Wednesday, February 27, 2008

There goes your shipbuilding budget

A bipartisan House panel is nudging the Pentagon to begin a conversation on how to reform itself in many ways. But at the Pentagon, talk of change usually has a budgetary impact.

And, despite the past several years of "nation-building" and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been virtually no change in the way the defense budget is carved up in at least 40 years, says Rep. Jim Cooper (D) of Tennessee, who chairs the panel.

"That right there is a statistical indictment of the process," Representative Cooper says. "There had to be a year in which there were greater needs in one area or another, and the system was unable to accommodate it."

The fiscal 2009 budget request released this month, for example, shows the Army requesting a 27 percent share, the Air Force asking for a 28 percent share, and the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, wanting a 29 percent share of the proposed $515 billion budget.

Cooper's seven-member panel is expected to release a study this week on each of the branches' "roles and missions" that may threaten services that are seen to perform more conventional warfare. With the focus on the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that makes some in the Navy and Air Force worry.
Smaller USN piece of the whole DoD pie - with a growing % of the USN represented by USMC needs? The math is tough PEO Ships; where are the affordable hulls?
Congress is asking the same questions that many in and out of uniform have raised for some time. "After seven years of war, that we haven't budged one inch away from the cold war apportionment of the budget to me is Kafka-esque," said Robert Scales Jr., a retired Army major general, speaking last week at a think tank. "I just can't explain it. I don't understand."
Scales is right. The next quote is right from the "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance..."
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have emphasized the need for ground troops, leading to focus on the Army and Marine Corps. Meanwhile, while the Navy and Air Force both contribute much to operations overseas, they are seen as virtual "silent partners."

That has forced both services to step up their marketing efforts. The Navy is holding events it calls "Conversations with the Country" in an effort to call attention to its new maritime strategy, which focuses on fighting terrorism in untraditional ways. And the Air Force on Sunday launched a new ad campaign to highlight the allure of the nation's air superiority, employing a marketing theme titled "Above All."

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