Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Hollowing II: Electric Boogaloo

For a global power to have global offensive reach there are two things that are essential to give the commander flexibility, reach, and man-in-the-loop reliability. Without them, often the only option is to do nothing, and a global power becomes strictly a regional power with limited power projection capabilities. Two of the most critical tools in the global power toolbox are tankers and bombers.

Don't think that isn't known.
The White House budget office has asked the Pentagon to consider delaying the purchase of aerial refueling tankers by five years, a move that reflects the constraints of drawing up a budget in the midst of a recession, according to two sources familiar with the administration's discussions.
Delaying the purchase of the tankers, which would replace a fleet that dates to the Eisenhower administration, will draw fierce opposition from the defense industry and many members of Congress, whose districts have tens of thousands of jobs related to the program.
A tentative plan to build new long-range bombers also could be shelved.
A trial balloon ... that may be killed, but ...
OMB spokesman Ken Baer said his office has "not directed the Defense Department to either delay production of the new tanker or cancel the new bombers."
Billions for pork and to pay off political allies - but cuts for an actual Constitutional function.

In some ways though, DoD is its own worse enemy. It had a chance to at least get the tankers coming. The tanker deal was a clown show from day one - KC-767s should be running off the production lines now. The long-range bomber is still a young program, but is also needed and was - by looking evolutionary and manned - to be a smart program.

Don't get too flustered though - there is one program that Congress is sure to support.
# correspondence from intermediaries for Speaker Pelosi issuing demands for certain aircraft and expressing outrage when requested military planes were not available. "It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable...The speaker will want to know where the planes are..." wrote Kay King, Director of the House Office of Interparliamentary Affairs. In a separate email, when told a certain type of aircraft would not be available, King writes, "This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset [s]peaker."
# During another email exchange DOD staff advised Kay King that one Pelosi military aircraft request could not be met because of "crew rest requirements" and offered to help secure commercial travel. Kay King responded: "We appreciate the efforts to help the codel [sic] fly commercially but you know the problem that creates with spouses. If we can find another way to assist with military assets, we would like to do that."
You really need to follow the link above and click the links at the bottom of that page for the email PDFs. Amazing attitude. Only in DC.

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