"The average cost of each U.S. troop in Afghanistan will nearly double in the last year of the war to $2.1 million, according to a new analysis of the Pentagon’s budget. For the past five years, from fiscal 2008 through 2013, the average troop cost had held steady at roughly $1.3. million. But the Pentagon’s 2014 war budget would dramatically increase that figure. The added cost, argue Defense Department officials, is a reflection of the price of sending troops and equipment back home in the drawdown."
"The Army needs new armored troop carriers that can outperform current designs, but does not have the money to buy them and likely will not any time soon.Vehicle manufacturers have recognized this and are devising ways for the Army’s old vehicles to learn new tricks. The latest company offering retooled versions of its original product is Navistar Defense, maker of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. Responding to an urgent need to protect soldiers from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army bought 27,000 MRAPs between 2007 and 2011, of which 9,000 are Navistar’s MaxxPro."
"The Army’s grand visions are fast disappearing. The spectacularly ambitious Future Combat Systems program — with the whopping price tag of $159 billion (undoubtedly a modest estimate) — is history, the epitome of a period of largesse. Now, the Army’s funding to develop and buy weapons — everything from missiles to trucks to helicopters — is under increased pressure. And as resources shrink, the Army is resetting its sights. In an interview with POLITICO, the Army’s head of acquisition, Heidi Shyu, ticked off the new priorities. “There are a lot of things we’d like to have, but that we may not be able to afford in the current fiscal environment,” she said."
"The word “cyber” is everywhere these days. It’s an all-purpose adjective slapped onto any concept to attract money and make it sound sexier, from cyberwar to cyberschoolbus to, well, cybersex. (We are not making that last term a link). Cyber and SOF – the Special Operations Forces – are the only parts of the Pentagon budget that keep growing while everything else shrinks. But there’s a dirty little secret about cyber, one that the leaders of the Army, the Marine Corps, and special operators have seized on as essential to keeping old-fashioned ground troops relevant in the information age."
On 21 October 2013 at the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting, the Institute of Land Warfare held a panel entitled the “Army after 2020.” The panel discussion, which sought to look into the Army’s “deep future,” was chaired by GEN Robert Cone, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), included LTG Keith Walker Deputing Commanding General of TRADOC and Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), LTG James Barclay III Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, BG Wayne Grigsby, Director of Training Army G-3/5/7, and Dr. Kathleen Hicks Director of the International Security Program at CSIS.
The discussion was framed by future trends presented by Dr. Hicks and included atomization of power, stress on traditional security structures, urbanization, lengthy instability in the Middle East, technology surprise, the hybridization of warfare, and the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction both in the homeland and abroad. LTG Walker highlighted the importance of strategic maneuver and shaping the battlespace during phase 0 operations as key capabilities for the future Army. He was also adamant that there must be solid investments made in leader development especially with regards to STEM. Such investments are investments in innovation and have the potential of changing the nature of the force. BG Grigsby stressed professional development and training as key pathways for achieving a competent future force. He also strongly argued for the need to create the “headware”, training and doctrines, to go along with the new hardware the Army wants to acquire. He argued that these changes will help enable a globally responsive and engaged Army. LTG Barclay stressed that everything will be built upon the soldier and squad foundation and the force must be versatile, tailorable, and cost effective. He also stressed that the current budgetary situation is an impediment to any concrete long term planning.
A number of audience questions focused on the future of training. Questions ranged from joint training missions with allies to recruiting in a time of fiscal limitations to digitization of training enabling realism without field operations. Overall, the panel was receptive to these questions and was in agreement in the need for many of these programs. For example, the Future Soldiers Program, an initiative to begin training before basic aimed at ensuring recruits meet key requirements. The panel lacked a concrete takeaway outside of observations that budgetary problems are making real long term planning difficult if not impossible.
It is clear that shrinking budgets mean a smaller defense industrial base is necessary, and even desirable, at least for those not directly affected by the resulting cuts. But policymakers must be clear-eyed about what lies ahead. It is not safe to assume that the mix of public and private capability and capacity that supported the vast surge over the last decade could be recreated in the future.
As the industrial base shrinks, the nature of its new form will dictate not only how costly a reconstitution would be but also how quickly it could occur. Toward that end, policymakers should consider three areas of risk that must be carefully managed. Read the full op-ed...
Anti-immigrant riots on the outskirts of Moscow are symptomatic of the Kremlin’s inability to deal with the social pressures created by large scale migration from the former Soviet Union. The government is caught between its recognition of migrants’ importance to the Russian economy and its efforts to co-opt nationalist sentiment for political ends. This ambiguous stance also threatens one of President Putin’s major foreign policy initiatives, namely deepening integration among post-Soviet states.
CNA recently released a written summary detailing the findings of a workshop held on April 25, 2013 focusing on the future of the U.S. Army and the Asia-Pacific rebalance. The various experts concluded that land power will remain integral to securing U.S. national interests in the region. There was strong agreement over the importance of the enabling capabilities of land forces in general, and the Army in particular, within the joint operating environment. Participants argued that the Army has a role to play in A2/AD missions and that the natural disaster prone nature of Southeast Asia means that humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities will be incredibly valuable to regional allies. Workshop participants also placed a great deal of emphasis on the Army’s role in building partnerships and strengthening allied capacity in the region. In this context, there was broad consensus that the Army’s Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) provide invaluable capabilities to better understand the complex political environment in many Asian nations. These discussions were caveated by uncertainty stemming from both U.S. domestic factors such as budgetary constraints and regional factors such as North Korean instability.
"The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are in no hurry to rebuild their ground fleets following the accelerated acquisition of vehicles capable of protecting troops from improvised explosive devices (IED) and related threats in Iraq and Afghanistan.Such is the case as the services develop the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a program the Army shares with the Marine Corps, to replace the Humvee, which has been in service since 1985."
"Their fighting season nearly over, members of an embattled Afghan army unit recently inspected their equipment, most of which was in two heaps on their base. There were Humvees shredded by roadside bombs, armored trucks damaged by rocket-propelled grenades and other vehicles in need of repair after hard use in one of the country’s most volatile areas. The Afghan soldiers could not fix any of them, and replacements hadn’t come. Seventy-five percent of the battalion’s armored vehicles were out of commission. There were so few Humvees that some soldiers walked for 20 hours to get from base to base."
"Budget reductions could render the Army at 'high risk to meet even one major war,' according to documents obtained by USA TODAY, a warning the Army is sounding because it sees another war as inevitable before long. The dire assessment by top Army officials to Pentagon leaders provides a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes struggle for the future of the military in a time of declining budgets."
"The Defense Department on Thursday welcomed back thousands of civilians furloughed during the government shutdown as senior officials acknowledged that they are now planning for a degree of fiscal retrenchment that the Pentagon has long sought to avoid. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called on Congress to restore predictability to defense funding cycles. He said the use of stopgap appropriations bills to keep the federal government funded is imperiling U.S. security."
By Maren Leed
Senior Adviser, Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies
A few weeks ago I attended a discussion hosted by the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) that covered a wide range of topics. The first was a discussion of the way ahead on the Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE. The Army initiated the NIE to respond to challenges deployed forces were facing with integrating all of the rapidly-purchased systems that were being sent downrange. The NIE helped to assess new equipment, and most importantly, how it works together, prior to deploying it, so that units could receive a package of new gear that was interoperable and worked together as a system. Another key element of the NIE was its use of an active duty unit to allow soldiers to actually operate with the equipment, so that training and fielding would include not just technical information but also critical guidance on how best to employ it to achieve operational effects.
One of the most novel features of the NIE was the ability for non-traditional suppliers to bring new products for the Army to assess, to help create a pathway for innovation. This aspect of the original intent has probably been the most challenging. The Army acknowledges that few "new" acquisitions have resulted from the NIE, in part because of the lack of funding dedicated to these types of purchases, as well as complying with all acquisition laws and regulations.
This remains a crucial issue for the Army to work through. Congressional concerns are growing about this only marginally-fulfilled promise, and industry's willingness to fund their own research and development without a clear process for getting to a contract if they succeed is increasingly dubious the longer that situation persists.
Despite these challenges, the Army is evolving the NIE for future needs. It is considering broadening the kinds of capabilities it explores beyond the network. It is also tying NIE events to joint and Army exercises to help achieve synergies at multiple echelons and between test, experiment, and exercise activities. They are also seeking to bring in a greater number of allies to work through interoperability issues as well. Such synergies offer opportunities for more accurately representing likely future operational conditions, as well as efficiencies. The practical challenge, which the Army freely acknowledges, will be ensuring that each "customer" of the broader event has sufficient opportunity to meet unique needs while also contributing to the collective whole.
"While military members will continue to get paid through the current government shutdown, questions about the affordability of military compensation over the long term are gaining greater attention. There is a growing recognition that the long-term fiscal health of the Defense Department requires finding common ground on overall budget levels. This will not, however, be enough. More must be done to slow the rates of internal cost growth, which are eating away at the Pentagon’s purchasing power.
One of the most serious areas of concern is the cost of military personnel. Since 2001, military personnel costs have risen at rates that outstrip inflation by 30 percent. The two main components of servicemembers’ compensation package -- military health care and pay and allowances -- now account for about one-third of DoD’s budget. Long considered a third rail, the need to address military compensation as part of a broader effort to put the defense budget on sound footing is finally being more broadly acknowledged."
The PONI Debates the Issues blog is now hosted on the PONI Forum, a social networking site for PONI members to connect and discuss nuclear issues. Please follow this link to access the new blog, or click the "PONI Debates the Issues Blog" link on the left-hand menu.
In this September 4, 2013 interview, Senator Patrick Leahy's senior defense advisor Will Goodman discusses some of the many challenges in addressing cybersecurity, including the difficulty of establishing and communicating deterrents, the industrial espionage quality of cyberwarfare and the similarities it has with other types of crime, and complications posed by non-state actors. These many aspects of cybersecurity, he says, complicate the challenge of establishing appropriate policies.