Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Army's Need for Money

Defense Industry Daily describes the US Army's need for money.

With maintenance costs becoming more visible due to fleet age and extra wear as the result of the ongoing war, US land forces are facing a large maintenance overhang - and wondering where to find the budget for it, given existing programs and other needs (including finding survivable and durable alternatives to the Hummers when that contract expires soon).

The overhang, like the weapons systems it gets, is often the legacy of decisions made decades before.

Meanwhile, the 1990s procurement holiday has left critical services like the Air Force with an aging equipment base of its own on several fronts, from aerial tankers, to bombers, to fighters, to medium and light transports.

The way military budgets work is that the DOD gets a total dollar figure from on high, and then the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines fight among themselves to define the pie. The game-theoretic term for this is a "zero-sum" game, which means anyone's gain is someone else's loss.

The Pentagon budget is usually a zero-sum game in which the maximum figure for the next year's budget is handed down from the White House in the spring, and the services jockey for extra dollars within those constraints to get allocations from the Secretary of Defense, while congress plays its own third-party role afterward on the way to passing a final military budget. In a very rare move, however, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has received permission from Donald Rumsfeld to make the Army's 2008 budget case directly to the US Office of Management and Budget (who coordinates budgets across the entire federal government). This allows them to fight for items they need, without necessarily jeapordizing other service budgets.

Therefore the only way the ground forces are going to get money at a time the Air Force and the other services want to modernize is to enlarge the entire pie. That is, increase the total military budget. This UPI article suggests this exactly what the DOD hopes will happen.

Harvey said the Army made its case to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has agreed to allow the service to seek more money from the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for coordinating budgets across the federal government.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey refused to say exactly how much extra the Army is seeking, but the Los Angeles Times has reported it wants $138 billion, approximately $26 billion more than it got for fiscal year 2007.

"We felt we had a challenge we couldn't overcome in '08-'13 program," Schoomaker said.

Both Harvey and Schoomaker insist that the amount is affordable, given the strength of the U.S. economy.

It's a refrain they picked up from Rumsfeld, who has been laying the groundwork for a much larger defense budget for the last year. The rationale is that as a percentage of gross domestic product -- less than 4 percent -- the United States spends less now than it has historically, and can afford much more.

Most people would assume the extra money is going to increase the size of the US ground forces, which are always described as "overstretched" by Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of it is going into systems modernization, one large program being the Future Combat System (FCS). The LA Times reports:

However, a good portion of the new money the Army seeks is not directly tied to the war, Kosiak cautioned, but rather to new weapons it wants — particularly the $200-billion Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that is eventually to replace nearly every tank and transporter the Army has. "This isn't a problem one can totally pass off on current military operations," Kosiak said. "The FCS program is very ambitious — some would say overly ambitious."

FCW has more details of the Army's argument for the Future Combat System.

FCS is the Army’s long-term modernization plan to transform the service into lighter, more mobile combat brigades that combine air, land and unmanned assets working together in a network-centric environment.

But the program has come under increased scrutiny because of its enormous price and the uncertainty of FCS capabilities based on pending technologies, such as the Joint Tactical Radio System.

Schoomaker also disputed media reports that system costs will total $300 billion. He placed the program cost at about $120 billion, with $31 billion of that to be spent between fiscal 2008 and 2013.

FCS will save the Army money in the long run, said Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, because FCS combat brigades require fewer soldiers and equipment would need to be replaced regardless of the program.


Blogger Ikez said...

You are gonna want to see this.

A Democrat has been suspended from the House intel committee for maybe being the leaker to the NYTIMES!!!!!!

Big news...,1,6918606.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

10/19/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Thanks for this.


10/19/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ikez said...

No prob. I see no reason why punishment should stop at a suspension.

How about a full revoking of security clearances???

10/19/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger HadleyB said...

Just like his predecessor LBJ, Bush has been running this police action on the cheap in order to keep the American people fired up.

So what do we do now that the piper has come for his due?

Raise taxes?

Free US citizenship for Mexicans who agree to fight on the cheap in our place?

War Bonds?

And how will further neglect let us open a third and fourth front against Iran and Syria?

I appreciate your courage in even mentioning the issue, Richard, but your base seems awfully quiet on the issue.

10/20/2006 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

The military budget needs restructuring more than overall growth. Submarine and aircraft budgets need cutting, and FCS could use a fresh look as well.

That said, the Army and Marines need to increase their numbers of combat brigades on a "permanent" basis. Op tempos do not look like they're going to decline anytime soon.

10/20/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

A huge part of the problem is the house with eight sides. Everyone wants to come up with new ways, programs, ideas on how to get, manage, spend, allocate, withhold money.

I'm a regular reader of "Inside the Pentagon" and I am amazed that anything ever gets started or ever finished. In fact, way too much is started, detoured, canceled, re-directed and other wise FUBARED until it is unrecognisable and impotent.

Witness FCS. There has been 120 BILLION dollars spent on this montage of programs over about 14 years and the results have been very small and some of that is even dismal.

There is always lots of new toys in it to display, except that almost all of them have gliches, and are not near ready for the field. So they throw more money and give them more time...again, again and again. Until they give up on that project and start up a new one.

It's a disaster.

But with that much money and time involved, what do we do? Nobody knows what to do but to keep throwing the money.

The other services also have their share of problems and boondoggles. Money wasted, over spent, given away, lost and other wise used to produce very little or something that is not as good as what we already have.

I could keep going, but I think I've said enough to give you an idea of the problems we have.

Yes, they better give them the extra dollars to fix and replace all the battle damage and general wear and tear on our existing equipment.

Because it looks like it may be some time before there are any satisfactory replacements.

Just ask the Marines, they have a brand new vehicle under development that won't run in the field 12 hours before its broke down.

But the contractors, manufactures and such are getting rich. More jobs, more money, more taxes.

Thanks to their Senators and Representives.

On and on.

Papa Ray
West Texas

10/20/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

My slogan is more men, fewer toys. That said, we have eaten a lot of the seed corn. We need to replace our fleets of B52s and Tankers. Clearly ground transport needs a lot of thinking. The Hummer is a disaster. OTOH, I understand that the Stryker has exceeded expectations.

We need to add at least another 100,000 army/marines (although a third of that can be obtained by pulling troops out of South Korea), and to offload a lot of the responsibility we have placed on the Guard/Reserves.

We have been running a budget of about $500B. That is less than 4% of the GDP. We need to raise it to at least 5% of our $13T GDP, about $650B.

if we need to raise taxes to cover the increase, we should crank up the gasoline tax to $2.50/gal. That would raise about $300B, which would cover the defense increase and allow for some deficit reduction.

10/20/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

"Stryker has exceeded expectations"

Depends on who you ask.

The Stryker has yet to get the main gun to fire more than three rounds without malfunctioning. It's "cab" won't even stop 7.62 rounds and is too crowded to hold the required number of troops and their equipment. The servicing of the vehicles can't yet be done by the Army, so it is still being done in theater by the manufacturer at a cost to the Army (you and me) of $200,000.00 dollars per mechanic [per year] (and there are a bunch of them). The parts are in short supply and so parts "borrowing" from vehicles is common. It has no protection from anti-tank or even RPGs, so in theater, wire cages are being added along with additional armor, which overstresses the engines because of the additional weight.

So, depending on your expectations, the old M113s (which we have thousands of) could have been upgraded, modified and improved for a fraction of the cost that the Strykers have cost us and been a better, faster solution.

But you know, then the Senators and Representives could not have let the contracts (pure pork) to their favorite manufactures in their respective states.

Papa Ray
West Texas

P.S. Here are "Translations of Pentagon language used today"

- We are still pissing in the wind.

- We just hired three kids fresh out of college.

- We know who to blame.

- It works OK, but looks very hi-tech.

- We are so far behind schedule the customer is happy to get it delivered.

- The damn thing blew up when we threw the switch

- We are so surprised that the stupid thing works.

- The only person who understood the thing quit.

- It is so wrapped up in red tape that the situation is about hopeless.

- Forget it! We have enough problems for now.

- Let's spread the responsibility for the screw up.

- We'll listen to what you have to say as long as it doesn't interfere with what we've already done.

- I can't wait to hear this bull!

- Come into my office; We are in deep shit.

- Parts not interchangeable with the previous design.

- Too damn heavy to lift!

- Lighter than RUGGED.

- One finally worked.

- Achieved when the power switch is off.

- Impossible to fix if broken.

10/21/2006 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

"The B52s need to be replaced"

So they say.

So far the mission for the B52 has been fullfilled every single time it has been tasked. With better than asked for results.

The Air Force can't make up it's mind what it wants for the next bomber. Its split between manned and unmanned airframes.

There are other disagreements. Most want a bomber that has high chance to survive more than one mission, but how to do that and build one that doesn't cost too much to build more than a dozen or so is difficult if not impossible. Some say that upgrading the B2 is a much faster and better short range goal.

The unmanned, armed drone is taking up a lot of our R&D, not just in the Air Force but in all branches including the Navy. Mulitple projects that are duplicating efforts and money spent are common, not just in drones but other "projects" throughout the services.

There is a growing faction that wants "Space based" weapons instead of new bombers. Which is more expensive and will take longer to have operational.

So, it's no surprise that that group wants to extend, yet again, the lifespan of the B52 and the B2 and B1.

But let me add this. I think that getting the U.S. Infantry (Army,Marines,SO) better infantry weapons,ammo and armor that doesn't weigh 50 pounds, is where we need to be spending our money now.(not dressing up the M16-M4 with do-dads and calling it "better")

The 5.56 family of weapons is ineffective in combat. Dressing it up and giving it a new look is not going to change the fact that in order to stop the enemy you have to make a head shot. Even without body armor which our enemy is using now.

Politics and stupidity are the only thing standing in the way of giving our Infantry weapons better than our enemy.

The AK47 is an outstanding weapon, it works every time and fires a 7.62 that kills and inflicts terrible wounds even over long ranges.

That is what we are fighting against, now and for over forty years. The 5.56 won't even go through foliage, let alone walls or body armor, while theirs will. Just like our old M14s would. (which many of our SO troops are using, in a modified form)

Sorry, these subjects really set me off and get my blood boiling.

Papa Ray
West Texas

10/21/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/21/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

Papa Ray: You clearly know a great deal more about this than I do. I based my statement about the Stryker on a television news report. It could have been, and considering the source, probably was, wrong.

As for the strategic bomber issue, this is a good illustration of the problem. The B52 is a great airplane, but it is not immortal. The B1 and B2 were important designs, but they were clearly pointed at a mission that is no longer relevant, penetrating Soviet airspace.

The B52 needs to be replaced by something that can fulfill the same mission dropping a whole bunch of conventional bombs on a target far away from high altitude. It does not need to be supersonic, nor does it need to be super-stealthy. It can be relatively cheap, because we could take an existing airframe like the C17 and modify it for this purpose. such an airframe could also be used as the basis of a tanker.

The space based weapons and unmanned aircraft are perfect examples of too many over aged adolescents playing with toys.

As for your comment on rifles, I have read this complaint before, I have also heard it from Israeli army sources. I have no expertise to evaluate this. However, it seems to me that if we have a professional and experienced army, we should allow the troopers to pick their own tools. We could perhaps allow some free market competition to come into the process. The Army could give soldiers equipment allowances and a catalog of equipment to spend it on.

10/21/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

The Wall Street Journal, Review and Outlook, Our Small Defense Budget: This is no way to fund a war. Friday, October 20, 2006

When Reagan was president the defense budget peaked at 6.2% of GDP. On today's $13T GDP, that would mean a defense budget of about $800B. That is probably more like what it ought to be.

10/21/2006 10:25:00 AM  

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