Friday, November 17, 2017

Doug Macgregor recommends reading the statement from Rep. John Duncan


Congressman Duncan, Republican Representative from Tennessee, takes a brave stand against Washington’s bipartisan perpetual war party and its coveted imperial domain that stretches from Iraq to Korea. I urge everyone to read his statement. Doug Macgregor


Rep. John Duncan: There Is Nothing Patriotic or Conservative About Our Bloated Defense Budget


 

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. Posted on
Several times over my 29 years in Congress I have wondered whether there are any fiscal conservatives at the Pentagon.

It seems that the Defense Department is just like every other gigantic bureaucracy. When it comes to money, the refrain is always "more, more, more."
On November 14, the House passed what one Capitol Hill paper described as a "$700 billion compromise defense bill." It was $80 billion over the budget caps and many billions more than even President Trump had requested.

I opposed almost all the major initiatives of the Obama administration. But it was false to say that the Defense Department was "depleted" or "eviscerated" during those years, or that now we must "rebuild the military." In fact, public relations experts in future years should conduct studies about how the Defense Department has been able to convince the public it has been cut when it is getting more money than ever. Defense Department appropriations have more than doubled since 2000. In addition, the Department has gotten extra billions in several supplemental or emergency appropriation bills.

The military construction bill is a separate bill that has added another $109.5 billion over the last 10 years. It would be hard to find any U.S. military base any place in the world that has not had several new buildings constructed over the last few years. In fiscal year 2016, we spent over $177 billion on new equipment, guns, tanks, etc. We have spent similar amounts for many years. Most of this equipment does not wear out or have to be replaced after just one year.

It is ironic that the only President in the last 60 or 70 years who has tried to rein in defense spending is the only President in that period that spent most of his career in the military. In Evan Thomas’ book, Ike’s Bluff, when told by his top staffer that he could not reduce defense spending, President Eisenhower said if he gave another star to every general who cut his budget, there would be "such a rush to cut costs you’ll have to get out of the way."

The book also quotes Eisenhower as saying "Heaven help us if we ever have a President who doesn’t know as much about the military as I do."

Therein lies an explanation for a big part of what has caused much excessive and/or wasteful defense spending and, the willingness, even at times eagerness, to go to war and support permanent, never-ending wars. Only 18% of the current Congress has ever served in any branch of our military. Members are afraid if they do not vote for an increase in defense spending, or if they question waste by the military, some demagogue will accuse them of "not supporting the troops." It would be a huge understatement to say that I usually do not agree with New York Times editorials.

But the Times Editorial Board on October 22 published an editorial entitled "America’s Forever Wars," pointing out that the US "has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11" and now has troops in "at least 172 countries." The Board wrote that so far the American people have "seemed to accept" all this militarism, but "it’s a very real question whether, in addition to endorsing these commitments, which have cost trillions of dollars and many lives over 16 years, they will embrace new entanglements…"

The Times added that the Congress "has spent little time considering such issues in a comprehensive way or debating why all these deployments are needed." Backing these words up was a cartoon in the October 25 issue of Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper. The cartoon showed six senators sitting at a hearing. The first senator, reading a newspaper, says "Who knew we had troops in Niger?!" The second says: "Heck, we don’t even know how the military budget gets spent."

Finally, the cartoon shows a senator who looks like Sen. Ted Cruz, saying "War is hell. I say we just give the Pentagon an extra $80 billion and call it a day." Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, himself a veteran, wrote on October 23: "But there is something else at work here: the slavish veneration now accorded the military. You can see it every time someone in uniform testifies before Congress." 

Since now less than one percent of the people serve in the military, it may be that many people who never served feel, perhaps even subconsciously, that they must bend over backwards to show their patriotism. However, it is not unpatriotic to oppose wasteful defense spending or very unnecessary permanent, forever wars. President Reagan once said "our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available."

We have far too many leaders today who seem to want to be new Winston Churchills and who are far too eager to send people to war. No true fiscal conservative could ever justify spending many billions more than even President Trump requested.

Our national debt recently went over the $20 trillion level. A few days ago, it was reported that the deficit for fiscal 2017 was $666 billion. This fiscal year, it may be even higher. 

Conservatives used to be against huge deficit spending. They also used to be against massive foreign aid.Much of what we have been doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan, training police and farmers, repairing electrical and water systems, even making small business loans, etc., is pure foreign aid.

Many of our foreign interventions have been done under the auspices or authority of the United Nations. Conservatives used to be the biggest critics of the U.N. and world government. Most of our so-called "coalitions" have been funded almost entirely by American taxpayers.

Most interventionists at some point resort to a slur referring to their opponents as isolationists. This is so false. Traditional conservatives support trade and tourism and cultural and educational exchanges with other countries and they agree with helping during humanitarian crises. They just don’t believe in dragging war out forever, primarily so defense contractors, think tanks, and military bureaucrats can get more money.

One last point: We have far too many officers. In Scott Berg’s biography on Woodrow Wilson, it says during World War I, we had one officer for every 30 enlisted men. Eisenhower once said we had too many officers when there were nine enlisted for every officer. Now we have one officer for only four and a half to five and a half enlisted (varies by branch).

This is very expensive, both for active duty and retirement, but it also makes it much more likely that we will get involved in every little conflict around the world and/or continue basing troops in almost every country.  We simply do not have enough money to pay for defense of so many countries other than our own nor the authority under our Constitution to try to run the whole world.

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) represents Tennessee’s 2nd District. Congressman Duncan served honorably in both the US Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, starting as an enlisted man and rising to the rank of captain.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Business as Usual at the Pentagon

The revolving door between major defense contractors and the Pentagon is spinning ever more rapidly, notes FP: Foreign Policy. Here’s a telling report from last week:

McCain says enough, but does he mean it? During a hearing Thursday to vet several Trump administration nominees for top Pentagon jobs, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was tired of seeing defense industry executives go to work in the Pentagon.

But he indicated he’ll support the Mark Esper, chief lobbyist for for Raytheon – the fourth largest defense contractor in the United States – for secretary of the Army, telling Esper his concerns “grew out of early consultations I had with the administration about potential nominations, including yours.” McCain added that “it was then that I decided I couldn’t support further nominees with that background, beyond those we had already discussed.”

Lots of defense industry execs already at work. But at least one more will soon pass through McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee, however. At some point in the coming weeks, John C. Rood, senior vice president for Lockheed Martin International will testify for the under secretary of defense for policy job, the third highest position in the Defense Department.
The Senate has already approved former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to be deputy defense secretary – the second highest position in the Pentagon – and Ellen Lord, the former chief executive officer of Textron Systems, to be undersecretary of defense for acquisition.

In short, there are no fresh thinkers at the Pentagon: just men and women drawn mainly from the corporate world or from the ranks of military retirees (or both). They’re hired because they know the system – but also because they believe in it. They’re not going to rock the boat. They believe in “staying the course.”

The result is a system with no new ideas. Consider Afghanistan. Sixteen years after the initial invasion after 9/11, American forces are still bogged down there. As FP: Foreign Policy reports today, we finally have an official number for the latest mini-surge orchestrated by retired Generals John Kelly and James Mattis:

We have a surge number. After months of tapdancing around exactly how many more U.S. troops are are heading to Afghanistan, Monday’s request asks for $1.2 billion to support an additional 3,500 US troops in Afghanistan.

Somehow, a few thousand extra US troops are supposed to reverse the growth of the Taliban while improving Afghan security forces and reining in Afghan governmental corruption. In short, sixteen years’ experience has meant nothing to US decision makers.

It puts me to mind of a great description of military thinking from C.S. Forester’s “The General,” a remarkable novel about British generalship in World War I (and one of General John Kelly’s favorite books). Here’s what Forester had to say about the persistence of military folly among the generals planning major offensives in that war:

“In some ways it was like the debate of a group of savages as to how to extract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out the screw by main force, and now that it had failed they were devising methods of applying more force still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using levers and fulcrums so that more men could bring their strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would come out after the exertion of far less effort; it would be a notion so different from anything they had ever encountered that they would laugh at the man who suggested it.”

Forester goes on to write that:

“The Generals round the table were not men who were easily discouraged–men of that sort did not last long in command in France. Now that the first shock of disappointment had been faced they were prepared to make a fresh effort, and to go on making those efforts as long as their strength lasted.”

That’s the US military in Afghanistan in a nutshell: fresh efforts, but no fresh thinking. How could it not be so? The same generals are in charge, men like Mattis and Kelly, who led previous “surges,” backed by civilian leaders drawn from private military contractors, whose main priority it is to spend this year’s massive defense budget while ensuring next year’s budget will be even more massive.

There’s no incentive in the system for fresh thinking, and certainly none for saving money. Instead, it’s all about showing “resolve,” even if resolve in this case means hammering and pulling away at so many screws. And this even makes a weird sort of sense, for there’s a lot of profit to be made in the name of developing better pincers and levers and fulcrums to tackle “screws” like Afghanistan.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The U.S. Army's 'New' Command Is a Repackaging of Old Failures


http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-us-armys-new-command-repackaging-old-failures-23007




 Daniel L. Davis


The U.S. Army recently announced the creation of a new modernization command run by a three-star general that would serve as a “realignment of modernization responsibilities under a new organization.” The goals of this organization sound impressive. It is when one looks beneath the surface, however, that it becomes apparent this “new” command represents little more than a repackaging of old structures. Without major changes, the Army will likely continue its two-decades long drought of modernization failures—and the risk to U.S. national security will rise.

A letter signed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley explained that the Army had to set up a new command because the service under his leadership “is not institutionally organized to deliver critical capabilities to Soldiers and combat formations quickly. Our current modernization system is . . . insufficient to ensure future overmatch.” What he does not explain, however, is how this new command will succeed where the Army’s existing structure failed over the past two decades.

The Army already has a dizzying array of modernization commands. At the top is the four-star Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) whose mission is to “change the Army to win in a complex world” and to “design, acquire, and build the future Army, and to constantly Improve it.” Under TRADOC, there is an organization run by a three-star general called the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), whose mission is to think “clearly about future armed conflict and develop a sound conceptual foundation for Army modernization” and “prioritize solutions to ensure that our Army has the capability and capacity to accomplish future missions.”

Under ARCIC is yet another organization, this one run by a one-star general, called the U.S. Joint Modernization Command (JMC), charged with conducting “operationally realistic and rigorous” field exercises to experiment with future concepts that will “improve the combat effectiveness of the Joint Force.” Yet all of these organizations have cumulatively failed to produce every attempt to upgrade the the 1970s equipment the Army continues to rely on or modernize warfighting organizations.

The Army last attempted a major modernization program that began with a 1999 speech by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Erik Shinseki, later to become known as the Future Combat Systems. Despite repeated warnings of looming failure from the Government Accountability Office and analyses I wrote in 2005 and 2008 in the Armed Forces Journal, the Army tried to force Future Combat Systems to work. The results were disappointingly predictable: In 2009, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates canceled the program. All attempts to modernize the armored fleet since 2009 have likewise failed.

What the U.S. Army modernization commands were unable to do, however, the Russians did. In 2008 Russia began a military modernization program that military expert Maksym Beznosiuk said was intended “to address the technological and organizational weaknesses of the Russian military,” which were exposed during the short conflict with Georgia. In terms of the “transformation of force structure, the cumbersome divisions usually involved in fighting on a long frontline were disbanded in 2009 to be replaced by smaller in size but more agile and better prepared brigades.”

Russians needed only six years to design, test and then start producing technologically advanced combat vehicles, highlighted by the Armata T-14 tank and T-15 personnel carrier. Both employ state-of-the-art armor, cannons and fire control systems. The T-14 in particular appears to be just as survivable and deadly as the U.S. Abrams tank.

Simply stated, the United States cannot afford to continue drifting inconclusively into a future in which other world powers are decisively improving. The U.S. military has enjoyed a dramatic conventional advantage over the rest of the world for decades. That gap is shrinking by the year, owing in part to our inability to deliver on modernization programs.

The reason the majority of the Army’s modernization efforts have failed is not because of weaknesses in how three successive echelons of Army commands have been organized. It has instead been caused by a failure of the service’s top leaders to select and then execute a realistic and effective modernization program. Simply rearranging how TRADOC, ARCIC and JMC are organized by forming a “new” command will not solve this decades-long systemic failure.
There is, however, fresh thinking from outside the Army that has a chance to solve the problem. Section 1091 of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act directs the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to evaluate a new fighting organization and doctrine, called the Reconnaissance Strike Group, which was designed by retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor (full disclosure: I fought with Macgregor in Desert Storm).

Instead of replacing systems inside the Army’s existing organization for combat brigades, divisions and corps used since World War II, the Reconnaissance Strike Group construct includes new combat formations expressly designed to account for modern weapons, technology and likely enemy capabilities. It employs cutting-edge technology that exists today and could be deployed right now—if only the leadership and political will existed to do what’s right to strengthen the Army.

If the Army stays on its current plan, then the new modernization command won’t even be established until next summer—and it is unknown how long after that before any functional modernization plans will be announced. Were the president to adopt the Reconnaissance Strike Group concept, however, within five to eight years, the U.S. Army could have four six-thousand-men strike groups equipped with the most modern and survivable combat vehicles. The strike groups would be fully fielded and ready for action. Such a force could provide enough combat power on its own to defeat a Russian advance into the Baltics. Unfortunately, as I observed throughout my twenty-one-year career in the Army, the service’s senior leaders typicaly reject any solution that is not of their own creation. It will likely take the president or secretary of defense to step in and insist the Army put into action this new construct.

The Russians succeeded where the Future Combat Systems failed, and their inventory of modern tanks that can challenge American power continues to grow, shrinking by the day the advantage that the United States once had over them. Let us not pass this opportunity to prove that American leadership and knowhow can produce a superior, modernized force—and rebuild the capability gap between United States and Russian forces in favor of America.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.
Image: U.S. Army

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Upgraded Abrams Tank:


These are the first upgrades to the Army’s 1,500-tank fleet. They fall in line with overall Army plans to enhance lethality and improve its ground combat systems, preparing them for potential fights with near-peer adversaries. Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in a statement. "They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle."
A cautionary tale worth rememberingHMS Hood was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, Hood had design limitations, though her design was revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for twenty years after her commissioning. On 24 May 1941, 8 minutes after the first shot was fired in the Battle of the Denmark Strait with the German Battleship Bismarck, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank. Due to Hood’s perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.
It’s time for new warfighting equipment, not upgrades of old designs. The Army is sinking money and resources into old solutions designed in the 1970s. The handwriting is on the wall. Our soldiers will man the land equivalent of Hoods.

October 25, 2017


Army receives upgraded Abrams tank — and more improvements are on the way

By: Todd South   



The first of a batch of upgraded M1A2 Abrams tanks has hit the Army, with more improvements coming in the next few years.
Earlier this month, the first of six M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 Abrams tanks rolled off initial production at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, the Army announced.
These are the first upgrades to the Army’s 1,500-tank fleet. They fall in line with overall Army plans to enhance lethality and improve its ground combat systems, preparing them for potential fights with near-peer adversaries.
Another such improvement was the recent addition of a 30 mm cannon to many of the Army’s Strykers, which began deliveries last year.
“This version is the most modernized configuration of the Abrams tank, having improved force protection and system survivability enhancements and increased lethality over the M1A1 and previous M1A2 variants,” said Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army’s product manager for Abrams.
The version three enhancements address on-board power, electronics, computing, weapons, force protection and sensors. They are primarily a bridge to the version four variant planned for the 2020s, Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems spokeswoman Ashley Givens told the media.
The M1A1 Abrams tank has been in use since the 1980s. The M1A2 version being enhanced has been in production since 2005, according to officials.
According to the Army, the version three upgrades include:

Joint Tactical Radio System: The new system integrates various radio types into the system and allows for network readiness and interoperability with the rest of the brigade combat team.
Power Generation and Distribution: This enhancement includes improved amperage alternator, Slip Ring, Enhanced Hull Power Distribution Unit/Common Remote Switching Modules, and the Battery Monitoring System. These changes compensate for increased power demands of newer tank equipment.
Line Replaceable Unit/Line Replaceable Module redesign: New modules allow for troubleshooting within the system to the card level without the need to remove the entire system to conduct repairs.
Counter Remote Control IED Electronic Warfare version 3: this is the latest version of the tank’s counter-IED equipment.
Ammunition Data Link: The ADL allows tankers to program the M829A4 Advanced Kinetic Energy and Advanced Multi-Purpose rounds.
Auxiliary Power Unit: Allows tankers to operate the on-board system during silent watch operations for reduced detection probability.
Armor Upgrades: Undisclosed advances in ballistic protection.
The enhancements are being installed at both JSMC in Lima and at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama.
The version four variant is scheduled for testing in 2021, production in 2023 and fielding in 2025, Givens said.
Version four will add new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning devices, integrated on-board networks and more lethal, wider ranging 120 mm tank ammunition.
The lethality advances center around the third generation Forward Looking Infrared camera, which can detect the enemy at greater distances and through most obscurants.
The version four Abrams will also carry a multipurpose 120 mm round. The AMP round will take the place of the High Explosive Anti-Tank round, the Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank, the M1028 Canister to attack dismounted infantry, and the Obstacle Reduction Round that’s used destroy large obstacles.
"These vehicles are not just about assuring our allies, or deterring or coercing potential adversaries," said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, in a statement. "They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle."


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Repair-and-Rebuild" from the Heritage Foundation




“Repair and Rebuild” makes all of the usual mistakes while adding some new ones. Like virtually all proposals for defense spending the document argues for the re-building of the old force with improved versions of existing equipment as the primary answer to the nation’s military needs. As a result, a national security strategy that explicitly identifies the United States vital national interests with supporting political-military goals is absent from the document. U.S. economic prosperity is once again divorced from national security. As in the past, “Repair and Rebuild” treats irregular opponents in ungoverned spaces, as well as, the military 
modernization and transformation of potential nation-states as part of a global threat package that must be addressed by U.S. Military power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year after year. Naturally, there is no mention of the utter failure of this approach since 2001.

In sum, this document is not the expression of “Republican” Thinking. It’s a document created and produced in the depths of the Washington Swamp; another unfocused acquisition program that will be popular in the defense industrial sector and welcome on the Hill where the members’ appetite for self-enrichment from unfocused defense spending and ambiguous military commitments is insatiable. The open-ended character of the military commitments the document advocates is what the 32 Four Stars on active duty cherish. Here are three quick points that effectively summarize the content of the document: 

 1. The recommendations treat the current commitment of U.S. forces around the world in remote locations like Niger as a permanent condition for U.S. National Security. In other words, repeat the failures of the last 16 years in perpetuity. (The author quotes GEN (ret) Mattis saying, “Irregular methods—terrorism, insurgency, unrestricted warfare, guerrilla war, or coercion by narco-criminals—are increasing… This is our most likely opponent in the future.”) As seen in Niger, this is music to the ears of the SOF/Light Infantry community that is on autopilot in its quest for action in remote places of marginal to no strategic importance to the American People. 

2. The recommendations treat the WW II/Cold War/Industrial Age Forces as unchanging answers to contemporary and future threats.  The author insists on the “Procurement of additional Paladin upgrades and JLTVs should be pursued, as well as an across-the-board expansion and acceleration of Army rotary-wing purchases and upgrades”). This recommendation is made at a point in time when rotary wing aviation is clearly on the path to extinction and a wide range of new stand-off attack systems (Loitering Munitions, Rocket Artillery, Unmanned Strike) are rapidly supplanting investments in tube artillery. A billion dollars for trucks (JLTVs) designed to carry light infantry is reminiscent of making the horse cavalry in 1936 relevant for war in 1941; 

3. In another section the author argues that the Army must “build slack into its force structure to support the massive requirements of a potential campaign on the Korean peninsula.” Assuming (as the author does) “NO CHANGE” in warfare since 1953, regaining the strength to refight the Korean Conflict on industrial age terms would entail and expansion of the US Army’s Active Force to sustain at least 200,000 soldiers in combat on the Korean Peninsula or adding almost 600,000 soldiers to the Active Army. Fortunately, warfare has changed. Modern technology makes a difference, but unless we organize to exploit new technology differently, we confront bankruptcy in peacetime and certain defeat in future war. 

4. The recommendations treat the selective infusion of new technologies into old structures as the solution to future warfighting requirements. The author says, “The Navy must hone the carrier air wing of the future for use in high-end conflict, capable of conducting the full range of missions in contested environments.” Given the proliferation of new technologies, this is mission impossible. Even the Navy’s Admirals will admit privately that the commitment of large carriers is increasingly limited to permissive environments. Why not halt investment in more carriers and demand experimentation with new designs that may have some chance of survival in a future major war? 

However, the author offers the reader what she considers good news: “Of the $9.5 trillion in new debt the Congressional Budget Office expects the United States to accrue by 2027, additional defense spending outlined in Repair and Rebuild would represent only 6 percent of that increase.” Given many decades of experience in Washington, DC, I leave it to readers to determine whether this “good news” is reality based. 

RECOMMENDATION” READ if you must, then, DESPAIR and THROW AWAY this publication.