Tag Archives: defense budget

Overcoming Obama’s Defense Funding Mistakes

Will The House of Representatives’ National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (passed yesterday)  be sufficient to both address rising threats from abroad as well as make up the significant loss of funding during the Obama Administration? The $686.6 billion (which exceeds President Trump’s request of $603 billion; the Senate seeks to add another $14 billion) goes over the $549 billion limit established by the 2011 Budget Control Act by about $72 billion, so further work would have to be done for the House, Senate or Trump funding figures to be established.

Despite the unprecedented arms buildup and aggressive acts by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, the Obama Administration chose to slash defense spending, and Congress, which had agreed to the sequester in response to the doubling of the national debt during the former president’s tenure, failed to respond.

America’s military is in a sharply deteriorated state. It had its last major upgrade during the Reagan Administration over three decades ago, and has been sharply reduced over the past 27 years. Its equipment has been worn down from repeated conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan; the same can be said for its personnel.

While all branches of the armed forces have been affected, the latest examples of damage have come the Navy and the Marines. Marine aviation has recently experienced a rise in “Class A Mishaps,” which are incidents that cause death or result in more than $2 million in aircraft damage. House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry pointed out at a hearing last year that the rate for the Marine aviation community has “been increasing significantly.”

The Wall Street Journal recently noted that “Marine aviation has recently experienced a rise in ‘Class A Mishaps,’ which are incidents that carry a body count or result in more than $2 million in aircraft damage. House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) pointed out at a hearing last year that the accident rate for the Marine aviation community has ‘been increasing significantly’…One hypothesis that deserves to be examined is a combination of old equipment and the fact that pilot hours have been reduced in recent years because of funding cuts. Planes like the F/A-18 are stretching past their lifetimes.”

In March, Lieutenant General Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation; Rear Admiral Dewolfe Miller III, Director Air Warfare, and Rear Admiral Michael Moran, Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft, testified before Congress about the decline in naval aviation. They noted:

“Through 2009, the Department’s Strike Fighter force was relatively healthy. Several events transpired since 2009, however, which drove our current Strike Fighter inventory shortfall. The Budget Control Act of 2011 started multiple years of reduced military funding and F-35B/C fielding plans were delayed. As a result, the [Navy] decided to extend the life of legacy F/A-18A-Ds…Sequestration led to furlough and a hiring freeze of a skilled government civilian artisan workforce at aviation depots, significantly impacting depot throughput and fleet readiness along with other factors such as high utilization rates, lack of aircraft procurement and lack of spare parts. Throughout this period, the operational demand for Naval Aviation forces remained high and accelerated the consumption of existing fleet aircraft. In essence, consumption of aircraft exceeded new and re-work production capacity of aircraft causing an increasing shortfall… years of underfunding cannot be corrected in one budget year and will require stable, predictable funding over multiple years to achieve positive results. This shortfall will take time and likely require several years to correct…”

An unclassified study by the Mitre organization found that the “Navy’s budget is insufficient to fund required force levels. The Navy’s budget is insufficient to develop, procure, operate, and sustain all the forces need to meet the revised defeat / hold scenario force structure. In addition, budget instability forces the Navy to make acquisition decisions that undermine affordability initiatives…for the last four years, the Navy has been operating under reduced top-lines and significant shortfalls. There will likely continue to be increasing pressure on the procurement accounts, which in turn threatens the near-term health of the defense industrial base.”

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Adm. William F. Moran painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit. Moran told committee members the ongoing demand for U.S. Naval forces far exceeds its long-term supply. And, he added, the Navy is the smallest it’s been in 99 years, making it urgent to “adequately fund, fix and maintain the fleet we do have.” The U.S. Navy has never been busier in a world of global threats, Admiral Moran said. While the Navy is getting the job done the unrelenting pace, inadequate resources and small size are taking their toll.

The House Armed Service Committee noted, following the vote, “Today, we have too many planes that cannot fly, too many ships that cannot sail, too many Soldiers who cannot deploy, while too many threats are gathering. We have come to a key decision point. For six years, we have been just getting by – cutting resources as the world becomes more dangerous, asking more and more of those who serve, and putting off the tough choices. The Chairman and members of the committee believe that we cannot keep piling missions on our service members without ensuring they have all they need to succeed.”

Repairing an Exhausted and Underfunded Military, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its  two-part review of military preparedness 

In 2016, A Heritage Foundation analysis  of military readiness found:

“The consequences of the current sharp reductions in funding mandated by sequestration have caused military service officials, senior DOD officials, and even Members of Congress to warn of the dangers of recreating the ‘hollow force’ of the 1970s when units existed on paper but were staffed at reduced levels, minimally trained, and woefully equipped. To avoid this, the services have traded quantity/capacity and modernization to ensure that what they do have is ‘ready’ for employment.

“As was the case in 2014, the service chiefs have stated that current and projected levels of funding continue to take a toll on the ability of units to maintain sufficient levels of readiness across the force. Some units have reduced manning. Though progress has been made in some areas due to supplemental funding provided by Congress in 2014, the return of full sequestration threatens to undo these gains. For example:

  • General Raymond T. Odierno, former Chief of Staff of the Army, has stated that the Army can maintain only one-third of its force at acceptable levels of readiness. Each shuttering of a BCT incurs a lengthy restart cost. Specifically, “it takes approximately 30 months to generate a fully manned and trained Regular Army BCT,” and “senior command and control headquarters…take even longer.
  • General Mark A. Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, has noted that if the Air Force shut off all utilities at all major installations for 12 years or quit flying for nearly two years, it would save $12 billion—enough to buy back just one year of sequestered funds.
  • The Navy is accepting risk in its ability to meet defense strategy requirements according to Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations. He has testified that under current spending limitations, “ships will arrive late to a combat zone, engage in conflict without the benefit of markedly superior combat systems, sensors and networks, or desired levels of munitions inventories.”
  • Also, the Navy can now surge only one-third of the force required by Combatant Commanders to meet contingency requirements.

“It is one thing to have the right capabilities to defeat the enemy in battle. It is another thing to have a sufficient amount of those capabilities to sustain operations over time and many battles against an enemy, especially when attrition or dispersed operations are significant factors. But sufficient numbers of the right capabilities are rather meaningless if the force is unready to engage in the task.”

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness recently proposed the following to meet some aspects of the crisis:

  • fully funding flying hours, underway operations, and training exercises to rebuild readiness for ships, aircraft squadrons, and ground combat units;
  • an end to base closures for the coming fiscal year;
  • rebuilding readiness, enhancing exercises, and modernize training requirements;
  • funding 19 Combat Training Center rotations across the Army–15 Active and 4 Army National Guard;
  • Recommends to the Chairman providing $10.2 billion for military construction, family housing, and implementation of legacy Base Realignment and Closure;
  • recommendations, a $2.3 billion increase over fiscal year 2017 levels, and begins to reverse years of underfunding in facility restoration and modernization accounts;
  • Provides the Department of Defense with more responsive facility construction, repair, and real estate authorities, ensuring the services have the flexibility they need to provide modern, efficient, and properly configured facilities to meet 21st century training and operational requirements;
  • Supports the Marine Corps Ground Equipment Depot Maintenance reset program;
  • Requires the Navy to report to Congress on its comprehensive plan to address shortfalls in the public shipyard enterprise.

For far too long, military preparedness has been treated as just any other government expense. But cutting defense funding creates life-and-death risks, both for those in uniform and for the nation as a whole.  The eight years of slashed funding for the U.S. armed forces, while Russia, China, and other adversaries dramatically ramped up their war-fighting prowess, was an exercise in incredibly poor judgement.

Repairing an Exhausted and Underfunded Military

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government presents a two-part review of military preparedness 

In June, top U.S. military leaders warned Congress that years of combat combined with budget cuts and personnel reductions have left the Services stretched so thin that they may not be able to adequately respond to an unexpected crisis.  The admissions take place amidst growing uncertainty about a constrained defense budget and increasing global instability.

Defense.gov  has reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis is concerned that Even if Congress acts now to rid the Defense Department of looming sequestration spending cuts, it will take years of stable and higher budgets for DoD to dig out of the readiness hole… I have been shocked by what I have seen about our readiness to fight.”

According to Mattis, there are four external forces acting on the military.

the first is the fact that the U.S. military has been at war for the last 16 years.

“When Congress approved the all-volunteer force in 1973, our country never envisioned sending our military to war for more than a decade without pause or conscription…America’s long war has placed a heavy burden on men and women in uniform and their families.”

A second force is the global situation. Russia is arming itself and looking for ways to challenge the international order. China is a rising power seeking to expand its sphere of influence. Iran is exporting instability throughout the Middle East, and North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

A third force is adversaries actively contesting America’s capabilities. According to Mattis, “every operating domain — outer space, air, sea, undersea, land and cyberspace — is contested.”

A fourth force, the pace of technological change, influences the capabilities needed for the future, necessitating new investments, innovation and new program starts.

For over a year, the heads of the armed services branches have warned of the lack of readiness due to overuse and budget cuts.

General John Paxton, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps:

“If the Marines were called today to respond to an unexpected crisis, they might not be ready, a top Marine general told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday… I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now.”

Army chief of staff General Mark Milley:

“…My concern, going forward, is at the higher end in the event of a contingency, and if that were to happen, I have grave concerns in terms of the readiness of our Force—the Army forces—to be able to deal with that in a timely manner.  And I think the cost, both in terms of time, casualties in troops, and the ability to accomplish military objectives would be very significant and we’ve all given our risk assessment associated with that in a classified session.”

Special forces are among the most overworked.  Special Forces chief General Raymond Thomas has called the level of overuse “unsustainable.”

Secretary of The Air Force Deborah James

“…right now, we are stretched so thin, and we’re so small as an Air Force, and we’re so deployed, …I am very worried …if you go into a high-end conflict with a great power and you’re not sufficiently ready, history teaches me, you lose more lives and it’s a prolonged conflict. And it’s very worrisome.”

The shrunken U.S. Navy faces a severe challenge.  By 2020, China’s fleet will exceed the Navy’s numbers, which have plummeted from 600 vessels in 1990 to about 276 today.  The Russians are rapidly enlarging and modernizing their submarine fleet. Iran and North Korea pose threats as well. Some of these nations are working together to challenge the U.S. On June 19, SpaceWar  reported that “A Chinese naval fleet is steaming towards the Baltic Sea to participate in joint exercises with Russia… Russia and China have taken turns hosting the exercises, dubbed “Joint Sea”, since 2012. This year’s iteration is set to take place in late July, Xinhua news agency said, and will include Chinese marines and ship-borne helicopters… Last year, the exercises took place in the contested South China Sea, where Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in waters claimed by its neighbours has drawn criticism from the US and other nations which say the project threatens freedom of navigation through the region.”

The Report concludes tomorrow

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the danger posed by inadequate defense budgets.

During its tenure, the Obama Administration engaged in policies which were breathtaking in their scope and in the extraordinary danger they posed. Among  these actions were slashing the defense budget, preventing the development of  an adequate anti-missile shield, proposing unilateral reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, withdrawing all US tanks from Europe, (some have since been returned) cutting benefits to active duty service members, alienating  regional allies such as Israel, betraying key nuclear defense secrets of the United Kingdom to Moscow, prematurely withdrawing U.S. forces from key hot spots, not responding to Chinese aggression towards allies Japan and the Philippines, ignoring Russian, Chinese, and Iranian military growth in Latin America, softening sanctions against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, and taking no viable steps in response to North Korea’s imminent deployment of nuclear ICBMs.

These actions occur in the face of a US military that was already sharply reduced from its strength in the recent past.  The navy has shrunk from 600 ships to 284, the Army is down from 17 divisions to ten, the Air Force from 37 fighter commands to 20.

This diminished force must contend with a Russia that has returned to cold war strength, possesses a 10 to 1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, has invaded two neighboring nations in the past ten years, has returned to cold war bases around the world, assisted in the shooting down of a civilian airliner, and has allied itself with China.

China has engaged in unprecedented espionage against civilian, governmental and military targets in the U.S., and has increased its nuclear and conventional military strength at a pace faster than either the Soviet Union or the United States did at the height of the cold war. It is a full-fledged military superpower on land, sea, air, and space, with technology every bit as capable as Washington’s.  It unabashedly asserts hegemony over a vast swath of seas that it has no legitimate right to, and has brazenly stolen resources from the Philippines. It makes no secret that it views the United States as an adversary, and its extraordinarily powerful armed forces are precisely structured to fight what is left of the American military.

The oft-cited clichés about the amount the U.S. spends on defense, and its comparison with potential enemies, serve to cloud the debate.  Defense spending as a percent of GDP, at about 3.3%, is at a near post-World War 2 low, and represents less than 16% of the federal budget.

Comparisons with the publicly stated budgets of Russia and China, which those opposed to adequate American defense spending often point to, is deceptive.  The non-transparent governments of those nations hide substantial portions of their military spending. They also do not include within their stated figures many items that their U.S. counterpart does.  Additionally, within their essentially command economies, manufacturers are not taking the type of profit American companies do, making the purchase of weapons exceptionally less costly.

The Trump Administration has called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, although some estimates indicate that the actual figure may be closer to $30 billion. After the Obama disinvestment years, either figure represents merely treading water.

A True Pundit review of the request notes that “The Trump administration claimed that the proposal increases defense spending by 10 percent (approximately $54 billion), however, that number is based on unfounded estimations from 2011. The increase may actually represent a 3 percent increase, when based on the number former President Barack Obama said he would have liked to have seen last year.[Defense Secretary] Mattis said…while the $30 billion is necessary, it is only enough to fill current gaps, and not enough to improve capabilities in the future.”

Writing for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Mackenzie Eaglen explains: “The current outlook for the U.S. defense budget is middling with a chance of disappointment. When Trump’s first budget is eventually signed into law, it will likely just be a more muscular version of the status quo, increasing defense spending only a few percentage points above last year’s enacted levels… On the campaign trail, Trump set a fairly nebulous goal of growing the military to 350 navy ships, 540,000 active-duty army soldiers, 200,000 marines, and more than 1,200 combat-capable air force fighters. Such growth would cost an estimated $60 billion per year more than what Obama planned for in his five-year budget from 2017, or about $90 billion per year more than the levels prescribed by the Budget Control Act.”

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its exposure of the defense budgeting errors that endanger the U.S. 

In his recommendations for the 2018—2022 budget periods, Senator McCain states:

“We are now at a tipping point…We now face, at once, a persistent war against terrorist enemies and a new era of great power competition. The wide margin for error that America once enjoyed is gone. This deterioration of America’s global position has accelerated in recent years, in part, because the Obama administration’s defense strategy was built on a series of flawed assumptions. It assumed the United States could pull back from the Middle East and contain the threat of violent Islamist extremism. It assumed that ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea would improve conditions for negotiations and not exacerbate the threat. It assumed that a nuclear deal with Iran would moderate its regional ambitions and malign behavior. It assumed that U.S.-Russia relations could be “reset” into a partnership and that American forces in Europe could be reduced. It assumed that a minimal “rebalance” of efforts could deter China from using its rising power to coerce American partners and revise the regional order. “And it assumed with the Budget Control Act of 2011 that defense spending could be cut significantly for a decade. Though all of these assumptions have been overtaken by events, [President Obama] and many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have nonetheless failed to invest sufficiently in our nation’s defense. Indeed, for most of the past eight years, including this one, Congress has forced the Department of Defense to start the year locked into the previous year’s budget and priorities, which in practice is a budget cut.

“As a result, our military is caught in a downward spiral of depleted readiness and deferred modernization. Readiness is suffering, in part, because the force is too small and being asked to do more with less. This, in turn, harms modernization, as future defense investments are delayed and mortgaged to pay for present operations. That helps to explain why all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have stated that our military cannot accomplish the nation’s strategic objectives at acceptable risk to the force and the mission. Reversing this budget-driven damage to our military must be a top priority for national leaders…

“Donald Trump has pledged to ‘fully eliminate the defense sequester’ and ‘submit a new budget to rebuild our military.’ This cannot happen soon enough. The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year. Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter…

“Our adversaries are modernizing their militaries to exploit our vulnerabilities…The cost of further inaction…is worse: We will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict. Indeed, as General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, has said: “The only thing more expensive than deterrence is actually fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is fighting one and losing one.

“For many years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. defense planning and budgeting were guided by what was called a “two major regional contingency” force sizing construct. This required the U.S. military to be sized, shaped, and postured to fight and win two major wars in different regions of the world more or less at the same time. In 2012, the Obama administration departed from this construct…it stoked a perception of American weakness and created power vacuums that adversaries have exploited.

“A better defense strategy must acknowledge the reality that we have entered a new era of great power competitions. China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests. They maintain large, survivable nuclear arsenals. They are modernizing their militaries in order to counter our ability to project power. And they are making rapid progress…the United States must have the will and military capability to deter and, if necessary, defeat these competitors in order to maintain peace through strength. Without sufficient hard power, which is our leverage, our diplomacy will be ineffective.

“A better defense strategy must also account for the threats posed by North Korea and Iran…But these dangers are serious and growing. North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is rapidly developing a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the U.S. homeland. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons has been postponed but not halted. And it seeks to use its malign influence to remake the Middle East in its image. If left unchecked, these threats will grow, to the detriment of American interests, allies, and partners. Finally, a better defense strategy must recognize that violent Islamist extremist groups will continue to pose a direct threat to American lives, and that U.S. forces will be conducting counterterrorism operations at varying levels of intensity, for the foreseeable future. … the scale of our defense challenges are clear: Major improvements can be made in the next five years, but we will not be able to rebuild and reshape our military to the degree necessary in that timeframe. In this way, the goal of the next five years is more digging out than building up—halting the accumulated damage done during the Obama administration through decreasing force size, depleted readiness, deferred modernization, and sustained high operational tempo.”

A professional opinion on the need for even greater increases in defense spending comes from the Military Officers Association .: “While many in Congress, especially the defense hawks, have applauded [President Trump’s] defense increase, several in key leadership positions on the Armed Services committees say it is not nearly enough. The administration termed the $603 billion budget request, which is an increase of $18.5 billion over what the Obama administration had proposed for FY 2018, as an increase of 10 percent, but that number is only in comparison to sequestration levels of $549 billion. So in reality, says Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, ‘That’s really only a 3-percent increase and is fake budgeting’.”

The Report concludes Monday

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part exposure of the danger caused by the disinvestment in America’s National Security

Two dangerously mistaken assumptions have guided American defense planning since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The first, made by successive administrations, was that there would no longer be a substantial military threat following the end of the USSR, and that the only true danger remaining would be regional conflicts. China’s extraordinary increases in spending on armaments, and its development of a highly advanced and sophisticated force with worldwide reach, has proven that theory wrong, as has President Putin’s dramatic reconstruction of Soviet power and strategy. Both nations have engaged in aggressive actions, confident that their armed strength shields them from repercussions.

Russia has twice invaded neighboring nations, and engages in intimidating actions towards its European neighbors and the North American coastline. China has illegally occupied a resource-rich maritime area belonging to the Philippines. It is now claiming domination over vital sea lanes in contradiction of all international law.  North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have reached an extremely dangerous point, and the Taliban is preparing for a major return to power in Afghanistan. If they do so, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may be within their grasp.

Nikita vladimirov, in an article in The Hill.reports that “Russia and China are increasingly challenging the military superiority that the United States has held since the early 1990s…[they]…are spending heavily on ‘modernization’ to improve their militaries’ quality, efficiency and overall performance…According to the experts, China’s military advancement is most noticeable in its new naval and ballistic capabilities…Researchers at the International Institute for Strategic Studies noted the rapid development of China’s new air-to-air weapons that will ‘make the air environment more difficult for the F-35 and supporting aircraft.’…Moscow, meanwhile, is seeking to develop new technologies that would undermine U.S. capabilities in Europe and Asia.

“In summer of 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the country’s military progress, asserting that Russia had achieved ‘substantial success’ in modernizing its forces… Tony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said improvements to Russia’s nuclear weapons and precision cruise missiles should be a major concern for the Pentagon…Another highlight of Russia’s push toward military innovation is its lethal T-14 tank…the International Institute for Strategic Studies said the ‘revolutionary’ tank will feature new technologies that will ‘change battlefield dynamics’ in the future.”

The second assumption, solely the work of the Obama Administration, was that significantly scaling back American defense spending and activities would induce hostile nations to do the same.  In essence, President Obama “Gave peace a chance,” to quote the rock song.  It didn’t work. Instead, it had the reverse effect: aggressive nations saw U.S. weakness as an opportunity, and took advantage.

The errors of judgement and the rise of dire threats should have been headline news. But the prevailing leftist ideology within the American media has kept the overwhelming danger out of the headlines.  It is a mantra of Progressive politics that any penny spent on defense is a penny taken away from social welfare programs. Therefore, dependent on ever increasing benefits for support at the ballot box, left-leaning politicians have ignored the hazardous reality and continued their transfer of funds from the military to the programs that get them re-elected.

Former Defense Secretary  Ashton B. Carter noted  that “DoD’s [Department of Defense] 10-year budget projections have absorbed more than $750 billion in cuts, …DoD’s fiscal year 2016 budget is at a near-historic low, representing about 14 percent of total federal discretionary and nondiscretionary outlays.”

In 2010, the total defense budget was $757 billion.  The 2016 budget was approximately $585 billion.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) noted “Russia has challenged the postwar order in Europe by invading and annexing the territory of another sovereign nation…China has stepped up its coercive behavior in Asia, backed by its rapid military modernization…Military spending is not to blame for out-of-control deficits and debt.  It is now [at] the lowest [share of federal spending] since before World War 2.”

The Report continues tomorrow

America’s Sinking Navy: The Russian Threat

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of key naval developments. 

U.S. Navy Adm. Mark Ferguson, who commands NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, and U.S. Navy forces in Europe and Africa,  reports that “From the North Atlantic to the Black Sea, Russia is fielding an increasingly capable navy…unveiling a new maritime strategy and demonstrating new equipment and capabilities at sea. The strategy is clearly aimed at deterring NATO maritime forces, he said, and is not defensive. The proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force is increasing…”

The Office of Naval Intelligence  notes that Moscow’s navy “is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional strikes against an enemy’s land facilities, destroying enemy naval formations at sea and in base, interdicting enemy maritime and oceanic sea lines of communication while protecting its own shipping, cooperating with ground forces in continental theaters of military operations, making amphibious landings, repelling enemy landings, and fulfilling other missions.”

Research from Ponars Eurasia  explains that “Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent reinforcement of the region’s military forces have been combined with a general increase in naval activity—including aggressive activity vis-à-vis NATO countries’ maritime interests beyond the Black Sea…”

The Federation of American Scientists notes that “The new technologically advanced Russian Navy… will also provide a flexible platform for Russia to demonstrate offensive capability, threaten neighbors, project power regionally, and advance President Putin’s stated goal of returning Russia to clear great power status…As Russia asserts itself on the world stage, it is giving priority of effort and funding to recapitalizing its navy. The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, has asserted that “The Russian Navy is being equipped with the newest; including precision long-range strike weapons, and has big nuclear power. Naval forces today are capable of operating for a long time and with high combat readiness in operationally important areas of the global ocean”

Sputnik News reports that “The Russian Navy received a total of four combat surface ships, four submarines and 52 auxiliary ships in 2015,” according to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.

While Europe remains the main focus of the Russian military, the Russian Navy has been intent on dominating the Arctic and significantly increasing its power in the Pacific, where it has held joint war training games with China.

Moscow has established a number of new bases in the Arctic. Stratfor  reports that “…the militarization of the Arctic — and by extension, the construction of new bases or the repurposing of old Soviet facilities — will remain one of the Russian military’s top priorities in the coming years.”

A Japan Times/Reuters article notes that “Interviews with officials and military analysts and reviews of government documents show Russia’s buildup is the biggest since the 1991 Soviet fall and will, in some areas, give Moscow more military capabilities than the Soviet Union once had…The expansion has far-reaching financial and geopolitical ramifications… It is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world’s largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, used to clear channels for military and civilian ships. U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, in a separate written submission, described Moscow’s Arctic moves as ‘aggressive steps.’… “The modernization of Arctic forces and of Arctic military infrastructure is taking place at an unprecedented pace not seen even in Soviet times,’ Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief, told Reuters. He said two special Arctic brigades had been set up, something the USSR never had, and that there were plans to form a third as well as special Arctic coastal defense divisions.

Russia’s extraordinary naval buildup far from Europe is not confined to the colder climes. Moscow’s military presence in the Pacific is being bolstered by new ships, submarines, and strengthened bases.

U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harris warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Ships and submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet and long range aircraft routinely demonstrate Russia’s message that it is a Pacific power. 6 Russian ballistic missile and attack submarines remain especially active in the region. The arrival in late 2015 of Russia’s newest class of nuclear ballistic missile submarine (DOLGORUKIY SSBN) in the Far East is part of a modernization program for the Russian Pacific Fleet and signals the seriousness with which Moscow views this region.

America’s Sinking Navy: The Chinese Threat

Part 2 of The New York Analysis of Policy and Government’s three-part series on the growing danger from a weakened American Navy, at a time when Russia and China have dramatically strengthened their fleets. 

GROWING THREATS

The perilous and diminished condition of the U.S. Navy must be contrasted with the rapidly growing strength of its Russian and Chinese adversaries.

CHINA

Andrew Erickson, writing for the National Interest, notes that “ China has parlayed the world’s second-largest economy and second-largest defense budget into the world’s largest ongoing comprehensive naval buildup, which has already yielded the world’s second-largest navy China may assemble a combat fleet that in overall order of battle (hardware only) is quantitatively, and perhaps even qualitatively, in the same league as the USN. In my personal opinion, even the perception that China was on track to achieve such parity would have grave consequences for America’s standing and influence across the Asia-Pacific and around the world.

The ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016” notes that “Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, antiair, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection.”…China is expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the “far seas,” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. In late November, China publicly confirmed its intention to build military supporting facilities in Djibouti…This Chinese initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing geopolitical clout, extending the reach of its influence and armed forces…

Admiral Harris, the U.S. Navy Pacific Commander, has told the U.S. Senate that China’s Navy is increasing its routine operations in the Indian Ocean, expanding the area and duration of operations and exercises in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and is beginning to act as a global navy – venturing into other areas, including Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Congressional Research Service has released its analysis of the challenge. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government provides this summary:

China is building a modern and regionally powerful navy with a limited but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. Observers of Chinese and U.S. military forces view China’s improving naval capabilities as posing a potential challenge in the Western Pacific to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain control of blue-water ocean areas in wartime—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War. More broadly, these observers view China’s naval capabilities as a key element of an emerging broader Chinese military challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning.

China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a broad array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises…

Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following:

  • whether the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough and capable enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime A2/AD forces while also adequately performing other missions around the world;
  • whether the Navy’s plans for developing and procuring long-range carrier-based aircraft and long-range ship-and aircraft-launched weapons are appropriate;
  • whether the Navy can effectively counter Chinese ASBMs and submarines; and
  • whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.

The Report concludes tomorrow

America’s Sinking Navy

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part series on the growing danger from a weakened American Navy, at a time when Russia and China have dramatically strengthened their fleets. 

The severe effects of eight years of disinvestment are taking hold on the United States Navy, at the same time that massive investment by Russia and China have dramatically increased the threat at sea. America has not been this imperiled on the oceans since the middle of World War 2.

An unclassified study by the Mitre organization found that the “Navy’s budget is insufficient to fund required force levels. The Navy’s budget is insufficient to develop, procure, operate, and sustain all the forces need to meet the revised defeat / hold scenario force structure. In addition, budget instability forces the Navy to make acquisition decisions that undermine affordability initiatives…for the last four years, the Navy has been operating under reduced top-lines and significant shortfalls. There will likely continue to be increasing pressure on the procurement accounts, which in turn threatens the near-term health of the defense industrial base.”

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Adm. William F. Moran painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit. Moran told committee members the ongoing demand for U.S. Naval forces far exceeds its long-term supply. And, he added, the Navy is the smallest it’s been in 99 years, making it urgent to “adequately fund, fix and maintain the fleet we do have.”The U.S. Navy has never been busier in a world of global threats, Admiral Moran said. While the Navy is getting the job done the unrelenting pace, inadequate resources and small size are taking their toll.

“For years, we’ve all learned to live with less and less, we have certainly learned to execute our budget inefficiently with nine consecutive continuing resolutions,” Moran said. But this has forced the Navy to repeatedly take money from cash accounts that are the lifeblood of building long-term readiness in its ranks, he added.

Moran’s testimony  painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit, noting that “As our Sailors and Navy civilians… prepare to ensure our next ships and aircraft squadrons deploy with all that they need, the strain is significant and growing…our shipyards and aviation depots are struggling to get our ships and airplanes through maintenance periods on time. In turn, these delays directly impact the time Sailors have to train and hone their skills prior to deployment. These challenges are further exacerbated by low stocks of critical parts and fleet-wide shortfalls in ordnance, and an aging shore infrastructure…It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years…

“Our readiness challenges go deeper than ship and aircraft maintenance, directly affecting our ability to care for the Navy Team. Our people are what make the U.S. Navy the best in the world, but our actions do not reflect that reality. To meet the constraints of the Balanced Budget Act, the Navy’s FY 2017 budget request was forced to reduce funding for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves. These reductions have been compounded by the Continuing Resolution, which imposed even further reductions on that account. Without sufficient PCS funding, the Navy will be unable to move Sailors to replace ship and squadron crewmembers leaving service, increasing the strain on those who remain. This is an area in which timing also matters greatly. Even if the money comes eventually, if it is too late, necessary moves will be delayed until the beginning of the new fiscal year. That means our Sailors with children will be forced to relocate their children in the middle of a school year. And because we don’t know if and when additional PCS funding may come, we cannot give our Sailors and their families much time to prepare, often leaving them with weeks, rather than months, to prepare for and conduct a move, often from one coast, or even one country, to another. Meanwhile, our shore infrastructure has become severely degraded and is getting worse because it has been a repeated bill payer for other readiness accounts in an effort to maintain afloat readiness. Consequently, we continue to carry a substantial backlog of facilities maintenance and replacement, approaching $8 billion.

“Time is running out. Years of sustained deployments and constrained and uncertain funding have resulted in a readiness debt that will take years to pay down. If the slow pace of readiness recovery continues, unnecessary equipment damage, poorly trained operators at sea, and a force improperly trained and equipped to sustain itself will result. Absent sufficient funding for readiness, modernization and force structure, the Navy cannot return to full health, where it can continue to meet its mission on a sustainable basis.”

A Defense News analysis put the crisis in stark terms: “…nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog…more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them…there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow…some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods.”

The Report continues Monday

America’s Defense Crisis

Following eight years of reduced budgetary support for the U.S. military, at a time when threats have increased dramatically from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists, the ability of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to defend the nation has reached a near-crisis level.

The warning signs have been apparent for some time. In 2015, General Martin Dempsey, who was serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. military, noted that funding for the armed forces was at the “lower ragged edge” of what was necessary to keep the nation safe. The latest assessments of American strength confirm that the ability of the nation to protect itself is only marginal. Even more troubling, according to another report, is that the infrastructure necessary to rebuild the military to a more acceptable level is itself below par.

The Defense Budget

At the start of 2016r, Senator John McCain   displayed consternation at the inadequate budget proposed by President Obama.  “…the Senate Armed Services Committee received testimony from the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said that he cannot recall a more diverse array of challenges and crises in his more than fifty years of service to the nation…at a time when U.S. military deployments are increasing to confront growing global threats, the President’s budget request is actually less, in real dollars, than what Congress enacted last year…rather than request an increase in defense spending that reflects what our military really needs, the President’s request [will cut] important defense needs – cutting 15,000 current Army soldiers and 4,000 sailors, reducing major modernization programs, and proposing a pay increase for service members much lower than what is needed to compete with private sector wages.”

Contrary to popular misconception, the U.S. defense budget, notes the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is a relatively small percentage of the federal budget, and a minor part of America’s GDP. “…the FY 2017 Department of Defense budget [prepared as instructed by the Obama White House] … would be 3 percent of GDP, and 14.2 percent of overall federal spending. Overall, the share of defense spending as a percentage of GDP has declined steadily since the end of the Korean War. What makes the Obama drawdown of the Pentagon unique is that, unlike the aftermath of prior wars or the Cold War, the potential threat to the U.S. is rising, not diminishing.”

“Woefully Inadequate”

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes the state of U.S. defenses as “a force-planning construct that is woefully inadequate for the global and everyday demands of wartime and peacetime… Gone is any plan that foresees conflict taking longer than one year in duration or any contingency with a whiff of stability operations, long-term counterinsurgency or counter-insurrection, or nation building of the type seen in Iraq and Afghanistan… After six years of budget cuts and operational shifts, hard choices have in many cases turned into stupid or bad ones. Fewer resources and the lack of bipartisan consensus in favor of a strong defense have forced commanders and planners across services to accept previously unthinkable risks as they pick and choose which portions of the national defense strategy to implement… Unmentioned is that the risk to the force grows each passing year. It is now at crisis levels and promises unnecessarily longer wars, higher numbers of wounded or killed in action, and outright potential for mission failure.”

Defense One  notes that it’s not just manpower and hardware that’s the problem. America is losing its lead in technology as well.  “The Pentagon is worried that rivals are developing their capabilities faster than the U.S. is rolling out new ones. The edge is shrinking.”

The Heritage Foundation’s report on U.S. military strength presents a worrisome picture of an understrength military. “The common theme across the services and the U.S. nuclear enterprise is one of force degradation resulting from many years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity. While the military has been heavily engaged in operations, primarily in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, since September 11, 2001, experience is both ephemeral and context-sensitive. Valuable combat experience is lost over time as the service members who individually gained experience leave the force, and it maintains direct relevance only for future operations of a similar type (e.g., counterinsurgency operations in Iraq are fundamentally different from major conventional operations against a state like Iran or China). Thus, although the current Joint Force is experienced in some types of operations, it is still aged and shrinking in its capacity for operations.”

The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute analyses of each branch of the military reveals the following deficiencies:

Army: The U.S. Army should have 50 brigade combat teams (BCTs); Currently, it has only 32.   The force is rated as weak in capacity, readiness, and marginal in capability.“The Army has continued to trade end strength and modernization for improved readiness for current operations. However, accepting risks in these areas has enabled the Army to keep only one-third of its force at acceptable levels of readiness, and even for units deployed abroad, the Army has had to increase its reliance on contracted support to meet maintenance requirements. Budget cuts have affected combat units disproportionately: A 16 percent reduction in total end strength has led to a 32 percent reduction in the number of brigade combat teams and similar reductions in the number of combat aviation brigades. In summary, the Army is smaller, older, and weaker, a condition that is unlikely to change in the near future.”

What would this mean in the event of a major conflict? According to AEI “…a recent RAND war game found that U.S. European Command could not prevent Russian occupation of Baltic capitals within three days, leaving follow-on forces to fight through the Russian Kaliningrad exclave, which bristles with weapons and troops.”

Navy: The U.S. Navy should have 346 surface combatants; currently, it has only 273, and only one-third of those are considered mission-capable.  The force is rated as weak in capability, and marginal in capacity and readiness. “While the Navy is maintaining a moderate global presence, it has little ability to surge to meet wartime demands. Deferred maintenance has kept ships at sea but is also beginning to affect the Navy’s ability to deploy. With scores of ‘weak’ in capability (due largely to old platforms and troubled modernization programs) and ‘marginal’ in capacity, the Navy is currently just able to meet operational requirements. Continuing budget shortfalls in its shipbuilding account will hinder the Navy’s ability to improve its situation, both materially and quantitatively, for the next several years.

According to AEI combatant commanders have only 62 percent of the attack submarines they need. It also is short of fighter planes. One example: Defense One  reports “The U.S. Navy says it needs about 30 new Super Hornets, but it has only funded two in the Pentagon’s 2017 war budget. It has listed 14 planes as “unfunded priorities” and money would be needed for an additional 14 planes in 2018.”

Air Force: The U.S. Air Force requires 1,200 fighter/ground-attack aircraft, but has only 1,113, many of which are overaged. The force is rated as marginal in capability and readiness, but strong in capacity. “the USAF’s accumulating shortage of pilots (700) and maintenance personnel (4,000) has begun to affect its ability to generate combat power. The Air Force … lack of ability to fly and maintain its tactical aircraft, especially in a high-tempo/threat combat environment, means that its usable inventory of such aircraft is actually much smaller. This reduced ability is a result of funding deficiencies that also result in a lack of spare parts, fewer flying hours, and compromised modernization programs.”

According to AEI, budget contractions have resulted in the current Air Force’s dubious honor of being the smallest and oldest in its history…as F-15/F-16 retirements outpace F-35 production. Another recent RAND war game showed it would require more fighter air wings than the Air Force currently fields in total to defeat a surge of Chinese aircraft over Taiwan.

Marine Corps: The USMC needs 36 battalions; it has only 24. It’s rated as weak in capacity marginal in capability and readiness. “The Corps continues to deal with readiness challenges driven by the combined effects of high operational tempo and low levels of funding. At times during 2016, less than one-third of its F/A-18s, a little more than a quarter of its heavy-lift helicopters, and only 43 percent of its overall aviation fleet were available for operational employment. Pilots not already in a deployed status were getting less than half of needed flight hours. The Corps’ modernization programs are generally in good shape, but it will take several years for the new equipment to be produced and fielded…the Corps has only two-thirds of the combat units that it actually needs, especially when accounting for expanded requirements that include cyber units and more crisis-response forces.”

The Nuclear Deterrent: [As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government has previously noted, Russia, for the first time in history, leads the world in nuclear weaponry.] The American nuclear arsenal is rated as weak in warhead modernization, delivery system modernization, and nuclear weapons complex, and marginal in readiness  and lab talent  It is only ranked strong in warhead surety and delivery reliability.  “Modernization, testing, and investment in intellectual and talent underpinnings continue to be the chief problems facing America’s nuclear enterprise. Delivery platforms are good, but the force depends on a very limited set of weapons (in number of designs) and models that are quite old, in stark contrast to the aggressive programs of competitor states. Of growing concern is the “marginal” score for ‘Allied Assurance’ at a time when Russia has rattled its nuclear saber in a number of recent provocative exercises; China has been more aggressive in militarily pressing its claims to the South and East China Seas; North Korea is heavily investing in a submarine-launched ballistic missile capability; and Iran has achieved a nuclear deal with the West that effectively preserves its nuclear capabilities development program for the foreseeable future.”

Russia has a larger nuclear capability than the U.S. China has more submarines and will soon have a larger navy. Both nations pose key threats to the U.S. Air Force, Notes the American Enterprise Institute. (AEI).  “…the [U.S.] Air Force has weakened relative to its adversaries. As China and Russia produce and export advanced air defense and counter-stealth systems alongside fifth-generation stealth fighters, the [U.S.] Air Force treads water, buying small numbers of F-35s while spending ever-larger sums on keeping F-15s and F-16s operational – though those aircraft cannot survive on the first-day front lines of modern air combat…Simply put, the armed forces are not large enough, modern enough and ready enough to meet today’s or tomorrow’s mission requirements. This is the outcome not only of fewer dollars, but of the reduced purchasing power of those investments, rising unbudgeted costs for politically difficult reforms continuously deferred, and a now-absent bipartisan consensus on U.S. national security that existed for generations.

In prior times of military crisis, the once-mighty U.S. industrial infrastructure was capable of rapidly turning out new ships, tanks, and aircraft. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, (AAM) that may no longer be the case. “U.S. national security is at-risk due to our military’s reliance on foreign nations for the raw materials, parts, and products used to defend the American people…With the closing of factories across the United States and the mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and other nations over the past 30 years, the United States’ critically important defense industrial base has deteriorated dramatically. As a result, the United States now relies heavily on imports to keep our armed forces equipped and ready. Compounding this rising reliance on foreign suppliers, the United States also depends increasingly on foreign financing arrangements. In addition, the United States is not mining enough of the critical metals and other raw materials needed to produce important weapons systems and military supplies. These products include the night-vision devices (made with a rare earth element) that enabled Navy SEALs to hunt down Osama bin Laden. Consequently, the health of the United States’ defense industrial base—and our national security—is in jeopardy. We are vulnerable to major disruptions in foreign supplies that could make it impossible for U.S. warriors, warships, tanks, aircraft, and missiles to operate effectively.”

One example cited by AAM: “The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company for the chemical needed to produce the solid rocket fuel used to propel HELLFIRE missiles. As current U.S. supplies diminish, our military will be reliant on the Chinese supplier to provide this critical chemical—butanetriol—in the quantities needed to maintain this missile system. HELLFIRE missiles are a widely used, reliable, and effective weapon launched from attack helicopters and unmanned drones. They are a critical component in America’s arsenal.”

The reduction in defense preparedness has been a factor in the continuing shortage of middle-income level jobs. The cuts continue to defense-related employment continues. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Boeing Co. said [on Nov.15 that] it would cut another 500 jobs over the next four years from its defense and space business by shrinking work at its Huntington Beach facility in California and closing two smaller plants in Texas and Virginia…Boeing’s defense arm has cut thousands of jobs over the past five years, a faster pace than reductions at a commercial airplane arm that have climbed in recent months as it faced tougher competition from Airbus Group SE.”

National Review summarized the condition of the U.S. military by quoting U.S. service chiefs at budgetary hearings earlier this year: “General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff at the time, reported that ‘readiness has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years. . . . Today we only have 33 percent of our brigades ready to the extent we would expect them to be if asked to fight.’ The chief of naval operations at the time, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, said, ‘Our contingency response force, that’s what’s on call from the United States, is one-third of what it should be and what it needs to be.’ The Air Force chief of staff, General Mark Welsh, said that if his airplanes were cars, ‘we currently have twelve fleets — twelve fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia. We must modernize our Air Force.”

President-elect Trump has pledged to increase the U.S. military and modernize the nuclear arsenal. According to the Washington Post “Trump’s win is good news for the defense industry, especially when coupled with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,’ said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who advises many of the nation’s top-tier contractors.”