The Insider

By Marjorie Censer
April 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Though asking for more money for defense “in the middle of a massive financial crisis is not the news most want to hear,” one analyst says most of the priorities in President Obama's $83.4 billion supplemental request “seem reassuring.”

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes in a new paper on today's supplemental request that Obama had no choice but to submit a war-cost request because the “Bush administration had failed to draft a comprehensive defense budget.”

But Cordesman calls on Congress to closely review the request, particularly in the categories of equipment and force structure.

He questions the $11.6 billion requested to refurbish or replace equipment used in theater, arguing that “there still is no credible estimate of what the overall cost and procurement strategy will be to pay for the equipment lost or worn out in Iraq, and to ensure a suitable form of 'reset' for Afghanistan.”

Additionally, he says there are concerns surrounding the $9.8 billion marked for force protection, calling for a “clear path to providing an effective mix of armored vehicles to meet both current and future needs.”

Cordesman concludes that “Congress should be prepared to spend and the President seems to have all of the right priorities.”

“But,” he adds, “these are areas where the Congress, the media, and think tanks should be ruthless in questioning the quality of planning and management, and demanding transparent accounting and measures of effectiveness.”

By John Liang
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Usually when the Pentagon submits its annual budget, defense analysts have a field day (or several) taking apart the hundreds of pages of supplementary justification material to find any new trends in defense spending.

This time around, though, it hasn't been that easy. The only thing for analysts to go on so far in any kind of detail has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates' press conference on Monday.

Which is exactly what the Center for Strategic and International Studies did today. CSIS released a paper titled "U.S. Strategy, Force Plans, and the FY2010 Defense Budget: The Questions Still to Be Answered," authored by in-house analyst Anthony Cordesman:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provided the first indications of how he will seek to shift the U.S. defense budget and program in his press briefing of April 6, 2009. This briefing, however, raised at least as many questions as it answered. It also is unusual in that it was not accompanied by any charts or detailed background data, and no material that supplements his comments has been issued by OSD (Public Affairs).

"Part of the reason for this lack of detail may lie in the need to rush some decisions out in time to meet budget deadlines, and before the secretary had time to develop all of the necessary supporting plans and analysis," Cordesman continues.

It is also clear that there will still have to be an FY2010 supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the Department of Defense is also committed to yet another QDR this year, although it is far from clear as yet that it will be any better tied to a clear force plan, procurement plan, and future year defense program and budget (FYDP) than its largely meaningless predecessors.

Furthermore, if the new administration is serious about creating an integrated national security strategy, at some point it will have to put forward an integrated approach to civil-military strategy, programs, and budget covering the Department of Defense, State Department, and other federal departments and agencies—a massive but necessary reform in the way that the U.S. approaches national security and one that could make the rationale for the FY2010 defense budget largely moot. If nothing else, it may be impossible to modernize the U.S. security posture until the chaos, lack of focus, and waste in the foreign aid efforts in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan are addressed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already warned about these problems, which are exemplified by the lack of any integrated plans, budget, and measures of effectiveness for the State Department, DoD, and USAID efforts.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Ever since cyberspace became a major concern for the Defense Department, figuring out who exactly is behind attacks against U.S. networks has largely remained an unsolved problem, according to defense officials. So tangled is the Internet, and so manifold the worldwide laws governing its use, that sophisticated attackers seem to have no problem concealing their tracks.

Pinpointing the origin of cyberattacks to somewhere and someone in China or Russia is usually as far as officials will go when discussing the issue in public.

In practice, this means cyberspace is still a domain that "favors the attacker," as they say in the military.

The implications of not knowing who U.S. cyber warriors are fighting are enormous, and experts at the National Security Agency and elsewhere at DOD presumably are working feverishly to find solutions.

But Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an old hand at cyber issues, this week suggested U.S. officials may just have to live with the anonymity of cyber attackers.

In a briefing about fiscal year 2010 budget decisions on Monday, Cartwright made the point that key pieces of information associated with conventional warfare (identity and origin of the attacker) are notably absent in today's conflicts -- cyber or otherwise.

"((H))eretofore, conventional warfare was: I know your home address, I know exactly who we're fighting, and we know exactly where. And the problem is, that's not the case anymore in cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction, because there are venues without attribution that we have to deal with as we move to the future."

A senior defense official tells us the general's comment was not meant to signal officials have given up hope, and work continues on attribution techniques. But, the official said, the problem remains "extremely difficult."

Of course, any public comment from DOD that reliable cyber attack attribution cannot be achieved would be seen as an invitation to cyber intruders. Besides, at least one senior cyber warrior has said the Internet's anonymity could, in fact, sometimes come in handy for U.S. forces.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) says he'll support the Defense Department's new push for a joint combat search-and-rescue aircraft, though DOD's plans to discontinue the current CSAR program could affect his region in Pennsylvania, where Boeing makes rotorcraft.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky have been involved in a three-way competition for the CSAR-X helicopter contract

Today on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” program, Sestak said, “People tend to go to the armed services committees because they have districts that happen to have defense industries in them. One of them's going to affect my district, CSAR, the combat search-and-rescue platform for the future.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he does not want to purchase a single-service, Air Force-only platform. “Let's sit back and get a multiservice capability to do it,” Sestak said. “That's the right thing to do, and I'm going to support that.”

But Sestak predicted Gates will face a “tough, tough battle” with authorizers and appropriators in the House and Senate, as well as the defense industry, as he defends his budget proposals for the F-22, C-17 and other programs. “And it's a shame,” Sestak said. “If there's a transformation needed, it's now.”

While congressional proponents of the F-22 are upset with Gates' plan to buy no more than 187 F-22s for the Air Force, Sestak, a retired three-star admiral, argued DOD probably needs fewer than 187.

By John Liang
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In 1994, technothriller author Tom Clancy published "Debt of Honor," a novel about a brief war between the United States and Japan. The ending of that novel had a terrorist crashing an airliner into the Capitol building, presaging the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The beginning of the novel, however, presaged something else which Publisher's Weekly described at the time thusly:

Jack Ryan, now the President's National Security Adviser, finds himself embroiled in the buildup to a new world war -- one in which the stock market and national economic policy are as critical as advanced weaponry.

That intermixing between economics and warfare is taking on greater importance in the real world, and is the subject of an InsideDefense.com investigation.

By Dan Dupont
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The White House Office of Management and Budget has released the administration's latest supplemental appropriations request.

You can find the statement here, and the whole thing here.

Equipment highlights:

* $11.6 billion to refurbish or replace equipment that is worn out or damaged from operating in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $0.6 billion to procure four F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to replace four fighter aircraft lost in the theater of operations.
* $9.8 billion to improve the protection of our forces with lightweight body armor, armored vehicles, safe and secure operating bases, identity management for access control, and persistent surveillance capabilities.
* $1.5 billion to confront the evolving threat from Improvised Explosive Devices.

More news to come Friday.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that the Pentagon has not had to punish anyone for violating the nondisclosure agreements that have been used to prevent leaks about defense budget deliberations.

“No, because there have been no leaks, in case you hadn't noticed,” Gates told reporters who participated in a roundtable discussion with the defense secretary.

Gates said he and other officials have been “astonished” by the discipline displayed by Defense Department officials during the budget deliberations. Demanding the nondisclosure pacts was “kind of an afterthought,” he added, noting he could not remember who suggested the idea.

At that point, Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised his hand a bit, signaling he advocated the pacts.

“I think what you have is a building, fortunately, with men and women in it who when they put their name to something saying they won't do something, have the character and integrity to stick with it,” Gates added. “I didn't have to say a word to a soul through this whole process.”

Gates said he has given DOD officials the “maximum possible opportunity” to make their views on budget issues and programs known to him, to “guide” decisions and “try to change my mind about things.” But once a decision is made by DOD and the president, he said, the department must heed it and respect the chain of command when dealing with Capitol Hill, he added.

Conducting “guerrilla warfare” against DOD's budget plans, he said, is not a good idea.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army will soon begin the process of picking a contractor to teach Afghan administration officials how to run an U.S.-style defense apparatus in their country -- literally.

According to a January 2009 draft request for proposals for the "Afghanistan National Security Sector Development & Fielding Program," contractors will be in charge of teaching senior security officials everything from personnel management, intelligence training, logistics, strategic planning and budgeting.

Army officials posted a link to the draft RFP on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site late last month, announcing the proposal submission period for industry would begin this month.

The winning company must provide "training, coaching and advice" to senior Afghan defense officials in the use of processes like the "Strategic Defense Planning System" or the "Planning, Programming and Budgeting System," according to the draft RFP. Both processes apparently are modeled after signature Pentagon processes.

To be clear, the document makes no mention of introducing the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System into the Afghan defense establishment.

It does, however, require the contractor to run a tight ship and keep U.S. defense officials abreast of the Afghans' progress, as illustrated by this snippet from the draft RFP:

"Within two months of start of contract, the contractor shall establish a system to track the progress of the ((assistant minister of defense for strategy and policy)) and his deputy as they develop internal staff operations and functions. The contractor shall provide written updates and an oral presentation to the ((U.S.-led Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan)) at least quarterly on the progress of the development and no less than monthly if progress is not being made in accordance with the plan that is approved by the CSTC-A . . . by the second month."

The contract's period of performance will begin on August 1 and last one year, according to the draft RFP. After that, there is a possibility of four yearlong extensions.

Contractors must put in sixty-hour work weeks, consisting of six ten-hour days (Saturday through Thursday) and no reimbursable overtime. "Meal time is not inclusive in the 60 hours," notes the draft RFP.

By Marjorie Censer
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

A new Army vehicle modernization program “will take 15 years or more to implement,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday, while also stressing the importance of launching that effort.

“We need to get agreement with the Army and kind of broad agreement on what that program ought to look like and then build it out and . . . start bending steel just as soon as we can,” Gates said during a teleconference with reporters.

The modernization initiative is a response to Gates's decision to cancel the eight manned ground vehicles in the Army Future Combat Systems program -- a decision he said he didn't make until this weekend, just days before Monday's announcement.

“One reason why it was so difficult was because the Army felt very strongly about it,” he said during the same phone call. “I spent a lot of time with ((Army Chief of Staff)) Gen. ((George)) Casey and ((Army)) Secretary ((Pete)) Geren -- probably more time with them on this particular issue than on any other single issue with anybody else in the building.”

But -- as Gates said on Monday and in a roundtable with reporters yesterday -- he concluded the vehicle component of the program was not responsive to the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Dan Dupont
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As expected, President Obama has nominated Robert Work for the position of under secretary of the Navy.

His bio, as released by the White House:

Robert Work is currently Vice President, Strategic Studies at CSBA (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments). During a 27-year career in the Marine Corps, Mr. Work held a wide range of command, leadership, and management positions. His last assignment was as Military Assistant and Senior Aide to the Honorable Richard J. Danzig, 71st Secretary of the Navy. Since retiring in 2001, Mr. Work has focused on defense strategy and transformation and maritime affairs. He has written and spoken extensively on US Navy and Marine Corps strategies and programs; directed and analyzed three war game series for the Office of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense; contributed to Department of Defense studies on global basing and emerging military missions; and provided support for the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. He has also studied and prepared several reports on future defense challenges, including the changing nature of undersea warfare; power projection against regional nuclear powers, and power projection against future anti-access/area denial networks. Mr. Work earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Illinois; a Master's of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California; a Master's of Science in Space System Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School; and a Master's in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University, where he teaches defense analysis and roles and missions of the armed forces.

By John Liang
April 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today sought to mollify lawmakers' concerns over his proposal to cut $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency.

As we reported yesterday, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mark Begich (D-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) sent a letter to President Obama warning that the proposed cuts "could undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat."

Additionally, the senators fear that the cuts could undermine the United States' international efforts to increase missile defense among allies:

Cooperation on missile defense is now a critical component of many of our closest security partnerships around the world. We fear that cuts to the budget for missile defense could inadvertently undermine these relationships and foster the impression that the United States is an unreliable ally. Moreover, sharp cuts would leave us and our friends around the world less capable of responding to the growing ballistic missile threat.

Speaking to a small group of reporters in a follow-up gathering today, Gates sought to mollify those lawmakers' opposition: “If we can show them ((lawmakers)) what we are sustaining with the ground-based interceptors for midcourse, and the research and development that we have continued with respect to the boost phase, perhaps we can persuade them that all is not as bad as they seem to think.”

By
April 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

* In good shape on missile defense re: threats from rogue states.

* Cartwright: ABL's key attribute is directed energy. In right place at right time can "catch" an ICBM at the boost phase. But: Rudimentary. "Needs to go further." Tech should continue, but not ready for production.

* Cost savings across the FYDP: "We will have to sit down" and add them all up, Gates says. Decisions went to comptroller only Thursday; only when details go to OMB "will we be in a position . . . to talk about how much we have saved" or how much more is in FYDP.

* Gates: Shipbuilding plans "inefficient." "Having all three built" by same company in same yard would be much more efficient. That said, "if we do that," must smoothly restart DDG-51 program.

* Gates: Increasing the buy of the JSF, but taken a "more cautious approach" to ramping up production over five years. "Several dozen aircraft" below original planned buy.

* Cartwright: More JSF test assets coming.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has released a statement about the fiscal year 2010 budget decisions rolled out today by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“The recommendations made today by Secretary Gates represent an important first step in balancing the Department’s wants with our nation’s needs," he said in a statement e-mailed to reporters by a spokesman. The words "first step" were in bold, a not-so-subtle reference the role Congress will play as it debates the proposals.

"For far too long, the Defense Department has failed to address these challenges, and I applaud the Secretary for conducting this comprehensive review," Murtha continued. “However, the Committee will carefully review the Department’s recommendations in the context of current and future threats when we receive the detailed fiscal year 2010 budget request.”

By
April 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

This time from Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information:

Just as it did the press, Secretary of Defense Gates decisions on hardware will completely preoccupy Congress. A major food fight is sure to break out over the end of F-22 production at 187 very expensive, not particularly impressive fighters, no new presidential or search and rescue helicopters (for now), no more C-17s, and a very few other clean cut terminations.

While Washington DC hisses and spits over the secretary’s hardware recommendations, it is probably more important to ask, what has changed, and if anything has, where are we now going?

It does not appear that the basic DOD budget has changed; this set of decisions may be budget neutral, or it may even hold in its future expanded net spending requirements.

We have not changed an anticipation to prepare for occupations in foreign lands (the advocates call it “counter-insurgency”), or to continue to spend most of our defense budget on forms of conventional warfare most reminiscent of the mid twentieth century. To fight the indistinct, unspecified conflicts we may have to face in the foreseeable future, what has changed? The strategy? The shrinkage of the hardware inventory and its age? While many decisions were made, the Pentagon-ship of state appears to be very much on the same basic course.

For the defense Department’s broken acquisition system, the Secretary’s endorsement of the Levin – McCain “procurement reform” bill (now watered down at the Defense Department’s urging) means that business as usual is very alive and well. There will be some new bottles for some very old wine, but the bitterness of the taste will still be around as we rush to build untested aircraft (e.g. F-35), endorse problematic, unaffordable ship designs (e.g. LCS), and spend generously to defend against less, not more likely, threats (e.g. missile defense).

For one set of decisions, even if they are unspectacular, Secretary Gates deserves much good credit. He made people his first priority. Hopefully, that was not just rhetorical. The emphasis he put on medical research, caring for the wounded, and family support are all to be greatly commended. I fear, however, that Congress will do little more on this prime issue than simply throw money – as it has in the past.

By Dan Dupont
April 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As budget day dawns, it's worth remembering what Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a couple of weeks back of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to unveil defense spending changes himself -- before they even get to the White House:

One benefit, according to Levin, is the recommendations are usually leaked once they reach the Office of Management and Budget: “So you can avoid the leakage by simply saying, 'This is what I am recommending to the president,'” the Michigan Democrat said.

An early release would also ensure that most of the blowback from the major program cuts expected in the FY-10 proposal would fall mostly on the Pentagon and not the administration. “Instead of having the president or the president's budget take the heat, ((this)) is kind of a heat shield,” Levin said. “That does not mean OMB or the president will not get it, they ((will)) get less of it.”

It's also worth noting that the president is thousands of miles away today as his Republican defense secretary unveils what promises to be a controversial package of proposals -- putting Republicans on the Hill in the position of taking on a fellow GOPer they have spent the last two-plus years praising.

We will, of course, be following it all very closely today, on the site and right here on Defense: Next. Stay tuned.