Friday, April 13, 2012

4/12/12 RD Bulletin: DoD Long-Term Aviation Doc Leaked, Plans to Develop 6th-gen Jets

State of Play:

Executive: A copy of the Department of Defense’s long-term aviation plan has been leaked, which forecasts spending $770 billion over the next ten years on aviation assets.  The plan proposes replacing Air Force One, purchasing 83 KC-46 tankers by 2022 instead of 124 by 2021, and increasing the number of drones in the fleet by 45 percent over the next ten years.  The plan also includes efforts to develop replacement platforms for the F-22A Raptor, the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and the T-38 Talon training aircraft.  Overall, the Air Force’s total inventory will grow modestly from 14,340 to 14,415 planes over the next decade.   AOL Defense’s Colin Clark reports that Air Force General Mark Welch, currently commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, will likely take over as Air Force Chief of Staff from Norton Schwartz on August 10 of this year.  Following two crashes over the past month, the Navy has decided to ground its fleet of MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter drones while system performance is reviewed.  And the Army has announced that it will no longer use Humvees in combat, but will instead rely on mine-resistant ambush (MRAP) vehicles, which many analysts had expected to be mothballed following the conclusion of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.

The White House has released a 2011 Federal Tax Receipt simulator which allows taxpayers to determine how much of their income taxes went to items such as national defense, Medicare, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits.  With tax day approaching, National Priorities Project has published an excellent piece that shows taxpayers how their income taxes were spent per dollar in 2011.  Unsurprisingly, 27 cents of each income tax dollar went to military spending, while only 1.2 cents went to international affairs.  The Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program commends the Pentagon for shifting a portion of its operations and maintenance (O&M) budget from the OCO account back into the base budget.

The Afghan defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak is in Washington this week where he is meeting with Pentagon officials to develop a long-term security plan for Afghanistan after the expected withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014.  Wardak says the United States must remain engaged in Afghanistan after 2014 in order to ensure the country’s stability – especially given news that the Afghan government plans on reducing the size of its security forces by more than 100,000 personnel post-2014.  This week’s negotiations follow the weekend-signing of an agreement that will increase Afghan control over controversial NATO night-raids.   However, the Heritage Foundation’s Lisa Curtis believes that the agreement is largely symbolic, and that the United States will retain control over night raids targeting high value al-Qaeda targets or raids conducted by the CIA or associated paramilitary groups.

The military junta in Mali, which led a coup in the west African nation last month, has agreed to hand over power to the head of the legislature, while Tuareg rebels in the north took advantage of the political crisis to declare independence over the weekend.  South Korean intelligence officials believe that North Korea is preparing to conduct its third nuclear weapons test as the world prepares for the isolated nation to launch a ballistic missile under the guise of sending a satellite into orbit.

An MV-22 Osprey crashed in Morocco yesterday, killing two U.S. servicemembers and reigniting the debate about the safety of the controversial tiltrotor aircraft.  Tom Ricks shared these thoughts following the accident: “I keep on thinking of what a Pentagon official once said to me: No one has ever built a helicopter with jet-engine-like hydraulic pressures (5,000 ppsi) inside its nacelles -- and then landed that aircraft in dusty spots where jet engines fear to go.  He said that one little bit of dust inside the nacelle could weaken the hydraulic tubing, which if it sprang a leak would shoot fluid so powerfully that it could cut off a man's arm.”  David Axe points out that this is the sixth fatal V-22 crash since 1992, and that all told, more than 37 people have been killed in V-22 accidents. 

Legislative: Alaska lawmakers are accusing the Department of Defense of circumventing the Congressional BRAC process by moving to consolidate two Air Force bases in the state – a move the service says would save $169.5 million over the next five years.  The Department of Defense says it will be forced to move ahead with smaller domestic military consolidations unless Congress approves two new rounds of BRAC.

Congressional aides expect the House Armed Services Committee to begin marking up its annual defense authorization bill on May 9, with the measure likely to hit the House Floor the following week.  The House is likely to consider the NDAA under a structured rule, whereby members will have to bring their proposed amendments to the Rules Committee for approval before offering them on the Floor.


CQ Today: Military Services End Annual Ritual of ‘Wish Lists’ for Unfunded Programs
Three of the four services have announced that they will not submit to Congress an annual Unfunded Priorities Lists, a list of items that the services want but were not included in the annual budget request, which may make it more difficult for appropriators and other lawmakers to include items in the budget that were not requested by the Defense Department.  (4/10/12)

Batteland: Lies, Damned Lies, and The Pentagon’s Latest Budget Numbers
Winslow Wheeler critiques two recent acquisition reports, Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs, and Selected Acquisition Report, and provides his own “After-Action Report,” including analysis of the gaps, contradictions, and false assurances contained in the recently released reports. 

Defense News: Sequestration Could Be Left To Lame-Duck U.S. Congress
The outcome over the November elections will ultimately determine the fate of sequestration and a slew of other policies that must be addressed by Congress during the lame-duck session, prompting Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to predict that the upcoming lame-duck session will be the most powerful in history.  (4/7/12)

Battleland: The Defense Budget Non-Debate
Gordon Adams responds to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s recent assertion that the Pentagon has been misleading lawmakers by proclaiming that “Ryan and many other political leaders appear not to be aware that budgets and policy operate in synergy,” as evidenced by the Pentagon’s recent strategic review.  (4/5/12)

Other News and Commentary:

Stars and Stripes: The danger of a blank check for defense
Jeff Blum of USAction argues that the United States is in an arms war with itself because of the superiority of our weapons, the global reach of our armed forces, and the overwhelming size of the U.S. defense budget.  Ultimately, Blum argues, the United States risks bankrupting itself in same way the Soviet Union did after a decade of its own fighting in Afghanistan. (4/10/12)

Washington Post: Pentagon to fast-track cyberweapons acquisition
Ellen Nakashiman reports on a Pentagon plan building off of the 2011 Strategy for Cyberspace, which would allow a rapid development framework for cyberweapons. The program is divided into rapid and deliberate acquisitions: Under the rapid framework, priority weapons will be able to be financed through the use of operational funds over a period of days or months. (4/9/12)

The Economist: The dragon’s new teeth
The Economist examines China’s military growth and her self-described “peaceful rise,” and suggests that while its growth rate is startling, mitigating factors and interests are likely to confine the effects of China’s newfound military might.  (4/7/12)

Huffington Post: The Pentagon's Weapon Programs: Delivering Less, Later, for More Money
Ben Freeman reports on the growth in the Pentagon’s major acquisition programs and finds that “defense acquisitions portfolio has been plagued by reductions in the number of weapons delivered, delayed delivery times, and enormous cost overruns. In fact, the total acquisition cost of this portfolio has grown by $447 billion, 40 percent above initial cost estimates.”  (4/6/12)

AOL Defense: Marines Push Quietly, But Hard, For Navy to Replace C-2s With V-22s
The Marine Corps hopes to replace aging C-2A Greyhounds, a turboprop plane that delivers mail, passengers, and supplies to aircraft carriers, with the V-22 Osprey.  Meanwhile, an MV-22 crashed in Morocco recently killing two U.S. servicemembers.  (4/6/12)

National Defense: Glory Days of Army Acquisition Were Not So Glorious
Sandra Erwin looks back at the five biggest Army acquisition programs of the past four decades, and finds that they were just as troubled as some of the most controversial procurement programs of today.   (4/5/12)

New York Times: Smaller Navy Ship Has a Rocky Past and Key Support
Elizabeth Bumiller provides an expose of the Littoral Combat Ship, mentioning that of the two ships produced so far, one cannot detect mines and the other has a crack in its hull.  Bumiller also reminds readers that the Pentagon’s top weapons tester recently concluded that the LCS is not expected to be able to survive hostile combat environments.  For Phillip Ewing’s take on the Times story and how it plays into the larger debate over the Pentagon’s budget, click here(4/5/12)

National Defense: Flood of Data Puts Air Force’s Drone Growth on Hold
Due to a growing backlog of intelligence information provided by drones, Air Force Secretary Michael Donly recently told reporters that he will halt procurement of Reaper and Predator drones at 65 aircraft until the information backlog is addressed.  (4/5/12)   

Defense News: U.S. Underestimates China Military Growth: Study
A new staff report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says that the United States has been underestimating China’s development of new weapons systems, including advanced submarines, stealth fighter jets, and anti-ship ballistic missiles. 


Congressional Research Service: Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations (4/10/12)

Congressional Research Service: Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues,
and Options for Congress  (4/6/12)

Congressional Research Service: Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress  (4/6/12)

Congressional Budget Office: Monthly Budget Review (4/6/12)

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: Indigenous Weapons Development in
China’s Military Modernization (4/5/12)

Government Accountability Office: Defense Acquisitions: Further Actions Needed to Improve Accountability for DOD's Inventory of Contracted Services  (4/5/12)

Congressional Research Service: Defining Homeland Security: Analysis and Congressional Considerations  (4/5/12)

Congressional Research Service: Women in Combat: Issues for Congress (4/5/12)

Congressional Research Service: Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress  (4/5/12)

Congressional Research Service: Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress  (4/4/12)

Congressional Research Service: Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy (4/4/12)

International Monetary Fund: Accounting Devices and Fiscal Illusions  (3/28/12) 


4/14/12: World Premiere of the 2nd Annual "If I Had A Trillion Dollars" Youth Film Festival
On Saturday, April 14, 2012, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the American Friends Service Committee and National Priorities Project will host the world premiere of the second annual "If I Had A Trillion Dollars" Youth Film Festival at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V St., NW, Washington, D.C.  This event activates youth – engaging them to produce short films articulating how they would spend $1 trillion federal dollars.  Click here to view videos from the nominees.