Post-2014 Afghanistan Troop Levels Remain Undecided
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little announced late November that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has yet to forward a recommendation to the White House on how many U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan after 2014. “It’s entirely premature to speculate on troop numbers in Afghanistan between now and the end of 2014 or beyond.”
Experts Game Out Defense Trade-Offs
Forced to make trade-offs, defense experts would cut F-35 funding in favor of special operations forces, cybersecurity programs and long-range bombers, according to a study released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. In addition, experts would prioritize air and sea forces over ground troops and submarines over surface vessels, the study concludes, and they would scale back funding for the littoral combat ship.
The study had about 70 participants, from industry executives to military veterans of all ideologies and service branches, who were divided into teams and asked to craft a 10-year Pentagon budget that would cut spending by $500 billion. Participants favored resilient weapons able to operate in “less-permissive” environments, capable of penetrating sophisticated air-defense systems and carrying on despite the loss of communications networks or critical infrastructure. The experts also prioritized long-range and unmanned aircraft over tactical fighters. The question, of course, is whether Congress would ever agree to such a plan.
DOD Releases New Autonomous Weapons Directive
The U.S. Defense Department has issued a new directive on the use of autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems – an attempt to regulate a technology that officials say could be years from becoming reality. The directive is focused on systems that can select and engage targets without the intervention of a human operator.
16,000 U.S. Soldiers To Be Involuntarily Separated
Up to 16,000 soldiers and 5,000 officers will likely face involuntary separation, according to U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno. The Army has already slashed about 6,000 soldiers from its ranks, closing out fiscal 2012 with 551,000 active-duty soldiers, down from a wartime high of 570,000. And if sequestration does hit, another 80,000-100,000 soldiers will likely have to leave the force, potentially reducing its size to less than 400,000 soldiers for the first time since before World War II.
The U.S. Military’s Costliest Jet Prepares For Cuts
The F-35 program, the most expensive weapons system in military history, begins its 12th year in development years behind schedule, troubled with technological flaws and facing concerns about its relatively short flight range as possible threats grow from Asia. And with a record price tag, potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars, the jet is likely to become a target for budget cutters.
Escalating Military Pay Under Scrutiny
The military faces big cuts whether or not Congress comes to some agreement to avert the automatic spending reductions. Mounting deficits and escalating costs have some budget hawks posing a provocative question: Are we paying our service members too much?
Defense Companies Show Little Change Ahead Of Sequestration
Without specifics on the impact of the automatic U.S. budget cuts on individual programs, and with guidance from the White House not to pre-emptively warn employees of potential layoffs, U.S. defense companies are holding out hope for a budget deal.
Senate Passes Defense Policy Bill After Voted 98-0
The Senate officially passed a massive, wide-ranging $631 billion defense authorization bill that restores threatened Pentagon biofuels programs, issues new sanctions against Iran and changes U.S. detention policy for American citizens.
Pentagon Drops “Strategic Communication”
The Pentagon is banishing the term “strategic communication,” putting an end to an initiative that had promised to streamline the military’s messaging but instead led to bureaucratic bloat and confusion.
The Coalition For Fiscal & National Security
As the nation edges closer to the fiscal cliff, a group of distinguished defense, economic and foreign policy leaders have issued an urgent call to address the U.S. fiscal situation, identifying it as “the single greatest threat to our national security.”
Pentagon Planning Multinational Military Mission In Mali
U.S. military planners have begun to help organize a multinational proxy force to intervene next year in Mali, the famine-stricken, coup-wracked African country that has become a magnet for Islamist extremists. The international force would be led on the ground by several thousand Malian and West African troops but would receive extensive support from the Pentagon and the State Department, which would help train, equip and transport the troops.
Philippines Look To Increase U.S. Military Presence
U.S. and Philippine officials will meet December 11th & 12th to discuss expanding American presence in the Asian nation amid tensions with China over its claims to vast waters in the region. The meetings will have a special focus on defense and regional matters.