US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.

Nov 30, 2017
B-52s Are Dropping Hundreds of Dumb Bombs in Afghanistan to Literally Shape the Terrain
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they bomb dope, too:
Combat Mission Sets New B-52 Smart Bomb Record
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, a bomber with a storied history dating back to the dawn of the Cold War, recently set a record for that airframe, dropping the most smart bombs ever on a combat mission.

The long-range strategic bomber, stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, carried out the mission in November in Afghanistan, according to
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Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, director of NATO's Resolute Support mission, future operations.
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The aircraft was equipped with a new device for launching munitions, he said.

"So, we've used -- so far, we've used B-52s with their new conventional rotary launcher," Bunch said Tuesday during a video briefing from Kabul to reporters at the Pentagon. "Of note, it was the single most -- largest number of precision munitions ever dropped from a B-52."

Over the course of the first night of an expanded strike mission -- called the new offensive campaign -- against the Taliban's revenue stream, B-52s released 19 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMS, against multiple targets, Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Capt. AnnMarie Annicelli told

"The JDAMs were variants of the GBU-38, to include the Low Collateral Damage Bomb version," Annicelli said in an email.

The operation took place in Helmand Province against narcotics facilities and an IED storage facility, she said.

The conventional rotary launcher allows the B-52 to carry more smart bombs.

"The first munitions released in combat from the [conventional rotary launcher] occurred on Nov. 18 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq)," Annicelli said. "However, this was the first use of the CRL in a major, deliberately planned operation."

Since January 2017, B-52s have dropped approximately 1,500 weapons (with about 50 percent unguided) in Afghanistan, AFCENT officials said.

The B-52 is designed to carry about 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance, including bombs, mines and missiles, according to the
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Empowered with more independence and authority under the Trump administration, the U.S. military this year has turned to a number of technologies in its arsenal for the war in Afghanistan, from the largest conventional bomb to the
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stealth fighter.

During the same offensive in November, the Air Force sent the F-22 on its first
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Earlier this year, the military
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in the U.S. arsenal -- the 21,600-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), nicknamed "mother of all bombs" -- in Afghanistan in the first-ever use of the munition in combat.

Despite the use of such technologies, however, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year, shows no signs of ending.

The Taliban are believed to remain in control of 13 percent of 407 districts in the country, with 43 percent of districts under the group's control or being contested, according to
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from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
Yesterday at 9:01 PM
New Navy secretary report criticizes service culture and top brass decisions
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an interesting read, "Spencer echoed the report’s recommendations calling on Congress to reassess the Goldwater-Nichols Act ... Changing that law could offer more direct control and ownership of Navy assets, Spencer said. ..." etc.:
and now noticed at BreakingDefense
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wants to change the law that’s governed the armed forces since 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act, to restore more autonomy to the services.

Only by letting the Navy say “no” to joint combatant commanders’ insatiable demands for deployments can the fleet get adequate training, ship
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, and crew rest, argues the
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— just
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— which Spencer commissioned after
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this summer. Only by exempting officers from mandatory joint assignments can they free up adequate time to master core competencies such as
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— sadly lacking in the recent collisions — and
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— long neglected given the focus on Afghanistan and Iraq.

(The full report contains many other recommendations, all of which we’ve excerpted in the summary below).

“Can we amend Goldwater Nichols?” Spencer asked. “Can we amend DOPMA?” That’s the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980, another fundamental law that the Strategic Review recommends amending. “In many cases corrective actions have the best intent in the world,” he said, “but many of the corrective actions never have a sunset provision.”

By subordinating the fractious services to the joint staff in the Pentagon and the joint combatant commanders around the world, Spencer acknowledged, Goldwater-Nichols did a great service in its time. But times have changed and the law must change with it, he said, echoing other advocates of reform from
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to Joint Chiefs chairman
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. The interservice coordination which the law sought to nurture has flourished and taken deep root over 30 years, he said, and now it’s time to give the services back some breathing room.

“Goldwater Nichols really did spur us into jointness, which we had to do. I think jointness is now in our DNA,” Spencer said. “We’re there, we’re living it.”

So, 30 years on, do the armed services still need to send so many of their up-and-coming officers to tours on joint staffs in order to be eligible for promotion? Or could many, even most officers be exempted from joint requirement so they can focus on their own service’s skillset?

“Do we need to have all the cross billets? Do we need to have everybody on the same path of jointness going forward?” Spencer asked. “Since jointness is now in our DNA, can we reassess what career paths have to look like with Goldwater-Nichols and DOPMA?”

Changing how the military grooms its future leaders would take years for its full consequences to be felt. The other big change Spencer wants, by contrast, would have immediate impact on operations around the world: “One of the things we want to see on the administrative side is more direct control by the Secretary of the Navy and the
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” over naval forces, he said.

Today the COCOMs request forces, and the services provide them. A joint process called the Global Force Management Plan (GFMP, pronounced “giff map”) balances supply and demand, in theory. In practice, as
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while the demand for deployments stayed constant, the Navy has felt compelled to cut short training, maintenance, and crew rest in order to keep enough ships at sea. The corner-cutting was at its worst in the Japan-based 7th Fleet, home of both the destroyers that suffered deaths this summer, but the problem is Navy-wide.

What was once unacceptable has gradually become routine, Spencer said, calling it “the normalization of deviation… putting the frog in the pot and turning the water up slowly.” A can-do culture — what the review, in fact, calls a “must-do” mentality — masked the risks the Navy was running to meet the mission until 17 sailors died.

“We’d turn around and say, yup, we can do this, (but) very few people understood the havoc it was wreaking in the organization behind us, because we weren’t signaling that to the White House and the Hill,” Spencer said. When the joint world asks for too much, the Navy needs to start, if not saying “no” outright, then at least laying out the negative side effects.

The most serious side effect is one that could kill many more sailors than 17: eroding readiness for major war. Since the Soviet navy went away in 1991, the US Navy has focused on supporting operations ashore — firing cruise missiles at terrorists and rogue states, sending carrier-based aircraft to support soldiers and Marines — and on providing “presence” around the world — training with partner nations, showing the flag in disputed waters. Training and equipment for high-intensity, large-scale operations has suffered. When three carriers exercised together in the Pacific
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, for example, it was the first time such a large force had trained as a unit in years. With the rise of Russia and China, the strategic review says, readiness for major naval battles against a powerful fleet must now take priority.

So, I asked Sec. Spencer, does that mean warfighting is now taking priority over presence? “You’re reading it right,” he said. “If in fact we’re steaming by somewhere to do the training, that’s presence. If we’re steaming by somewhere to do the training and make sure the pointy end of the spear is shiny, that’s presence and readiness for war.”

Not every naval assets needs to be a top-tier warfighting asset, Spencer caveated: It doesn’t make economic sense to send an F-35 stealth fighter to bomb a pickup truck full of terrorists, for example. The Navy needs a “high-low” mix of ships, aircraft, and so on, he said, but even the “low” must be capable of more than mere presence, he said: “The same ‘low’ must be able to surge in its area of expertise, so it’s not just painted to float around in the bay.” (He didn’t mention the
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, but there’s a big debate over whether LCS is such a capable low-end vessel or a mere presence patroller).

Spencer is far from the first important policymaker to recommend revisiting Goldwater-Nichols. It was the Navy, with a long tradition of institutional independence, that fought hardest against the original law in 1986. It was
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— a Navy veteran who’s the son and grandson of admirals — who put
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on the agenda in 2015.

Congress undid part of the act’s centralization of the Defense Department and
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later in 2015. Obama’s last defense secretary,
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in 2016. And since becoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford has proposed creating
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, cutting across the regional combatant commands.

But what Spencer and his Strategic Readiness Review are suggesting would go much further. It might be the biggest battle over jointness and the services since 1986.
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Yesterday at 9:01 PM

and now noticed at BreakingDefense
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... and here is the USNI News
Strategic Review: Navy Hasn’t Learned From Its Mistakes, Needs to Be Clear About Ship, Aircraft Readiness
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The Navy historically doesn’t learn from its mistakes, needs better command and control structures to operate the fleet, and needs to be more honest with Congress and the White House about the capabilities it can provide the nation, were key findings contained in a strategic review of the service released on Thursday.

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throughout the service that lead to the deaths of 17 sailors in the Western Pacific in two fatal ship collisions this year. The report found an underlying pattern of problems that have plagued the service since the end of the Cold War in 1989.

The review, conducted by former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Defense Business Board Chairman Michael Bayer at the request of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, found the Navy had slowly lost its ability to sustain a pace of operations over decades through top-down decisions that have had unintended consequences.

“The cumulative effects of well-meaning decisions designed to achieve short-term operational effectiveness and efficiencies have often produced unintended negative consequences which, in turn, degraded necessary long-term operational capability,” read the report.
“Simultaneously, Navy leaders accumulated greater and greater risk in order to accomplish the missions at hand, which unintentionally altered the Navy’s culture and, at levels above the Navy, distorted perceptions of the readiness of the fleet.”

The report outlines in detail how long-term training, readiness and maintenance needs were traded for short-term operational gain, which led to a condition Bayer and Roughead call “normalization of deviation.”

“With fewer resources available, ship crew workloads grew significantly, expanding their work days and weeks to unsustainable levels. Fleet level processes and procedures designed for safe and effective operations were increasingly relaxed due to time and fiscal constraints, and the ‘normalization-of-deviation’ began to take root in the culture of the fleet,” wrote Bayer and Roughead.
“Leaders and organizations began to lose sight of what ‘right’ looked like, and to accept these altered conditions and reduced readiness standards as the new normal.”

The pair said the degradation in readiness was accelerated, in part, by how the Navy interpreted tenets of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Act that created more overhead controls on the military and moved the warfighting decisions from the Navy to the global network of combatant commanders.

“Well-intended implementation decisions by the Navy did not adequately preserve and prioritize critical service operational skills, development and training,” the pair wrote.
“Staffs became distracted and inattentive to readiness and did not apply preventative measures to anticipate or address the increasing operational risk.”

Acting on the report’s recommendations, Spencer is now set to adjust the course for the service that faces more of a threat from near-peer competitors than it has since the collapse of Cold War.

“We have our near-peers out there now, and this is clearly driving this study,” Spencer told reporters this week without specifically naming Russia or China.
“We try and hit this as hard as we can by saying, due to the fact that we have this near-peer reemergence, we have to think about the way we’re applying assets because we’ve been fighting smaller regionalized [threats].”

For example, in its recommendations, the review calls for reestablishing the U.S. 2nd Fleet with an eye toward near-peer competition in the Atlantic and shutter the Navy’s 4th Fleet that patrols South America and the Carribean.

The effort from Spencer comes as the Pentagon as a whole is rethinking how it will fight its wars in the future as it develops its wider national defense strategy that will inform the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Spencer’s strategic review follows a more tactically focused comprehensive review into the surface forces in the Western Pacific that was directed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and conducted by U.S. Fleet Forces after the fatal collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John McCain (DDG-56).

Supply versus Demand

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the two-fleet construct of the Navy, the division of combatant commands and the request process that allows combatant commanders to request double the amount of missions that naval forces can actually provide.

Spencer spoke extensively to reporters on that last point, noting the importance of adhering to a supply-based force management system rather than one driven by regional combatant commander demands.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to make clear what assets they have that are ready to be deployed as part of the joint service Global Force Management process, and not allow combatant commanders to take more forces for short-term gain at the risk of long-term readiness, he said.

“We really have to have a clear communication with Congress and with the American public as to what we can do and what we can’t do. I don’t think that communication has been clear – not intentionally,” he said at the press roundtable.
“I think you’ve heard me say this before, this is an organization that’s biased for action, which you want in your military. It’s also an organization that can’t find the word ‘no’ that easily – that’s what you want, but it has to be balanced with sustainability, and that’s what we lost was the sustainability in the equation.”

The Fleet Forces-led comprehensive review earlier this fall noted the detrimental effects of the Navy running ragged to meet COCOM demands in the Pacific.

Spencer made clear at the roundtable that if the Navy felt it only had X-number of ready assets for COCOMs to task, the service should not allow itself to be forced to provide “X-plus-3, or 2X,” and that the chief of naval operations, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would be a primary enforcer of this supply-based model.

“I don’t view it as saying what’s less [that the Navy can do for the joint force], I tell them it’s viewing what we can do. And it’s sending a signal to say, if you want us to do more, we do need more,” Spencer said.
“We have to understand exactly what those effects are if we’re going to apply those resources. And that’s the conditioning I’m talking about, where before we’d turn around and say, yup, we can do this, and no one knew – well, very few people understood the havoc it was wreaking in the organization because we weren’t signaling that to the White House and the Hill.”

Though these force allocation issues do not fall under the secretary of the Navy’s portfolio, Spencer said he needed CNO Richardson to advocate them to the Joint Chiefs.

“It takes leadership. If in fact we don’t have the assets, we do not have the assets. If in fact national security is threatened, get us the asset,” he said.
“With the CNO as one of the [chiefs], he has the ability to go, here’s what we can do, guys, here’s what we can’t do. My question is, I want to make sure that that’s institutionalized instead of ad hoc. … If we can have clear inputs into the ready force model, it might be the perfect model. My question is, I don’t think we have clear inputs into that.”

In the event that that doesn’t work, the strategic review suggests that the Navy, “withhold a greater number of ready forces from the force allocation process to be used to respond to emergent requirements.”

Spencer did not comment specifically on what that potential course of action would look like.

He did say, “one of the things we want to see on the administrative side is more direct control by the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations when it comes to asset ownership and asset control. I realize that our job is to man, train, equip, supply and then we have our joint chiefs and the secretary of defense applying those assets, but to have a clearer command line as to how those assets are kept current” and ready.

... goes on below due to size limit
continuation of the above post:
Reemphasizing Readiness

The strategic review also notes the importance of reestablishing readiness as a priority.

Spencer’s overarching message on readiness was that the surface navy needed the same protections in place as the aviation and submarine communities to ensure readiness remains paramount regardless of global demand for forces.

“On the water has been around for centuries and centuries. Underwater is fairly new and so is in the air, and they come with regulatory constructs, so the communities have a pretty good check and balance system,” he said.
“We want to structure the same and offer the same to the surface warfare community, and it focuses on mastering of naval skills.”

That includes requiring surface warriors to keep logbooks noting their watchstanding experience.

One facet of the readiness rebuilding effort the review highlighted was creating an environment where sailors can truly master their naval skills.

“Automation and technological advances can reduce the number of sailors required to operate a ship but they do not reduce the need for deep naval mastery, in fact, quite the opposite. Smaller crew sizes increase the need for officers who are incentivized to invest in careers at sea,” the report reads.
“Over time, however, Navy choices in response to the combined effects of the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and Department of Defense guidance shifted the focus of officers’ careers toward more joint and broader experience at the expense of honing deep maritime operating skills.”

The review makes several recommendations aimed at allowing surface warfare officers to become masters of their trade with less distraction, such as requesting amendments to Goldwater Nichols that would require fewer joint force assignments, eliminating the fleet-up model and placing a shore tour between the executive officer and commanding officer assignments, and reviewing the number of department heads needed on a ship and the length of the department head tour.

The report recommends several changes to training and maintenance as well, including altering when operations and maintenance dollars expire, in light of the reality that most fiscal years are likely to start with a continuing resolution instead of an actual spending bill; adopting a Training and Readiness matrix similar to one that exists in the aviation community “to define what each ship must accomplish in each phase of training, the number of times it has to be demonstrated, how many times it can be simulated, and what the external grading criteria are for meeting the requirements for each level of certification;” and reverting back to longer maintenance availabilities instead of today’s model of continuous maintenance “to deal more efficiently with the impacts of emergent work and work delays.”

Command and Control

Bayer and Roughead also issued a call to improve how the Navy commands and controls its forces by increasing oversight in some areas and reducing layers of command in others.

“One of the things we want to see on the administrative side is more direct control by the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations when it comes to asset ownership and asset control,” Spencer said.

In particular, the pair found that dual-hatted positions in the Pacific and Atlantic were responsible for both maintaining and employing surface forces that created ambiguous chains of commands that constantly needed to be clarified to subordinates.

“The accumulation of these changes to organizational structures, command relationships, and multiple attempts to clarify command authorities suggests that a clean-sheet review is needed to identify the optimal administrative organization,” the report reads.

While Spencer said some recommendations in the report could warrant more in-depth study before implementation, he was clear that he was moving ahead with the clean-sheet study to that would take a top-to-bottom look at how the Navy is organized to manage its forces.

“We’re truly going to clean-sheet review the administrative side of the Navy and how we actually employ forces,” Spencer said.

Learning Organization

In order to process and learn from its mistakes, the Navy needs to become an organization that does a better job learning, the report concluded.

Bayer and Roughead cited a list of reports in their study that repeated the same themes and lessons on which the Navy did not act.

“Navy history is replete with reports and investigations that contain like findings regarding past collisions, groundings, and other operational incidents,” the report reads.
“The repeated recommendations and calls for change belie the belief that the Navy always learns from its mistakes. Navy leadership at all levels must foster a culture of learning and create the structures and processes that fully embrace this commitment.”
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Tuesday at 9:16 PM
"He also called on Congress to eliminate spending caps known as sequestration and approve a "clean" appropriations bill." etc.:
Trump Signs 2018 Defense Bill: Here's What It Means for You
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Full FY18 defense budget at center of latest government shutdown threat
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House Republicans are pushing ahead with plans for a defense-heavy funding bill that Senate Democrats have vowed to oppose, again raising prospects for a government shutdown, this time over the Christmas holiday.

Lawmakers have until Dec. 22 to pass a new budget deal or trigger a shutdown, which would result in shuttering of some federal offices, furloughs for some civilian employees and halted paychecks for most troops around the globe.

On Wednesday, appropriations lawmakers unveiled their latest legislation to avoid that and settle some of the unresolved budget issues for the current fiscal year, which began in October. The new measure would provide $640 billion for defense spending for fiscal 2018, another $2.1 billion to keep the Department of Veterans Affairs choice program operational through spring 2018, and money to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program until 2019.

But it also only includes funding for federal non-defense programs for four more weeks, until Jan. 19. Lawmakers would return from their holiday recess (scheduled to start around Dec. 21) to another round of fighting over proper levels of spending for domestic programs and non-military priorities.

House leaders hailed it as a responsible step forward to solve at least a few of the fiscal problems facing Congress.

“Our troops and commanders must have the resources they need right now to advance peace and our nation’s interests abroad,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said in a statement Wednesday. “This continuing resolution will fund national defense for the entire fiscal year and provide additional funds for missile defense.”

He said the budget fix is “not the preferred way to do the nation’s fiscal business” but added that it will “allow time for the leadership of the House and Senate and the White House to come to agreement on a topline spending level for this fiscal year.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he expects to bring the measure up for a vote next week, sending it to the Senate before lawmakers leave town.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said House Republicans shouldn’t bother.

“Every hour the House spends on (this measure) is an hour that we waste,” he said on the Senate floor Thursday. “If Speaker Ryan forces the House to go forward with the ‘cromnibus,’ it will fail in the Senate.”

Democrats have begun referring to the measure as the “Puntagon,” since it would pay for defense priorities but delay critical conversations on other federal spending.

The fight over military vs. non military spending dates back to 2010, when lawmakers approved spending caps on most federal departments in an effort to rein in the national deficit. Since then, Republicans have pushed for increases to defense spending while holding other programs flat, while Democrats have pushed for equal funding across the departments.

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated that lawmakers from her party won’t support moving ahead with military plus-ups on their own, since it will leave Republicans little reason to negotiate on the other issues.

“We are not opposed to the Pentagon getting what it needs to keep us strong,” she said. “But there are many national security functions within the domestic side, plus the domestic agenda.

(Republicans) need a serious plan for year-end, and we look forward to working with them in a bipartisan way. But what they’re doing right now won’t fly.”

Democrats don’t have enough seats in the House to block legislation favored by the Republican majority. But in the Senate, chamber rules give them the power to block the budget measure from a full floor vote.

Pentagon officials for months have been pleading with lawmakers to settle the budget fights, complaining that a series of short-term fixes disrupts program funding and prevents them from launching new initiatives.

A government shutdown could be even more disruptive.

In 2013, when the last partial government shutdown occurred, military operations overseas were given funding priority with office closings and program halts confined to bases far from the front lines. But daycare and commissary services were not deemed essential to department operations, forcing curtailed hours and closures at those facilities. Civilian workers deemed non-essential spent the shutdown at home without pay.

Troops paychecks continued in 2013, but only because of special legislation passed by lawmakers hours before the shutdown.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called Democratic opposition to the defense-heavy budget measure a dangerous strategy.

“Opponents of this bill argue that we should put our urgent national security needs on hold until we reach a similar consensus on a whole host of other domestic programs,” he said in a statement. “That is the approach we have taken for the past six years and the results are indisputable: the number of our troops killed in training accidents is increasing, our military capabilities are eroding, our enemies have become emboldened, and America is less secure.

“To continue to use defense funding as a political football in the face of these undisputed consequences is irresponsible.”

But Democrats countered that Republicans are using the military for political purposes, abandoning the framework for a two-year plus-up in defense and non-defense spending in favor of a one-sided budget ploy.

Both sides are expected to continue work on the issue before votes early next week, when the countdown clock to the next shutdown threat shifts from days to hours.

in short (the link is
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Budget Crisis Averted, Until Next Week
The new budget deadline: Dec. 22. Absent a yearlong deal or short-term continuing resolution, or CR, the government will shut down on Dec. 23. Merry Christmas! Byron Callan at Capital Alpha Partners has issued new odds:
  • 10 percent probability of a budget deal by late December
  • 55 percent probability of a shutdown from Dec. 23 through early January & then a CR through late January or early February
  • 35 percent probability of a CR by Dec. 22, avoiding a shutdown.
Now, some better news for defense watchers. President Trump signed the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which OKs $692 billion for the Pentagon. But without Congress passing an appropriations measure, it’s pretty moot.
Tuesday at 9:04 PM

an interesting read again, just I think their second point is delusional LOL
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Defense programs are expensive. Each country’s military has a long list of capabilities that they want to invest in, and most militaries operate within a fiscally constrained environment.

While the capabilities that militaries seek may differ, there are broad areas where common interests emerge. For example, several countries may want to invest in a new fighter jet; a country’s air force and army may share the need for a new attack helicopter; and naval commanders may each plan to procure a new surface combatant to fulfill their assigned missions. This environment of fiscal constraints and common interests often leads to a bad idea: combine multiple
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into one pursuing a Swiss army knife approach to weapons development.

At first glance, this approach has several benefits: resource allocation can be more targeted, there can be fewer complex contracting arrangements, and government officials can reduce the number of programs that they oversee. Perhaps most importantly, this approach promises to increase economies of scale, which serves to drive down costs as the quantity of production increases. Fixed costs can be distributed among more units and variable costs can be reduced as a program has more time to move along the learning curve. Notable examples of programs combining multiple capabilities that had traditionally been separated into distinct programs include:
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    : a fifth-generation fighter to meet the future needs for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as for other country’s air forces. This program involved the
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    (a conventional fighter, short takeoff and vertical landing fighter, and a carrier-specific fighter) each built from the same fundamental design.
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    a U.S. Army program involving many manned and unmanned systems. While
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    , they were combined into a single program in order to be linked together by a set of new technologies.
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    : a U.S. Navy program to produce
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    with modules capable of fulfilling different mission areas. As a result, the same vessel design could serve a range of functions including antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures, amphibious and surface warfare.
While the benefits of this approach are compelling, combining multiple defense acquisition programs with unproven technologies into one program is generally a bad idea for several reasons.

First, major new defense programs tend to rely on the development of unproven technologies. Even a few straightforward requirements, such as a higher level of engine thrust or improved stealthiness, can end up being tremendously difficult to accomplish. And, because these new technologies are untested at a program’s inception, it is also difficult to determine how long the development process will take. When one combines multiple capabilities that have traditionally been separate, the acquisition process often becomes substantially more complex.

The process of integrating distinct capabilities into one program introduces important tradeoffs in time and cost. On one hand, the contractor can deliver a product that meets most of the performance requirements, within the general time frame and cost constraints. The final product can deliver on most of the required capabilities, but can perform none of them exceptionally well. On the other hand, the contractor can deliver a product that achieves all performance requirements exceptionally, but any development delays will lead to time or cost overruns. And, by jamming multiple R&D projects into one, the likelihood of this happening is much higher. Consequently, the result is often a product that: (1) doesn’t sufficiently meet the needs of each customer; or (2) takes too long and costs too much for the customer. If either of these are the result, it risks jeopardizing the rationale behind a Swiss army knife approach in the first place.

The key rationale often used to justify a Swiss-Army-knife approach is to increase economies of scale, thereby decreasing per unit costs as the program moves down the
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. However, when development problems result in a product that falls short of the customer’s expectations, there’s an increased likelihood that the customer will decrease (or even cancel) planned buys and the learning curve will be truncated. The nature of these large acquisition programs is to bring together a wide range of customers and stakeholders. This creates a dynamic where each group is less influential in determining the final product. But they all influence the degree to which economies of scale are ultimately achieved. If any partner decides to cancel or reduce its planned buys, then the unit cost will increase for all of the other partners on the program. Other customers may then become more inclined to decrease their planned buys, leading to a programmatic death spiral. Consequently, the promises of economies of scale may fall short.

Second, this idea poses a threat to competition. After the Cold War, defense budgets fell, leading to industry consolidation. Today, there are a limited number of companies that can provide defense products and services to the Pentagon. This is especially true for capabilities that require advanced weapon technology, where only a handful of prime contractors compete. Below the prime contractor level, this is also true for some components, where only a few subcontractors can produce individual weapon parts. A Swiss-army knife approach further incentives consolidation and can reduce competition within the industry base.

Combining multiple programs into one not only decreases the number of acquisition programs, but also results in situations where a single contractor becomes responsible for entire sectors of the defense industry. Moreover, given the scale and duration of major acquisitions, potential competitors are left on the sidelines for years and risk losing the ability to compete in the long-term. For example, when
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won the Joint Strike Fighter contract, it not only became the company to build the next-generation fighter jet; it also won an effective monopoly in the U.S. fighter jet market for the first half of the 21st century. This approach creates a winner take all environment.

During the 2008 financial crisis, government officials determined that the failure of certain large banks would pose a systemic threat to the entire financial system. A similar situation exists within the U.S. defense acquisition system. For the foreseeable future in the U.S., only one company will build fighters, one company will build bombers, one company will build tankers, one company will build destroyers, one company will build aircraft carriers, and the list goes on.

Given the consolidated nature of the U.S. defense industrial base, the failure of certain large companies could pose a systemic threat to the entire U.S. acquisition system. Moreover, this problem also exists at a smaller level. The failure of some acquisition programs could also pose a systemic threat. Not only are there single companies responsible for key acquisition programs, there are sometimes one company capable of fulfilling those programs. In part, this situation is attributable to the nature of defense contracting and fiscal constraints. But, with a winner take all result, a Swiss-army approach undoubtedly worsens this situation.

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. While the immediate appeal of a Swiss-army knife approach is tempting, the risks of this approach have the potential to far outweigh the benefits. Promises of economies of scale are often overoptimistic and the threat of diminished competition will always be an issue.

Traditionally distinct acquisition programs should be combined into one only when the technologies involved are mature and well-tested, and when the development risk is minimal. If this is the case, policymakers will still need to decide whether the benefits of a combined program outweigh the consequences of reduced competition, or whether there should be multiple contractors. When the technologies are not mature and well-tested, the U.S. should build systems that can be adapted to incorporate these technologies in the long term. But, these technologies should not be allowed to become a bottleneck that slows acquisition and threatens the entire program.
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now noticed Analysis: Trump's Security Paper Offers Stark Vision of Global Rivalry
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President Donald Trump's "America First" vision is a stark worldview that sees rivals battling each other for supremacy or relevance and has little use for alliances, treaties and other international agreements unless they directly benefit the United States, its industry and workers.

Trump's doctrine, to be laid out next week when he unveils his National Security Strategy, holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike.

While the administration often says that "America First" does not mean "America Alone," the NSS to be presented by Trump on Monday will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to sources familiar with the strategy.

If fully implemented, the strategy could represent a profound shift from the traditional post-Cold War approach to global affairs taken by administrations of both political parties over the past three decades. With few exceptions, those administrations have embraced or sought to embrace multilateral cooperation and engagement.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump's strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two sources familiar with it.

The strategy is largely drawn from themes Trump has described in speeches and is based on four pillars: protecting the homeland, stimulating American prosperity, promoting peace through strength and enhancing American leadership.

It is rooted in Trump's belief that competition rather than cooperation defines the current global environment, the sources said. An excerpt of the strategy seen by The AP emphasizes that America has often fought to protect its interests.

"America's achievements and standing in the world were neither inevitable nor accidental," the draft says. "On many occasions Americans have had to compete with adversarial forces to preserve and advance our security, prosperity, and the principles we hold dear."

National security adviser H.R. McMaster outlined the four pillars of the strategy in a speech earlier this week in which he declared that "geopolitics are back and they are back with a vengeance."

He said the new strategy, the first of Trump's administration, would identify threats to the United States and its interests from "revisionist powers" like Russia and China, "rogue regimes" like Iran and North Korea, and non-state actors like terrorist groups and criminal enterprises. In that, the strategy is not dissimilar to those of previous administrations.

But the sources, who fleshed out McMaster's preview on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly pre-empt Trump's speech, said it would emphasize that U.S. economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the U.S. is only interested in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

In addition, the strategy will say that staying competitive and successfully defending U.S. sovereignty starts with protecting America's borders and controlling who may cross them.

"Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law," the draft says. "Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses. The United States affirms its sovereign right to determine who should enter our country and under what circumstances."

The early draft of the strategy lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multi-national agreements, such as those aimed at combatting climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them. That draft downplayed the national security risk of climate change and emphasized the costs to the U.S. economy of environmental and other regulations aimed at mitigating it.

It was not immediately clear if the climate change language would be in the final version of the strategy.

The sources said the document would identify predators and pledge that the U.S. would treat them as such.

China, for example, is to be chided for allegedly manipulating the rules-based international economic order for its own advantage and Russia for campaigns to disrupt democratic processes in former Soviet states, Europe and the U.S.
Today at 7:47 AM
... and here is the USNI News
Strategic Review: Navy Hasn’t Learned From Its Mistakes, Needs to Be Clear About Ship, Aircraft Readiness
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... related:
Navy in 30-Year Decline; Overhaul Needed, SecNav Review Finds
A review launched by
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Secretary Richard V. Spencer after four major ship mishaps in the Pacific, two of them deadly, traces a path of service readiness and capability decline that stretches back to the end of the Cold War.

Published Thursday by the Navy, this Strategic Readiness Review recommends dramatic changes to the way the service operates, from how it interacts with and receives tasking from the joint force to how it employs surface officers and manages risk.

The 96-page report was compiled in 90 days under the supervision of retired Adm. Gary Roughead, the 29th chief of naval operations, and Michael Bayer, two-time chairman of the Defense Business Board. A dozen companies and organizations, including Boeing, Maersk and Delta, also consulted on the report.

Tracing a path from the post-Cold War "peace dividend" of the 1980s to the readiness shortfalls and costly mistakes of today's Navy, the report finds a "normalization of deviation" prevalent in the service.

Errors, lower standards, and near-misses are accepted, rather than dealt with, creating an inferior new status quo, according to the document.

And some of the problem, the report finds, is a numbers game. The Navy shrank from 529 ships in 1991 to 316 in 2001 to its current fleet of 279. And yet, the report notes, the service has kept the same roughly 100 ships
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at all times through the decades.

"Within the fleet, often the only option to meet those growing demands has been short-term trade-offs in training, manning and maintenance," Spencer told reporters at the Pentagon recently. " ... We were overdrawing our account, and it became a normalized thing to do."

23 Recommendations
A number of the 23 recommendations contained in the report are designed to protect the Navy from such capacity overdrafts.

It recommends, among other things, that Global Force Management -- which facilitates communication between the services and the combatant commanders about asset availability -- establish the maximum supportable peacetime force and put limits on what forces can be additionally requested.

It also calls for possible changes to the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which reorganized the structure of the military to establish joint control and empowered U.S. combatant commanders to dictate how troops are requested and employed.

Spencer acknowledged that amending or modifying a long-standing law would not happen easily.

"Corrective actions have the best intent in the world. But many of the best corrective actions never have a sunset provision or an amendment provision without a lot of pain," he said. "Goldwater-Nichols did really spur us into jointness. We have to mature it and migrate some aspects of it to get best performance out of our governance structure."

Spencer said the Navy also wants to revisit the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act to allow the service to assert more control over its officers' career paths.

"One of the things we want to see on the administrative side is more direct control by the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations when it comes to asset ownership and asset control," he said.

"I realize that our job is to man, train, equip, supply, and then we have our vice chiefs and the [defense secretary] applying those assets, but [we want] to have a clearer command line as to how those assets are kept current and in fighting force and readiness," Spencer said.

More Training, Restructured Career Paths
Some of the report's recommendations focus on a key finding of investigations into the surface ship collisions and other mishaps: Navy surface warfare officers often lack proficiency due to
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The report recommended that career paths be restructured to give SWOs more practical experience aboard ships.

It calls for an end to the "fleet-up" model in which an executive officer completes a tour at a given command and then immediately begins a commanding officer tour at the same unit.

And it recommends that officers be required to maintain a career record of watch-standing hours and operational evolutions for surface ship watch-standers, to make it clear exactly how much experience an officer has in a given role.

No 'Zero-Defect' Culture
The report also pushes the idea of a learning organization that catches failures and errors early and changes course accordingly.

The document cites examples from corporations of a "zero-defect" culture, where omissions and safety violations are sometimes covered over to avoid hurting the careers of those responsible.

"This zero-defect mentality led to a lack of appreciation among corporate leaders concerning the number of near-misses that were occurring and might have proved useful as leading indicators of future potential problems," the report states.

Spencer said the service would look for ways to catch these early signals of problems before major disasters occur.

"We have to make the shift to leading indicators," he said. "We want to talk about near misses."

Navy leaders are "digesting" the recommendations of the strategic review, Spencer said. Of the recommendations approved for implementation, some might take months, others years, he said.

Spencer declined to point to a certain time when he believed his strategic review should have occurred to avoid the fatal mishaps of 2017.

"A learning organization would have never had the study," he said.
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Yesterday at 9:52 PM
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... related:
Navy in 30-Year Decline; Overhaul Needed, SecNav Review Finds
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and here's what SeaPowerMagazine has to say:
SECNAV Readiness Review: Clear Accountability Must Be Restored
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The Navy needs to adjust its cultural course to correct the root causes of the readiness shortfalls that had been made evident in a series of mishaps at sea, the new secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) said, including re-establishing clear chains of command and a restoration of accountability.

The Strategic Readiness Review (SRR), commissioned by Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sept. 1 and released on Dec. 14, was conducted by a team of government and industry executives to determine root causes of the readiness deficit in the Navy, in view of the collisions in 2017 in the U.S. Seventh Fleet that cost the lives of 17 Sailors.

Speaking to reporters in advance Dec. 13 at the Pentagon, Spencer said that Navy leaders have “incurred greater and greater risk” through “short-term tradeoffs in training, manning and maintenance.”

He said the “risk, up until now, had been of little consequence” because the size of the fleet, living off the build-up of the Cold War, which resulted in 529 ships in 1991. With today’s 279-ship battle force — being built up to 318 ships — the Navy is too small to meet the requirements of the combatant commanders and is run too hard to sustain the readiness and maintenance needed to maintain warfighting excellence.

“Over the past three decades the Navy has maintained a fairly consistent number of ships on deployment despite a large decrease in the total number of ships available,” the SRR’s executive summary said. “This resulted in roughly doubling the percentage of the fleet deployed. The net result has been a dramatic increase in the operating tempo of individual ships, and accompanying reductions in the time available to perform maintenance, training, and readiness certification. The growing mismatch between the supply and demand of ships taxed fleet personnel and consumed material readiness at unsustainable rates.”

Spencer criticized the “normalization of deviation,” summarizing that the Navy “has overdrawn its account.”

He also said the Navy must address command and control, which he said has become blurred over the years since the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act was implemented in the 1980s. The issues include the relationship between the Navy and the combatant commanders it supports and the requirements that officers pass through joint assignments in their careers.

The 30-year period covered by the review “also saw frequent reorganizations within the Navy, which altered time-tested processes for force generation and employment,” the SRR noted. “These replaced tightly aligned responsibility, authority, and accountability with redundancies, overlapping responsibilities, inconsistencies, and ambiguities. These reorganizations led to a growth in headquarters structures with misaligned authorities, complicated command and control responsibilities, and diffuse accountability structures. With the growth of headquarters, and staff-centric promotion parameters, staff service began displacing service at sea as a significant driver of officer career paths, assignments, and promotions. The growth in new compliance requirements, generated by additional staffs and headquarters, competed with enduring core readiness requirements and activities. Additionally, congressional direction grew exponentially in breadth and detail, diverting attention of senior leaders away from vital responsibilities for readiness.”

“We have to get back to clear command and control and accountability,” Spencer said.

“We’re there, we’re living it,” Spencer said of jointness with the other services, noting that in the 30 years since Goldwater-Nicholls was implemented it now is “in our DNA.”

Nevertheless, he said that the Goldwater-Nicholls requirements need to be reassessed and that the burdens it applies to the global force management and officer career paths may need adjustment ensure that the Navy can meet requirements and that officers receive the tactical experience needed for warfighting excellence before moving on to a joint staff assignment.

The SRR listed four over-arching recommendations:
■ Re-establish Readiness as a Priority: The creation of combat ready forces must take equal footing with meeting the immediate demands of Combatant Commanders. Sufficient time for training crews and maintaining ships is critical for restoring and monitoring readiness.
■ Match Supply and Demand: There must be a greater appreciation for the reality that only so many ships and Sailors can be made available in a given operational cycle. The Navy must establish realistic limits regarding the number of ready ships and Sailors and, short of combat, not acquiesce to emergent requirements with assets that are not fully ready.
■ Establish Clear Command and Control Relationships: The Navy must realign and streamline its command and control structures to tightly align responsibility, authority, and accountability.
■ Become a True Learning Organization: Navy history is replete with reports and investigations that contain like findings regarding past collisions, groundings, and other operational incidents. The repeated recommendations and calls for change belie the belief that the Navy always learns from its mistakes. Navy leadership at all levels must foster a culture of learning and create the structures and processes that fully embrace this commitment.

“This is going to be a seminal input into the U.S. Navy,” he said. “I want to jump-start the process. … The leadership of this is imperative.”

Spencer briefed staff members of the defense committees on Dec. 13 and was scheduled to brief members of Congress Dec. 14 on the review.

The Strategic Review can be read in its entirety at:
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Lieutenant General
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‘Stingers’ mark 100 years in style

The 112th Fighter Squadron ‘Stingers’, assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, celebrated 100 years of service this year, with the unit dating back to August 18, 1917, when it was activated as the 112th Aero Squadron. Long-time CA contributor Jim Haseltine has just flown with the unit to record its specially-marked aircraft for the anniversary.

Today, the squadron flies the F-16C Block 42 out of Toledo Express Airport, Ohio.

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