Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Budget-Centric Warfare

Much ink has been spilled over the past week (see here and here) about the the plans to shift defense modernization funds from the U.S. Air Force and Navy to help to pay for the modularity programs of the Army and to help contribute to President Bush's desire to cut the federal deficit. In the pereceived zero-sum game of the military budgetary process the Air Force and Navy, and to a lesser extent the Marine Corps, see this shift in funding as nothing less than a virility test.
Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg.com (sorry, no link could be found, I accessed this through the Early Bird) notes that James Roche, the Secretary of the Air Force, vows to try to reverse cuts to the "sacred cow" F/A-22 fighter program. He reports:
The Pentagon proposes F/A-22 cuts totaling $10.5 billion and 96 aircraft through 2011. The cuts wouldn't start until fiscal 2008, leaving intact Air Force plans to request 25 planes in 2006 and 27 the following year.

``The budget cut was done because the president's properly dealing with deficits,'' Roche said. ``It could be restored if we can make the case that requirements justify more than the number that this budget would yield.''

Roche said the F/A-22 cuts were pushed by Pentagon officials during a quick review last month that sent the military services ``scrambling'' to cut billions of dollars from a long-range spending plan that was largely settled in early October.

``There was a lot of `Geez, this comes at the last minute and we really haven't had a chance to analyze lots of things,''' Roche said. ``There was debate within the Air Force as to what we should be offering up.''
As subcontractor contracts for this aircraft are spread across 43 states the day may not be lost yet...
While some may refer to this shift in budgetary priorities as "reactive transformation," the truth of the matter is that changed budgetary requirements are necessary to provide the most useful means to fulfill our strategic ends. The F/A-22 is a means and if Al Qaeda et al were developing and fielding stealthy, long-range, ultra-high quality dogfight aircraft, then perhaps the Raptor would be a very useful means in executing the GWOT. Present circumstances, and I would argue future trendlines, however, demand that reorganizing the Army into modular Units of Action is much more important.
One hopes that this shifting of budgetary requirements on the fly, in order to deal with economic* and military realities continues. Furthermore, the President should push for an idea he presented in his "A Period of Consequences" speech at the Citadel when he was a candidate back in 1999, to wit:
...I will expect the military’s budget priorities to match our strategic vision – not the particular visions of the services, but a joint vision for change. I will earmark at least 20 percent of the procurement budget for acquisition programs that propel America generations ahead in military technology. And I will direct the Secretary of Defense to allocate these funds to the services that prove most effective in developing new programs that do so. I intend to force new thinking and hard choices. (Emphasis added.)
* While power, as IR theorists note, is fungible, without economic power it is more difficult to generate military means.

5 Comments:

Blogger Josh Jasper said...

*cought* SDI *cough cough*. Money pit *cough*

2:03 PM  
Blogger J. said...

It's like Gen(ret) Zinni said, the services spend more time teaching their officers to fight their sister services on acquisition budgets than against the enemy (paraphrasing). Maybe Rumsfeld's one good thing was getting LtGen Cartwright in the J-8 to develop a joint operations concept that would force all acquisition programs to be top-down driven, joint-at-birth programs. This was started oh two years or more ago, the services were howling. It was a complex concept but dammit it would have worked. Now the fuck-up in Iraq will overshadow any joint acquisition reform/ transformation attempts that Rumsfeld has been championing.

It sure would be nice to see some reporters honestly and critically report these cuts as the ineffective "gold watch" offerings that they are. As soon as Congress gets these cuts, they will restore them and increase the defense budget. This is just the White House and OSD's attempts to show how responsible they are to "balance the budget" and now it will be Congress's decision to increase the deficit. It's such a game, happens every two years or so, and still no one reams out the services' leadership like they ought to.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, we get to hear more preaching from James Roche, that true patriot of the United States. I guess having ones dirty mitts deep into the acquisition process as well as Boeing's cash till doesn't mean one can't have an opinion on another major Air Force procurement item.

When will we ever learn?

3:36 PM  
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