responsibility for seventy-five percent of the population in the troubled Central Asian country.  Stavridis said that NATO forces will have trained 350,000 Afghan security forces by the end of the summer.  Two top American generals met with the head of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for the first time since a cross-border raid by NATO troops killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a remote boarder outpost.  The Pakistanis have rejected a U.S. inquiry that placed blame on both sides for the incident.  The meeting comes as the Pakistani Parliament debates the future of U.S.-Pakistani diplomatic relations.  President Obama met earlier in the week with embattled Pakistani Prime Minster, Yousuf Raza Gilani, although the two declined to share details of their conversation. 

The United States is moving to shut-off non-humanitarian aid to Mali after what appears to be a military-led coup in the west African nation.  The whereabouts of Mali’s president, a former military officer who seized power in a coup of his own, are currently unknown.  The United States also suspended a recent food aid plan for North Korea after it announced it would launch a new satellite atop a ballistic missile.  

Legislative: At a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing on personnel, Senators urged the Pentagon to proceed with caution when making ground strength reductions and expressed opposition to the department’s proposals to increase Tricare costs for some retirees.  Responding to a request by SASC Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) to provide a plan to Congress on controlling cost growth in the CVN aircraft carrier replacement program, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote McCain saying that the cost growth already experienced in the program cannot be reversed, but that the service is taking discernible steps to control cost increases.  More than forty Republican senators wrote President Obama urging him to avoid nuclear weapons reductions following an open-microphone incident, in which the President told his Russian counterpart to wait until after the November election to press for changes in the United States’ missile defense plan. 

The House will complete work on a budget resolution this week. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is offering an alternative budget resolution that would cut from the Pentagon’s base budget more than $700 billion relative to CBO baseline, while Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) offered a resolution based on the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission, which was soundly defeated.  Once all of the alternative resolutions have been considered, a final vote on the Republican budget offered by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will occur.  For analysis of the different budget resolutions, please click here.  A group of retired high ranking military officials wrote House Members this week urging them to support a robust international affairs budget in Fiscal Year 2013.

Polling: A new poll from the New York Times and CBS, has found that 69 percent of those queried believe the United States should not be involved in the Afghan conflict, an increase of 16 percentage points from November, 2011.  A majority of those polled now believe the conflict is going somewhat or very badly, while only a quarter of those questioned believe the war is going very or somewhat well.  For the New York Times’ analysis of the poll, please click here


In an investigative piece for the Center for Public Integrity, David Axe explores the prospects for developing a new long-range strike bomber.  Using the B-1 and B-2 as examples, Axe argues it’s highly unlikely that the Air Force will be able to keep the per-unit cost for the new bomber at $550 million per plane, especially if the service decides to give the new bomber a nuclear mission.  (3/26/12)

Instead of making tough choices in a difficult fiscal environment, Bill Hartung argues that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is taking the easy-way out by vastly increasing defense spending while avoiding perennial problems like whether Europe should provide more for its own security or how the global community can better address unsecured nuclear material.  (3/26/12)

Project on Defense Alternatives: Pentagon Base Budget to Get Bigger Share in 2013
In a new PDA report, Carl Conetta compares discretionary spending in 2008 and 2013 and finds an increased tilt toward national defense and several other categories of security spending in 2013.  (3/23/12)

Other News and Commentary

Christopher Cavas reports on the Navy’s new 30-year shipbuilding plan, which envisions reaching a 300-ship fleet by 2019, a decrease of seven ships from last year’s plan.  Most of the reductions and changes proposed in the plan had already been disclosed prior to its presentation to Congress.  (3/28/12)

New York Times: The Never-Ending Cold War
The New York Times editorial board chastises Gov. Mitt Romney for engaging in Cold War rhetoric with his assertion that Russia is the United States’ number geopolitical foe.  The board writes, “There are real threats out there: Al Qaeda and its imitators, Iran, North Korea, economic stresses. Mr. Romney owes Americans a discussion of the real challenges facing this country and his solutions to them.”  For the Washington Post’s fact check piece on Romney’s assertion, click here(3/28/12)

130 House members, led by retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), sent a letter to the Pentagon this week urging it to lift the cap on hiring civilian employees.  The letter also encourages the Pentagon to implement a spending cap on service contracting and to prohibit the outsourcing of “inherently governmental work.”  (3/27/12)

The White House’s proposal to delay construction of the Ohio-class replacement submarine could drive up the price of the $100 billion procurement program and threaten other shipbuilding programs in the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan.  (3/27/12)

Jacob Heilbrunn questions why the Obama Administration is still moving forward with plans to base missile defense components in Europe, even though the Cold War is over and the continent can clearly afford to pay for its own security.  (3/27/12)

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: The House Republican Approach to Sequester
CFRB explains how House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes dealing with the sequester in the House budget resolution: Ryan proposes repealing $78 billion of the $94 billion in sequestration cuts, while allowing $16 billion in automatic cuts to domestic discretionary spending and mandatory spending each.  Ryan then proposes using reconciliation instructions to find $116 billion in savings by 2022.  (3/26/12)  

The Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson blames Pentagon mismanagement and a lack of political will for the F-35’s myriad cost overrun problems.  (3/26/12)

As part of its Asia pivot, the United States is in negotiations with Australia to expand military ties beyond what the administration announced last November.  The United States is looking to expand military access to Australian ports and begin launching drone flights from an Australian island in the Indian Ocean.  (3/26/12)

David Crary interviewed a dozen representatives from nine countries who say they still see the United States as the dominant global player; however, America’s self-perceived decline is seen as a sign of weakness by other allies and potential adversaries.  (3/25/12)  


Congressional Research Service: Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses  (3/23/12)

Congressional Research Service: Foreign Assistance to North Korea  (3/20/12)

Congressional Research Service: Fact Sheet: The FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request  (3/19/12)

Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin (MIPB): Human Terrain System (October-December, 2011)