Time for the national security race to get real

Time for the national security race to get real

You’ve seen almost nothing about the presidential candidates’ national security views on this blog. Until Tuesday, almost nothing the candidates said was worth the TV airtime they used to say it.

The national security dimension of the GOP primary was absurd when it wasn’t embarrassing. The candidates fought over whether U.S. troops could come under the authority of foreign commanders; the dangers of Islamist influence in Central America; and, for a time, a proposed American base on the Moon. They spent an entire debate under the impression that Fidel Castro was still the president of Cuba. They called for deploying American warships to the Persian Gulf even as those selfsame Navy ships were already on patrol. They said almost nothing about the war in Afghanistan they’d inherit if elected.

None of this was the fault of any one candidate. People care mostly about domestic issues this year, and the net effect of starting with a large field and enduring a long primary was constant rightward pressure to appeal to conservative voters, not offer workable proposals. All of that could drop away, however, with Tuesday’s announcement that Rick Santorum was dropping out of the GOP presidential race. That leaves just frontrunner Mitt Romney with an apparently unobstructed path to his party’s nomination, and it could mean that, at long last, voters can expect some real information about one of their choices by Election Day in November.

There are many people in the military-industrial-congressional complex who have been counting on a Republican — any Republican — to take the White House this year. Republicans get the defense industry, the thinking goes; they support the Pentagon; and only a Republican president will make a concerted effort to step in and stop the budget guillotine looming over Washington.

President Obama, for his part, will not go along with proposed stopgap “patches” that would spare the first year of budget sequestration, or wall off DoD from its effects. He insists that Congress must get a “comprehensive” deal to prevent another $500 billion in reduced defense budget growth, although the outlook for that is grim.  As an electoral strategy, this seems borderline masochistic, given the threat to defense jobs in key states such as Pennsylvania and Florida — to say nothing of the nationwide ripple effects of potential new military base closures. But the president appears willing to gamble that he can gain votes elsewhere to offset the ones he could lose over defense cuts.

The rest of his defense program is clear: 100,000 fewer soldiers and Marines over the coming six years, paired with a drawdown in Afghanistan that would hand control of the war to Kabul by 2014. A ten-year commitment, likely finalized next month in Chicago, to continue funding and training the Afghan National Security Forces. A new bomber for the Air Force and a new ballistic missile submarine for the Navy, but no newly developed nuclear weapons — in fact, the potential for a much smaller nuclear arsenal overall. Marines, airmen and other forces moving westward to Australia as part of the “pivot” to the Western Pacific, etc.

Romney, however, has not yet had to get specific on the defense policy he’d pursue as president. Much of his platform today is just boilerplate: Romney promises he’d “review” the Afghanistan situation; “not make national security decisions based on electoral politics;” and conduct an Afghan withdrawal “based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders.” Romney calls for Pakistan’s intelligence service to sever its connections with insurgent and terror groups. He criticizes corruption in the Afghan government. Reporters will likely get to work soon trying to fill in this thumbnail sketch.

There are some big differences in Romney’s program: He proposes to counter Chinese influence in the Western Pacific with a “Reagan Economic Zone” free trade club; renewed arm sales to Taiwan and other allies; and new pressure on Beijing to improve its domestic human rights. (Obama has dramatically scaled back support for Taiwan and turned the volume way down on China’s human rights abuses, as compared to former presidents.) Romney would also try to persuade China “to commit to North Korea’s disarmament,” as part of a broader get-tough strategy against Pyongyang — it ain’t gonna happen, but that’s where he’s coming from.

The signature detail in Romney’s national security policy is belief that “core defense spending” should constitute 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, a goal long cherished by conservative Beltway think-tankists. Much like Romney’s goal of turning Beijing against Pyongyang, this isn’t going to happen, but the idea shows his basic commitment to pumping up the Pentagon’s budget.  The campaign concedes this notion “will not be a cost-free process,” but it does not detail how Romney could both deliver  the tax cuts he promises, the 4 Percent Solution, and wrestle the long-term U.S. deficit.

The answer to that question will be critical to understanding how Romney would follow up on one of his best-known stump speech attacks on the Obama administration, one borrowed from the Pentagon’s own talking points: That the Navy’s fleet is the smallest it’s been since 1917 and the Air Force’s is the smallest in its history.

The real story is that each service mostly has itself to blame, having squandered a decade of record budgets and wound up today with no operational LCSes; no CG(X); no operational DDG 100s; no new tankers; no operational F-35s; no Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles; no new bomber; a fraction of once-planned F-22s; a new carrier with a $1 billion cost overrun; and aging legacy fleets that must serve ever longer. But you can’t turn that into a sound bite, and it’s a history that covers both Republican and Democratic administrations. So what Romney does say — besides just cranking up the spending — will be very interesting.

Romney’s campaign took a lot of heat from its former rivals when an adviser said it needed to shake itself up “like an Etch-a-Sketch” to move from the Republican primary to the general election against Obama. For the national security world, however, that could be a welcome move. It could help the hundreds of thousands whose livelihoods depend on the defense game to conclude for certain which candidate would best protect their interests as president. And for millions of voters, the “new” campaign could set up a clear choice about who’d they’d prefer as the next commander-in-chief.

Join the Conversation

Or maybe a president Romney would build up our tactical nuclear arsenal which could allow us to reduce our conventional forces and keep defense spending in check.

Eisenhower already tried that. Nukes replacing troops as a strategy died decades ago when we discovered despite building nuclear missiles, nuclear artillery, and nuclear recoiless rifles all of our wars were still being fought with ground troops against countries or groups that didn’t give a damn how many nukes we had.

Additionally, replacing troops with nukes requires convincing your potential adversaries that you’d be willing to use them in place of conventional weapons. If your threat is not credible, then it’s not a deterrent. It’s one thing to make the world believe we’d use nukes if we ourselves were nuked, it’s another matter to convince them that we’d go nuclear if a friendly nation (for example) were invaded. Then there’s the matter of containing a nuclear engagement to “tactical” nuclear weapons…

Part 1.

First I don’t believe what Romney will rise significant the defense spending if he is elected but I believe what he will avoid the sequestration (the most idiotic and dangerous think what was ever created) and this alone makes him a much better President them Obama. It is unbelievable how it is possible for a President to take the National Security and with her the position of the USA as the World leading Military and Economic Power to make pressure for an in compare with the impact of sequestration not significant question like higher taxes for rich people.

Obama acts like Barney Frank and as consequence he has become a treatment for the USA and the Western world why he’s politic put the USA in decline. It is also sure what Obama is not the only problem or the only irresponsible in Washington the GOP are even not really better, they are also completely ideological blinded and take not responsibility for the Country but Mr. Obama has simple gone too far in the false direction. And as consequence of Obamas Politic now the Russian (as attestation for example the Hot Mic in South Korea and the fallowing comments) , Chinese, Iranians and Nord Koreans despots likely wish another Four Years Obama and this is the best reference for Obamas epic fail in foreign Policy and national security question !

And since the Obama Administration has taken the Office he has continually reduce the DOD so by a first cut of 400 Billion 2009, by an additional the 178 Billion cut 2010 and now by nearly 500 Billion cut (2011) plus the treatment of another 500 Billion sequestration cuts over the next 10 years. And it is also interesting to take a closer look to some Program cuts how was made by the Obama Administration so hear a short list of the bad and good decision.

Part 2.

Bad Decision

1. The F22 was definitely killed and as consequence the US air Superiority was put in real danger.

2. The DDG1000 was killed by only 3 Units (a really bad decision under the new pacific focus)

3. The CG(X) was canceled (also a bad decision under the new pacific focus)

4. The FCS was completely killed (a good decision) but this without a replace (and this is the problem)

5. Hundreds of active Fighter Jets scrapped without replace (about 400 since 2009)

6. About 100.000 Active and Reserve Soldiers will be cut in the near future.

7. The Next Gen Bomber was canceled but later in a stripped form restored

8. The Missile defense was dramatically weakened by the elimination of nearly the half of the planed GBI Rockets and the elimination of MKV (Multiple Kill Vehicle) and also by the elimination of the planed Missile Defense base in Eastern Europe. (this can be fatal)

9. The Nuclear deterrence was weakened and this without any benefits for the USA but with some for the Russians so as consequence of the New START the Russians can now invest their Money in useful conventional Arms like Fighter, Submarines, Rockets, Tanks and many more.

10. The manned US Space program was effectively stopped and as consequence the industrial base for Space Programs weakened. (This decision will have on long term them the Chinese will land on the Mon also a demoralizing effect like the same as the USA has lands on the Moon for the UDSSR.

Good Decision

1. The shift of the focus form Asymmetric to Conventional Warfare or better said the new pacific focus.

2. The restart of the Next Gen Bomber Program.

3. The rise of the production rate of the Virginia Class Submarine.

4. The starting of a replace Program for the SSBN Fleet.

But this Good thinks are all not really decision how there driven by the Obama Administration (with exception of the pacific focus) and I think it is realistic to claim what Obama National Defense Politic was even so worse as the Politic of Jimmy Charter. In fact the US position as World Power has rapidly decline since Obama took the Office and this not because of economic crisis (The US Dept. problem was never driven by defense speeding and so the defense cuts has not change the dept. problematic) and in the same time all geopolitical enemy’s has strength there position because of the US decline.

So hear some examples for this geopolitical decline of the USA.

1. China is on the way to become a peer enemy and he has extend is Economic and is Military influence in Asia and the Pacific and stands near on the edge to displace the USA as the leading player in this region.

2. Russian has massively strength his influence in Europe and as consequence of the Appeasement Politic of the Obama Administration secures a zone of influence over the entire Eastern Europe and central Asia. And Russia has also the edge in the Arctic Region how are a lot of natural Resources and one of the most important geostrategic regions of the world.

3. Iran has continued his Nuclear Program and it is realistic what it is already too late to stop him from becoming a Nuclear Power. Thx Obama because of you the Iranians will treat In the future Millions of people with the nuclear dead.

4. Nord Korea has become a Nuclear Power and is Missile Program makes progress with the construction of an ICBM how can delivered soon a nuclear surprise to Hawaii and the US West coast later even to the east coast and Washington DC.

5. The Islamist will be gain more influence in the entire Arabic World because of the Arabic revolutions and it is nit wrong to claim what Obama was the president how lost Egypt and the Iraq.

I don’t know what Mitt Romney and the GOP will do them they win and I don’t have great expectations but on the other Hand it can be only better them this what Obama has done the last three years. So at least Mitt Romney will not allow sequestration and he will not be Russia friend or better said Russians men on Washington and he will also not put the Western civilization in existential danger with insane ideas like a unilateral reduction of the nuclear deterrence to 300 warheads.

$16 trillion and counting, in my opinion this is the single greatest threat to our national security. Every year or two America gets to pay for China’s defense spending. This must end and we must take control of our own financial destiny. Romney 2012

@matt, the 16 Trillion depths are noted in Dollar and not in Juan or Euro and this make it possible for the USA to pay is depth with worthless paper. With other Word’s the USA cannot get bankrupt like Greece. And the comment what the depth is the greatest threat to our national security is torn from the context to justify idiotic and useless cuts on the defense budget. The Comment was make in the context what the depth problem can create a situation in what the USA cannot longer spend enough money for the national defense and so the depth can become the greatest tread to your national security.

The problem is what the progressives have immediately started too torn the comment from the context and to slash the DOD budget in order to “make the USA safer”. Communists are insane they are mentally ill and so there logic is also ill so for example you become not safer by making you weak and vulnerable for your enemy’s this strategy don’t works even on schoolyard but communist/progressives don’t understand this.

And to repeat it again the biggest treat for your National Security is not the depth it is a weak military how cannot defend you and the interest of your country’s because of a lack of money. And the depth Problem is a treat to the national security why he can creates a situation in that you cannot funding your military. And here is the Problem you cannot solve the depth problem in order to avoid the “biggest treatment to your national security” by the triggering off the “biggest treatment to your national security” a hollowed-out military.

With other words you cannot solve the depth problem with DOD cuts you need to raise the taxes and reform the healthcare system of your country. The DOD makes only 18% of the Governmental spending but the healthcare and Social Security spending makes already about 66% of your Spending and them the cost explosion on the healthcare will to be stopped they will eat around 2025 your entire revenues and this is a fact what even Obama has accepted.

But since Obama has become president he had make no attempt to solve the depth Problem, no he has made the situation even worse by Obamacare how not save money but rise the dept. by another 300–900 Billion dollar and in the same time he has cut the DOD by nearly 900 Billion Dollar. And it looks like what Obama has no plans to solve the depth problem by a needed reform of the claims but he looks like to plan with another 500 Billion Defense cuts and a tax increase from 1,5 Billion to 4 Billion but even this will buy him only time​.So the biggest treat to your national security is at last your irresponsible government (Congress, Senate) and especially you’re President Barak Obama !

Sorry I make a big mistake with the Amount of taxes. I not mean 1, 5 Billion to 4 Billion but 1, 5 Trillion to 4 Trillion dollar.

Nukes are the most effective and also the cheapest weapons as for what price performance. To replace troops with nukes can strength your deterrence but they are not a universal solution for all problems. So an enemy can calculate what you will not use nukes in every situation why the using of nukes created a large collateral damage or can even and with the destruction of your country. The questions is are you willing to use nukes to defend an Ally for example Israel or japan against an enemy with a superior conventional Army how has also nuclear weapons ? Probably not and you will be also not enable to deter a conventional superior army how has also nukes to attack your ally’s or to cut your Oil supplies. And so I must give TMB completely right what wars were still being fought with ground troops against countries or groups that didn’t give a damn how many nukes you have.

Also, if Romney believes in the 4% GDP rule, then he has no intention of “keeping defense spending in check” since that would be a dramatic increase over current spending.

Its not that The Vietcong didn’t care we had Nukes they just new we wouldn’t use them in low intensity conflicts. Same about the Afghans in the 80s fighting Russia. Overall the Eisenhower plans was NOT about fight insurgencies but fighting WW3 in Europe.

Overall this doesn’t matter because President Obama will win reelection no matter what. I never liked him never will but I know the women and liberal groups in USA will reelect him in favor of change and making ”America’s Prejudice” end. Romney whose anti-gun anti-life and anti American jobs will split America’s GOP base split into two.

Overall President G.W. Bush did just as much to damage the military than the current President is doing. Over wasting money of GCV and wasteful small arms programs which will not get anywhere to begin with are the problem. More should be spent to buy more F-22s and update F-15s to F-15SE standards. Just make one version of the F-35 for all the military, like the C model. Upgraded ours surface ships and upgrades and new subs. The army is fine Navy and Air Force need the funds to upgrade we wont be fight Afghanistan over and over.

There’s a reason “They said almost nothing about the war in Afghanistan they’d inherit if elected”. There is very limited public support for staying in Afghanistan for decades, especially when the terrorists have a nice safe hideout next door in Pakistan.

Politicians always “appeal to _______ voters, not offer workable proposals”, so why is this a surprise?

“Romney calls for Pakistan’s intelligence service to sever its connections with insurgent and terror groups.” Yeah, that’s really worked in the past.

“He criticizes corruption in the Afghan government” as if that’s going to change their culture.

Here is what confuses me — If the Govt is taking in 5.8 trillion a year from taxes and fees, and the govt branches use 2.3 trillion a year in thier budgets including SS and medicare, where they are now looking to make cuts. Would it not make more sense to look at what can be cut from the other 3+ trillion dollars going out the back door on social programs, grants, loans, and additional foreign aide. I got these numbers from govt treasury and omb websites and they just dont add up why our elected officials arent asking the same questions. I also dont have a lot of faith in either choice ofr president. OBAMA who lays down to everyone or ROMNEY who might see the next conflict as the antichrist uprising and issue a proclimation for all true belivers to don thier holy underwear, drink the coolaid and accend into the heavens leaving the apacolypse behind.

I’d add that the first President Bush cost us a lot when he refused to finish off Hussein the first time we invaded Iraq. We spent a lot of money for the no-fly zones and then another invasion.

I don’t think it is safe to say that we won’t be fighting another Afghanistan again. It’s nearly impossible to say when our foriegn policy has the potential to change every 4 years. What’s the overall (world wide) strategy for dealing with terrorists? To chase them where ever they run to or to just keep them out of Afghanistan? It isn’t feasible to chase them everywhere as the budget can’t support building up bases in a dozen countries. Keeping terrorists out of Afghanistan isn’t feasible when the terrorists are being supported (discreetly) by Pakistan and the Karzai administration isn’t trusted by the Afghan people because of how corrupt it is.

Although one might well point out that in a proliferated world, this issue needs to be revisited, both in terms of offensive systems needed for deterrence, and defensive systems needed to mitigate the potential damage of WMD usage on future battlefields.

I would interpret 4% as a ceiling, not a floor. It is certainly not a dramatic increase to the current baseline, but it would be a reversal of the current trend. If you look at GWB’s numbers, it was not until the economy was at its high point, and the GWOT was in full swing that DoD’s budget breached the 4% threshhold, for the first time since Desert Storm. You can make whatever assumptions your economic beliefs require about the level of growth achievable under the policies Romney espouses. Unless we get into another MCO, logic would suggest that one should flatten the topline, rather than let if float to the convenience of the political and business classes.

You know Romney sucks when he makes Obama look good on defense.

If all you did was focus on readiness and strategic mobility, and really address the problems in those areas, that would be a significant win. In this article of the Armed Forces Journal:

the authors note that an air deployment can take up ten days for a light brigade, 29 days for a heavy brigade — the corresponding numbers for strategic sealift are seventeen days and 37 days, respectively. This should give all the America Firsters and phoney realists pause about the efficacy of offshore balancing.

Now someone can tell me why it was such a great idea to kill FCS and C17 both and how our leaner meaner Army and Marine Corps will stand up in the first 30 days of combat with all this anti-access area denial stuff going on. Seriously — how do you propose to win the next war ?

“logic would suggest that one should flatten the topline, rather than let if float to the convenience of the political and business classes.”

As you stated “my economic beliefs” and that’s what these are, but I see pinning defense spending to a percentage of GDP as a terribly irresponsible way to run a budget. Every other department in the government has to justify the money they want to spend with a stated need, not a fixed share of the pie. Talking about percentages rather than dollars masks the fact that real money is still being spent and possibly wasted if we can’t articulate what that money is needed for.

It also bothers me how much of our military power is construed as our ability to buy things. I see so much bluster from Congress, pundits, and commenters here that we’re doomed because we can’t buy a new gizmo. What usually ends up happening is we break the bank buying a new toy then have to scratch our way forward for the next 10–20 years on maintenance and training for that item so that we don’t realize its full potential and decide that the solution is to buy another even more expensive toy.

The reason I favor flattening the topline is that the Department needs predicatability to plan and allocate resources — not because I think one number is “better” than another. The ratio of spending to GDP is just a benchmark — it tells us how much an activity is “taking out” of the economy, minus Keynesian stimulus effects (what that spending “puts back into” the economy). None of these politicians talks like a Keynesian anymore — and if they did, it would not be because they cared about rational allocation of scarce resources. The last politician I remember who talked that language was Albert Gore, Jr. — and then only in the context of “reinventing goverment” — you may spin that one as you please.

Some of what TMB seems to be saying reflects a more generalized bias in the Army officer corps against material solutions. This is a relatively new thing. In some respects, I think this reflects a generation that has not really had to put up with really bad equipment, which the Army inherited from the austere 50s and eight years of Bob McNamara. But it is a bit too self-satisfied an attitude, because it implies a belief that we just can’t get any better than this. My generation had only one way to go, and that was up. I would really like to see some firebrand reformers show up in the field grade ranks of the Army today and try to shake things up. Not to fight the last war, as Bob Scales mistakenly advocates, but to get ready from the challenges of the next war. We can even put up with some of the schmaltzy pseudo-intellectualism if it helps spread the disruption. Think Big.

Label it whatever you want, but I’d rather have a platoon of crack-shot M-14 shooters than a bunch of check the block qualifications on a weapon so expensive to use I only get to have a couple soldiers shoot it twice a year. I joined the Army in the late 1990s when our training budget was for fuel OR bullets but not both. I prefer to use reliable and easily maintained equipment (even if older) than a whizbang that needs a contractor to use and can only be repaired with the help of Fedex. Rarely have I seen a “material solution” to a problem that couldn’t also be overcome with hours of realistic training. I have no problem with new tech. My problem is spending every dime we have on buying it and then cutting the training budget because we believe the new tech will solve our problems without having to use some sweat and brainpower with it.

Pure nonsense.

Appears a bunch of old guys have had too much koolaid. Your life is almost over. Give up on the rhetoric of conflict. It is a waste of resources and time. The only commentary that seemed to have any basis in SENSE was about letting the younger field officers/personnel drive the discussion for new and contemporary solutions. Think eye for an eye and all see nothing. The old timers are still in suspenders common with their aged perspective. Move over and allow the young to take over the job. You have not been impressive in history or results. Thanks for your deeds not your thoughts. The future is here. Time to move on. We need future solutions not geriatric reminsence of glory days.

I try not to get into political debates. I’d just like to point out that Republican administration could go either way. It could be that a Republican will reverse the projected cuts from “sequestration,” and provide plenty of funding for current or even expanded military operations. In this case, such an administration MAY OR MAY NOT offset the difference in the budget deficit jump with serious cuts in other programs. Republican administrations in the recent past have been perfectly happy NOT doing so, and arguably neither traditional Republicans NOR Democrats are serious about fixing that long term issue (which realistically would probably take BOTH tax increases AND budget cuts — but no one is campaigning on that platform.) OR, it could be that a Republican administration will be deadly serious about cutting spending, and will not only remake Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, but also enact serious Defense cuts. Cuts, which, judging by our populace’s weariness with war, are quite feasible politically.

I think the former more likely than the latter, given my lack of confidence in our politicians’ ability to put their money where their mouths are. But time will tell.

Hmm.. the president can’t really do much about the budget except suggest things and threaten veto. Congress is influenced more by winning pork for it’s district. I’m not convinced that Pres Obama or a potential Pres Romney can make as significant a difference one way or another.

You’re very much correct, but both candidates will campaign to convince you if you vote for them they really can fix the world with a pen stroke.

Well, this discussion also applies to training technology. Now, the armor and aviation branches have embraced full crew simulators for years, and those simulators are pretty good (within limits). Not so the field artillery or infantry branches. It just would never occur to you garden variety battery commander than he could achieve much higher levels of proficiency by training the gun crews and the fire direction center all together without going to the range. The grunts now have lots of interesting game technology to train squad tactics — but show me where this is being done systematically throughout the force. We’ve actually gone backwards in the past ten years, because the idea is that we’re now like the Navy, with a Blue and Gold cycle, and garrison time is downtime, not training time. Unacceptable.

That said, the Concept Based Requirements System (when we still called it that) was to seek for non-material solutions first. And I’m on board with that. FCS wasn’t just a bunch of high-tech toys — it was a fully integrated solution that included embedded training and integrated logistics. One problem we always have is that we build stuff and figure out the tactics later. If the Army had been serious about FCS, the battle labs would have been working overtime to figure out how to fight the system of systems WITH the inherant limitations that testing revealed. We didn’t do any of that. Now I read articles on DoD Buzz about how very satisfied the Army is with its testing program, where they experiment with new waveforms after cancelling JTRS. If you want to do battle lab experiments on the battlefield., WWI-style, its your Army. But there is a better way.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.