The coming defense ‘train wreck’

The coming defense ‘train wreck’

Just when you thought it was safe to take a knee and run out the clock on 2011 in the hopes that the new year would be better — it ain’t.

Sandra Erwin of National Defense magazine penned a deeply pessimistic look ahead Wednesday that concluded the Pentagon’s 2012 could make 2011 look like a box social by comparison. The Building will continue to cover its eyes and plug its ears about the truth of the big crunch; the services’ food fights will only intensify; strategy types’ lazy groupthink will persist; and cost and schedule problems are only going to worsen on the big programs.

But you could predict that about DoD any year — the real problems, Erwin writes, will befall the defense industry. 2012 could be the year that confirms all the doomsayers’ predictions about consolidations, divestitures and eliminations:

Pentagon suppliers are headed for a period of “turbulence,” says retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, director of Deloitte Services, a consulting firm. Companies will be consolidating, downsizing, shedding overhead and striving to maintain their core skills, he says.

Gouré estimates that many contractors have about a one-to-two-year window to make drastic decisions, such as whether to stick around or exit the market. “You already saw companies such as ITT, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems” shedding assets, he says. “They’ll either get out or buy up others’ assets and hope like heck that things turn around. … If you’re not in position over the next year for the beginning of the train wreck you’re going to be out of luck.”

The defense budget, however, still will be gigantic by historical standards. It is expected to stay above $600 billion (including war funding) for the next several years. But until the sequestration issue is resolved, many Pentagon contracts will be slowed down or not started, Wald predicts. “There will be pressure on large platforms. He foresees cutbacks in new ground-vehicle procurements, and a slowdown in ship construction. A replacement long-range bomber that the Air Force wants is unlikely to materialize for at least a decade.

Byron Callan, defense industry analyst at Capital Alpha Partners, says the May-September 2012 period will be “critical” for industry as it will set the tone for 2013–15 earning expectations.

“There is a natural tendency to think that 2012 could be a lot like 2011,” Callan writes in a note to investors. But 2012 could be a volatile year for the defense sector, particularly as a clearer picture emerges on who the Republican candidate could be. If Mitt Romney wins the nomination, defense stocks might trade higher, says Callan. If Republicans gain a majority in the Senate it might be a mixed picture for defense contractors as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an ardent critic of defense industry, would become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Callan expects that Panetta will be leaving the Pentagon by early 2013, regardless of who wins in November.

Bottom line: The intransigence, gridlock and dysfunction that have plagued Washington will only get worse until the election — and probably remain in effect afterward. Congressional defense advocates will battle desperately against the sequestration threat, but they didn’t have enough oomph to break the logjam this year, so there’s no reason to think they’ll have any more luck in 2012.

Or is all this entirely too bleak? What do you think? How could the Iron Triangle get out of this ditch and get back on track?

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My ability to predict the future is on par with everyone else’s, so I won’t venture a guess about what will happen. However, DOD has the ability to take proactive measures by initiating cuts in policies and programs that provide little in the way of value added, or are cold war legacies. To get this started, let me nominate a few candidates for the block in 2012.
–The Littoral “Combat” Ship. Its a joke.
–Bring home the Army BCT’s based in Europe. (Sorry, Army, but those plum assignments are costing us too much. However, I’ve been to places like Fort Leonard Wood, so I understand your desire to hold on to these assignments regardless of the cost. The Navy felt that way about Subic Bay.…)
–Stop deploying CVBG’s like its 1985. We don’t need continuous presence anymore. Navy may be able to cut a CVBG and an airwing. (Now there’s a heretical thought!)
–The top-heavy force structure needs pruning. (More heresy).

This is merely the lowest, of the low hanging fruit. I would have loved to add the F-35, but DOD has painted themselves into a corner with this one–probably intentionally.

Anyway, just a few points to start the conversation.

DoD is getting it from all ends, if they hold back on announcing cuts or plans for those cuts they “have their heads in the sand” but it they moved ahead based on worst case scenarios they’d 1. make that outcome more likely and 2. ensure the repercussions of those decisions are felt even if/when a budgetary reprieve is issued.

The CSGs are already going from 11 to 9; I’m assuming that’ll be 5 for PACFLT and 4 for LANTFLT. The 2 spare carriers are going to be maintained, but they won’t be sailed for awhile.

LCS might seem like the odd man out right now, but I bet it actually turns out to be absolutely key in the next few years. It won’t be worth much against a real navy, but the last time we fought a real navy was in 1945. We’re in a gap analogous to the gap between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 where pirates (and now, terrorism) are the big issues, and a fight with a big power is both somewhat unlikely and still pretty far off into the future-China’s resource issues haven’t reached the point where they feel compelled to declare their 2nd Maritime Island Chain and send their army across the border into Siberia. You don’t need a CSG and BMD-equipped Burkes to deal with that; a couple of LCSs with an LHA group is plenty.

Perhaps you are right and the DoD just needs to pick the “reality” that comes closest to meeting the operational requirements and go for it. It would be a serious food fight internal to DoD, but at least that way you can keep most of the dirty laundry in house, and arrive at a viable if not exactly the desired solution. At worst we get your option #1, at best.…we get hopefully get rid of those offices, programs, and marginally effective projects that honestly arent really NEEDED.… . . Hmmm….

It might take a totally ruthless SecDef.… Gates perhaps; Panetta. .… hmmmmm..… I think the jury is still out on that.

The Revolutionary War ended in 1783, and the War of 1812 started in… er.… 1812, so a grand total of 29 years. In other words, if that “next war” was to trip off exactly 29 years from now, the program offices for the fighter aircraft (or ship, or IFV, or.… .) to win that war should have been started three to five years ago.… if we use the development timeline for the JSF, including lead in program (Advanced Tactical Aircraft, established 1983) as the model and assuming that JSF achieves a meaningful IOC by 2017.

Why is it that working the elementary school math with the development timeline just does not make me feel good ? .… . .. .

They will end up gutting the federal civilians, but just replace them with more expensive contractors. Just watch.

You could be right, Mark. Army will do whatever it has to do to protect its active end strength. Navy will circle the wagons around ships, planes & subs; sailors and sand crabs(old Navy parlance for civilian employees) are expendable. The Marines have an end strength number and they will fight to the death to not go below this level; of course, they’ll fight for the F-35 and V-22. Air Force? I never quite figured them out. Do they even know what they want?

Gotta agree w/Fallujah the LCS gets a bum rap & hasn’t come into its own. It has some Legit gripes but most come fr/bad conventional analogies. Its multi-roled & will shine in the gaps between those roles & in unconventional uses.

In pirate sea-lanes it can deploy helo drones & close at over 45knots. Like the V-22 it shrinks an AO the size of Texas to the size of Rhodes Island.

I was a Marine in Oki when the WestPac Express hit. The Navy originally hated the idea, its not a Warship or an Amphib. The Marines had to initially fund it on their own, but used in its role it cut the Corps transportation costs 75% & movement fr/3days down to less 24hrs.

Unconventional Uses.

The USAF desires: F-35A and an unnecessary ridculuosly expensive new bomber.

Mr. Ewing’s Bottom Line seems correct to me. Congress can not stop spending 40% more than they take in revenue. The only thing that can stop the train wreck is economic prosperity so explosive the revenue increases faster than they can spend it. So, this is their plan: “…And Then a Miracle Happens”. That milestone is on the schedule, but unfortunately it is late to the need date. It is time to insist that Congress deliver on the needed miracles, or we better get another Congress.

They’ve seen this coming since the early 90’s but just kept kicking that can down the road. This is the “Peace Dividend” we all get to enjoy. We can all thank Bubba and Bush Sr.

Don’t forget the late 90’s in your mini rant.

You say ridiculous bomber, do you now Russian and chinese works on new bomber ? Its vital for your security to have a great army. But may be a day you will want to speak Russian or Chinese.…

Pretty sure the late 90’s are included in, “since the early 90’s “. And is it really a “rant” when it’s true?

Except there’s alot more going on in terms of Big Navy than JSF; there’s ArcLight, the long-range, hypersonic replacement for the TLAM; the LRASM-A and B program, DDG-51 Flight III, UCAS-N, and F/A-XX to name the stuff we’re aware of. Of those, UCAS-N is the oldest, and most mature, as work in it started in 2007, with an IOC of 2018. ArcLight and the LRASMs have been underway since at least last year; LRASM-A, which is based on JASSM-ER, will probably be with us before too long, and LRASM-B should be operational by the mid 2020s. DDG-51 Flight III has the advantage of starting with a hull that’s already well-known and understood, and has been been publically known since September, with a planned first ship in 2016. F/A-XX, which has been known about since 2008, has a planned IOC of 2025 or so. We’re definitely doing anything but ignoring blue-water warfare in favor of LCS.

Have I ever told you that one about the Asteroid and the 20 trillion dollars worth of Precious metals? To be honest, the miracle is more likely than a “good” congress.

Yes, with tens of thousands of nukes and you’re still scared of a bankrupt and incompetent Russian or feeble Chinese army?

Grow a pair.

Couldn’t agree more, it’s about time the U.S. Military starts trimming:

- CVBG’s — No other Navy in the world operates more than one active carrier, it’s insane that the U.S. feels compelled to have 9 or 11 running around the globe eating up billions of dollars with little return. 3 or 4 CVBG’s would be more than enough to cow any foe just as well as 11 would .

–LCS — Got to go. What’s wrong with something like the Israeli Saar 5 class ships that are jack of all trades and extremely well equipped for around the same price?

–Army in Europe — It’s about time the Europeans start taking care of their own defense budgets and stop piggybacking on the U.S. in NATO to it for them. The Soviet boogeyman is done for, there is no reason for there to be such U.S. manpower wasting away in Europe.

–F-35 — Been done to death already, cut the B version at least and minimize your losses.

- Marines — There is no logical reason for the Marines to exist as a separate entity from the Army. The Army did more beach landings in the Pacific in WW2 than the Marines (a well hidden fact) and nearly all in the Atlantic. The Airborne, Mountain, etc manage to survive just fine under the Army.

In addition, the idea behind Marine air is retarded. Can anyone give me one scenario where Marine air (F-35B, etc) will be the difference between victory and defeat and that a Navy CVBG wouldn’t be in the area at the same time?

The Marines need to face up to the fact that landing on contested beaches are over; either the beaches have been bombarded to oblivion and are safe to land (in which case you don’t need Marines, you need engineers) or they will be defended with guided AT missiles that will wipe out any invasion force regardless if they come in an EFV (or equivalent) or not.

- Buy ready systems — Prime example would be the APS, or lack of one. Back in 2007/8 the U.S. tested TROPHY and found it to have a 99.7% success rate in their own testing, but they refused to buy the systems that would have saved countless U.S. soldier lives because of pride. They wanted to buy an American designed system from Raytheon, “Quick Kill”, that is still not working 5 years later. In the same amount of time the Israeli’s have mounted TROPHY to an entire armored division, used it several times in combat (against a Kornet and RPG-7) with a 100% success rate and are deploying a second system, Iron Fist, that can even intercept penetrators fired from other tanks on their AFV’s and light vehicles.

It’s criminal that such cases are allowed to happen all because of pride.

I’m going to end my rant here before I really get worked up.

Yep, wars haven’t occurred since nukes were invented… oh wait…

Feeble Chinese army? China has spent the last decade modernizing their military. In the last decade we have spent countless billions on two long-wars. We have reduced our expectations of those who do enlist, thus reducing the quality of our forces. Plus our inventory of ships, aircraft, and vehicles is not getting any younger.

With the incompetence of our leadership and the direction our society seems to be going, we might as well hand it over to the Russians or Chinese in 30 years time.

In what universe are you living in that the U.S. has to be afraid of China invading it, are you people that paranoid and insane?

Jesus christ, some freaking sense of proportion wouldn’t hurt.

we spend more on defense than ALL the other countries combined! look it up.
why do we need to station troops in germany, s. korea, japan ? Only so a few corps. can milk the taxpayer!

New Start takes us to 1550 deployed nukes with a couple of thousand in reserve but with no delivery system there not good for anything anyway.

Tens of thousands? Please get your facts straight before posting please.

I’m sorry, ‘only’ 1550 nukes (according to you) plus a few thousand more for kicks.

I’m sorry about confusing the number of times we can blow humans off the face of the planet. My point still stands.

“As of 2006, the United States was believed to maintain an arsenal of around 9,960 intact warheads, of which 5,735 were considered active or operational, and of these only a certain number were deployed at any given time. These broke down into 5,021 “strategic” warheads, 1,050 of which were deployed on land-based missile systems (all on Minuteman ICBMs), 1,955 on bombers (B-52, B-1B, and B-2), and 2,016 on submarines (Ohio class), according to a 2006 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Of 500 “tactical” “nonstrategic” weapons, around 100 are Tomahawk cruise missiles and 400 are B61 bombs. A few hundred of the B61 bombs are located at seven bases in six European NATO countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom), the only such weapons in forward deployment. The United States has considered withdrawing these nuclear weapons. According to one source, the quantity of the B61 nuclear bombs is 200 in five of the six countries (excluding the United Kingdom), including 80 bombs deployed at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Around 4,225 warheads have been removed from deployment but have remained stockpiled as a “responsible reserve force” on inactive status. Under the May 2002 Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (“SORT”), the U.S. pledged to reduce its stockpile to 2,200 operationally deployed warheads by 2012, and in June 2004 the Department of Energy announced that “almost half” of these warheads would be retired or dismantled by then.”

According to John McCain; Congress added 16 billion dollars to the defense budget, and Obama signed off on it, even though he is against “pork” (lol)!!!! I guess congress needed the O&M money more than the military! John Kerry “stole” 18.5 million from O&M for Ted Kennedy’s memorial not long ago! Where are their priorities?

A shrinking industrial base just when we need to make up for a generation of failed acquisitions! I recall a recent report saying cost overruns today aren’t much different than in the 1950s. Even if this is true, we’ve failed to field many systems intended to provide capabilities needed today and in the future. We have to find a fundamentally new approach. The current acquisition system does not work. I’m no expert in this matter, though I’d like to hear more about better approaches.

A principle of aircraft accident investigation, and one that might work in diagnosing the cause of our acquisition system’s smoking hole, is to eliminate all of the causes until only one is left. Then, no matter how unpalatable that cause might be, you must accept it. Weasel around after that “one left standing” is identified and you are just making excuses. Is it the engineering principles that are flawed? Does F no longer equal MA and E have no relationship to IR? Or could it be that the generation of leaders and managers that “worked” the system in the ‘50s (and 60’s by the way!) were in fact managers and leaders while today we have a glut of “politicians”?

What do you think?

Would you rather fight over there or over here?

Yes, because the U.S. is really under the threat of invasion by.…?

Let me also add to the discussion the findings of the RAND study on the acqusition of the F-117. http://​www​.rand​.org/​p​u​b​s​/​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​_​b​r​i​e​f​s​/​R​B​4​2​/​ind

It may not be completely unbiased, but.… I think its very close to pointing a few fingers at why the F-117 was comparitively so easy to acquire in spite of representing a major leap in technology and tactics …and I quote.…

The key question is whether the F-117 management strategies can apply to other, more conventional programs. The research team concludes that if the special environment that existed for the F-117 program can be recreated, other major programs could be managed with staffs much smaller than those normally associated with major acquisitions. Four aspects of that environment seem especially important:

Strong and sustained program support from senior Department of Defense and Air Force executives that fosters stability and frees the program staff from constantly fending off critics

A willingness to delegate authority to a relatively low level, which enables a rapid response to problems based on a thorough understanding of the issues

Some tolerance for risk and uncertainty about program outcomes, and

An ability to staff the program with fully qualified people.

1. Learn history, isolationism only leads to a world war where the consequence is a surrounded US.

Nazis had the Amerika bomber plans ready before we even got into the war, and gee, I wonder what would have happened had a US fleet not been in Hawaii.

Let me guess, you say we should never have been in that war.

2. Some say Mexico.

You really have no common sense do you?

1. Guided AT missiles can easily be destroyed from the same bombardment you mentioned.

2. I bet you’d rather use rubber rafts with unarmed infantry (since its so safe) and not bring armor onto the beach if indeed beaches are “safe.”

3. I bet the entire army learned how to swim with full kit right?

And you didn’t really read my post:

1)- If there are no guided missiles, then there is no need for massive specialized naval assault units as the threat is gone. What you need then is engineers to build a beach post to bring in supplies and reinforcements.

If the beach is contested (as the Marines always pretend it will be in justifying their budget), then the AT missiles would rape any landing force.

2)- You do not need $22.3 million dollar (!) vehicle to get unto a lightly guarded beach.

3)- So that’s your justification for the tens of billions of dollars spent on the Marines!? The fact that they took a swimming class!

The Marines are just one example I chose out of many branches and units that need sizing down or reorganization.


I’m having trouble replying, “deleted by Admin”

1) — Nowhere was I talking about isolationism. All I was saying that there is no threat now or even in a decade or two of the U.S. being invaded by a foreign power, period.

And quoting WW2 as an example is a poor choice because, guess what, we have nukes now. No nuclear armed country has ever fought with another nuclear armed country with one exception; a skirmish war between India-Pakistan.

2)- So build a border fence, place minefields if you want to go that far.

You have no grasp of history do you? Wait a few decades when China is able to push us around all they want on the international level. Is that what you want?

Hate to break it to you, but turning our military into a glorified border guard is isolationism.

Keep living in your world of fear, the rest of us will move on without you.

1. After the beach is “safe” then how do you get the assets to the beach? By ship, by air, by specialized forces that have trained in the warfare for a long assed time.

2. But you do need SOMETHING amphibious unless you want an airlift, which requires an AIRFIELD. And believe it or not, enemy air assets/artillery/enemy personnel aren’t always eradicated. Take Iwo Jima for example, an assault a man such as you would have done with paratroopers.

3. Specialized amphibious troops, specialized amphibious gear, specialized amphibious equipment with troops trained to do a an amphibious assault. It makes sense. Unless you also think Airborne can be substituted by any army recruit that can just jump out of a plane with whatever he thinks is good is a good idea too.

And all of your exact points is why I advocate folding the Marines into the Army fold. Specialized troops to assist in any landing operations. But there aren’t going to be mass landings on heavily contested beaches, like Iwo Jima in you example, anymore.

Tell me straight if I’m wrong:

1)- The Marines have turned into a second land army
2)- Marine air in its current form is a waste of resources and money. Transport copters yes, F-35B’s no.
3)- In no recent wars have the Marines ever arrived “first”. In Afghanistan for example, the Mountain guys were first to set up camp.

I have nothing against the Marines themselves. I am against waste however.

Not at all.

What I’m saying is that there is no reason for us to basically be playing other peoples armies so they can undercut their own on our dime. Enough with NATO countries not putting in the minimum % required by the NATO agreement/charter.

Four CVBG’s is not isolationism, it’s realism and fiscal responsibility.

Do you even have a clue how ships deploy/rotate/operate? Having four CVBGs means you can deploy ONE routinely and surge another so the max you could really push forward is 2 CVBGs across the WHOLE WORLD. Thats so small that its hard to see how the US would be a serious player on the international scene

1. “Second land army?” Why are reinforcements a real problem?

Then why did the “oh so great army” call up reservists, Army Nat’l Guard, Individual Augmentees from the “blue” services, lower recruiting standards to accept criminals, AND STILL had to implement Stop/Loss AND recall seperatees that have been discharged, retired, disabled, or missing limbs in a situation apparently THE ARMY COULD DO WITHOUT?

2. You keep thinking that. Keep thinking CAS pilots should all be Air Force. FYI, there ARE NO ARRESTING wire on LHDs/LHAs.

3. Tell me all about the Falklands then, a situation (no friendly ground assets) that can EASILY be duplicated with the Pacific. There are only 2, (COUNT THEM, TWO), major areas of military assets aside from the 7th Fleet. Both in “striking range” of the apparent insane amount of weaponry people like you are paranoid of.

A single CVBG has more planes than most of the air forces on this planet and has more firepower than most military forces on this planet.

Two CVBG’s were enough to take down the fourth largest military on the planet at the time (Iraq), and you are still having trouble seeing how four will be enough?

“But there aren’t going to be mass landings on heavily contested beaches, like Iwo Jima in you example, anymore.”

Also, where the hell did you pickup your crystal ball?

Everyone else’s keeps saying: “War with China/NK.” That means potentially doing the Pacific campaign of WW2.

Everyone once thought Germany was no longer a threat after being beaten to submission. Guess who proved the ENTIRE WORLD wrong and in record time.

This post PROVES you aren’t listening.

1)- Are you kidding me or are you intentionally thick?

You do realize that all you are saying is supporting my move of folding the Marines into the Army.

2)- Wait, what?

3)- Falklands just proves my point.

It was an operation nearly entirely undertaken by Commando and Infantry forces with small groups of Royal Marines. And they did just fine in the landings.

1. No, I’m saying the “second land army” argument is stupid. As long as there are Navy ships, there are Marines because they operate on ships. Cut back on army.

2. You have no idea how a MEU works do you?

3. The commandos got there because of specialized Royal Navy/Marine (even though they were illequipped) assets that drill and prepare for that situation. There ARE Special Forces on MEUs for a reason. You make it sound like they could easily walk there, and do well WITHOUT support of said assets and take on someone like China.

I give up, I’m talking to a wall; I’m not going to waste my night proving the same point over and over to you.

Let’s keep paying the defense contractors more to screw us, then sit around and talk about how we just can’t figure out why they do it, because we are just that stupid. Ok, well maybe there are a few who aren’t. We don’t need to go to a new procurement system. We need to go back to the system we used before we started reimbursing contractors for their development costs, let alone paying them a damn profit on what they spend on development. What idiot ever thought that system would work? If there are weapons that cost so much that defense contractors don’t want to risk their own money to build them, then nationalize the production of those weapons. Certainly items like carriers, moon rockets, and possibly very large cargo transport aircraft might be in that category. Back when we paid Werner Von Braun (a NASA employee) to design our rockets, we could go to the moon, unlike what we’ve been able to do since we paid more to Rockwell to screw us. We need to stop paying contractors more to drag out development and jack up weapons costs.

At the time we entered WWI and WWII we were not under threat of invasion. Hey look there’s Charles Linburgh go join his isolationist movement.

A lot of the defense contractors have just plain gotten too big. They pretty much never deliver their products on schedule or on budget (there is no incentive for them anyway). The defense dept should be looking for startups and small businesses to fill most of the contracts because these types of companies actually produce more jobs since they don’t just end up hoarding the money for Wall St. Of course they would also need to overhaul all the red tape and regulations in the acquisition dept. to be able to do this so maybe that is the first place to start. It is wishful thinking I guess, but the smaller companies can typically produce the same products at non-DOD prices. Commercial off the Shelf is the way to go.

Good point. Too many engineers have turned into politicians. People used to have a passion for aerospace. Now it is all about climbing the ladder.

Lets go back in time with hindsight. Say in early 90s McDonnell Douglas said screw commonality, lets go low risk. Navy gets a stealth F18 derivative aircraft, Marines get a stealthy growth Harrier, Air Force gets a stealth derivative F18 or F15 or F16. Low risk, evolutionary. Concurrency became a religious belief, no one had the guts to stand up and say bullshit.
10 million lines of software code, we may never get JSF to work.
JSF — if it sounds too good to be true, it is. One plane, all services, low cost, reduced maintenance, and we don’t even need to test it before it goes to production. Yeah right.

You can’t just slap “stealth” onto an aircraft like you would a coat of paint. It’s possible to add some RCS reducing features but these doesn’t grant nearly the same level of stealth as everything incorporated into new design.

What you basically propose is that we fly ‘70s/‘80s era fighter designs until 2030 without introducing any successors to those designs. There is low risk, then there is foolishness.

By all means, you can stick your head in the sand and move on ahead into a new era of failure. But I hope some Americans are more wise and see the direction we are heading in.

Proving a point? Your only idea is that the US military shouldn’t have quality or quantity.

You do know that for every carrier deployed, one is in port and one is on transit right? You do know that back in the ‘80s we had something closer to 15 CBGs, plus smaller strike groups based around the Iowa class battleships, right?


We tried it your way, now let us fix that mistake.

No, I realize you can’t just slap stealth onto a fighter. I never said you could. So there would be a cost associated with developing three new fighters. Using derivative airframes would be lower risk, with proven performance, especially with regards to the Harrier. Having some commonality in the new avionics. But, one size does not fit all.
So I am not proposing flying 70s/80s designs until 2030. Upgraded engines, upgraded computers, radar, software. Ultimately the Navy went with upgraded F18s, but did not add stealth, as they thought they had JSF.
What you are proposing, is the disaster we have in JSF.

Notice the US is only buying 3 of the B next year, and no shipboard trials are scheduled for it until 2013. The JSF path could lead us to nothing more than a large budget hole.

You’re being short-sighted. Debt doesn’t negate having to be able to defend ourselves against any future threats. Invasion has never been a threat precisely because we have blown huge gobs of money on super-advanced weapons and no one has been able to keep up, until now.……

Then what do you propose in the JSF’s stead? We don’t have the money hardly to build it, much less design something new.…..

If the Navy can resolve its JSF tailhook issue, it might be possible to build the C version, but the success will still not be known for years. At some point, the Navy may have to have Boeing build a stealthier variant of the F18 than it currently sells, which is technically feasible.
If the Marine’s version cannot be fixed in the next year — then cancel it, and start on a growth Harrier.
For the Air Force, they need to start on a backup plan today. They probably already are working an alternative design in the black world. Since the US is only spending $4B next year on JSF, the govt is wisely keeping their options open.

There is nothing impossible about a program running ten million lines of code; it just takes serious effort. If freaking Chevy can make it happen with the Volt (http://​www​.wired​.com/​a​u​t​o​p​i​a​/​2​0​1​0​/​1​1​/​c​h​e​v​y​-​v​o​l​t​-​k​i​n​g​-​o​f​-​s​o​f​t​w​a​r​e​-​c​a​rs/) I’m pretty sure Lockheed Martin can pull it off as well.

F22 uses approximately 1 million lines of code. JSF increases this complexity by an order of magnitude. Volt problems found on the road are going to be minor and easy to fix, but problems found in an aircraft could be far more serious. Bottom line, if the software does not work seamlessly, the JSF is a failed project. Maybe we should think of JSF as a massive software project, with an engine and airframe thrown in.

Probably. Still, not impossible.

That depends on what your definition of “is” is. Anyway, rant on brother. You’re entitled.

I am thinking that many famous commercial products were also late and over budget, but the media does not know it because it is internally managed. In the commercial aerospace industry both Boeing and Airbus did have the media reporting massive overruns and delays for their new products. The banks providing the money kept on doing it, based on the reputation of the organization. I am amused at your faith in small start-up companies solving all these problems. If you want to risk your own money, by all means do so. Some of the efforts will succeed. Your faith in COTS is also controversial. Mil Specs (and FARS and JARS) exist in part to avoid past mistakes and are often written by smart people who have been there and done that. Everyone who is involved with aerospace product design should at least start with the Mil Specs for guidance. It is possible that some parts of these specs are obsolete or counter productive, and I would listen to specific challenges. It would be perilous to reject them completely, equivalent to starting over. That would doom your start-up companies into repeating avoidable dead ends.

The AV-8B+ is the growth limit of the Harrier. You can’t do much more with that design.

Yet you still are proposing flying the same airframe designs until 2030. Upgrades can only do so much. Sometimes you need to start with a clean sheet of paper. The Super Hornet did include some RCS reducing features, but what’s seen on the proposed “International” variant is the limit of how stealthy you can make any existing 4.5 generation design.

The proper alternative to the JSF would be two or three new fighter programs, not upgrades of what we have today.

The software challenges of the JSF program were underestimated as per usual, the DoD and contractors haven’t gotten the hang of this yet. Lockheed and others involved have significantly stepped up their efforts when it comes to the F-35 at least.

Anyway, much of that code is related to the avionics. If you tried to stuff all of the F-35’s systems into another aircraft all of that coding would still be necessary.

This difficulty the F-35 faces is very amusing when people say we should develop UCAVs as an alternative to the F-35. Try tripling those 10 million lines of code in order to get a UCAV that can function well autonomously when the need arises.

Back to the original post:

How many BCT’s are in Europe? How much do these “plum” assignments cost? What is the value of these units in terms of being deployed in Europe?

I think these are all honest questions to be considered far ahead of characterizing those Soldiers of being on holiday.

Here’s how I see it:

USA: 312,833,000
EU: 502,486,499

USA: $15.065 trillion
EU: $15,203 trillion

–Land area
USA: 9,826,675 km2
EU: 4,324,782 km2

–Defense spending:
USA: $1.030–$1.415 trillion
EU: $299.7 billion

I think they can take care of themselves and stop relying on the U.S. to pay for their defense.

Way to ignore the fact that most of that debt was racked up through non-DoD spending. We could leave ourselves without a proper military and we would still be trillions in debt. But somehow that is “progress” in your book.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Just because there are faults in other places that need to be rectified doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to the $1–1.4 Trillion (!) dollars spent on the military and defense. This pass the buck has gone on for too long.

I’m not here on a defense website to talk about medicaid or SS, I’m here to talk about how we can fix our defense spending to responsible levels.

Yeah, you’re right, it’s all my imagination:…

Enjoy. (Though I suspect you feel you know more than they as well.)

Thanks for the background. I’ve seen a few studies that point to measures like these. Taken together, they seem to point at freeing, focusing and otherwise holding an ossified system to account.

Dfens makes an interesting point on development costs. Assuming the private sector won’t — or can’t — carry those costs in an uncertain market, we need different answers. Given the performance of our acquisition system, I doubt nationalized assets can innovate at the pace of our threats.

How about another option — rely on not-for-profit institutions to do the design/development, then issue final specs to a manufacturer? We have great assets — MITRE and Draper Lab, for example — that can do rapid development/prototyping very well, at least in some areas. Could this approach work for larger systems or end items, too?

Interesting point came up the other day that MIGHT indicate that its not just engineers that have caught that particular “beltway bubonic”. The military services have for years brought back certain retired “flag” officers as “senior mentors”. Sounds like a very good idea to bring back these experienced officers, as temporary, part-time consultants, to pass on some of their insight and experience. Well, the stinky hit the air flow device courtesy of Sen McCain and others, and new rules came out that required the “senior mentors” to actually disclose their personal outside interests. That would not SEEM to be a problem, since these were “honest, dedicated and patriotic men” giving honest, unbiased opinions on matters where they had some knowledge “for the good of the service”. 351 “mentors” quit, citing the low pay (capped at $179.9k for 60 days or less of work per year), and the restrictions on their outside activities (some of which could easily have been influenced by their recommendations while on “mentor” duty!). While certainly a few may have had an engineering degree, I must imagine that most did not.

Need I say more?

Could “Ossified” perhaps mean “multi-tiered, oversight-enamored, profusely legislated and overly regulated ” ?

LOL! You pretty much restate the justification for the FFDRCs! Unfortunately, they might well be more a part of the PROBLEM than the SOLUTION. They have spent the last 50 years largely insuring that the “right” answers are provided, at cost of course, for the acquisition system. Those bought and paid for answers are no different than the bought and paid for answers from any unscruplous contractor except for the need for a profit margin in one case (often more than offset by the significantly higher cost of Mitre or Draper labor hours!).

People intent on distorting a system to their own advantage will find a way, no matter what is legislated. So long as the society views these people as criminals and sends them to jail for years for embezzlement and the government procurement process views them as “creative program managers and engineers”, it wont make much difference what else is done.

The hubris involved in the decision making involved that believed we could go from a 1 millions SLOC jet, which shall we say did not set the gold standard in smart developmental practice, to a 10 million SLOC jet that would be mo re affordable, is HILARIOUS! As usual, DoD got suckered into the promise of snake oil, bells, and whistles, and failed to deliver a quality product and nowhere near the performance the taxpayers deserve. And then DoD holds the gun to the taxpayers head and demands more payment because there are no alternatives, but, trust us, (wink wink), F-35 is the lynchpin of national security, and it will be well worth it, even though they cannot provide a realistic estimate of what the remaining costs they will be… they can provide more and more empty promises however… the thing should be canceled on principle alone. Oh that’s right, America is nowhere close to being governed by principle any more…

The problem is really pretty simple (LOL!) Joe! (OBTW, that is SARCASM, my friend!)

Whatever income is available will be spent (and then some), and its the “then some” that has gotten us into the current problem. Want to spend a bit more in DoD, take some from HHS or vice versa and you will STILL end up in a deficit. Want to determine what that “zero based budget” is for DoD, independent of the tradeoffs, and nobody will be happy with the answer (or even be willing to accept the answer, unless of course your opinion is that DoD should not be getting anything! :-) ) Defending our way of life (including the privelege of handing out all of the “entitlements”!) is inescapably expensive and if you sat down and tried to justify any one value based on its stand alone merits, it would be unaffordable. Look at it as a whole, or you fail to “look at it”.

Dfens, my friend, there are VERY few major weapon systems developed over the last 100 years of US DoW and DoD procurement that have not had at least the major part of their “development cost” paid for by the government. There are even fewer weapon systems that have made it into successful deployment without that same sponsorship (but that may be an entirely different issue, i.e. NIH, than you were discussing.)

I would challenge you to name ONE warfighting system of military significance that has not been directly tied to the DoD (or other foreign government’s) developmental dollar to at least a 50% or more contribution. I do agree that there should be some stronger incentives for “contractor buy-in” than there are now, but.…. cut off the up front R&D funding and you end up starving the acqusition system for lack of worthwhile things to buy! As for the “nationalization” of systems, I believe that was tried starting in about 1918 and only recently crashed and burned, and last I checked, that was a concept that the “enemy” pushed. Call me old fashioned…. . but…. .

Small “start up” companies generally do well because they can “bet the house” and not loose much, in a relative sense at least. They are also unencumbered with too much “internal tradition” in terms of how things must be, and can therefore exploit more of the “breaking edge” in terms of technology, manufacturing, etc. But could a small “start up” company build an F-35 or an LCS? Small startup companies can also fail miserably, but the smoking hole is barely visible unless you happen to work for one or unless you are dependent on their products!

The “wisdom” in the mil specs and such is self evident when for example, commercial portable electronic devices PRIDE themselves (as proof by their advertising!) with passing MIL-SPEC-810 or whatever. Amazingly, such things as cell phones and PDAs live in an environment that is to a great degree just as physically demanding as the DoD environments, so…. your designers drop, shake, rattle-and-roll, freeze and bake them just like military equipment!


Because nukes obviously have no use to anyone. (I hope everyone notices the sarcasm, as I’m laying it on fairly thick.)

And, as a public service announcement, this notion of “blowing up the entire planet” or “killing all life on Earth multiple times” is one of the most outdated, ridiculous talking points left over from the Cold War days. While it’s certainly possible that this might have occurred when both the US and USSR each had 20–40,000 warheads in their arsenals this might’ve been a reasonable assumption, the simple fact is that today there are nowhere near enough weapons to generate that level of devastation.

Second, even at these overblown levels, global destruction would have required both superpowers to unleash all, that’s right ALL, of their weapons in short sequence; something that anyone who’s ever undertaken more effort to understand the nuclear debates than simpy copy/pasting part of the less than accurate Wikipedia page on the U.S. nuclear arsenal (which, by the way, ommitted the post-2006 section, ostensibly because it would’ve refuted your “tens of thousands” exaggeration and reinforced bobbymike’s correct counterpoint) would understand is ridiculous. Why would you ever use everything you have all at once? Where’s your reserve? What’s to keep one of the other major nuclear powers (China) at bay once you disarm yourself?

But guess what, if you really want to overcome the “strategy-types groupthink Ewing mentions in his article and retain deterrence at the lower conventional force levels which are almost certain to result from the current budget flailings, then you need to take another look at our nuclear arsenal and doctrine. Put very simply, deterrence is the cheaper version of defense as you don’t have to actively expend forces to alter an adversary’s course of action. With that in mind, which do you think is the more budget-conscious decision: the ICBM in a silo and the wing required for maintenance/targeting/launch or a 5,000-man brigade combat team with a full complement of vehicles, ammunition, and support, and which do you think Russia/China would be more concerned about?

“cut off the up front R&D funding and you end up starving the acqusition system for lack of worthwhile things to buy!”

You just have to love how all canards of a planned economy keep on reappearing. Uncle Joe would just love you guys.

Just as the Russians had to learn about capitalism once the Soviet Union collapsed we need classes for those in our military industrial complex to teach them about how capitalism works.

All the evidence shows that Lockheed knew what it was doing when it hired cheap software engineers, disregarded quality control and reduced testing.

The biggest difference between Chevy and Lockheed is that Lockheed makes a profit on every bug it introduces into production aircraft.

Methinks that the sour grapes may be showing just a tad! Let me guess, LMCO wouldn’t pick you up when GM fired you? ROTFLMAO!

LOL! Capitalism is a great thing for developing technology for the masses, consider iPhones and Wii games. It responds well to a mass market, but.… for low volume, high development cost, high risk, high manufacturing cost, etc, the economics of capitalism just doesnt respond well.… unless the pot gets stirred with some of that R&D funding. Its not Stalinism, its just the realities of developing weapon systems.

Now, if we were buying airplanes like we did during WWII, or rifles, or trucks, or ships, or.… (look at the production rates of those major weapon systems!), then capitalism might have a pretty good chance to “run free”. As it is, with less than 100 fighters produced per YEAR, there is just no reason without the stimulus of DoD funding .…

All typically wrong, but this is common theme you see amongst the apparatchiks — the only motivation must be for ones own job.

You need to go back to school and learn about the real world.

Sorry, man, but Thinking_ExUSAF is way out of yours and my league. We have far more to learn from him than we could ever teach him.

Learn humility. The world will make more sense and be less painful.….

Better get those eyeglasses fixed my friend. Im just a dirty old test toadie that uses Google, reads the news, and doesnt have any more sense than to speak my mind! :-)

To build a fully autonomously operating Drone is nearly impossible or better said it is much risky and much more expensive them to continuing the F35 program. For example the US Army has already make the mistake to try to create a force how was largely based on autonomous drones, the project was called FCS and everyone should to know how is ends. After nearly 13 Years of developing and the investing of Billions it has created not just one viable Weapon or System. And nearly all problems of the FCS program there software and not Hardware based and to try to build a UCAV replace for the F35 is exactly as stupid as the FCS program was and it will end like the same.

Too bad our financial situation went from solvent to destroyed in 8 lousy years (2001–8). The incompetence rendered this nation a situation where serious compromises to our national security may now have to be made as a result of insolvency.

I should think, maybe using your example, that the rapid development, and aquisition of the MRAPS systems would possibly be a model to look at along that line. I don’t hear many complaints about those programs.

Here we go again! This is just like your local mayor and city council telling you that because of the budget they are going to have to cut the police and firefighters ( which they are mandated to maintain ) yet they won’t touch their pay/benefits or their pet projects. Our Federal Govt is mandated to maintain the defense, granted there is a lot of waste that does not need to be cut, it needs to be redirected to important weapons systems that work! The President and Congress won’t touch the over 2/3rds of the budget that is locked up in entitlements, or their pay/benefits, no they’ll take it out of Defense. Do away with Welfare for bums, quit subsidizing the defense of over half the world is a good start to really cut the budget without sacrificing our Defense.

So he knows what I do for a living LOL

Look I understand that the apparatchiks are sore that the gravy train is ending but real Americans can only benefit from it.

Our financial situation went from solvent to very bad between 2001-08, it was totally destroyed between 2008 and 2010, when our debt was QUADRUPLED.

China owns us already! Why would they want to invade?

Well, I guess it’s about time they join the great American train wreck. I hope this person didn’t waste money renting a crystal ball to figure all that out. At the back of our train wreck is the Obama administration; selfish, immature and out of touch.

Nope. MRAP was a case of the procurement system being dragged to the solution by its nose, kicking and screaming all the way, and it was NOT a development program. MRAP technology was very much “off the shelf”, and there are LOTS of valid complaints about MRAP primarily because the logistics planning that would normally be included in a development program never got done.

The problem is that the procurement system should NOT require congressional and cabinet level intervention to force it to respond to the operational needs of the warfighters.

Some good points there. If these folks were producing cheese, rocking chairs or even things as complicated as an automobile it would be a different story. The shear complexity of the final products produced by these contractors and the shear volume of extra paper work required of government contractors should be enough to explain it all but when it comes to news stories, i.e. criticism, all were looking for are things to dump on. We’re a culture of dumping on and fault finding rather than problem solving.

I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement within the industries but when one looks at the things they are making budget and schedule expectations are out of touch with the complexity of the product.

The A-10 when first proposed came close to being dumped because of the “all eggs in one basket” thinking. It boggles the mind that a jet screaming overhead could do the job of ground support/attack better than a purpose built killer like the A-10. We can also look back to that uber-moron, Adolf Hitler who constantly interferred with weapon designs because of his own multi-role mania. Multi-role isn’t a bad idea in and of itself but as a culture, a belief system, it is flawed. The ME-262 would have been out two years earlier if Hitler hadn’t meddled. Fortunately, in the end, Hitler turned into our greatest secret weapon of the war; Germany couldn’t have lost without him.

Anyway, I’m trying to design an infantry weapon that will conserve on ammo when the software thinks you’re being wasteful. To sweeten the package it will double as a capacinno maker, heat up rats, serve as a flotation device, and have the ability to turn into an unmanned drone. It will have cell phone and e-mail capability as well and here’s the real money saver — it will come as a set of BDU’s!

Why is it that nobody gets that? You just said it all buddy.

Thanks for pointing that out. You must have been a contractor. In the end it’s all about billable hours to the government. I worked for LockMart, I was a contract, billable hours. They even sold me once and bought me back. Weird culture that.

ROTFLMAO! You sir, have the proper concept! One thing to end all things! The ultimate “doomsday” weapon system! But.… can it compose a truely sleep inducing PowerPoint presentation autonomously!

You have noticed that in spite of over 30 years of attempting to retire the A-10, they are still flying? Trust me, its not because the ‘Hog is a beautiful flying machine, or because it requires a buzzillion lines of code, or justifies a huge program office staff, or demands the ultimate in stealthy performance. Its because it DOES the militarily significant mission of shooting up just about anything that needs shooting up (from main battle tanks in the desert to 10th floor sniper posts in downtown Baghdad). Heck, back in the day during Red Flag exercises we even fragged A-10s as “SAR CAP” since they could dwaddle along with the CH-52s (and in principle lay up a regular stinky storm of 30mm API should any sleek fast moving jet try to hassle the helo!).

If the AF ever succeeds in parking the A-10s at DM, dont be surprised to see a rapid resurgence of the Army Air Corps! (assuming of course, that the USMC does not sneak off into the dark with all of those surplussed Warthogs!).

Thank you, and thank you for reminding me to build in PowerPoint capability into that Infantry weapon I’m designing — jeez, how did I miss that?

That A-10, it’s a thing of beauty ain’t it? But then my favorite plane from WWII is the P-47, the “Jug”.

As a Policy Wonk, you should appreciate the virtue of fairness. The seeds for our financial “destruction” were sown much earlier than 2001. The creation of Freddie and Fannie, fast and loose monetary policy, ridiculous lending standards in the interest of “helping” the poor and middle class, and a lack of control on Medicare & Medicaid — the drivers of past, present, and future debt obligations, come to mind.

Maybe we need to go back to the WWII acquisition program, as it seemed they did pivot very well to develop new weapons, and get them to the ‘front’ with less fuss and muss. This may not be a very good example however. We have never been on such a dedicated path as a nation since then, and probably never will be, short of a nuclear holocaust.

Actually, the WWII acqusition programs were generally geared to the concept of buying as many of whatever system as possible as fast as possible and deliver them as fast as possible to the troops in the field. There are many cases of “better” being ignored for the sake of “fast and lots”, a prime one being the Pershing tanks being held back in favor of swarms of Shermans.

You do highlight one of the more salient advantages of the WWII military acquisition system, i.e. committment and dedication of the nation. THAT, more than anything else, made it possible to deliver 50,000 Sherman tanks, and literally tens of thousands of heavy bombers, and even more prolific fighters, etc.

Disagree. The can is getting bigger but it will continue to be kicked down the road. 2012 will look like 2011 and lots of discussions about how something may have to change in 2013 and out. Many are still in denial about the cost of the Armed Services (post draft) pay, benefits etc and the fact that acquisition is 20%. We can afford what we are willing to pay for but any discussion that fails to consider revenue and cost is doomed to fail.

Bottom line, any change in Defense will likely be marginal.

So used to sucking off the government that socialism just comes naturally to you. How sad. The rest of us live in the world that works. And for your information, the US did not pay anything for development costs until the 1970s, and did not start paying a profit on development until the early 1990s. Even the best weapons in the military arsenal now came from 100% contractor paid development such as most UAV’s, the Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle, and the C-130.

:-) Of the many things Ive been accused of in my life, a socialist is just not one of them! Let me hand it to you for creativity! ROTFLMAO!

Is THIS the aircraft you were referring to:

“In February 1951 the USAF issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild and Lockheed. This proposal proved to be quite daunting to these manufacturers as the RFP wanted the new aircraft to be a medium transport capable of performing both the tactical and logistical roles. As a troop transport the USAF wanted ninety men moved to anywhere in the world in 2,000 mile stages. It also required the aircraft to carry 30,000lbs of military equipment into battle area unpaved strips and have the ability to get off from mud or sand airstrips on three engines. The Lockheed design team immediately set to work and came up with the basic C-130 design and in July 1951 were declared the winners of the RFP and were awarded a contract to build two YC-130 prototypes. These were constructed at Lockheed’s plant at Burbank, California but after a further contract was awarded for an initial production of seven C-130A models it was proposed that production be carried out at the newly re-opened plant at Marietta, just to the North-West of Atlanta, Georgia.”

Madame–the kinds of threats we have do not call for B52, B1, or B2 aircraft. That has been obvious for more than 20 years. What is dumber than driving a B2 from Missouri halfway around the world to drop iron bombs with guidance strapped to them from 50K feet. No stealth is needed, and neither is that particular plane. The two two, largely botched, grossly over-run and years-late fighters are examples of how well the AF manages a major acquisition. So: no mission + no competence to procure the system, anyway. Begs for a BIG CUT, would you not say?

We already have enough to beat them for 30 years. Further, we have proven we cannot produce a plane to meet requirements and grossly waste tens of billions on it.

Make love, not war, madame, eh?

better we spend it on Dove bars in the mess for all our overweight service members, eh?

The MRAP program was a prime example of “fast, cheap, on time — pick two.” We got the MRAPs in country in record time after the request went out, but we probably paid a premium for getting them and the supply and repair program for them is still 100% contractors except for consumables like air and oil filters.

Designed at Lockheed’s expense, built at the government’s. You’ll find the C-5, designed in the mid ‘60s was designed and built at the government’s expense. What a fiasco that was! Hell, Boeing used the government’s money to design the 747, which was never a cargo airplane. It was a passenger plane built at the US taxpayer’s expense. What a glowing example of your type of, are you calling it capitalism now or just coming out and saying capitalism is crap, it is so hard to tell which way you’re mealy mouthing it this time. Which is why I said what I said in the first post, big cargo airplanes should be designed by the USAF. Only an idiot would pay a contractor a profit to drag out development and jack the cost through the roof. And we have, apparently, no shortage of those.

Your original post said “tens of thousands” that would usually mean a number starting at 20,000. Then you bring statistics from 2006, really, only six year old statistics? Nothing newer you could find say using the “interwebz” From the Arms Control Association:

“United States: Approximately 5,113 active and inactive [2] nuclear warheads and approximately 3,500 warheads retired and awaiting dismantlement. The 5,113 active and inactive nuclear warhead stockpile includes 1,790 deployed strategic warheads [1], approximately 500 operational tactical weapons, and approximately 2,645 inactive warheads.”

But the point also is that a nuke in storage without a delivery vehicle is just a dangerous door stop in wartime.

Fine, you’re right about the number and I was wrong; my point still stands. Unless 2,200 nukes isn’t enough for you.

By 2025, revenues will only cover Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt.

By 2055, revenues won’t even cover interest costs.

Using spending decreases alone to stabilize the debt, have to cut the fed budget by 31%.

Using revenue increases alone. we’d need to raise taxes (or decrease exemptions) by 44%.

These are optimistic figures because they exclude other trends not in CBO purview.

So, what’s missing is a viable long range plan to avoid collapse by 2025. Basic math says everybody has to share the pain. Going from a budget surplus in 2000 to a $15+T debt in 2011 means there has to be lots of bill payers and broken rice bowls.

I don’t have a dog in the political finger pointing exercise, but there’s plenty of blame to be shared by all.

Just look at the data as to when the massive debt was created.

Actually if you really wanted to save money you would bring all the troops home get rid of most conventional weapon systems and replace them with around 10,000 nukes on heavy ICBMs. Then just threaten full scale nuclear war anytime your “interests” are threatened,

Just kidding of course.….….…..or am I :)

One of the most short-sighted things you can possibly do is pull America ground forces out of Europe. Minus One.

Ruthlessness is not the hallmark of a good SecDef. In times like these, the goal is to survive, literally to be able to fight another day. Somehow, the Air Force seems to hold the idea that theirs is the only essential service. Not so.

Here’s a little song for people like you (with apologies to Axel Fischer)

Traum von Afghanistan
Der die Hoffnung nahm
Allein in einer fremden Stadt
Allein in Afghanistan

Traum von Afghanistan
Der die Hoffnung nahm
Allein in einer fremden Stadt
Allein in Afghanistan

Heut’ sag’ ich, es war einmal
Märchen voll Angst und Qual
Elfen, Prinz und gute Feen
War’n für uns nicht vorgeseh’n

Halt mich, hast du oft gesagt
Wie, hab ich dich dann gefragt?
Liebe hat total versagt
In Afghanistan

Have your little fun, but those numbers actually do mean something…

Wrong. Both unmanned ground and unmanned air vehicles on FCS had various levels of autonomy. One might call them “semi-autonomous”. Most of their control was waypoint-based movement, with the possibility of teleoperation. But even planned movement requires local autonomy to keep from running into things, and teleoperation needs sufficient bandwidth to maintain video contact. If you want a “fully autonomously operating drone”, buy a cruise missile.

Thanks for the kind words, but.…. afraid that you have misread me, I am, in fact, an ex-contractor. As for the cynical part, Im a cynical taxpayer and citizen (former military, currently in the government system acquisition business). I just cant seem to forget that oath of office that I first took in (OMG!) 1972 and several times since. As I remember it, every one of us in the military and civil service took essentially the same oath and nowhere in the rather simple and unambiguous provisions of that oath was a sworn duty to support and defend my career progression path, build my own little empire, or stroke my ego.

I think that we are in a very dangerous time and certainly can not afford to “play posturing games”, wasting money or time, pretending to acquire the military systems that will potentially preserve our way of life.


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