1) At Defense Industry Daily’s “Rapid Fire“:
Doctors Order DoD Diet
The Stimson Center released a report [PDF] which concludes that the “strategic agility” needed by the US could be achieved while spending significantly less. You have heard their recommendations before: don’t get drawn in land wars, reduce nuclear stockpiles, develop new tech and special forces, get allies to contribute more to global security. The think tank does not see Russia or China through rose-tinted glasses, but it estimates that their capabilities remain far from Western levels and that they have more to gain from continued economic integration. A reduction or cancellation of future F-35 deliveries is seen as an acceptable tradeoff in case of continued development problems, but development of the F-22 should be sustained…
2) And from a USAF general:
The officer selected to help the Air Force plan its future is known as a fierce advocate of air power who also worries that inside-the-Beltway politics and red tape are slowing down the modernization of U.S. weapon systems.
Maj. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, chief of requirements at Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., has been named director of the Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review…
As he goes about articulating a vision for the future Air Force, Kwast is likely to raise tough questions and challenge the conventional wisdom, officials told National Defense.
During a conference last month hosted by the Air Armaments Center near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Kwast delivered a keynote speech that offers several clues on how he will shape the QDR debate…
Without mentioning any country by name, Kwast hinted that he worries that the U.S. military will be vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated weapons that cost much less than U.S. systems. “The enemy is stealing away our competitive advantage,” Kwast said [see: “The Dragon’s Kites and Cyber Espionage“]. In the Defense Department, “it takes too much money and time to provide solutions.”
The Pentagon spends loads of money on expensive hardware, such as stealth weapons, that drain the bank account and might not be the best way to counter future foes, he said. “Find me creative, innovative things.”..
Case in point is the Pentagon’s crippling procurement system. “We spend $10 billion to field something, it takes us 10 to 20 years to do it. The enemy steals it away from us for $10 million, and fields it in 10 weeks,” said Kwast [we’re arguably worse since we don’t have to design and manufacture much of our equipment (RCN shipbuilding aside): “The Conservative Government’s (and the CF’s/DND’s) Stunning Incompetence on Procurement“]. “We all grew up in a Cold War paradigm of outspending, out producing an adversary. … If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves where we can’t afford the basics.”
It is conceivable that a savvy enemy could deny the U.S. military the use of navigation and communications satellites in space, or could incapacitate it via cyber attacks, he said. If that were to happen, “Our job is to tell the president: ‘It’s not a problem.’”
Countries that are acquiring inexpensive GPS jammers and training hackers to disrupt U.S. computer networks are “stealing away our comparative advantage faster and faster,” said Kwast. “As I watch us spend so much money on stealth, weapons that are extremely expensive [and] sophisticated and … where every miracle has to happen for the whole thing to work, I see fragility and centers of gravity where the enemy can pull the plug pretty darn easily.”
The U.S. military has to make smarter use of its resources, he said. “We are spending more and more money going down the same theological path when we might need to look at something cheaper,” he said. “We need [to take] a little risk, we need a little creativity, a little relief from the policy shackles we’ve been living with, and we might find some creative ways to think about the bigger problem.”..
Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger
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