State of Play
Executive: Defense Secretary Panetta has confirmed that the department will begin doing “some” planning for sequestration by “mid to late summer” in order to prepare for the possibility of automatic cuts scheduled to take effect at the beginning of next year. The military services are currently under orders not to begin planning for sequestration until given the go-ahead by the Office of Management and Budget. Panetta also warned recently that if Congress blocks the proposed termination of six weapons systems and modernization programs contained in the FY13 budget request, then the department will be forced to find $9.6 billion in savings elsewhere in the national security budget.
The Army is preparing to replace its fleet of C-12 Hurons with a new “Future Fix Winged Aircraft,” to provide transportation, intelligence, and reconnaissance capabilities. The Navy’s top weapons buyer told attendees at the Navy League’s annual Sea, Air, Space conference that the service would like to enter into multi-year Virginia-class submarine and Arleigh Burke class destroyer contracts in order to reap enough savings to purchase an additional destroyer. Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) expressed concerns about the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, which foresees decreasing the number of planned ballistic-missile-capable warships in the fleet from 43 to 36. Inouye may try to revise the administration’s proposal to retire seven cruisers, six of which were slated to receive BMD upgrades.
Inside Defense reports that the F-35’s fourth production run could be more than half a billion dollars higher than what was expected, a 12.5 percent increase, due to deficiencies and problems discovered during the F-35’s trial runs. The United Kingdom has reversed course and decided to proceed` with procurement of the F-35B STOVL variant of the Joint Strike Fighter instead of the F-35C variant. Reportedly, the decision came after costs estimates revealed that outfitting the U.K.’s two forthcoming aircraft carriers with catapult launch and recovery systems would cost around $2.85 billion. Interestingly, the British recently sold the United States spare parts for its jump-jet Harriers, which the Navy now says will extend the life of the fleet until 2030. Defense Tech’s John Reed notes that the F-35B variant was supposed to have already replaced the United States’ Harrier fleet. Reed also shared some photos this week of Boeing’s concept model for its sixth generation carrier-based strike fighter, which was on display at the Sea, Air, Space conference. The Navy released a market survey this week soliciting industry input on candidates for the F/A-XX aircraft, which will fly from carriers alongside the F-35 and a new ISR drone, currently called the X-47B.
The Truman National Security Project has published the spring 2012 edition of its Security Briefing Book, which helps progressives grapple with national security and international affairs challenges. Click here for the chapter on the military budget. The Hill’s Carlo Munoz reports that a long-term security pact between the United States and Afghanistan could be completed in advance of a NATO summit scheduled for May. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he wants included in the agreement guarantees that the United States will provide at least $1-2 billion annually in security assistance, although the U.S. says the agreement is not meant to be an aid package and SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) characterized the request as “reaching beyond what’s realistic.” Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker warned that leaving Afghanistan prematurely could “set the stage for another 9/11.”
Instability across north Africa has been in the headlines recently: coup leaders in Mali have handed over control of the west African nation to the head of its legislature, a coup has occurred in the perennially unstable Guinea-Bissau, and troop mobilizations and attacks along the border between Sudan and South Sudan have led to concerns that the two nations are headed toward conflict. The British Ministry of Defence reports that a team of multinational weapons experts have secured and dismantled 5,000 Libyan man-operated portable defense systems (MANPADS); however an estimated 15,000 additional systems may have fallen into the hands of regional militias or terrorists.
Legislative: HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) has written Secretary Panetta to express concern about a recently inked deal between the United States and Afghanistan, in which some control over controversial night raids will be shifted to the Afghans, although analysts have called the deal symbolic in nature. McKeon says he’s troubled that “the new framework could also potentially compromise sensitive U.S. information since more Afghans will be involved in sensitive intelligence activities and operational planning.” Separately, non-HASC House members have expressed opposition to the Air Force’s plans to cut National Guard personnel and wings stationed in their states.
House Committees have begun marking up deficit reduction legislation mandated by reconciliation instructions included in the House budget resolution. Six committees, excluding the Armed Services, must report out recommendations totaling $261 billion in savings, which are expected to be packaged into legislation and brought to the House Floor next month. Retiring Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has marked up a budget resolution modeled in part on the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan. Conrad had been expected to call a committee vote on the resolution; however bowing to pressure from Senate leadership, Conrad has indefinitely delayed a final committee vote. The Chairman has already filed a “deeming” resolution which set the Senate’s total discretionary spending limit at the amount set in law by the Budget Control Act last August. And the head of OMB has written House Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) warning that unless House Republicans abide by discretionary spending caps set in law by the Budget Control Act, then President Obama will not sign forthcoming appropriations bills.
Project on Defense Alternatives’ Perspective: The Congressional Budget Office has published an infographic that breaks down into further detail discretionary spending in 2011. The infographic shows that defense spending received the largest share of discretionary spending in 2011, roughly $699 billion. In a recent memo, Carl Conetta showed that defense will receive a larger share of discretionary spending in 2013 than it did in 2008, up from 50 percent to 52 percent.
This week, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) hosted an event to discuss their forthcoming publication SIPRI Yearbook 2012: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, which compares and analyzes military expenditures internationally. The forthcoming report shows that world military spending grew by just 0.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, which marks the first time in thirteen years that worldwide military spending has not increased significantly. The report also shows that U.S. military expenditures will have decreased from 2010 to 2011 by 1.2 percent, the first reduction in U.S. military spending since 1998. Earlier this year, PDA published a report which examined the growth in U.S. defense spending since 1998, which found that, while the administration’s FY13 budget request represents a small decline in requested spending, it does not begin to erase the significant growth experienced since the late 1990s.
Center for American Progress: Protecting Wasteful Military Spending at All Costs
CAP has released a chart which compares the costs of military weapons systems funded in the House Budget Resolution with cuts to social services and health care programs. (4/18/12)
Spencer Ackerman reports on the Navy’s new quest to develop a replacement for the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Ackerman wonders aloud whether the F/A-XX is meant to hedge against further delays or problems in the Joint Strike Fighter (which the Navy vehemently denies) or whether there will be redundancy since both aircraft would be performing similar missions. (4/17/12)
Defense News: 2011 World Military Spending Leveled Out: Report
SIPRI will soon release its annual SIPRI Yearbook 2012: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security report, which finds that worldwide military expenditures totaled $1.738 trillion in 2011, a slight increase of 0.3 percent from the previous year. U.S. military expenditures fell by 1.2 percent in 2011, the first decrease since 1998. SIPRI predicts that U.S. defense expenditures will continue to decline in the near-term due to domestic angst over the budget deficit as well as the conclusion of major contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (4/17/12)
Other News and Commentary
National Defense: U-2, Global Hawk Advocates Square Off in Budget Battle
Eric Beidel analyzes the decision by the Air Force to mothball its fleet of Global Hawk drones in favor of the U-2 Dragon Lady for estimated savings of $2.5 billion over five years. Beidel analyzes the per-unit cost and payload capacity of the U-2, Global Hawk, and Avenger UAV. (May, 2012)
AOL Defense: Modular 'Trucks' Will Rule The Waves: CNO
Instead of designing a new aircraft or ship to carry a specific new technology, the head of the Navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, says the service will continue to modularize existing platforms to carry emerging technologies. Examples of modularization include the Marine Corps’ Harvest Hawk and the Air Force’s Dragon Spear programs, which outfit C-130 Hercules with offensive capabilities. (4/18/12)
Center for Strategic and International Studies: Forging a Consensus on a Sustainable U.S. Nuclear Posture
In a new CSIS report, Clark Murdock and John Warden warn that reductions in nuclear modernization funding may prevent the administration from further reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal beyond what was agreed to in the New START treaty. The authors argue that an evolving global security environment requires the United States to find consensus on its own nuclear deterrence strategy. (4/17/12)
National Defense: USS Ford On Track But Far From Finished
Dan Parsons reports on the construction progress of the next CVN aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald Ford, which is $1 billion over cost and only 38 percent complete. The carrier is expected to launch next year, but won’t be delivered to the Navy until 2015. (4/17/12)
Battleland: Hardware v. People
Building off a column by Nicholas Kristof, Chuck Spinney condemns the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex that prioritizes expensive weapons programs over personnel. Spinney writes, “The proper order of priority in any military force should always be People, Ideas, Hardware, in that order.” (4/17/12)
An upcoming study by the RAND Corporation examined costs incurred in four Air Force fleets that use a mix of Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard units and has found that “cost-minimizing mix in three of the four fleets would have been tilted more toward the active component,” calling “into question the reserve components' long-held assumption that their units are the least expensive alternative in any force structure consideration.” (4/16/12)
New York Times: NATO Sees Flaws in Air Campaign Against Qaddafi
Despite the fact that analysts and commentators widely view the NATO operation in Libya as the new model for international intervention, a classified NATO report has found that the alliance relied disproportionately on American intelligence, planning, analysis, reconnaissance and aerial refueling. The report throws cold water on the notion that NATO can intervene in Syria without relying heavily on American logistical support. (4/15/12)
National Journal: Do the Brass Support the Obama Defense Budget?
In his monthly blog post on National Journal, Kevin Baron explores Republicans’ assertion that the Pentagon’s top brass doesn’t support President Obama’s FY13 budget request and concludes that DOD’s top generals have long foreseen declining budgets, however, there is dissent amongst lower-level commanders and program managers. (4/13/12)
New York Times: Toward a World Without Nukes
Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former Senator Sam Nunn suggest that the meeting of NATO leaders in Chicago this May provides an important opportunity to build upon the foundations laid by the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, with an eye toward reducing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The pair notes that, in order to be successful, the process must avoid alienating Russia. (4/13/12)
Following a recent fatal V-22 crash in Morocco, Richard Whittle compares the Osprey’s safety record with that of other conventional helicopters, and notes that the services have only lost two V-22 aircraft over the past 12 years, while 411 conventional helicopters have crashed during the same period. As a result of the Morocco accident, the V-22 is no longer considered the Marine Corps’ “safest” helicopter. Meanwhile, the V-22’s program manager at Naval Air Systems Command says the V-22 is being considered for addition to the Presidential HMX-1 helicopter squadron as a staff and gear transport aircraft. (4/13/12)
Talking Points Memo: Barney Frank Unloads On The ‘Great Scam’ Of Paul Ryan
Rep. Barney Frank had some choice words for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) recently passed budget resolution, saying, “It’s not deficit reduction when you increase military spending so that you can make up for that by cutting Medicare and Medicaid. That’s not budget reduction. That’s ideology.” (4/12/12)
Congressional Budget Office: A Closer Look at Discretionary Spending (4/14/12)
Government Accountability Office: Defense Health Care: Applying Key Management Practices Should Help Achieve Efficiencies within the Military Health System (4/12/12)
Congressional Research Service: The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response (4/11/12)
Congressional Research Service: Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy (4/11/12)
Congressional Research Service: Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance (4/10/12)
Center for American Progress: Strengthening America's Options on Iran: Ten Key Questions to Inform the Debate (April, 2012)
Truman National Security Project: Truman Security Briefing Book (Spring, 2012)
Department of Defense: Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations (March 20, 2012)
At 9:00 am on Tuesday, April 25, in B340 Rayburn House Office Building, the Institute for Economics and Peace will release the 2012 United States Peace Index, which ranks metropolitan areas by their peacefulness and analyzes the socioeconomic factors associated with peace.