CNO: Budget crisis creates ‘fog bank’ of uncertainty

CNO: Budget crisis creates ‘fog bank’ of uncertainty

The U.S. Navy will boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific region over the next decade even amid reduced defense spending that has created a “fog bank” of uncertainty, the Navy’s top officer said.

The Navy plans to have 114 ships sailing worldwide by fiscal 2020, up from 101 today, including 62 ships in the Asia-Pacific, up from 54 today, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said today at the Sea-Air-Space exposition. Meanwhile, the overall size of the fleet will rise to 295 ships, up from 283 ships, he said.

Greenert, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Coast Guard Vice Adm. John Currier kicked off the three-day conference at National Harbor, Md., organized by the Navy League, with the annual service chiefs update.


“Our Navy has got to be present where it matters,” said Greenert, who will be traveling to the region next week. “As we re-balance toward the Asia-Pacific, that will continue.”

The Defense Department faces $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade under deficit-reduction legislation passed in 2011. Half of that amount, about $500 billion, will come from automatic, across-the-board cuts — unless Congress and the White House agree to an alternative spending plan.

The Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate have approved competing budgets and remain at an impasse over taxes and spending. Lawmakers allowed the automatic cuts — designed to be so painful they would compel both parties to strike a deal — to take effect March 1. The cuts will slice about $41 billion from the Pentagon’s budget in the remaining half of fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30.

“We’ve been rigged for reduced visibility,” Greenert said. “This budget situation is like being in a fog bank.”

The Navy is grappling with about a $10 billion shortfall this year under the reductions, including $6 billion from investment accounts and $4 billion from operation and maintenance funds, Greenert said. The service must prioritize accounts to make the best use of limited funds, he said.

“Warfighting is first,” Greenert said. “We need to operate forward and we need to be ready.”

The Defense Department spends far too much on overhead, which is impacting its ability to buy weapons and develop technology, according to John Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy. Even with sequestration, the Pentagon is spending more now — once adjusting for inflation — than during the height of the Cold War, yet building less than half as many ships and aircraft, he said.

“This is a real crisis because gradually we have lost the common-sense accountability that won the Cold War,” said Lehman, who was Navy secretary during the Reagan administration and a national-security adviser to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The military leaders agreed. Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos called the weapons acquisition process “constipated” and said “we need to fix it.”

Amos touted the potential of the newest amphibious warships and called the MV-22 Osprey title-rotor aircraft and the F-35 fighter aircraft as game changers. Despite the controversy and struggles surrounding the F-35 program, Amos said he remains bullish saying it has performed well recently.

The drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will create “plenty of opportunity” to deploy troops to other parts of the world, including South Korea, Amos said.

Countries like North Korea, which is threatening attacks against the South, provide “no sense of stability,” he said. “There are and there will be these types of issues that our nation is going to have to face.”

 

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Apparently CNO also said “F-35 Essential But Procurement ‘Constipated” according to AOLdefense​.com. I’m not sure what that means? Does that mean that no product is coming out from the program? Or does that mean that the JPO is full of somthing? I don’t think he means we need to buy more mistake LRIP jets. It’s a very strange turn of phrase.

What seems to come from this statement is that they are not making the hard decisions that SecDef Hagel says are coming.

part 2

I think the Navy should start making some of those decisions before the come down from above. The Navy needs to think about when they want to have their TACAIR capability gap. If they stay with F-35 they may delay the gap to the Mid-2020s and then won’t have the wherewithall to develop the plane they really need to pivot to the pacific, the F/A-XX. If they start developing F/A-XX now (using the cost savings from cencelling F-35), they could have capability overmatch as early as the late 2020’s.

When the F-35 program gets unconstipated I think we know what is going to come out (http://​www​.dote​.osd​.mil/​p​u​b​/​r​e​p​o​r​t​s​/​F​Y​2​0​1​2​/​p​d​f​/​d​o​d​/​2​0​1​2​f​3​5​j​s​f​.​pdf).

“We need… an acquisition system… that rewards cost-effectiveness and efficiency, so that our programs do not continue to take longer, cost more, and deliver less than initially planned and promised.” — Chuck Hagel, Sec. of Defense (http://​www​.pogo​.org/​b​l​o​g​/​2​0​1​3​/​0​4​/​2​0​1​3​0​4​0​6​-​h​a​g​e​l​-​m​a​y​-​b​e​-​a​-​s​e​c​r​e​t​a​r​y​-​o​f​-​d​e​f​e​n​s​e​-​r​e​f​o​r​m​s​.​h​tml). No wonder McCain had such a vendetta against this guy. If he walks the walk, he’ll kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Imagine that, a procurement system that responds to the needs of the guy on the front line instead of the needs of a multi-national defense corporation. Oh the humanity!

I see Gen. Amos is still trying to land one of those sweet ‘consultant’ jobs for his post-military career. There’s no other explanation for his continued espousing of Lockmart propaganda.

Greenert is in denial, rather than in a ‘fog’. There’s not much doubt about DoD funding over the next few years, but it’s much less than he wants. But get over it, make a plan based on reality, and make it work. Some tough decisions will need to be made, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Sequestration is not going away, and budgets are not going to increase going forward. There, the fog has now been lifted. Now go to work.

The whole thing is a perception game really, unfortunately. If we truly had a significant boost in capability and boost in forces shifted to the Pacific… we wouldn’t need to talk about it. The action would speak for itself.

Yet, when there’s in truth a reduction in capability, reduction in deterrent and reduction in overall forces deployed in (redeployed from) Pacific region, then one needs to talk up a ‘shift’ of increased deployment to the Pacific, to offset the reality.

What is really the case however, is that there is and will merely be an increased PROPORTION of the US’s overall worldwide deployed force structure (which is rapidly being retired from operations and not replaced for active duty on a 1 for 1).

So sure, with a significantly smaller sized deployed Pie, the DoD will be shifting a larger slice of the total smaller pie. (But a net reduction from recent past deployed force levels).

For this reason though, I think it’s actually a strategic flaw to ‘talk up’ said ‘pivot’, because it will only be exploited for propaganda and misinformation of more hostile sides to say: “See, they are encircling us, we need to triple our budgets, modernize and counter them”!

I unfortunately just don’t see us playing the game smart enough, going forward, at the moment. Hopefully there is time to shift gears and refine the strategy to better position oneself.

Korea is now the Germany of the cold war, a country divided along idealogical lines and in constant threat of war. The troops need to be there, not in Europe or Africa. We will have to be in Asia for the foreseeable future.

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