Colin Robertson - Canada-Mexico: revitalizing the neighbourhood Mark Collins - NY Times F-35 Round-Up/Probably Good LRIP 5 News
Nov 28

At Foreign Policy’sSituation Report“:

People don’t get how much fiscal trouble the Pentagon is actually in. Sequestration ain’t nuthin’. The real problem stems from the Pentagon’s internal cost growth, which has been hollowing out the force for decades. While that realization is not new — the cost of personnel, health care, operations and maintenance, and acquisition has been raising the price tag for defense for decades — it’s now forcing the Pentagon to make choices between end strength and modernization, says CSIS’s Clark Murdock.

“The reason why the Pentagon has been screaming about the catastrophic effect of sequester dollars is because it really will have catastrophic effects because it’s exacerbated by the effects of the internal cost inflation,” Murdock tells Situation Report.

What does he mean? The combination of the $487 billion the Pentagon must cut between now and 2021 and the additional $500 billion in cuts it will need to make if sequestration happens in January alone represents a 31 percent reduction in Pentagon spending. That is not as large a decrease as other drawdowns (36 percent after the Cold War, 33 percent after Vietnam, and 43 percent after Korea); but in combination with the rising internal costs the Pentagon confronts, taxpayers are paying way more for much, much less.

“We’re paying more for a smaller force,” Murdock says. So what would seem like a reasonable post-war cut is actually far more bloody. “What looks like only a 30 percent drawdown is really more like a 50 percent drawdown…. Plus the dollar is weaker.”

What to do? Murdock isn’t the only one to see the sky falling. But the demand now is to find a way to develop a national security strategy the U.S. can actually pay for. That means determine the topline then decide what the strategy is. And if that Pentagon requires modernization, and it always will, a significant reduction in the size of the force is required. To Murdock, who has been around the defense block for years, that means saying good-bye to 455,000 troops and putting DOD’s end strength at a svelte 845,000. That, he says, is required to maintain a modernization budget of around 32 percent of overall spending. But getting the Pentagon’s modernization budget back to that level will force not only that huge reduction in size of the force, but a major recalibration of its defense posture, Murdock says.

“We’re getting into an era, because of internal cost growth, where you really do have to make zero-sum choices between how much equipment you have, how many people you have, and what strategy you can pursue.”..

Might some of those considerations be relevant for the Canadian Forces too?

Can the CF “maintain its expeditionary capabilities across all three services: army, navy and air force”?
[trying to maintain those capabilities appears to be the government’s–and CF’s– only “strategy”, other than “Arctic sovereignty” hoo-hah]

Finally the Truth: “Canada First Defence Strategy” Just a Scrap of Paper

Canadian Joint Operations Command Activated/Canadian Forces’ Budget Issues

Andrew Godefroy - The wages of peace: lean times ahead for Canada’s military

Canadian Defence Budget: Oh, Oh

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

2 Responses to “Mark Collins - “News flash: the Pentagon’s in fiscal hot water””

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    More on the CF’s “fiscal hot water” including, er, reviewing the “Canada First Defence Strategy”–not just the F-35:

    ‘F-35 audit ‘responsible’: MacKay

    Mum on new defence strategy

    Mr. MacKay declined to provide details about a reported new defence strategy that the government has been working on.

    A leaked letter from June 2012 from Prime Minster Stephen Harper to Mr. MacKay asked for him to make budget cuts his “first priority” as the government begins its “review” of the Canada First Defence Strategy, according to a Canadian Press report from Oct. 24.

    When pressed, Mr. MacKay would only tell Embassy that he is “reviewing the whole long-term document.”

    “Like any long-term document, as you would expect, this is about renewal, it’s about continuing with the progress that we’ve made, by taking into consideration fiscal pressures and the new reality that all budgets are being scrutinized for efficiencies,” he said…’

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    Facing reality:

    “[US] Defense industry acknowledges likelihood of Pentagon budget cuts

    As negotiations to avoid a year-end “fiscal cliff” drag on, some defense industry executives have begun to acknowledge that avoiding significant cuts to weapons programs may be impossible over the long term.

    Weapons makers have spent months fighting a $500 billion hit to the Pentagon’s budget that would go into effect if President Obama and Congress cannot come to an agreement to avoid a set of automatic spending cuts and tax increases. The Pentagon has said sequestration, as the budget cuts are known, would force them to buy fewer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, Stryker vehicles and Army medium tactical vehicles as well as slow other programs and military construction projects…”

    Mark Collins

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