If there was a picture that needed a caption contest, this would be it; the inquisitive & slightly patronizing professor, the grinning politician, and the badda55 with the “soon” look on his face.
As I was posting this though, I thought that some of you would like the opportunity to discuss something that should be more than just a cheeky Caption Contest.
I’ll give it a start.
First of all; no one, especially on the Front Porch, should be in any way shocked about the depth of the cuts that are coming. We have been discussing for years it was on the way; the question was only the degree and emphasis. The reasons are self-evident:
1. Political: the politicians have structured the budget such that the area easiest to cut to any degree is DoD. They are cutting DoD because it is easy and they can say they are doing something. They are not serious about debt reduction though – if they were you would see cuts everywhere; and you won’t. Additionally, no one is going to surround a Congressman’s car and pound on his hood, or march on Washington (pun intended) because the budget for the military is being cut.
This is political in two ways; it feeds the blood-lust of the President’s supporters on the Left to punish the military by taking away money (though there is blowback already for not being enough), and it gives him talking points to the right about being concerned about the budget. There is no downside here for the President – especially as if you read the document there is a lot there that is good. Just watch the money.
2. President Obama: The Commander in Chief comes from the far-Left of the Democrat Party. If you need more help understanding what he is doing at Defense, review “Scorpion and Frog.” He has a long and clear record of opposing both the conduct and the ability of the USA to conduct extended ground combat overseas. He has a long record of wanting a much smaller military, he is just being consistent; elections have consequences. I do not subscribe to the line of thought that this is done with malice. The President just sees things differently than some when it comes to the place of the military in the American project. It is not an unusual perspective, it has a lineage that goes back to the founding of this nation. Though left of center, his D&G is well within a standard deviation of the norm when it comes to our history.
3. Operational: We have left the field in IRQ and soon will in AFG. A draw-down of land forces, like we saw a build-up when combat expanded, is natural.
What about his strategy? Well, you can read it here.
The actual bucket-o-money that goes to DoD will be determined by Congress, so we will just have to watch things as they develop. What is important is the Direction & Guidance that comes from the Commander in Chief. From that you will see planning revised and priorities set, as it should be.
In that light, let’s look at it. There is actually a lot here to like, at least for me. Perfect? No. What I would produce? No. Better than expected? Let's see. Some pull quotes:
“As we end today’s wars and reshape our Armed Forces, we will ensure that our military is agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies. In particular, we will continue to invest in the capabilities critical to future success, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; operating in anti-access environments; and prevailing in all domains, including cyber.”ISR, CT, WMD, A2/AD, & Cyber. No issues there.
Out of the assessment we developed a defense strategy that transitions our Defense enterprise from an emphasis on today’s wars to preparing for future challenges, protects the broad range of U.S. national security interests, advances the Department’s efforts to rebalance and reform, and supports the national security imperative of deficit reduction through a lower level of defense spending.That is what a responsible leader does. You cannot fault him for this. You may not agree with his proposals, but the process is sound.
This strategic guidance document describes the projected security environment and the key military missions for which the Department of Defense (DoD) will prepare. It is intended as a blueprint for the Joint Force in 2020, providing a set of precepts that will help guide decisions regarding the size and shape of the force over subsequent program and budget cycles, and highlighting some of the strategic risks that may be associated with the proposed strategy.
For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.That is very close to Plan Salamander. The devil is in the details, but this represents continuity of broader concepts we have been operating under for a long time.
we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.
Our defense efforts in the Middle East will be aimed at countering violent extremists and destabilizing threats, as well as upholding our commitment to allies and partner states.There is a subtle shift from trying to create a Middle East safe for democracy as we saw a decade ago, but in light of national will and present realities – that is very reasonable.
To support these objectives, the United States will continue to place a premium on U.S. and allied military presence in .– and support of .– partner nations in and around this region.
Speaking of reasonable and Plan Salamander, this was almost lifted from one of my posts over the years.
Most European countries are now producers of security rather than consumers of it. Combined with the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, this has created a strategic opportunity to rebalance the U.S. military investment in Europe, moving from a focus on current conflicts toward a focus on future capabilities. In keeping with this evolving strategic landscape, our posture in Europe must also evolve.Verily. WWII and the Cold War are both over. Keep a few Combined training and logistics bases with our NATO allies and come home; lock, stock, and barrel.
Speaking of amphibian echoes … Jerry, call your office.
Across the globe we will seek to be the security partner of choice, pursuing new partnerships with a growing number of nations .–including those in Africa and Latin America .– whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability, and prosperity. Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities.I am tempted just to do a bunch of “continuity” quotes of what is almost boilerplate national security concepts in this document, just to emphasize that everyone should take a powder. One will do, here is an example;
The United States will continue to lead global efforts with capable allies and partners to assure access to and use of the global commons, both by strengthening international norms of responsible behavior and by maintaining relevant and interoperable military capabilities.That has been true for going on 70 years.
What about the Primary Mission Areas? Can you argue with these?
The order and emphasis may be different, but Rummy or Dick Cheney could have put that list out.
- Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
- Deter and Defeat Aggression
- Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges
- Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space
- Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent
- Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities
- Provide a Stabilizing Presence
- Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations
- Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations
Looking forward in the “Toward the Joint Force of 2020” there is more to thank the influence of those in the background who worked on this under the guidance of Secretary Panetta.
… we have sought to differentiate between those investments that should be madeThis sets the foundation for a lot of creative friction. This is a great opportunity. A2/AD, “Influence Squadrons,” rebuilding neglected readiness areas – these are all Navy areas. We need to embrace them and lean in to the President’s challenge.
today and those that can be deferred. This includes an accounting of our ability to make a course change that could be driven by many factors, including shocks or evolutions in the strategic, operational, economic, and technological spheres. Accordingly, the concept of “reversibility” – including the vectors on which we place our industrial base, our people, our active-reserve component balance, our posture, and our partnership emphasis – is a key part of our decision calculus.
… We will resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure, and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were deemphasized over the past decade. An ill-prepared force will be vulnerable to corrosion in its morale, recruitment, and retention.
… the Department must continue to reduce the .“cost of doing business..” This entails
reducing the rate of growth of manpower costs, finding further efficiencies in overhead and headquarters, business practices, and other support activities before taking further risk in meeting the demands of the strategy.
Having trouble finding enough personnel to make this happen in an environment of decreasing resources? Balderdash. So much more was done by those who came before with fewer people. Take a broad axe to staffs. Cleave off our top-heavy force structure and decouple non value-added BA/NMP.
Heck, give me a stack of manning documents and a case of beer. I’ll grab 3-4 retried CDR/CAPT and ensconce our little cabal in my hunting cabin in the swamp for a fortnight and we’ll give you the cuts you need.
Wait, thinking about the people I would take with me – make that a half-dozen cases and a mixed case of scotch. Better yet – just make it two cases of beer, a bottle of Oban, and we’ll do it in a weekend instead – we have paying gigs to take care of.
We’ll do it pro-bono too.
So, put down the hair shirt. Pack up the sack cloth and ashes. Save the flail for post 2012 election results if needed. This is an opportunity to do some good. The fat of last decade only made our Navy distracted, lazy, and in an intellectual stupor. The stress on they system may fix things.
Be cheerful, rosin up your hands and pull on your oar with vigor.
To end things up like we started; I’m sorry. Can’t help myself.