The Top Defense Stories of 2010

The Top Defense Stories of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close we here at DoDBuzz thought we’d put together a list of some of the top stories in defense policy and acquisition over the past year. Hmm, guess what the recurring theme is; declining budgets.

First up: The Pentagon’s $100 Billion Efficiencies initiative.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ effort to shave $100 billion off of overhead costs and reinvest that cash in research and procurement accounts made its way into nearly every defense spending story of the year. While this might have been the Pentagon’s way of participating in federal belt-tightening without cutting major weapons buys, it now appears this may not be enough for the budget hawks in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

Next: All things Afghanistan. This is probably tied with the efficiency effort and potential budget cuts as the driver behind most defense-related stories of the year. From Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s firing for insubordination and replacement by Iraq surge architect Gen. David Petraeus and subsequent upticks in drone strikes to the completion and implementation of the 30,000-troop surge and the debate about a 2011 versus 2014, or later, pullout of U.S. forces. This story was and is, for obvious reasons, the short-term focus of most people involved in defense policy.

Coming in behind those are the budget hawks on the right and left who want to see the Pentagon take part in its share of federal spending cuts.  This includes everyone from Tea Partiers newly elected to Congress to President Obama’s own deficit reduction panel that recommends cutting $100 billion from defense coffers, in part, by slashing troubled big-ticket weapon buys like the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to the Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The potential will no doubt, have a serious impact on the way the military modernizes and they types of missions it will be able to conduct in the coming decades. It will be truly fascinating to see how this debate plays out over the coming months.

In fourth are the massive defense cuts that the United Kingdom will make over the coming years. In addition to the cuts serving as a forecast of things to come this side of the pond, the cuts had very real implications for U.S. defense programs. In particular, the F-35. When the Brits unveiled their cuts, they revealed they were slashing their buy of nearly 140 short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs and swapping them for an unknown number of F-35C carrier variants.

Speaking of the F-35, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the massive restructuring of the beleaguered program that kicked off in February 2010. We saw a two star general fired as program manager and replaced with a three star admiral, cash withheld from Lockheed, a new timeline for the program and revised cost estimates for the planes. The best part is, less than one year later, it appears we’re about to see another round of delays and cost increases resulting from the most thorough scrub of the program done to-date, known as the Technical Baseline Review.

Next comes KC-X: Early in the year, it appeared Boeing might be the sole bidder for the $35 billion contract after EADS former partner in the effort, Northrop Grumman, announced it wouldn’t be bidding due to an RfP that favored Boeing’s smaller 767 based offering to the EADS-Northrop Airbus A330-based KC-45.  All that changed however, when EADS North America officials decided to pony up and bid on the massive contract in an all out effort to gain a serious foothold in the U.S. defense market. All this came as lawmakers supporting Boeing tried their hardest to get the Pentagon to disqualify EADS from bidding. But wait, it gets better. just when we all thought it was (relatively) smooth sailing and KC-X was on track for an award sometime close to now, we found out that the Air Force mistakenly sent EADS and Boeing information on each other’s bids. While the Air Force claims no “price sensitive” information was sent to the bidders, Senator Carl Levin is planning hearings on the matter and no one can completely rule out the possibility of another protest over the error.

Next up: The withdrawal of “combat troops” from Iraq. Yes, we still have tens of thousands of soldiers on the ground there in a train-and-assist role, many of whom are doing the same missions with the same equipment they were doing before the official withdrawal of combat troops. Still, this was a huge turning point in both the Iraq war and the Afghan war. Pulling resources from a relatively, and that’s a serious relatively, stable Iraq and pouring them into the fight in Afghanistan has been seen as critical to helping win, whatever that means, the fight in the Taliban heartland.

After that we’ve got the Quadrennial Defense Review that prompted many to wonder if it was still needed. While the document pointed to a Pentagon that will need to prepare to fight over the vast distances of the Pacific ocean with increased collaboration between the Air Force and Navy, it didn’t zero in on any particular weapons programs or force structure changes as needed or unneeded.

Then there’s the National Security Strategy: That document, released in May, is designed to influence the defense posture of the U.S. in light of 21st Century challenges identifies economic welfare as the number once guarantee of national security power and calls for the use of soft power ahead of military power to solve problems in the world’s hot spots. It routinely calls for the U.S. to get government spending under control, jump-starting the economy and warns against an over-reliance on the military to solve problems. This document seems all the more relevant now as we see the potential for serious cuts to U.S. defense budgets.

Finally, New START. The key arms control treaty ratified just last week by the U.S. Senate will see the reduction of deployed strategic nuclear missiles from more the 2,000 to roughly 1,500, pave the way for nuclear weapon modernization and see the return weapons inspectors from the U.S. and Russia at each nation’s nuclear sites for the first time in more than a year.

Oh, one more. The always-lingering F-35 alternate engine program. GE and Rolls Royce’s F136, the not-so-little engine that won’t quit, was constantly popping up in the news. GE and F135-maker Pratt & Whitney constantly traded barbs over the merits of one engine versus two.  Meanwhile, Congress and the Pentagon waged the same fight; Congress for the F136, the Pentagon against it. As of last week, the outgoing Congress succeeded in keeping the F136 alive via a continuing resolution that funds DoD at FY-10 levels until March. We’ll see what happens when the new Congress actually takes up the FY-11 spending bill. If Rep. Buck McKeon, the new chair of the House Armed Services Committee gets his way, we’ll see the engine fight go on.

Join the Conversation

Whaat? Still no post? I think that Mr. Clark is deleting too much…

Good Evening FFB,

Well it’s come to this old friend, just the two of us. Colin is on vacation, and as you can see its rather sparse around here.

I think all in all it’s been a rather lame year for defense spending. We won some and got some programs killed that needed dying and we still have some pretty decent fights ahead of us against institutional insanity, but we have to wait till the Butternuts can find positions to stand on.

It looks like France has come to terms with the Russian Federation on the LHD’s, two will be made in France at DCNS STX Yard at St. Nazarine with some Russians watching and drinking Vodka, and two will be made by USC in the Russian Federation with French ship builders working and the Russians still watching and drinking Vodka.

How can you work the Germans into all this?

Byron Skinner

I think the 1 wild card that was not mentioned was the NK succession. The actions they have taken to help further the son inheriting the kingdom have put that area of the world on edge. I do not think when NK started this entire mess this year that they expected South Korea to react the way they are. If the North Korean’s stir the pot again the South Korean retaliation will be far greater then what happened after last months artillery duel.

Good point Benjamin. I guess it’s not mentioned, becuase it’s difficult to get hard facts on what’s going on in N. Korea.

One of the top defense stories of 2010 is going on right now. Its not here in the US, buts its certainly going to change some thinking in the Pentagon in 2011. What a way to end the year.…

Good Evening Folks,

Hey ffb. Know anything regarding this. On 12/15/10 I got an E-Mail from a EU source saying that the US was scouting Africa to put up a major air base and to HQ USAFCOM. The poster suggested that Algeria was the place.

Last week US Army MG David R. Hogg from USAFCOM made a “good will trip” to Algeria and dodged any questions that might refer to a US Base in Algeria. The Story is in Army Times.

Anything about this on your side of the pond, ffb?

Byron Skinner

To the poster Mr. Byron Skinner


Part 1 / 4

You wrote: “How can you work the Germans into all this?” (Into the Franco-Russian L.H.D. deal, or into the more general picture)

The Germans? With only TWO landing craft today they have (they always had…) more speedboats and fast attack crafts for shallow waters (Type 142s, Type 143s, Zobels, etc.) and the respective tradition – even more mine warfare vessels! – than landing ships and amphibious tradition!

Historically, Germans never made a single beach assault with specialized ship types, not even in Narvik, during World War II (only destroyers there). I’m still waiting for them to launch “Operation Sea Lion” (Hitler’s long promised invasion of England), then I’ll forgive them for invading France. I might even collaborate with them…


Part 2 / 4

On a more serious note: If France already conducts business with Russia in such a broad and uncomplicated manner, even in areas like military technology (like that L.H.D. deal) and Space technology, too, then you U.S. Americans should really treat yourselves for still watching out in fear for “Communist hordes”…

Meanwhile, Germany seems to be returning to its old destabilizing ways. Not with weapons – yet – but with lunatic diplomacy, especially in relation to nuclear Super-Power Russia.

First, in 1990, when Germany was BARELY reunited and BARELY rehabilitated, former Chancellor Kohl immediately displayed his “gratitude” and “conscience of Germany’s clean slate in the global public opinion” by wanting to buy all PRE-War eastern German territories back from Poland…
One year later, in 1991, during the Yugoslav Civil War, Germany unilaterally recognized Croatia’s independence, winning Serbia’s and Russia’s enmity for that.


Part 3 / 4

I wonder: Is that how the recycled Teutons intend to respect the territorial integrity of other European countries, like in the case of Yugoslavia?
Or, for that matter: I’m puzzled why Germany never advises Belgium against breaking up, or why it never even condemns the Basque, separatist, clearly terroristic organization E.T.A. (in Spain) either? Etc. …

And a few days ago Germany, which already fought two World Wars against Russia (the first time over some secret assistance pact with… Austria) and which also organized its Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, was also exposed by “Wikileaks” for secretly expanding N.A.T.O.‘s Poland defense plan to the three Baltic states = to Russia’s border, and this ONLY A FEW DAYS after Obama and Medvedev shook hands at N.A.T.O.‘s Lisbon summit (19. – 20.11.2010) and proclaimed the Cold War finished!


Here is question I task you all: Why is the BAE / IVECO MPC project is continuously being pushed back?

Part 4 / 4

I wonder: Have the Huns already completely dismissed any lessons from the recent past and do they wish to return as fast as possible to vabanque (all-out) power gambles?

But it isn’t even such well-known, big facts which inspire apprehension about today’s German society, but rather constant, weak but ominous signs from the public life in Germany which never get much attention abroad… To sum up: I feel absolutely no sympathy for that people!

But one thing I’m sure of: As long as the Germans offend no country big style (what are their soldiers “defending” right now in… “Afghanistan” ? U.S. Americans?) they’re certainly free to delude themselves about themselves as much as they want.

Otherwise they will – once more… – end up like a snotty bee in a swarm of wasps.

Here is question I task you all: Why is the BAE / IVECO MPC project is continuously being pushed back?

Read more: http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​0​/​1​2​/​2​3​/​t​h​i​n​k​-​t​a​n​k​-​s​las

I’m afraid not. My everyday life doesn’t bring me in contact with such exclusive insider knowledge about the U.S. Armed Forces, and this issue doesn’t seem to be on the Internet (on “Google”) either. Now I even work (among other places) in an European Agency, but not the European Institute for Security Studies (headquartered in Paris), but another one, otherwise I would ask some of my colleagues.

I was at a US military school a few years back and we had several allied nations represented. Every foreign student had to give a 30 minute briefing on their country and its military. On the day the German student did his, he said something like “We are bordered by Switzerland to our south, Poland to our East, and here to the west is our biggest training area…” The assembled students burst out laughing, but the French student didn’t take it so well and complained to his embassy.

Part 1 / 4

I personally know civilian German Embassy staff that was sent home for saying one single inappropriate (ambiguous) phrase abroad, for example at their children’s school. Years ago I also read in the news about a middle-ranking sailor of some German frigate or corvette that visited the United States, where he got drunk one evening and made a single deprecative remark in public about negroes. His visit – and his career – was over a mere hours later, terminated by his own colleagues! In the European Agency where I work, making a single, completely innocuous joke about any European people is instantly and absolutely fatal, too. Everybody is extremely tolerant – except towards intolerance and paleolithic chauvinism. It’s almost OPPRESSIVE , the constant, PALPABLE political correctness!


Part 2 / 4

We, an extremely international team, are even FORBIDDEN to complain verbally about any colleagues – even if they’re from the same country! (If my superiors even knew where and how I troll on the Internet, and what I think should happen to djoows…) But during the week I’m not even used anymore to a different working atmosphere. I guess that as a Frenchman hypocrisy comes most naturally to me…

So, if that cretin German soldier’s name and behaviour is published in the U.S. or in France, and a copy of these Press reports reaches his home unit, I don’t exactly forebode a long and enviable career for him in the service. To put it mildly.


Part 3 / 4

And I say this without the slightest admiration for German military or diplomatic discipline: Compared to our diplomats and soldiers, German ones are PUNKS ! Two fellow recruits of mine were dishonourably discharged just for writing their personal opinions in our base’s gazette, one about the Dreyfus Affair (a polemic, but 116 years old detail of French History) and the other one about the 56 years old Colonial War in Algeria! (Talk of U.S.-style Freedom of Speech…) I can also assure you that our “modern” military prisons, where the inmates still have to carry water buckets every morning to the old fortresses on the hills, whatever the season, are just a tad unhealthier than the German ones…


Part 4 / 4

Nah, when the French represent their country abroad, they hate screwing up in public. I can’t even imagine what would have happened to us low-ranking officers if we had ruined an international (re)presentation abroad of many allies by directing stupid jokes at them. UNTHINKABLE … The earth would open beneath our feet – and rightfully so!

Good Evening ffb,

As I’m sure you know we have very similar opinions regarding germany. First off there are to many Germans for the geography allocated to germany, the over crowed problem still haunts germany and thus Western Europe.

Second problem, and this can be lays at the doorstep of the United States, that is the denazification after WW II was incomplete.

The US let to many hard core nazis off the hook, rocket scientists, intelligence agents and SS officers who used the Odessa rat lines to the east and west to get out of Europe. The US turned their backs while the gold that was looted and the Nazis left the scene of the crimes, There is still at least three tons of looted gold unaccounted for even after the Swiss admitted to having three tons and settled with the victims for pennies on the dollar.

What the US did is now coming back to haunt Germany and Europe in the 21st. Century. Veins of Fascist ideology are implanted through in German culture and the streams of hate didn’t get washed out of the German mentality, especially the displaced former East Germans who have occupied the bottom rings of the economic ladder they have passed the almost genetic trait to their children.

Dreyfus and Algeria are still in the French closet as well as the Petain Vichy Government and the exporting of French Jews to the German Camps. Before yoi start bouncing off the wall ffb, I know in order of magnitude they are not the same.


Byron Sknner

Byron, you asked me “How can you work the Germans into all this?”.

Part 1 / 5

Here’s another of those “subtle” hints about “post”-War Germany which I meant, and which non-Germans (apparently even Russian intelligence) are usually unaware of – until it’s too late:

The Village Where the Neo-Nazis Rule

Hitler salutes in the street and firing practice in the forest: Neo-Nazis have taken over an entire village in Germany, and authorities appear to have given up efforts to combat the problem. (…) The Lohmeyers knew that a notorious neo-Nazi lived nearby — Sven Krüger, a demolition contractor and high-level member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). (…) He and his associates were in the process of buying up the entire village. (…)


Part 2 / 5

In recent months, a series of attacks against politicians from all the democratic parties has shaken the state. Sometimes hardly a week goes by without an attack on another electoral district office, with paint bombs, right-wing graffiti and broken windows. Norbert Nieszery, leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the state parliament, calls it an “early form of terror”. (…) The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, has warned that the NPD is becoming increasingly influential in local municipalities and that the neo-Nazis are trying to entrench themselves in daily life.Nowhere have they succeeded as well as in Jamel. If the right-wing extremists left, the village would be empty. (…)


Part 3 / 5

Jamel has come to symbolize the fact that there are places in Germany where right-wing extremists can do virtually whatever they want. (…) Only gradually did they realize just where they had ended up. Plaster crumbled from many of the houses in the village and one roof had collapsed completely. Beer bottles, car tires and gas canisters were littered behind the bus stop. There were metal fences surrounding some properties and attack dogs strained against their chains in the front yards. No one bothered to remove the swastika scribbled on the sign at the entrance to the village. There were young men with shaved heads and army trousers in the village and Nazi rock music could be heard from across the fields on the weekends. Shots sounded from the woods, where the neo-Nazis practiced their shooting — police later found bullet casings in trenches there. When the Lohmeyers walked through the village, children raised their hands in the Nazi salute. (…)


Part 4 / 5

Krüger has shaped the village. He grew up here, with a father who was known as a right-wing radical and who used to make his son salute each morning in the snow. (…) The extremists took over the village in just a few years. (…) They battered down doors and broke windows, slashed tires, flew the German imperial war flag and celebrated Hitler’s birthday. In the 1990s, they stuck dead chickens on one family’s garden fence with the warning, “We’ll smoke you out”. Neo-Nazis greeted one couple that wanted to move there with “Pissoff” — and the couple’s house burned down shortly before they planned to move in. (…) But police can’t always protect the Lohmeyers — the nearest station is 12 kilometers away. (…)


Part 5 / 5

Mayor Wandel says he’s appalled by how far these right-wing structures now extend. “I’m afraid of a second, third, fourth Jamel”, he says. (…) Neo-Nazis placed a boulder at the entrance to the village. A plaque attached to the rock reads, “Village of Jamel — free, social, national”. Signs next to it point the way to Hitler’s birthplace (“Braunau am Inn 855 km”) and to the formerly German cities of Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) and Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia).

The U.S. should be ordering B-17s again, not F-35s! I’ve got a pilot license, I can fly one. I’m gonna make my family proud of me.


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