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Sunday, February 20, 2011

NYT and the Defense Budget

The Editors at The New York Times today gave us their views on the Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  They make some very good points, but some other points leave me wondering if they understand defense planning and budgeting.  For example,
The $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has already seen costs per plane nearly double from the amount originally budgeted. It should be cut back.
Cutting back a program like the F-35 only runs up the cost per aircraft produced.  If you think we don't need this aircraft, recommend it be killed, now.

Then there is the whinging over the US Marine Corps EVF
Mr. Gates’s proposal to cancel the Marine Corps’s costly and unworkable Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will save $11 billion in future costs. But $3 billion has already been needlessly spent.
Sunk costs don't count.  They are already spent and gone.  The $3 billion are not part of the equation and should not be thrown up to obfuscate the problem.

Later on, after saying
Air and sea power that can be readily mobilized are vital to American security.
The editors call for this:
Updating the formula to reflect a more realistic division of labor would wring significant savings from the Air Force and the Navy while protecting the Army and the Marines from the multiple combat tours that have strained service members and their families over the last decade.
The problem is that the editors fail to appreciate that it takes a lot longer to crank out a Navy Battle Group or a couple of Air Force Wings than it does to create a new Army Division or Marine Regiment.  We should not mortgage our future by foreclosing future options by scrimping today.

But, most important, the comments and cuts are presented without ANY suggestion of what the forces are for.  Strategy is about
matching objectives, threats and opportunities in a resource constrained environment
What are the objectives and threats that the New York Times envisions?

Regards  —  Cliff

  On the other hand, we have made commitments to other nations regarding this aircraft, and some have provided money for the production, which suggests this is not just something for us alone.

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