Friday, October 7, 2011

4 Principles And Hard Choices

 CNAS unleashes LT GENERAL Barno's Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity. 

Along with Dr Nora Bensahel and Travis Sharp, LT. GEN B and HC spotlights the implications of tough budget cuts on America's military capabilities and features some pretty killer ideas on maintaining hyperpuiszance in any endeavor, multiplying the break stuff, kill ppl force factor and thinks out loud about possible trades re: force structure, end strength, procurement and overhead. 

Sev money shots available -
United States should continue to pursue the ends of its longstanding global engagement strategy, but should do so using different ways and means than those codified in the Obama administration’s current national security plans. A new version of America’s global engagement strategy remains affordable, even in today’s fiscal environment, and pursuing it will help prevent and deter conflicts in the years ahead.

While the four budget scenarios are getting all the PR and gossip (and they are quite good) the real delish portions are the Four Guiding Principles:
First, naval and air forces will grow increasingly important in the future strategic environment. As a result, the Pentagon should prioritize these forces and not distribute the expected defense cuts evenly across the services, something it has done historically by adhering to the “golden ratio,” the near equal division of its budget among the military services. 

The U.S. military needs to bolster its influence in the Asia-Pacific region and should do so by engaging more withkey allies and by developing long-range andprecision weapons, particularly as potentialcapabilities. Large active-duty ground forces will be needed less as the United States continues to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, though the nation will still need them to deter aggression by hostile nations and to advise and assist U.S. allies facing regional instability. 

Cutting the number of ground forces may incur less risk than canceling naval and air modernization programs because the U.S. military can build up additional ground forces more quickly than it can acquire additional naval and air forces once production lines have closed Second, the U.S. military should strive to increase interdependence across the four services and to strengthen the continuum of service between the active and reserve components. The U.S. military is over-invested in expensive and often redundant capabilities that discourage interdependence among the services. 

All four military services currently operate their own air forces, with limited sharing of aircraft. Some services have acquired substantial assets beyond the requirements of their core mission. For instance, the U.S. Marine Corps – the smallest U.S. service – today boasts more tanks, artillery, fixed-wing aircraft and uniformed personnel than the entire British military. Given the changing operational environment, today’s force has too many heavy armored formations, short-range strike fighters, amphibious capabilities and manned aircraft. 

While some redundancy provides a useful hedge against risk, today’s extensive overlap among and within each service is unnecessary and no longer affordable, especially when joint interdependencies – such as Army helicopters flying off Navy carriers or Air Force C-130s supporting Marines – can yield comparable warfighting effectiveness at less expense. The Army and Marines, in particular, should transfer more of their expensive heavy capabilities – such as armor, artillery and fixed-wing aircraft – to their reserve components to save money and maintain a strategic hedge in the event of a large ground war.34 Implementing this change will require DOD and Congress to continue improving the policies that support an operational reserve component. 

Third, the U.S. military should generate requirements for new weapons systems based on realistic assessments of likely threats, not on the pursuit of maximalist capabilities. Throughout the Cold War, defense plans were built mostly around specific assumptions about the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, however, the military has tried to prepare for a wider range of potential threats and to design capabilities for unknown but presumably potent future adversaries. 

This uncertainty has encouraged the military services to develop weapons systems requirements that are often unmoored from either technological limits or defined enemy capabilities. Given that the defense budget is likely to remain constrained for years to come, DOD should return to a more restrictive planning and acquisition system that applies limited resources to the most serious threats to U.S. vital interests.

Fourth, in the absence of major near-term threats, the Pentagon should pursue research and development to build a bridge between current weapons systems and highly capable future systems. The U.S. military should increase investments in certain research and development programs to discover breakthrough technologies, such as stealthy, long-range, combat-capable unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), along with unmanned submersibles. 

Technological advances deliver capabilities today that were unimaginable 20 years ago, when many of the replacement systems for legacy weapons systems were conceived. Prioritizing research and development will require new funds, which can be generated by limiting or eliminating purchases of expensive, highly specialized weaponry. The default model for many acquisition dilemmas confounding all four military services should be to accept higher risk absent a proximate short-term threat and invest in more targeted threat-focused research and development programs over the long term

Pic -"Resolving the stark divergence between America's military ends and means--in terms of force size, training, and modernization--will be a crucial challenge."


A. S. Wise said...

The budget cuts took away a lot of the fun in Basic Combat Training. One can only imagine what it'll do when I am shipped off for OCS. Not cool. Make the cuts elsewhere. Let us expend copious amounts of ordnance, for training purposes!

Site is still looking great, btw!