Looking Ahead

By Dan Dupont / October 9, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A bit of a grab bag this morning.

First up, Inside the Pentagon today has a good piece on a draft defense energy strategy:

The document, which has not been publicly released, is an eleventh-hour attempt by outgoing defense leaders to address the sorts of energy concerns identified by Defense Science Board studies, the most recent of which was published in February.

The ultimate fate of the plan -- which proffers four strategic goals, each with implementation steps -- will rest with whoever leads the Defense Department for the next president. If outgoing Pentagon leaders finalize the plan before the transition, it will still fall to the next administration to either embrace or change the goals and to supervise the implementation of energy security priorities. In a nod to the plan’s transitory nature, one paragraph notes “both presidential candidates” advocate enacting legislation to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

More here.

As for that new administration team, the Huffington Post takes a look at the two transition teams and notes that one seems far more prepared than the other.

A taste:

"Government is becoming more complex and the time it is taking to put a leadership team in key departments is taking longer," said P.J. Crowley, who heads the Homeland Security Presidential Transition Initiative at the Center for American Progress. "I think that if a campaign is waiting until November 5 to start the transition process, they are going to be behind. It is not being presumptuous -- it is being prudent to be prepared before the election so that you can at least make the transition process effective as possible and be ready to govern on January 20."

A good taste of our own transition coverage is here.

Next up is a McClatchy Newspapers story on the financial crisis and its impacts on defense:

Congress' decision earlier this month to approve a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry adds to the strain on the federal budget, and the stock market decline and the credit crunch could slow economic activity and eliminate jobs, which in turn could reduce tax revenues.

"How the U.S. government funds its military answers the question of: How committed it is to fighting these kinds of war?" said James Quinlivan , a senior military analyst and mathematician at the RAND Corporation.

The pressure is likely to be felt most acutely by the Army , the military's largest and most expensive branch, which is already strained by the war in Iraq and planning for another decade of sustained conflict. . . .

The Army plans to add about 30,000 soldiers by 2010, and expanding the force to 547,000 would cost at least $5 billion , according to Army estimates.

But as we've reported this week, the Army is actually mulling whether it needs even more troops:

"A lot of people ask me that question, and they say, 'OK, how big an Army do you need?'" ((Army Chif of Staff Gen.)) Casey told reporters. "My first question is, 'What do you want it to do?'; my second question is, 'How much are you prepared to spend on that Army?'"

Casey said the service is "actively working" the question as part of the development of its six-year spending plan covering fiscal years 2010 to 2015. . . .

"So the short answer is: I don't have the answer to the question yet, but I know I'm going to get asked it after the 20th of January” -- Inauguration Day -- “and we're working hard to figure out what the right answer for the country is."