In this August 2, 2013 interview, Rand Corporation political scientist Dr. Michael Shurkin notes several important lessons the U.S. can learn from its European partners, including the ability of these countries to do more with less, to "punch above their weight," and maintain advanced capabilites despite fewer resources.
In this August 2, 2013 interview, RAND Corporation political scientist Dr. Michael Shurkin notes that while most European countries remain rhetorically committed to "full spectrum operations," many are making reductions in their conventional force size. The cuts are being made with the recognition, largely based on lessons of the 2006 war in Lebanon and the war in Afghanistan, that conventional forces, and even heavy armor, have utility outside of conventional warfare, and cannot be eliminated altogether.
In this August 2, 2013 interview, RAND Corporation political scientist Dr. Michael Shurkin lays out the thinking and strategy behind the defense cuts of France, Germany, and the U.K. He notes that all three countries looked at two recent wars — the 2006 war in Lebanon and the war in Afghanistan — as models for understanding future conflict. While their conclusions about the future battlefield were similar, thier perceptions of the Afghanistan war were vastly different and are yielding different attitudes about their future militaries.
In a September 18, 2013 brief entitled “Sustaining the U.S. Defense Industrial Base as a Strategic Asset,” Barry Watts, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), argues that the Department of Defense (DOD) should focus on a short-list of “core competencies” that provide long-term competitive advantage and promote adaptability to changing circumstances, as the basis for a strategy to support the defense industrial base (DIB). Watts contends that focusing on the core capabilities essential to enduring and future threats will help DOD make strategic decisions about which sectors of the DIB to support. The capabilities Watts believes should be on the short-list of core competencies include: “global non-nuclear precision strike; flexible, effective nuclear forces; projecting and sustaining forces sufficient to conduct combined-arms campaigns at the operational level of war; access to and freedom of action in the global commons, especially on the world’s oceans, in orbital space and across the electromagnetic spectrum (of which cyber is a part); the cryptologic enterprise; and realistic combat training.” While broad, Watts notes that these core competencies exclude some current priorities such as counterinsurgency capabilities and amphibious operations. Watts suggests, however, that these six competencies represent the areas of greatest global competition and risk for the future. By adopting this more limited list, the DOD can focus its shrinking resources on the areas where the greatest advantages can be reaped. With this identified, DOD can then determine the what parts of the DIB require the largest long-term sustainment and investment. Ultimately, Watts argues, only by making difficult decisions about future security priorities can the U.S. effectively support the DIB in a fiscally sustainable manner.
As reported by Defense News, BAE and its industry and labor partners recently sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh voicing their concerns about innacuracies in a forthcoming AT Kearney report on the Abrams and Bradley Industrial Base. They believe that AT Kearney has not done its due dilligence with respect to the Bradley Industrial Base, failing to contact many suppliers in order to properly understand the effects of closing the production line. BAE and its partners also argue that the preliminary report shows that AT Kearney is grossly underestiming the human capital present with Bradley Industrial Base. Find the entire letter attached below.
On September 9, 2013 the Ground Forces Dialogue hosted an event on Operational Energy with Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, and Lieutenant General Robert. R. Ruark, the Director of Logistics, J-4, Joint Staff. The goal was to look at the future of operational energy, including such issues as how the DoD will seek to consolidate the gains it has made, how it will apply lessons learned going forward, and how it will seek further innovations to reduce the demand for energy, improve operational flexibility, and reduce strategic and operational risks associated with extensive energy supply chains. Below you can find highlights from the event.
•3:03-24:30 — Opening Remarks: ASD Sharon E. Burke discusses how her office is thinking about energy geopolitics, defense, and the future threat environment.
•24:32-32:00 — Opening Remarks: Lieutenant General Robert R. Ruark, Director of Logistics for the Joint Staff (J-4) discusses the logistical challenges of globally integrated operations.
•33:45-36:17 — ASD Burke talks about the role the Office of Operational Energy Plans and Programs—under the Office of Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L)—plays in policy, strategy, innovation, and other long-term issues related to future force development.
•36:43-39:10 — LtGen Ruark discusses the ways the Joint Staff can influence the conversation about operational energy. Specifically, he suggests incorporating energy concerns into key performance parameters by training people to think differently about energy supply and usage.
•39:10-42:34 – LtGen Ruark speaks about the initiatives he believes have been most successful in the operational energy space, and the various initiatives the regional combatant commands are pursuing.
•43:15-49:10 — ASD Burke and LtGen Ruark discuss the importance of aligning operational energy technologies with military strategy and capability requirements, as well as creating the necessary demand signals for different types of innovation. LtGen Ruark comments on the dividends that can be reaped through improved energy efficiency for rapid force deployment and mobility.
•49:10-51:08 – ASD Burke discusses the future of natural gas for the US military’s ships, airplanes, and vehicles
•51:09-57:14 – LtGen Ruark and ASD Burke talk about the role of operational energy, and energy writ large, in partner capacity-building, as well as the importance of energy and logistics in cultivating regional relationships.
•57:15-1:03:48 — LtGen Ruark talks about the risks associated with threats to the global commons, geographic choke points, and climate change. He also discusses the importance of not taking the logistics behind military operations for granted.
•1:03:16 -1:09:49 — ASD Burke and LtGen Ruark discuss the necessity of taking both a top-down and bottom-up approach to institutional change related to operational energy. They argue that the best tactic to garner service buy-in and commitment to operational energy initiatives is by framing the operational energy issue in ways relevant to the war-fighter. LtGen Ruark also suggests that it is essential for the leader of a service to openly support change for the wider service to follow suit.
•1:09:50 – 1:11:52 – ASD Burke discusses the impact of sequestration on her office.
•1:11:53-1:18:00 — ASD Burke and LtGen Ruark discuss planning and equipping for a phase 4 or phase 5 world.
Defense firms brace for shutdown
By Leigh Munsil
Sep. 23, 2013
"The threat of a federal government shutdown is even more bad news for a defense industry struggling to weather sequestration. Following a summer of Pentagon furloughs and with other sequestration cuts starting to sink in, the government — caught between a gridlocked Congress and a dug-in White House — is marching to the brink of a complete halt, which industry sources say could do irreparable damage to defense firms.'
Military Lags in Push for Robotic Ground Vehicles
New York Times
By John Markoff
Sep. 22, 2013
"Cars that can park, brake at a sign of danger and navigate in traffic are on their way to dealers’ showrooms, turning science-fiction fantasies of self-driving vehicles into a new reality. But as private investors have been pushing ahead to develop the systems needed for these new robotic machines, one crucial innovator has been largely out of the loop: the United States military. The armed forces have lagged in deploying their own versions of unmanned road vehicles, despite goals to create machines that could replace “boots on the ground” in conflicts. Cuts in spending and technological challenges have left the military with virtually no chance of meeting the goal set by Congress to have a third of the combat fleet consist of unmanned vehicles by 2015, experts said."
Future of A-10s uncertain
By Brian Everstine
Sep. 23, 2013
"For decades, the A-10 Thunderbolt II has been the favorite jet of children at airshows and grunts on the ground. It’s slow. It’s ugly. But, it’s effective. Air Force officials have confirmed the service is looking at complete cuts of entire fleets of aircraft because of tightening budgets. Single mission planes are at the top of the list, putting the A-10 right in the crosshairs. The A-10 has almost exclusively been used for close-air support since it was introduced in 1977."
Get Real on Military Readiness
War on the Rocks
By Admiral John C. Harvey Jr.
Sep. 23, 2013
"With summer over and the leaves about to turn brown, debates over military readiness haunt Washington at every step. Infighting over Secretary Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review, the next Quadrennial Defense Review, another potential round of sequestration in fiscal year 2014, and the continued decline in defense budgets, have all effectively put the force structure cart before the strategic objectives horse."