The Insider

By
October 5, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Washington Post last week ran a good piece on the Pentagon’s use of information operations in Iraq. The story is based on a contract awarded last month to four public relations firms. Under the contract, the Post reports, the companies are charged with producing “media campaigns” that cast U.S. objectives in Iraq in a positive light and convince residents of the barbarism of the insurgency.

The application of information operations during future wars likely will be near the top of the agenda for the new defense leadership. The field is considered key to irregular warfare, which many defense officials believe to be the predominant type of conflict facing America in the foreseeable future.

An August draft version of a yet-unreleased policy directive governing IW says information ops are crucial for neutralizing “adversary propaganda” during Iraq-style counterinsurgency campaigns, as we reported in September.

Exactly how this should be done isn’t all that clear yet, according to experts and officials, who say some thorny issues remain to be resolved.

For example, one question is who should be in charge of conducting information operations. “IO authorities have been a subject of much contention from the outset over a decade ago,” one expert writes.

While the authority to employ IO initially rested solely with the “national command authority,” which consists of the president and the defense secretary, the combatant commanders were given more power over IO some years ago, this expert said. “Now ((it is)) a bit of pulling and hauling, with many hoping a balanced result will ensue.”

There also were instances of friction among the COCOMs themselves, we’re told. One official described a “food fight” breaking out at one point over operational control of IO forces and equipment between U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Central Command as part of the military’s “Countering Adversary Use of the Internet” program.

That program targets the online propaganda efforts of violent Islamic extremists, we reported last month.

In that context, the now-declassified Rumsfeld-era information operations roadmap, from 2003, remains a great read.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
October 3, 2008 at 5:00 AM

During last night's vice presidential debate, Democratic nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) gave a brief shout-out to Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. If you left the room for even a few seconds you might have missed it, but it’s worthy of note given that the blast-proof truck program has long been a priority of Biden’s.

His reminder of his work on MRAPs -- he argued for huge amounts of money for the vehicles -- came during a discussion with Republican nominee Gov. Sarah Palin about troop funding.

“John McCain voted against an amendment containing $1 billion, $600 million that I had gotten to get MRAPs, those things that are protecting the governor's son and, pray God, my son and a lot of other sons and daughters,” he said during last night's 90-minute debate.

But, these days the MRAP program isn't expected to get a whole lot more funding; in fact, it's winding down. The Defense Department issued what was likely the last program contract last month, this time to International Military and Government.

However, a new effort -- known now as MRAP “Lite” -- is emerging. Check back with Inside the Army next week for more information on that initiative.

-- Marjorie Censer

Editor’s note: We keep very close tabs on MRAP at this special report.

And: Sign up for our MRAP Alert e-mail service here.

By
October 3, 2008 at 5:00 AM
For the first time in months, the Air Force has a nearly complete senior leadership staff. The Senate voted yesterday evening to confirm Michael Donley as Air Force secretary and Lt. Gen. William Fraser as the vice chief of staff.
Donley -- who has been serving in an acting capacity since June 21 -- becomes the Air Force's 22nd secretary. But his time as the service's top civilian could be limited, though, as a new administration will enter the White House in January and likely make new appointments.
 
As for Fraser, the president must offer the official appointment to the general before he can assume his new position, according to an Air Force statement released last night. The general -- who now serves as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- will assume the vice chief of staff position on Oct 9.
 
The position of under secretary of the Air Force -- which has been vacant since Ronald Sega stepped down in August 2007 -- and assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, remain the only unfilled senior positions. Kevin Billings has been serving in the assistant secretary role since this summer.
 
In addition, the Senate has confirmed Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley to receive his fourth star and lead the National Guard Bureau. McKinley becomes the first four-star general in the NGB's history, as we reported this morning
The move reflects changes made in the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Act, which provided a fourth star for the chief of the National Guard Bureau, mandated that at least one deputy head of U.S. Northern Command be a Guard officer and expanded the bureau’s charter.
 
McKinley, who is the director of the Air National Guard, will succeed Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, who was confirmed on Thursday as the first National Guard deputy commander for NORTHCOM, according to a National Guard Bureau statement. 
-- Marcus Weisgerber
By
October 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Two stories posted yesterday shed some much-needed light on the goings-on at the Pentagon as the Bush administration winds down.

First up:

Joint Staff officials are beginning a sweeping review of combatant command and service priorities that could lay the groundwork for the next administration’s decisions early next year on everything from Afghanistan to weapons of mass destruction, according to defense officials.

The analysis is part of the military’s second “comprehensive joint assessment,” a little-known process piloted last fall. As part of this year’s iteration, military leaders in June asked the combatant commanders and service leaders to compile a list of resource priorities, concept-development and experimentation plans, and assessments of the security environment in their areas of responsibility.

In response to the data call, the combatant commanders crafted lists of “warfighter challenges” specific to their regions, describing where they want to see increased investment, according to a defense official.

Joint Staff officials now are beginning to comb through the heaps of data, trying to determine trends, we’re told.

This year marks the second time the military establishment is conducting an annual comprehensive joint assessment. The drill will be soon be codified in the upcoming CJCS directive 3100.01B, which governs the Joint Strategic Planning System.

Officials said the timing of the exercise is opportune, as it is expected to flesh out a comprehensive portrayal of all happenings at the COCOMs just when a new president-elect weighs his first defense-related moves.

Cynics could argue the CJA, like many other Pentagon plans and strategies drawn up toward the end of the Bush era, is doomed to have a limited shelf life.

But, officials say, the review is the product of a supposedly apolitical military caste whose advice has merit regardless of who moves into the White House.

The other story of note concerns the transition to that next administration -- and efforts to figure out which issues, according to the current leadership, should matter most to the next:

The Pentagon's top brass are homing in on about 10 issues identified this summer as crucial matters for the next president and his Defense Department transition team to address as they take the reins of the U.S. military bureaucracy early next year, according to Pentagon officials.

Nearly all of the top issues are classified secret, and most deal with geopolitical challenges, these officials say. They are part of a wider package of 90 briefings detailing issues of lesser import that are expected be of interest to an incoming administration.

“They deal with issues such as sustaining the fight and making the appropriate fiscal decisions at the right time,” said one Pentagon official who has seen the briefings. “It’s not a wish list.”

The story adds important details on the work of the Chairman's New Administration Transition Team, led by this general.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

FURTHER READING: PENTAGON TRANSITION EFFORTS

By
October 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM
A growing consensus among national security experts holds that in order for the U.S. military to be successful in the types of missions it is fighing, it needs better support from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. But for that to happen, these other federal agencies need a dramatic boost in resources, some of those experts said this week.
 
"We have more members in military bands than we have foreign service officers," said retired Lt. Col. John Nagl, at a panel discussion yesterday hosted by the Center for a New American Security, where he is a senior fellow.
 
While Nagl said he likes a John Philip Sousa march as much as the next guy, he is willing to scrap bands in favor of compact discs if it means defense dollars can be spared for the State Department. "We need a bigger State Department more than we need a bigger Army," said Nagl. "I believe that very strongly."
 
At the same event, a discussion titled "Officership In a Time of War," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, voiced similar sentiments.
 
"I'd like to see a surge in the State Department," he said, crediting both "kinetic and non-kinetic solutions" for the decrease in violence in Iraq.
 
And in that vein, Chiarelli ascribed the recent decline in violence not just to the fabled surge of additional troops, but to the Anbar Awakening -- the movement among Sunni tribes to act as security forces alongside coalition troops -- and the work of people like Paul Brinkley, the deputy under secretary of defense for business transformation, who led the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Iraq.
 
"I happen to believe it's more than just the five BCTs ((brigade combat teams)) that are responsible for the security situation that we see today," said. Gen. Peter Chiarelli.
 
A new report from the RAND Corp., "Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence," takes up similar themes. The report argues that to better prepare for future military interventions, "the United States needs to shift substantial resources to the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and military-civilian efforts must be integrated from top to bottom."
 
It also recommends:
 
"A major increase is needed in U.S. resources for non-military activities -- where the ratio between military and non-military national security spending is now 17 to 1. This should include adding at least 6,600 Foreign Service officers for the State Department, 2000 for USAID, and recreating a separate “United States Information Agency-like” agency."
 
The provisional reconstruction teams in Iraq are good examples of military and civilian officials teaming up, performing tasks for which they are best suited, said an Army colonel in the audience at the CNAS event.
 
"If you marry the military's capacity with discrete civilian expertise, it is a winning combination," said Michele Flournoy, president and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security. She said the military can provide security, transportation, planning and expertise to better enable their less-resourced civilian counterparts to do their jobs.
 
-- Kate Brannen
By
October 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Obama senior foreign policy adviser Richard Danzig had breakfast with defense reporters this morning, and he was asked whether Obama would ask America's European allies for more help in Afghanistan. 

Danzig responded by explaining how he thinks Obama would change America's relations overseas: 
One of the many remarkable things the election of Senator Obama would produce is a very different view of America through much of the world. Lots of enthusiasm for him in Europe but obviously also in Asia and Africa and Latin America. That gives some greater freedom of action to governments in those countries to support America. And that's a worldwide observation, whether it's Japanese ships in the Indian Ocean or French combat troops in Afghanistan.
 
My sense is that one can fairly and should ask the Europeans to do more in Afghanistan. Where for many nations that focus should be on combat troops, there is also potential for dealing with support of the police and the civilian reconstruction items I've mentioned as priorities where many of them have real resources to offer. 
But how, Danzig was asked, can some of these countries send troops if their populace is against doing so? 
This comes back to my observation that Sen. Obama is not a miracle worker, and there are real difficulties and many (countries) will remain unpersuaded. But he would instantly be our most persuasive advocate. As I've indicated I have great respect for Secretary Gates but I think there's a large difference between the potential that a new president, particularly what a president Obama would have, recognizing that 80 percent of the world roughly articulates a desire to have him as president and 20 percent Sen. McCain.
 
 It's an extraordinarily dramatic evocative power he has. I was with him in Berlin and saw the manifestation of that there. And this translates into advantages for America. Does it translate into magical bottom-line resolutions? No, it doesn't. Will it be as strong on the first day as it might be on the fifth year? Yes. I think it's definitely something that we can work with. Your question was would Sen. Obama request (that) the Europeans contribute more to Afghanistan? The answer to that is yes.” 
Danzig also said today he could see Gates sticking around in an Obama administration. And he made news on the subject of defense spending under Obama.
 
More to come, too.
 
-- Thomas Duffy
By
October 1, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Tomorrow DC-based defense reporters get to question former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, a top adviser to Barack Obama and a guy rumored to be on the short list for defense secretary should Obama win.

We'll have much more tomorrow on what he has to say, but today we'll take a brief look at what he's been saying of late.

First up, our story, from September, on Danzig and former Defense Secretary William Perry, also an Obama backer.

Next, from July, this National Journal interview touches on some key topics including the state of the defense budget. A taste:

NJ: How do you tame the defense budget, given the huge and increasing costs of long-deferred equipment modernization programs?

Danzig: There's a persistent problem with cost overruns. The recent performance of the Pentagon has been unusually bad. It's very difficult, but I think we can do a lot better than we've seen from this administration. This administration got off to a very bad start when it put $10 billion into missile defense and took it out of the normal acquisition process. It compounded that when it made it apparent that it didn't like bad news, and you had turnover in the heads of ((the Pentagon Office of)) Program Analysis and Evaluation. You have to create an atmosphere of honesty and candor.

NJ: But where do we cut spending?

Danzig: That's a very appropriate question. The Hindu religion has a goddess, Kali, who is the goddess of destruction, and we need a Kali: We need some creative destruction. We need the ability to recognize that some programs shouldn't be pursued and some pressing expenses need to be cut back. The answer to that isn't ideological; it's got to be based on a one-by-one look at the programs. I would say the Obama watchword is pragmatism.

And:

  • Here's a bio on Danzig, from the Navy.
  • This Newsweek piece from August gives Danzig's view of how Obama would handle Russia.
  • And then there's Danzig . . . on Winnie the Pooh. Really.

-- Dan Dupont

By
October 1, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon today officially stood up U.S. Africa Command, an organization that likely will begin its life without the full funding the Pentagon has requested from Congress.

Earlier this month, the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee slashed the Pentagon's spending request for the fledgling organization, arguing that the military should not be leading U.S. government efforts to ensure stability and security on the continent. As InsideDefense.com reported, the panel’s mark of the fiscal year 2009 Pentagon spending bill provided just $80.6 million for AFRICOM -- 80 percent less than the $389.7 million DOD requested for the new command:

The committee believes that traditional U.S. military operations are not an appropriate response to most or many of the challenges facing Africa, which include: ending armed conflict, calming political unrest, consolidating democratic achievements, fighting terrorism, expanding economic growth, and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and caring for its victims,” states a report accompanying the subcommittee mark. InsideDefense.com obtained a copy of the committee report.

In 2006, Congress authorized a study to assess the feasibility of merging under a single U.S. military command those activities dealing with Africa that were spread across three Defense Department organizations.

President Bush in February 2007 announced plans to establish AFRICOM, which he pitched as a bid to promote U.S. national security interests in the region. The move gave a single unified U.S. commander responsibilities previously divided among three other commands: European, Central and Pacific. AFRICOM’s area of responsibility includes all nations on the continent except Egypt.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, AFRICOM commander Gen. Kip Ward said that if the funding cuts stand, "we will adjust, we will prioritize and we will do those things that we need to do to continue to bring value added to our programs."

"Will we be able to do everything that we would have liked to have done? Maybe not, but we will do those things that are important and essential and we will reprioritize as required so that those activities that we do engage in make a difference and support our foreign policy and national security objectives," he added.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during the ceremony that the new command "is, at its heart, a different kind of command with a different orientation -- one that we hope and expect will institutionalize a lasting security relationship with Africa, a vast region of growing importance in the globe. The focus is on the three Ds: defense, diplomacy, and development."

-- John Liang

FURTHER READING: AFRICOM

By
September 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave a speech yesterday that's receiving a ton of attention, so we've put it up here.

It really must be read in full, but here's a choice excerpt:

In the past I have expressed frustration over the defense bureaucracy’s priorities and lack of urgency when it came to the current conflicts – that for too many in the Pentagon it has been business as usual, as opposed to a wartime footing and a wartime mentality. When referring to “Next-War-itis,” I was not expressing opposition to thinking about and preparing for the future. It would be irresponsible not to do so – and the overwhelming majority of people in the Pentagon, the services, and the defense industry do just that. My point was simply that we must not be so preoccupied with preparing for future conventional and strategic conflicts that we neglect to provide both short-term and long-term all the capabilities necessary to fight and win conflicts such as we are in today.

Support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in our budget, in our bureaucracy, in the defense industry, and in Congress. My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support – including in the Pentagon – for the capabilities needed to win the wars we are in, and of the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future.

What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, world-wide irregular campaign – a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and moderation. In the long-term effort against terrorist networks and other extremists, we know that direct military force will continue to have a role. But we also understand that over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory. Where possible, kinetic operations should be subordinate to measures to promote better governance, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented from which the terrorists recruit. It will take the patient accumulation of quiet successes over a long time to discredit and defeat extremist movements and their ideology. As the National Defense Strategy puts it, success will require us to “tap the full strength of America and its people” – civilian and military, public sector and private.

We are unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan anytime soon – that is, forced regime change followed by nation-building under fire. But that doesn’t mean we may not face similar challenges in a variety of locales. Where possible, our strategy is to employ indirect approaches – primarily through building the capacity of partner governments and their security forces – to prevent festering problems from turning into crises that require costly and controversial American military intervention. In this kind of effort, the capabilities of our allies and partners may be as important as our own, and building their capacity, is arguably as important, if not more so than the fighting we do ourselves.

-- Dan Dupont

By
September 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM

UPDATE: It looks like some of these dates have changed. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

A look at the current Defense Acquisition Board schedule turns up some interesting programs scheduled for reviews between now and the end of the year – perhaps the last reviews to be conducted by this administration’s defense leadership.

First up is the Cooperative Engagement Capability program. Our latest on that program, from July, touches on contract awards and what to expect from the DAB.

After that, on Oct. 8, it’s the Joint High Speed Vessel, which is due for a milestone B review.

The rest of the schedule is as follows:

  • Oct. 15: C-130 Avionics Modernization Program AMP Milestone C (LRIP)
  • Nov. 5: Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) LRIP III
  • Nov. 12: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Full Rate Production
  • Nov. 19: Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) Follow-On Decision Buy
  • Dec. 3: Black Hawk Upgrade UH-60M In Process Review
  • Dec. 5: Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) In Process Review
  • Dec. 10: Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) Revisit

And, naturally, we'll be tracking them all.

-- Dan Dupont

By
September 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM

According to the Pentagon's latest report to Congress on the security situation in Iraq, the greatest threat to that country's long-term security continues to come not from homegrown internal insurgents but from Iranian-supported "Special Groups."

"Malign Iranian influence continues to pose the most significant threat to long-term stability in Iraq," states the September 2008 report, "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq," released today. "Despite continued Iranian promises to the contrary, it appears clear that Iran continues to fund, train, arm, and direct ((Special Groups)) intent on destabilizing the situation in Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly engaged Iranian leaders on this issue. The majority of SG leaders remain in Iran where they sought sanctuary following ISF operations in Basrah, Baghdad and Maysan Province."

Aside from that, DOD reports that the overall security situation in Iraq "has greatly improved" in the past quarterly reporting period, with incidents having stayed at levels not seen since early 2004. Civilian deaths in the country have gone down 77 percent lower than the same three months in 2007, according to the report.

DOD credits the coalition force surge as well as "the growth of more capable Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the contributions of the Sons of Iraq (SoI), the ability of forces to secure the population, operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other extremist elements, and the increased willingness of the people and the Government of Iraq (GoI) to confront extremists are important factors that have contributed to the improved security environment."

Inside the Navy's Rebekah Gordon reported this week on a July 31 DOD reprogramming notice that shows operational tempo is continuing to increase:

The demand for individual augmentees (IAs) to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has also grown from about 1,000 in fiscal year 2005, according to the document, to about 7,500.

“Maintaining the higher strength levels has enabled the Navy to meet the increasing demand for additional IAs,” the document states.

Hanzlik wrote that the “extensive work” has been conducted in recent years to validate the appropriate force size for the Navy, “through a capability-based analysis of current and future force structure and warfighting requirements associated with a 313-ship Navy.”

Despite the increase in operational tempo and a lagging economy, the Navy appears comfortable with its projected force levels.

“We continuously analyze our end strength and make adjustments based on recruiting and retention performance as well as new and enduring mission requirements,” Hanzlik wrote. “Any request for adjustment of the FY-09 authorized end strength would be submitted by the department through a supplemental request or reprogramming action. If necessary, that would occur in spring” 2009.

-- John Liang

By
September 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

At Friday's presidential debate at the University of Mississippi, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reaffirmed his desire to "scrub" the defense budget.

MCCAIN: I think that we have to return -- particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations -- we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.

We tried to build a little ship called the Littoral Combat Ship that was supposed to cost $140 million, ended up costing $400 million, and we still haven't done it.

So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control.

I know how to do that.

(Incidentally, Inside the Navy this week runs a good piece quoting Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead extensively on LCS and other shipbuilding programs -- and the Navy's need to "regain our credibility when it comes to talking about shipbuilding and costs associated with shipbuilding.")
 
Back to the debate: McCain then highlighted the flawed Boeing Tanker deal as an example of his record of reining in defense spending.
MCCAIN: I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it and the people ended up in federal prison so I know how to do this because I've been involved these issues for many, many years. But I think that we have to examine every agency of government and find out those that are doing their job and keep them and find out those that aren't and eliminate them and we'll have to scrub every agency of government.
 
However, later in the debate, McCain made the case that he would protect the defense budget from spending cuts that may be necessary due to the $700 billion financial rescue plan.
 
LEHRER: What I'm trying to get at this is this. Excuse me if I may, senator. Trying to get at that you all -- one of you is going to be the president of the United States come January. At the -- in the middle of a huge financial crisis that is yet to be resolved. And what I'm trying to get at is how this is going to affect you not in very specific -- small ways but in major ways and the approach to take as to the presidency.
 
MCCAIN: How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.
 
LEHRER: Spending freeze?
 
MCCAIN: I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans national defense and several other vital issues.
 
To which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) responded, "The problem with a spending freeze is you're using a hatchet where you need a scalpel."
 
-- Kate Brannen
By
September 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The old adage of “putting your money where your mouth is” is an inherently tricky business at the Defense Department that likely will occupy any new Pentagon leadership. So large and complex is the behemoth agency that the linkage between strategic goals and the investment strategy crafted to reach them often gets blurred.

In the past years, leaders unveiled various efforts designed to give the combatant commanders, as opposed to the services, more say in how defense dollars are spent. The COCOM chiefs, the thinking goes, have a pretty good view of what programs are needed to carry out the military’s strategic and operations plans.

The combatant commanders, however, for the most part have no statutory authority to buy things. That responsibility rests with the services, codified in Title X.

So, in order to make processes like capability portfolio management work, Pentagon leaders put the powerful Deputy’s Advisory Working Group front and center to resolve differences in the spending plans between the services and the capability portfolio management folks.

In that sense, the idea of capability portfolio management and the DAWG as a governance forum are closely linked, and it remains to be seen what the new administration intends to with the two.

The Defense Business Board, for its part, said in a recent report the DAWG has earned its keep.

Another mechanism designed to bolster combatant commanders’ input into the budget process emerged earlier this year as part of the Pentagon’s relatively new “adaptive planning” construct. Officials hope the “linking plans to resources” (LPTR) concept, described in the adaptive planning roadmap as a three-step process, could help clearly delineate Pentagon objectives and investment strategies.

The future of LPTR is still somewhat open, according to a Joint Staff colonel, who said it will take “at least a year or more” to mature the idea from a mere concept stage into a mechanism with widespread application for budget decisions.

At Pacific Command, officials went through a formal LPTR drill when they crafted the command’s latest integrated priority list a couple of weeks ago. At the Hawaii-based command, the process now goes by a new name, by the way. Officials there call it PROP, which stands for “plans-to-resources-to-outcomes process,” we’re told.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
September 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to address students at the National Defense University on the 2008 National Defense Strategy (a document he signed way back in early June, and which the Pentagon made public in July only after InsideDefense.com posted the 23-page document). 

It will be interesting to see if anyone in the audience asks about why he overruled the service chiefs on the risk-assessment portion of the strategy, which calls on the Defense Department to take “greater risk” in traditional combat areas in order to fund capabilities to boost investments in irregular warfare capabilities. In other words, to divert funding for programs like big ships and aircraft to enhance less capital-intensive counterinsurgency capabilities.
 
Gates has made known his frustration with what he sees as the military services’ focus on “next-war-itis” in pushing the Pentagon to increase its capacities to fight the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Yesterday, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a landmark Defense Department directive that formally gives combatant commanders, whose foremost concerns are today’s missions, new leverage to influence the investment plans of the military service chiefs who are required by law to train and equip their departments to be ready not only today, but for decades to come.
 
The directive, No. 7045.20, establishes the roles and responsibilities of “capability portfolio managers” who will play decisive roles after Gates and England are gone in determining how much the nation devotes to immediate needs, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan; and how much to the development of capabilities required to confront near-peer adversaries, like China or Russia.
 
-- Jason Sherman
 

FURTHER READING: CAPABILTIY PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT 

By
September 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted today to confirm Michael Donley as Air Force secretary. The committee approval comes more than three months after Defense Secretary Robert Gates nominated Donley for the position.

Donley's confirmation vote has been hung up in the Senate for months after Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) put a block on his nomination because she felt the Pentagon would not conduct a fair rebid of the prolonged Air Force aerial refueling tanker competition.
 
The Air Force awarded the KC-X contract to a Northrop Grumman-EADS team in February; however, the Government Accountability Office sustained a protest fromBoeing and recommended a full rebid. Boeing planned to build its tanker proposal in Cantwell's home state of Washington.
 
The Office of the Secretary of Defense took over the tanker competition in July and said it hoped to determine a winner by year's end. But despite laying out an aggressive acquisition schedule, Gates canceled the entire competition earlier this month and said he would leave a decision to the next presidential administration.
 
If confirmed by the full chamber, Donley -- who has been serving in an acting capacity since June 21 -- will become the Air Force's 22nd secretary. Gates nominated Donley -- who previously served as the Pentagon's director of administration and management -- on June 9.
 
Donley's nomination came on the heals of Gates' firing of former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley over their handling of several nuclear gaffes. The mishaps led to the firings and reprimands of numerous Air Force officers.
 
Since then, the Air Force and a number of outsiders have been developing a means of reshaping how the service conducts its nuclear business. A number of high-level decisions are expected to be made during a meeting of the service's top brass at Corona meeting next week, as reported this week by Inside the Air Force.
 
-- Marcus Weisgerber