Thursday, May 03, 2018

US Army bungling it's chance for modernization? EVERY SERVICE has already lost its chance....

via Forbes.
The U.S. Army's opportunity to carry out the first comprehensive modernization of its combat equipment since the Cold War ended may be slipping away. That opportunity was created by the election of President Donald J. Trump in 2016, but now the budget walls are beginning to close in, and the Army is taking too long to get its act together.

The latest evidence that the Army may be headed for yet another false start on modernization was provided by the Secretary of the Army himself, Mark Esper, in remarks Monday at the Atlantic Council. As reported by Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners, Secretary Esper stated that the service plans to prioritize readiness until 2022, and then turn to the procurement of a new generation of combat systems.

By that time the Trump defense buildup will be over, and money for new weapons will be far down the list of congressional priorities. We know this because Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan has already stated that defense spending will be "flatlined" after this year and recent tax cuts have saddled the nation with trillion-dollar annual deficits beginning in the fiscal year commencing October 1. With rising inflation likely to greatly increase the cost of carrying the federal debt, Army modernization will become a bill-payer for other priorities (editor's note...the ENTIRE DoD budget will be targeted for other priorities...the block buy of F-35's???  Ain't happening in the budget environment I see after 2020...they took too long to get it into service much less make it work!). 

Past experience indicates that military buildups seldom exceed five years in duration, and the Army's schedule for turning new ideas into fielded weapons requires much longer. So the current reorganization of Army buying commands aimed at revitalizing the nation's preeminent ground force looks unlikely to fare much better than past flourishes at modernization such as Force XXI, the Army After Next and the Objective Force.

Secretary Esper referenced these and other missed modernization opportunities in his confirmation hearings before the Senate last year, but he doesn't seem to have learned the obvious lesson they provide: buy new weapons fast, because the window of opportunity only remains open for a brief time.

Because Army leaders seem unable to assimilate this lesson, not one of the Pentagon's top-ten weapons programs today is an Army effort. The Air Force is simultaneously buying a new fighter, a new bomber, a new tanker, a new trainer and a new intercontinental ballistic missile. The Army is mainly buying upgrades of combat systems that first saw service several decades ago, while it debates what genuinely new weapons it should be developing. Its plans may not gel before the money runs out.

It's not that the Army lacks a clear idea of where the gaps are in its current capabilities. It needs artillery and missiles with more range; rotorcraft with greater speed and reach; a more resilient battlefield network; better air defenses; and a next-generation combat vehicle that can deliver superior firepower, mobility and protection. These are the areas where other "great powers," meaning Russia and China, are catching up. But the Army's schedule for buying new weapons is much too leisurely to stay ahead of the threat.

And as I said, the budget walls are already beginning to close in. Every one-percent increase in inflation translates into over $200 billion in additional costs each year to carry the debt the government has accumulated. With annual deficits and inflation rates rising, it is obvious that the federal budget will go haywire just about the time the Army is ready to bend metal. Factor in the likely return of Democrats to power, and you have a prescription for yet another lost modernization opportunity.

There's only one way out of this conundrum, and that's to accelerate the purchase of new combat systems that are already in the pipeline, evolving those systems in response to changing threats and technology as they are fielded. The Army has little to lose by switching from revolutionary to evolutionary modernization, because its past efforts to make great leaps forward have tended to be failures, and its fundamental approach to warfighting isn't really changing all that much.
Story here. 

Thompson gets it...well sorta, but he misses the bigger point.

The blind support for the F-35 has allowed that ONE WEAPONS SYSTEM to gobble up the Pentagon.

The Army is in a catch 22.

They know they need to get shit done and with a quickness,  but they're hamstrung by the go-along get-along, kumbaya bullshit that the services have been singing lately.

Only recently have we heard REAL talk about the future threat.

For too long the conventional ground side of the house bought the nonsense that we would be involved in anti-terror efforts for another 100 years and that nation state warfare was a thing of the past.

Under those circumstances the idea of standing pat with the Abrams for another 50 years made sense, but reality is an evil bitch...and so are the Russians and Chinese. 

They've watched the stagnation in the West and instead of following suit have pressed forward.  So we've seen the exact opposite of what we're doing.

Dramatic improvements in the field of armor and artillery, along with steady and consistent improvements in their air arms.

Where are we at now with the grand plan to buy F-35's at the expense of everything else?

A strike fighter that can't do air superiority, ground forces that will be menaced by enemy air and/or artillery...and still no common sense on what the future fight will really entail.

Remember the talk years ago about resource wars?

Instead of formulating ideas on how to fight in those locations that feed and sustain populations we've seen the Pentagon pivot to the SOCOM chestnut of fighting in urban/built up areas.


But back on task.

There was never gonna be a sustained build up in the defense budget.

The American people are tired of war and the insane/stupid/unjustifiable ops tempo that the Pentagon started to justify increased funding changed no minds.

The sad reality is that these two years of plus ups should have been used to put houses in order.

The ground should have been laid for incremental buys of weapon systems over a number of years with improvements to those in service kept pace with changes coming off the production line (yeah I'm pointing to the mess that the MV-22 revealed).

Additionally the day of reckoning has come with the bloat that is the Pentagon. Scalpels should be pulled out of the drawer and fat cut where found.  By every unit everywhere.

In other words they shouldn't ask for another dime till they demonstrate fiscal discipline.

Long story short?  I want a strong military but as things stand I can't feel sorry for the Army or any other service.  They put themselves in this box and only real work will see them climb out of it.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.