Monday, December 29, 2008

The policy in waiting

There is very little daylight between the NYT and the Obama Administration in waiting. In that light, we all should digest the good, the bad, and the ill-informed from this. It should be no shock that this in aligned with much of the Democrat defense think tank work.

Heck, I'll fisk it.
In recent weeks, this page has called for major changes in America’s armed forces: more ground forces, less reliance on the Reserves, new equipment and training to replace cold-war weapons systems and doctrines.
What? The NYT all of a sudden wants to spend more money on defense? They now know what persistent conflict means? Wait for it ...
Money will have to be found to pay for all of this, and the Pentagon can no longer be handed a blank check, as happened throughout the Bush years.
Oh, nevermind.
Since 2001, basic defense spending has risen by 40 percent in real post-inflation dollars. That is not counting the huge supplemental budgets passed — with little serious review or debate — each year to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such unquestioned largess has shielded the Pentagon from any real pressure to cut unneeded weapons systems and other wasteful expenses.
Largess? Oh, must be the non-MRE food I am eating. As a result, there is plenty of fat in the defense budget. Here is what we think can be cut back or canceled in order to pay for new equipment and other reforms that are truly essential to keep this country safe:Yes, remember the "Who needs F-14 and F-15 when the F-4 is fine? Why a F-16 when the A-7 is fine?" Same idea.
End production of the Air Force’s F-22. The F-22 was designed to ensure victory in air-to-air dogfights with the kind of futuristic fighters that the Soviet Union did not last long enough to build. The Air Force should instead rely on its version of the new high-performance F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which comes into production in 2012 and like the F-22 uses stealth technology to elude enemy radar.
Would it be impolite to mention that the F-35 still isn't in production? Who would is stand up to the latest generation of fighters being produced in Russia and Europe once you join up inside visual range?
Until then, it can use upgraded versions of the F-16, which can outperform anything now flown by any potential foe. The F-35 will provide a still larger margin of superiority. The net annual savings: about $3 billion.
The F-4 argument.
Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. This is a stealthy blue water combat ship designed to fight the kind of midocean battles no other nation is preparing to wage. The Navy can rely on the existing DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyer, a powerful, well-armed ship that incorporates the advanced Aegis combat system for tracking and destroying multiple air, ship and submarine targets. The Navy has sharply cut back the number of Zumwalts on order from 32 to two.
Yikes! How many errors can you get in one paragraph? NYT, drop me an email next time you need a fact checker. Let me help you out a bit...I don't even like the DDG-1000, but you are making me do this...
  • Anything the size of a pocket battleship and emitting all that radar is not stealthy. The PPT and tri-fold may say that - but anyone who has been at sea knows different.
  • You have 180 degree lock-off. DDG-1000 was designed for just the opposite of a blue-water battle - it was designed originally as a land attack destroyer - as it right up next to the shore.
  • China is preparing to engage on blue water warfare - as are the Indians - as are the Russians ....
Classic example why you should worry about anyone who gets their only national security information from the NTY. We will have to rely on DDG-51s now that Zumwalt has been put out of its misery, so that last suggestion they give is meaningless. Horse already out of the barn.
Cutting the last two could save more than $3 billion a year that should be used to buy more of the littoral combat ships that are really needed. Those ships can move quickly in shallow offshore waters and provide helicopter and other close-in support for far more likely ground combat operations.
LCS cannot and will not be able to support troops ashore in but a very limited manner. Including mission modules, $3 billion will buy you no more than 4 LCS max, less if you crash a half-dozen or so FIRESCOUTS along the way.
Halt production of the Virginia class sub. Ten of these unneeded attack submarines — modeled on the cold-war-era Seawolf, whose mission was to counter Soviet attack and nuclear launch submarines — have already been built. The program is little more than a public works project to keep the Newport News, Va., and Groton, Conn., naval shipyards in business.
Gee, email Bubblehead NYT if you need to understand subs. This is just pathetic. VA class is an affordable answer to SEAWOLF and is the one program we have that is ahead of schedule and below budget...and our national security requires the industrial base in Newport News and Groton staying in business. Just stupid paragraph from every angle.
The Navy can extend the operating lives of the existing fleet of Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines, which can capably perform all needed post-cold-war missions — from launching cruise missiles to countering China’s expanding but technologically inferior submarine fleet. Net savings: $2.5 billion.
How about we build VA and refuel a few LA instead?
Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey. After 25 years of trying, this futuristic and unnecessary vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has yet to prove reliable or safe. The 80 already built are more than enough. Instead of adding 400 more, the Marine Corps should buy more of the proven H-92 and CH-53 helicopters. Net savings: $2 billion to 2.5 billion.
Just when, finally, they are in the Fleet and proving their worth? That argument should have been made 10 years ago. Old argument that just doesn't work. We'll take a few CH-53 for the Navy though - everyone agrees it was stupid to get rid of those we had.
Halt premature deployment of missile defense. The Pentagon wants to spend roughly $9 billion on ballistic missile defense next year. That includes money to deploy additional interceptors in Alaska and build new installations in central Europe. After spending some $150 billion over the past 25 years, the Pentagon has yet to come up with a national missile defense system reliable enough to provide real security. The existing technology can be easily fooled by launching cheap metal decoys along with an incoming warhead.
I would comment more but can't. This is just not accurate - nuff said.
We do not minimize the danger from ballistic missiles. We agree there should be continued testing and research on more feasible approaches. Since the most likely threat would come from Iran or North Korea, there should be serious discussions with the Russians about a possible joint missile defense program. (We know the system poses no threat to Russia, but it is time to take away the excuse.) A research program would cost about $5 billion annually, for a net savings of nearly $5 billion.
Who here can tell my why sharing some of our most sensitive and high-tech research with autocratic Russia might be a bad idea. Anyone?
Negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons. Under the 2002 Moscow Treaty, the United States and Russia committed to reduce their strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 each by 2012. There has been no discussion of any further cuts. A successor treaty should have significantly lower limits — between 1,000 and 1,400, with a commitment to go lower.
Yawn. OK, but while we are at it, let's build and test modern, more reliable, and safer designs. Sounds like a good plan - if both steps are done.
President-elect Barack Obama should also take all ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert and commit to reducing the nation’s absurdly large stock of backup warheads. These steps will make the world safer. It will give Mr. Obama a lot more credibility to press others to rein in their nuclear ambitions.
The Strangelovian paranoia at the NYT is kind of funny. Hairtrigger? Silly. Pre-emptive unilateral negotiation? Mindless.
It is hard to say just how much money would be saved with these reductions, but in the long term, the amount would certainly be considerable.

Trim the active-duty Navy and Air Force. The United States enjoys total dominance of the world’s seas and skies and will for many years to come.
Ummmm, not if we follow your plan.
The Army and the Marines have proved too small for the demands of simultaneous ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are the forces most likely to be called on in future interventions against terrorist groups or to rescue failing states. Reducing the Navy by one carrier group and the Air Force by two air wings would save about $5 billion a year.
Actually, not a bad idea if you needed to find a spare $5 billion ....
Making these cuts will not be politically easy. The services are already talking up remote future threats (most involving a hostile China armed to the teeth with submarines and space-age weapons). Military contractors invoke a different kind of threat: hundreds of thousands of layoffs in a recession-weakened economy. We are all for saving and creating jobs, but not at the cost of diverting finite defense dollars from real and pressing needs — or new programs that will create new jobs.
Such as ..... details ....
The cuts above could save $20 billion to $25 billion a year, which could be better used as follows:

Increase the size of the ground force. The current buildup of the Army and the Marine Corps will cost more than $100 billion over the next six years. Trimming the size of the Navy and Air Force,..
deferring the deployment of unready missile defenses and canceling the Osprey will pay for much of that.

Pay for the Navy’s needed littoral combat ships. These ships, which operate in shallow waters to support ground combat, cost about $600 million each. Canceling the DDG-1000 destroyer (more than $3 billion per ship) and the Virginia class submarine (more than $2 billion each) will help provide that needed money.
Resupply the National Guard and the Reserves. At the present rate for replacing weapons left behind or destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard will still be more than 20 percent short of what it needs in 2013. Canceling the F-22 will provide enough money to do better than that years sooner.
Some of these changes would have been made already if the Pentagon procurement system were more responsive to present needs and less captive to service and industry lobbyists.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates complains about what he calls “next war-itis,” the system’s built-in preference for what might be needed in potential future wars over what is clearly needed now.
Privately, most of the service chiefs concede that their budgets, which have seen little discipline since 9/11, have some margin for cuts.
I don't care who you are, that there is funny.
Congress will need to develop a lot more realism and restraint.
Lobbyists pushing costly and unneeded weapons systems find ready allies in lawmakers looking to create or protect federally financed jobs in their districts. Big contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics have become masters at spreading those jobs around to assemble broad Congressional voting blocs. Work on the F-22 has been parceled out to subcontractors in 44 states.
Has always been that way, won't change.
Mr. Gates, who will stay on, must make reforming the procurement system a priority. The era of unlimited budgets is over, and Mr. Gates needs to make tough calls and stick to them. Congress must give more weight to the nation’s overall needs and less to parochial interests.

Fixing the Pentagon’s procurement process will require the full backing of Mr. Obama. We believe American taxpayers are eager to support changes that would make the country more secure while making more effective use of their money.
Baby & Bathwater. Review CONOPS prior to execution.

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