Top-Down Review of the Pentagon
President Obama was calling for a completely new review on Wednesday when he said that he, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen would search for places to cut the Pentagon’s budget over the long term — or so DoD understands. When’s it going to start? Who’s going to run it? There aren’t many details, and the White House apparently hasn’t issued instructions for what’s going to happen next, but this much we do know: Obama wasn’t referring to a Quadrennial Defense Review or any of the other regularly scheduled reviews.
Inside the Pentagon these day “reviews” are getting to be a way of life. A general wants a study on what to do about a program. Members of Congress want reviews about why DoD should buy the widget produced in their districts. The budget is coming up. Or there’s a big one like the QDR, the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, the Quadrennial Missile Defense Review, and so on. Often these reports appear with great fanfare and have absolutely no effect. Every once in awhile, a review will uncover something the brass doesn’t want to see the light of day, and so the report gets buried.
But a big, unscheduled “fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world,” as Obama called for Wednesday, is definitely unusual. This is bigger than whether DoD should buy 41 more F/A-18s. This could raise long-simmering questions about whether the services should be funded unequally. We’re never going to fight another big land war, right? So cut the Army and Marines and grow the Navy and Air Force. Or could it mean fewer troops forward deployed in Europe and Asia? Could it mean the U.S. scales back its nuclear umbrella?
Whatever happens, DoD be forced into a major review to define its future, it will force Washington to confront some unpleasant realities about the future of American power. –And that is one review that is way overdue….
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A New Super-Helicopter for the Army
The Army wants to field a new helicopter that can fly at 200 knots, with or without a human crew on board, in the next 19 years. Army Major General Anthony Crutchfield, who runs the Army’s aviation headquarters, warned that he doesn’t want future generations of Army aviators flying today’s generations of Army helicopters. The service needs to start working now on something new.
But even before we start imagining how the Army will satisfy this requirement, it’s worth pointing out that the phrase “new Army helicopter program” could induce many people to develop a nervous twitch. In recent history, the service does not have a sterling record of setting down requirements and then seeing its programs all the way through to the point where they enter service in numbers. Even when the Army wanted to save money by using an “off-the-shelf” aircraft for its Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter — after canceling the wham-o-dyne RAH-66 Commanche — the costs again spiraled out of control.
Still, the acquisition world isn’t like the craps table, where the dice have no memory. (One hopes.) Maybe the Army can use the painful lessons of its helicopter programs — and its growing self-awareness about its acquisition shortcomings — to get things right with Crutchfield’s new super-helo –we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed.
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Smartphones for the Army
The Army’s new chief of staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, gave every indication this week that he’s on board with the service’s plans to possibly equip every soldier with a smartphone, or at very least continue looking into how the service can use off-the-shelf gear to help with networking the force. More basically, Dempsey said, he gets it: These young people today are all about their mobile devices.
The Army has been struggling for years to get better at networking its soldiers, vehicles and commanders, and the brass is also interested in using mobile devices to help with navigation, sending back intel reports, and training in the field. It’s easy to picture the telecom industry’s reaction to all this: Imagine Daffy Duck’s eyes turning into dollar signs and bulging out of his head, along with a big cash register sound effect. A smartphone for every soldier — or even just for units that are training or deploying — could mean billions of dollars in iPhones or Android devices, and billions more dollars in network usage. And it could bring new companies, including Verizon, Apple or HTC, say, into business as direct-line defense contractors.
That’s all several steps down the road. First the Army has to figure out how it’ll use smartphones in its network strategy and then determine which ones it could buy — and as all that is taking place, service officials will be going to Congress to justify their plans to spend all this money. The telecom industry has lots of friends on the Hill, but it’s also easy to imagine that lawmakers could balk at major new costs that go on forever, especially if soldiers are permitted to use the phones for personal use as well as when they’re on duty.
And you know how the services are: If every soldier has a sleek new iPhone, pretty soon the Air Force might go to Congress and say, “Y’know senator, I really think equipping every airman with a mobile device will facilitate key communications capabilities across the broad spectrum of operations, and that is absolutely critical to our warfighters.”
So in today’s political environment, when President Obama has said he wants DoD to cut $400 billion over the next ten years, can the Army’s smartphone plans survive?
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Oh, and here is a You Tube Clip - made by the US Marines in Afghanistan as a "tribute" to Britney Spears. I am not a big fan of Britney but I enjoyed this light-hearted and surprisingly well made clip. It is good to see our guys and gals in uniform doing something for a little fun... Hope you like it too,,,
Live Long and Prosper....