Thursday, April 26, 2012

4/26/12 RD Bulletin: House GOP Set to Provide $519bn for DoD in FY13

State of Play

Legislative: House Armed Services subcommittees have begun marking up the Fiscal Year 2013 national defense authorization bill, with a full committee markup expected May 9.   Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) will reportedly set the topline figure for the national defense authorization act at $554 billion.  A draft provision would shut off funding for the last stage of the Medium Extended Air Defense System, for which the administration has requested $400 million in FY13.  A draft version of the seapower portion of the NDAA would authorize the Navy to purchase one additional destroyer and one additional Virginia-class submarine over the next five years, while requiring the Pentagon to maintain a minimum of twelve ballistic missile submarines at all times.  The draft version of the NDAA personnel section would rebuff the administration’s attempt to decommission the fleet of Global Hawk Block 30 drones and reject the Pentagon’s proposal to shift funding for Marine Corps personnel into the OCO account.  For a complete listing of the draft portions of the NDAA, click here.  Following the services’ refusal to submit unfunded priorities lists (also known as “wish lists”) to Congress this year, Rep. Duncan Hunter is preparing to offer an amendment to the national defense authorization act to require the services to annually submit such lists.  And Congressional Republicans continue to express alarm over the impact of defense reductions on shipyards and associated businesses in their states. 

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee has set its 302(b) allocations, which determine how discretionary spending is appropriated across the federal government.  House Republicans plan on providing $519.2 billion for the Department of Defense in FY13, which is $8 billion less than the Senate will appropriate.  The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development held a markup of its annual spending bill this week, which would provide $11.5 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is $511 million more than the agency received last year.  Funding plus-ups would be provided for weapons activities (to extend the life of several nuclear weapons systems) and for development of new nuclear reactors for the Navy’s Ohio-class submarine.  House GOP leaders plan on bringing the first appropriations bill to the House Floor during the week of May 7. 

Executive: The Air Force is moving forward with plans to mothball its fleet of C-27J cargo plans even though Congress has yet to approve the move and two key senators, the chairman and ranking member of SASC, have urged the Pentagon not to advance new policies that have not been approved by Congress and could be difficult to reverse.  The Coast Guard is expected to formally request the transfer of the Air Force’s C-27J fleet as an alternative to decommissioning.  Following the proposed cancellation of the Common Vertical Lift Support System, an aircraft program that was meant to replace the UH-1N Huey, the Air Force is now planning on upgrading the Huey fleet so that they can fly for an additional thirty years.  And according to a report provided to Congress by the Pentagon last month, the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program will cost $276 million more than was previously estimated.  The total cost of the next-generation tanker program now stands at an estimated $51.9 billion, which represents a one percent increase from last fall’s projections. 

The Office of Management and Budget has notified GAO that Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) programs will be exempt from sequestration cuts set to take effect at the beginning of next year.  It turns out that the PAYGO Act, passed in 2010, amended the 1985 Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act to explicitly exempt VA programs from sequestration cuts.  And the Congressional Budget Office has prepared a resource page on the budgetary impact of the Budget Control Act. 

Project on Defense Alternatives’ Perspective: The United States and Afghanistan have agreed to a draft ten-year security pact that will govern military relations between the two countries following the official end of U.S. military operations (other than Special Ops and CIA ops) in 2014.  Charles Knight, co-director of PDA, wonders what the ten-year agreement portends for future emergency war funding; “Will the next administration continue to budget for Afghanistan using the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account post-2014?  Might the next administration institutionalize the OCO account as a means of supporting select U.S. foreign engagements?”  Knight and the Cato Institute’s Benjamin Friedman recently wrote commentary in the National Interest on the use (and abuse) of the OCO account and this administration’s FY13 proposal to cap future war funding.  You can read it here


This week, POGO sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee highlighting serious problems with the Navy’s $120 billion Littoral Combat Ship program, of which two ships have been fielded.  The letter points out that the two ships have been “"plagued by flawed designs and failed equipment since being commissioned, has at least 17 known cracks, and has repeatedly been beset by engine-related failures."  The Navy was quick to respond to the allegations in writing.  (4/23/12)

While rejecting the notion that China is the United States’ new Cold War enemy, the Navy is planning to increase its assets in the Asia Pacific region consistent with the Pentagon’s new Strategic Guidance.  Currently, the Navy splits its fleet with 55 percent of it focused in the Pacific and 45 percent in the Atlantic.  Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says this will likely shift toward a 60/40 split between the Pacific and Atlantic.  (4/21/12)

The administration has insisted that sequestration will apply equally to each line item, potentially devastating the Navy’s shipbuilding accounts.  However, the Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) Naval expert, Ron O’Rourke, says there may be alternative interpretations of the law whereby cuts would be applied to much broader categories.  (4/20/12)

Gordon Adams argues that little will be known or decided about sequestration until after the November election, but even if sequestration were to occur, it would still leave “the American military with a capability that exceeds anybody else in the world for decades to come (yes, that includes China), including the size of the Navy.”  (4/19/12)

Other News and Commentary

Walter Pincus reports on the differences between the President’s proposed defense budget, House defense appropriations, and Senate defense appropriations.  The House defense appropriations bill will be $8 billion above the defense cap implemented by the Budget Control Act, while the President’s budget submission for defense is roughly $3.7 billion above the cap set in law.              (4/25/12)

A recent GAO report examined problems in the concurrency development of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile defense system and found that “concurrency resulted in unexpected cost increases, schedule delays, test problems, and performance shortfalls.”  GAO also points out that GMD flight testing is not expected to be completed until 2022, well after production of the GMD interceptors has been completed.  For more on concurrency from Battleland, click here.  (4/25/12)

Bowing to pressure from Congress and a group of governors, Secretary Panetta has modified some of the administration’s proposed reductions to the Air National Guard.  The Guard had originally been slated to lose 5,000 personnel and some 200 aircraft; however, under the modified plan it will regain some 2,200 positions and 24 C-130 cargo planes at a cost of $400 million.   (4/24/12)

Last week, Secretary Panetta approved plans for a new intelligence service, the Defense Clandestine Service, which will work closely in conjunction with the CIA.  The new agency is designed to synthesize the efforts of military and spy agencies at a time when they are increasingly focused on similar threats.  A senior Defense Department official referred to the new agency as part of a “realignment” that will “thicken our coverage across the board.”  (4/23/12)

SWJ blogger Chris Davis argues that the financial burden of the Global War on Terror has disproportionately fallen on America’s middle class.  Davis asserts that since 2001, the war on terror has cost as much as $8 trillion, which equates to $70,000 for each American household. (4/23/12)

The Pentagon estimates that it will cost $5-10 billion to transport military equipment out of Afghanistan in 2014, which is further complicated by the fact that Pakistan has closed off the two main supply routes in and out of Afghanistan.  Pakistan says that if it does ultimately reopen the supply routes (which could happen soon), it will charge the United States millions of dollars to use them.  (4/23/12)

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Tom Ricks argues that an all-volunteer force has made it “all too easy to go to war,” and that a return to mandatory conscription would shorten the duration of American contingency operations and force leaders to more heavily weigh the benefits and drawbacks of armed conflict.  For a more libertarian-oriented position on the draft, you can read Paul Pillar’s response to Ricks’ piece here.  (4/22/12)

Boston University professor and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich explains what he sees as a lapse in the military ethic of greater responsibility with greater authority.  Bacevich cites the disturbing precedent set by the mismanagement of the Iraq conflict by Gen. Tommy Franks in 2003. Citing numerous examples of barbarism for which only the lowest ranks received punishment, Bacevich concludes there has been a fundamental break in the Army’s accountability structure for low level misconduct and he suggests a shake-up at the highest levels to keep generals on edge. (4/20/12)

The Will and the Wallet: Summing Up the Senate's 302(b)s
Russell Rumbaugh explains how Senate appropriators are dealing with the discretionary spending caps placed in law by the Budget Control Act.  Though the Budget Control Act set overall discretionary spending caps, House and Senate appropriators must divide the funding amongst 12 subcommittees through what are known as 302(b) allocations.  While the House budget resolution completely ignored the statutory distinction between defense and non-defense appropriations, the Senate seems to be hewing closer to the law.  (4/20/12)

In 2011, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates cancelled the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), an over-budget, controversial amphibious assault launch vehicle meant to replace the aging AAV-71.  Despite the program’s termination, the Marine Corps insists it must develop a replacement vehicle, prompting Philip Ewing to point out that “The Marines are in a pickle because they want to replace the EFV with something like the EFV — an amphibious APC that can speed ashore — but it can’t be so much like the EFV that it too succumbs to problems, delays and cost growth.”   (4/20/12)

Christopher Preble analyzes Gov. Mitt Romney’s foreign policy and national security positions and finds that they’re woefully out of touch with the American public.  Romney supports extending the U.S. war in Afghanistan (even though public support for the war is plummeting) and wants to vastly increase defense spending even though he has not outlined a plan to pay for a Pentagon budget that is four percent of GDP.  (4/19/12)


Government Accountability Office: Cybersecurity: Threats Impacting the Nation (4/24/12)

Congressional Research Service: FY2013 Defense Budget Request: Overview and Context  (4/20/12)

Congressional Research Service: Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress   (4/20/12)

Congressional Budget Office: The Economic Impact of the President’s 2013 Budget (4/20/12)

Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights  (4/19/12)

Congressional Budget Office: The Economic Impact of the President’s 2013 Budget  (April, 2012)

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments: Changing the Game: The Promise of Directed-Energy Weapons (2012)


On May 1 at 12:30 pm, the Chairman of the Stimson Center is hosting Gen. Norton Schwartz for an informal discussion about the most relevant issues facing the United States today.  Click here to RSVP.