Very few will take a stab at this, so I will give it a go, and see what Sen. McCain's view on the armed forces were prior to 9/11. We must remember that this was in the heady downtime that Sen. McCain helped by getting a 'peace dividend' of cutting US force size and support, while President Clinton was going on multiple overseas ventures in: Somalia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Haiti. This was heavily criticized by many in Congress.
In Somalia the House looked early on at supporting suspending aid to Somalia after the coup by Siad Barre, and his military killing 5,000 innocents (H. Con. Res. 207 starting 03 OCT 1989) which would escalate to any legal assistance for humanitarian aid and protection of UN security guards and relief efforts in a few years (H.Con.Res. 370 08 OCT 1992). By 10 NOV 1993 HR. 3116 on the DoD budget passed by both Houses would state the following
(1) the United States entered into Operation Restore Hope in December of 1992 for the purpose of relieving mass starvation in Somalia;
(2) the original mission in Somalia, to secure the environment for humanitarian relief, had the unanimous support of the Senate, expressed in Senate Joint Resolution 45, passed on February 4, 1993, and was endorsed by the House when it amended S.J. Res. 45 on May 25, 1993;
(3) Operation Restore Hope was being successfully accomplished by United States forces, working with forces of other nations, when it was replaced by the UNOSOM II mission, assumed by the United Nations on May 4, 1993, pursuant to United Nations Resolution 814 of March 26, 1993;
(4) neither the expanded United Nations mission of national reconciliation, nor the broad mission of disarming the clans, nor any other mission not essential to the performance of the humanitarian mission has been endorsed or approved by the Senate;
(5) the expanded mission of the United Nations was, subsequent to an attack upon United Nations forces, diverted into a mission aimed primarily at capturing certain persons, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 837, of June 6, 1993;
(6) the actions of hostile elements in Mogadishu, and the United Nations mission to subdue those elements, have resulted in open conflict in the city of Mogadishu and the deaths of 29 Americans, at least 159 wounded, and the capture of American personnel;
and (7) during fiscal years 1992 and 1993, the United States incurred expenses in excess of $1,100,000,000 to support operations in Somalia.
Basically, the idea of 'peacekeeping' in Somalia cost $1.1 billion over two years (about $1.65 billion in 2008 dollars, or the equivalent of two years in Iraq), and, by the end of it, was a Presidential venture that wasn't backed by Congress. Things were starting to get out of hand by 1996 as seen in the DoD authorization passed that year in HR 1530, skipping down to Title XIII looking at peacekeeping:
(a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:(b) POLICY.—It is the sense of Congress that—
(1) The President has made United Nations peace operations a major component of the foreign and security policies of the United States.
(2) The President has committed United States military personnel under United Nations operational control to missions in Haiti, Croatia, and Macedonia that could endanger those personnel.
(3) The President has committed the United States to deploy as many as 25,000 military personnel to Bosnia- Herzegovina as peacekeepers under NATO operational control in the event that the parties to that conflict reach a peace agreement.
(4) Although the President has insisted that he will retain command of United States forces at all times, in the past this has meant administrative control of United States forces only, while operational control has been ceded to United Nations commanders, some of whom were foreign nationals.
(5) The experience of United States forces participating in combined United States-United Nations operations in Somalia, and in combined United Nations-NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, demonstrate that prerequisites for effective military operations such as unity of command and clarity of mission have not been met by United Nations command and control arrangements.
(6) Despite the many deficiencies in the conduct of United Nations peace operations, there may be unique occasions when it is in the national security interests of the United States to participate in such operations.
(1) the President should consult closely with Congress regarding any United Nations peace operation that could involve United States combat forces and that such consultations should continue throughout the duration of such activities;
(2) the President should consult with Congress before a vote within the United Nations Security Council on any resolution which would authorize, extend, or revise the mandate for any such activity;
And as Bosnia-Herzegovina is brought up, it does get some criticism, too taken 13 DEC 1995 Congressional Record DOCID:cr13de95-74 (the first part of that here):
(Sen. Frist) In the absence of vital national interests, a lack of clear mission has combined with the lack of support of the American people, and we have faced a loss of American life. We have ended these missions without reaching our goals, without achieving any semblance of peace and democracy, and at great cost to the real mission of our Armed Forces: To be ready to defend, with overwhelming force and resolve, the real threats to our life, liberty, and well-being--or those of our allies. Again, Mr. President, we need only look toward our recent experiences in Somalia and Haiti.
In each of these instances, United States and Presidential credibility is offered as a reason such ill-conceived initiatives cannot be opposed. In the case of Bosnia, the Congress and the people are not even given the opportunity to approve or disapprove--but simply to give our approval and comment after the fact. Some argue that this is the President's prerogative under the Constitution, but it is not a shining moment in the life of American democracy. We are asking America's finest men and women to face possible death for a commitment outside of our national interests.
That is Sen. Frist speaking against President Clinton's late night sending of US forces to Bosnia. In Section 8124 of the DoD budget for FY '96 Congress would specifically deny funding to any non-Congressionally approved mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina via the funds transfer mechanism. The problem was, of course, that US involvement in Bosnia only marked a way point in the Balkan Conflict which would flare up again in Kosovo. It is in that atmosphere that Sen. McCain came up with speech on Ready Tomorrow: Defending American interests in the 21st century on 20 MAR 1996. It has a very forward looking cast to it, particularly when looking at it early on:
The potential threats to our national security interests today and in the future are different from those of the cold war; they are less deterrable by traditional means and often less easily defeated. We no longer face a superpower threat from the former Soviet Union, although we must be `prepared to prepare' to defend against an emerging major power threat. We must deal with a wide range of lesser threats throughout the world, including: regional and ethnic conflicts in which the United States could easily become involved; the rise of extremist and radical movements; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them; the increasing capability of individuals and nations to attack us through our dependence on technology, particularly information and communications systems; and finally, both domestic and international terrorism.
Each of these are, indeed, key points in the 21st century and high marks for that. Yet, when it comes time to actually address them, Sen. McCain starts to go into the realm of 'fiscal realities':
In this effort, we cannot ignore the fiscal realities of our debt-ridden Federal Government. Planning for our future military capabilities must be tempered by a realistic view of fiscal constraints on future defense budgets, without allowing those constraints to become the dominant factor in our decisions about future defense requirements. We must be prepared to accept the cost of being a world power. In short, we must focus on the most cost-effective means of maintaining the military capabilities necessary to ensure our future security.
Mr. President, we now face a significant gap between our force plans and the resources available to implement them. By 1995, the defense budget had been cut by more than 35 percent in real, inflation-adjusted dollars in just 10 years. Independent assessments of the cost of the BUR force show that it exceeds the funding levels dedicated by the current administration in the Future Years Defense Program [FYDP] by $150 billion to $500 billion.
One of the 'fiscal realities' is that the federal government had already bitten off far more than it could chew in Social Security, Medicaid, subsidies to big business, and, indeed, a raft of social and economic programs that expanded government quickly and beyond the means to pay for them. Those 'fiscal realities' were budget busters then and *now*, and will slowly eat up most of the consumable budget within two decades. Before that point in time the US Federal Government will not have money to spend on much of anything outside of those programs without extreme and draconian taxation and interference in the economy.
This is the problem with old-style 'fiscally responsible' Republicans who believe that when government takes on any new responsibility not given to it by the Constitution, that the government should never, ever give it back. This is the view that government must slowly, inevitably, take over anything that is given to it forevermore, and the first place it shows up in a representative democracy is *not* those things devoted to 'government services' or 'entitlements', which garner votes, but to the basic area of defending the Nation: defense.
A bit further on Sen. McCain comes to this point:
- Over the past 5 years, we have reduced our military manpower levels by more than half a million people. After a dangerous trend 3 or 4 years ago of declining military readiness, there is now broad agreement that we have restored current levels of operational activity and readiness of the smaller BUR force. However, we have done so by foregoing the modernization programs required to ensure the effectiveness of that small force.
- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has repeatedly warned that procurement accounts are seriously underfunded, and the Vice Chairman has said we face a `crisis' in weapons procurement.
Because of the modernization crisis, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has set a procurement funding goal of $60 billion per year. However, the President's fiscal year 1997 defense budget includes only $39 billion for procurement--nearly $5 billion less for procurement than was projected in the previous year's budget and far short of the Chairman's target. The administration now projects the $60 billion procurement funding goal will not be reached until the year 2001--3 years beyond the Chairman's target.
Mr. President, there is a dangerous long-term impact of postponing essential force modernization programs. America's future military readiness hinges on our ability to retain technological superiority over any potential adversaries. We have already seen some reduction in United States capabilities to fight in a single contingency such as the Persian Gulf. The continuing failure to invest wisely in military modernization programs has put our future readiness at risk.
This part would, unfortunately, come to bite the US far faster than Sen. McCain or anyone in the 1990's could have believed possible. I examined this in the realm of specialized warfare, but it would spread far beyond that in just a few, short years after Sen. McCain gave this speech. Those readiness levels would decline, as seen at the DNI site with a report by a Senate staffer in 1997 after visiting the NTC and JRTC, two major training centers for the armed forces:
Army-wide Shortages in Key Personnel
Despite high operating tempos and work loads, both OPFORs at the NTC and JRTC were described as fully manned, enjoying high esprit de corps, and having retention rates at least as good as the rest of the Army, if not better. For the units rotating into the NTC and JRTC—i.e. the Army's combat units; that is to say, the heart and sole of the Army—there is a very different story. I was told the following:
Units coming to both training centers frequently do not come with many of their sub-unit commanders; these have frequently been assigned to peacekeeping missions or other deployments that separate them from their units. As a result, sub-units—from basic squads on up—do not train with the commanders that they would go to war with. When this happens, it violates a key dictum of readiness and one of the basic points of having the NTC and the JRTC: the Army should “train just as you go to war.”
At the NTC, units rotating in typically come with a 60% shortage in mechanics and a 50% shortage in “mounted” mechanized infantry (in their Bradley APCs). These were described as “Army-wide” shortages: they were demonstrated by virtually all the units coming to the NTC. These shortages were described as due to these personnel, especially the mechanics, being deployed abroad for missions such as Bosnia. On average, all Army personnel now spend from 180 to 220 days of each year away from their home base, and families, on deployments. This average used to be about 165 days per year. According to Army testimony to Congress, the increase in these deployments is for peacekeeping missions.
At the JRTC, units were described as typically missing 25% of their basic infantry: mostly junior enlisted personnel with combat military specialties and mid grade non-commissioned officer (NCO) personnel. This was described as a recruiting problem and specifically not because of deployments such as Bosnia.
In actuality, these problems may be worse than indicated here. I was told at the NTC that the NCO shortages are often temporarily addressed by pulling junior NCOs into the unfilled senior and mid level slots to make more complete units for training purposes. At the JRTC, because one third of each brigade's junior enlisted and NCO personnel do not deploy for a rotation, it is possible that gaps in the units that do deploy are filled with those that would otherwise stay home. I was told this is not occurring; however, I am skeptical that it never happens.
The worrying part of this is that the multiple 'peacekeeping' missions of President Clinton, even before adding in Kosovo, had started to strip out readiness from the US Army across the board. What Sen. McCain was seeing was not there and the warnings by the JCS would come home to roost very, very quickly. This was bad enough, at the time, but would get worse with the diversion of Kosovo, and by NOV 1999 the US Army would have to announce that two entire Divisions, 10MD and 1ID, had fallen to the lowest levels seen since Vietnam. The impact would not be long-term, but would side-line the 10th Mountain Division until late 2001 and it would not be the spearhead into the one mountainous region that did contain an enemy that would attack the United States: Osama bin Laden operating out of Afghanistan. Any Mountain or Alpine Division is a specialized and premier fighting force, maintaining levels of training and morale far and above normal forces, as they will fight in areas where 60 or 70 degree shifts in temps in a couple of hours are not unknown, and where altitude sickness can kill you as assuredly as a bullet can. Those choices made by Congress in the early 1990's to get a 'peace dividend' and then to not support the armed forces properly through the early Clinton years were already showing up.
By the year 2000 another investigation would look at what had happened to the 10MD in particular:
Summary Findings and Conclusions
The character, enthusiasm, and professionalism of the officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and enlisted men and women in the 10th Mountain Division is impressive. The 10th Mountain Division is officially rated by the Army at a level that lends support to General Shelton and the other respondents to candidate Bush's assertion of non-readiness. Strenuous efforts of the 10th Division's personnel are manifest to make it as effective a combat unit as resources permit. Various unit commanders expressed a willingness and readiness to take on and perform effectively any mission assigned, as has been the case in the past.
However, beneath the favorable overall readiness rating and an understandable - and professional - expression of confidence by various commanders, and despite all the hard efforts of the officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel, the 10th Mountain is today experiencing multiple, serious shortages of people and material resources, training deficiencies, and other impediments to readiness, a large number of them resulting from policies imposed by Washington.
The issues include the following:From these findings and the data presented below, it is concluded that,
Incomplete manning in many combat and support units, sometimes to the extent that important secondary - if not primary - missions cannot be performed and/or primary mission performance is degraded. Moreover, because of Army force structure decisions, what is normally one-third of a US Army division's combat strength (an entire ground maneuver brigade) does not exist in the 10th Mountain Division.
Gaps in the leadership of the Division throughout its hierarchy, such that enlisted personnel are frequently doing the work of sergeants, lieutenants are doing the work of captains, captains of majors, and so on. Also, in cases where a position is occupied by an individual of appropriate rank, that individual may be less experienced than in the past or than experienced personnel - in and out of the 10th Division - deemed sufficient.
Training deficiencies that include less satisfactorily trained personnel received from Army training or personnel trained on equipment not assigned to the division, and incomplete opportunities to overcome these training inadequacies.
Non-availability of various equipment , training ammunition shortages, and funding shortfalls for facilities.
Various policy directives and allocation of resources from Washington (i.e.: from the civilian and military leadership of the military services and the Department of Defense and from Congress) that either impede readiness or that are ineffectual at addressing known deficiencies.
A lack of inquiry by various entities to collect on-the-ground, empirical information on the condition of the 10th Mountain to establish what basis candidate Bush may have had for his statements and/or to verify the statements of General Shelton, Secretary of Defense Cohen, Vice President Gore, and others.As stated by a 10th Mountain soldier at Fort Drum "There are two different armies; the one described in Washington, and the one that exists." And, from another, "There is a mind-boggling difference between the division that Washington DC describes and what exists in 10th Mountain." And from still another, "The [Division] only looks good on paper."
Sen. McCain would address the problems of trying to fight two Major Regional Conflicts (say Iraq and North Korea) simultaneously and propose something different:
In conducting a reassessment of our future force requirements, we should focus on a flexible contingency strategy supported by an affordable, flexible force. Our force planning should provide, at a minimum, sufficient levels to decisively prevail in a single, generic MRC. At the same time, we must recognize the existence of many lesser threats and maintain the capability to inflict unacceptable damage on an adversary should one or more of these threats materialize.
This more realistic approach to future force planning will eliminate the gap between our current strategy and fiscal reality. While planning for a flexible force with the ability of fighting a single MRC, possibly together with one or more lesser threats, may necessitate the acceptance of some additional risk in certain areas, it is far better than to plan for forces and capabilities that will never materialize within the limits of likely future defense budgets.
Considering that Congress and the President couldn't even plan for the forces they *had*, a fiscally responsible view might have looked like: don't send troops where Congress won't support them, pay attention to overhead & maintenance, ensure training, and ensure rotation of troops.
You know, the basics?
The things which weren't being done before, during and after Sen. McCain's speech?
The viewpoint isn't half bad, really, but as economics is not a 'strong suit' for Sen. McCain, perhaps he should have looked, instead, to the *rest* of government for 'fiscal responsibility'?
Now, from another realm, I will offer a bit of viewpoint: specialized forces are generally cheaper to keep, but less adaptable, and adaptable forces are more broadly useful but require larger cash outlays.
Why is this?
First, specialized forces can keep their eye on the few things they need to do well and then accept the need to rely on other forces in combat (this is also true of many production based environments). By making forces 'more adaptable' you then up the amount of training required to get that adaptability and the overhead & maintenance of that force to keep that adaptability going. So, when you want 'an affordable, flexible force' you are generally looking at a much smaller force size, overall, if your budget is set. Even in the era of Moore's law, most equipment does not come that adaptable across a variety of environments, from triple canopy tropical to high elevation sub-arctic. To train across those requires more time and energy, and a longer lead-time for those forces. And while putting more capability in via internal force structure is an excellent idea, as seen with the Stryker units now operating in a realm never imagined for them, the time, cost and training to get those up and running is long.
In theory you should be able to cut costs by utilizing Moore's law, but by integrating more into the system you add more to the cost of the equipment via that integration. It *can* be done, don't expect it to be cheaper, however.
Here is where the problems come from, a bit further on in Sen. McCain's speech:
Naval vessels should be self-sustaining and have significant offensive capability while providing for their own defense. Automation of weapon systems and support equipment aboard these vessels should be pursued to minimize the number of personnel required to produce an efficient, lethal fighting platform.
Sen. McCain had already experienced the 'ballooning cost' problem of weapon systems through the 1980's and early 1990's, with some never getting out of development as the projected delivery costs were skyrocketing. And the US Navy has it the worse as a ship is already a highly integrated system: when you add more complexity to it, the costs go up very, very quickly. At the National Defense site, a 2007 article on the cost of the Littoral Combat Ship and its escalating costs lets us take a look at a what a lower personnel, highly integrated ship actually costs:
A combination of escalating costs and uncertain procurement plans have raised questions about the Navy’s ability to keep the LCS afloat, analysts warn.
“It’s clear that Congress is really worried about this program,” says Robert Work, senior naval analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The littoral combat ship is the Navy’s new surface combatant for operations in shallow, coastal waters. There are two designs under construction, one by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the other by General Dynamics.
Touted as an inexpensive warship, the LCS originally had been advertised at $220 million per hull. The Navy intends to buy 55 of them in an effort to build its fleet to 313 ships from 277. But in recent months the price tag has more than doubled, setting off alarms among lawmakers.
Navy officials requested $910 million for three ships in the 2008 defense budget. But after significant cost overruns materialized in January on the first-of-class ship, Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter amended the request, asking for two ships instead of three.
Congressional leaders have voiced their concern over the price increases in their defense spending deliberations.
In the House, lawmakers passed a bill that gives the Navy $710.5 million for two LCSs. The Senate’s committee on armed services took a more drastic measure, cutting the Navy’s budget request by almost half in its recommendation of $480 million for one LCS.
The Navy lacks a warship that can operate effectively in coastal waters. To fill the gap, the LCS was conceived in a few short years to fight in the near-shore environment in anti-submarine, anti-mine and anti-terrorism warfare.
In an effort to expedite the ship to the fleet, the Navy set the LCS on an aggressive construction schedule that has contributed to the cost overrun problems on both lead ships.
The Navy has since proposed to restructure the LCS program to keep the ship on track and within budget. But analysts say it could be difficult to veer the ship back on course because the program is already three ships behind.
This is *exactly* the type of vessel that Sen. McCain touted in 1996: a modular, low crew, modern vessel that didn't cost all that much. Instead, by trying to add in *more* to the ship, the cost has risen from $220 million per hull to $480 million per hull, with only ONE delivered so far. This problem is not limited to the LCS, however, as the Navy also has a problem with a Destroyer replacement, as seen a Strategypage on 25 APR 2007:
Meanwhile, the modern destroyers have grown to the size of World War II cruisers. Actually, some of the larger destroyers are called cruisers, even though they are only 10-20 percent bigger than the largest destroyers. The latest ships in the U.S. Navy's Burke class destroyers weigh 9,200 tons, cost $1.5 billion each to build, have a crew of about 330 sailors, carry 96 (a combination of antiaircraft and cruise) missiles. There's only one 5 inch gun, but two helicopters. These modern destroyers could take on any World War II cruiser and win, mainly because the cruise missiles have a range of 1,500 kilometers. A Burke class ship could probably defeat a World War II battleship, although we'll never know for sure since one of those heavily armored ships never got hit by a modern cruise missile. In effect, the U.S. Navy has settled on just three major combat ship types; aircraft carriers, destroyers and nuclear submarines.
The problems is that these new "destroyers" will be very large ships, and will cost over $2 billion each. At the same time, the new LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) is sort of replacing the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. The Perrys are 4,100 ton ships that would cost about $200 million to build today. The big difference between the frigates and LCS is the greater use of automation in the LCS (reducing crew size to 75, versus 170 in the frigates) and larger engines (giving the LCS a speed of about 90 kilometers an hour, versus 50 for the frigates.) The LCS also has a large "cargo hold" designed to hold different "mission packages" of equipment and weapons. The Littoral Combat Ship is, simultaneously, revolutionary, and a throwback. The final LCS design is to displace about 3,000 tons, with a full load draft of under ten feet, permitting access to very shallow coastal waters, as well as rivers. This is where most naval operations have taken place in the past generation.
Max range is 2,700 kilometers. Built using commercial "smartship" technologies, which greatly reduce personnel requirements, the LCS is expected to require a crew of about 50 in basic configuration, but will have accommodations for about 75 personnel. The ship is designed for a variety of interchangeable modules, which will allow the ships to be quickly reconfigured for various specialized missions. Crews will also be modularized, so that specialized teams can be swapped in to operate specific modules.
And this year at Strategypage, the recent numbers look *worse*:
February 16, 2008: A year ago, the U.S. Navy admitted it was having problems with its Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, and fired the naval officer (a captain), who was the program manager. These ships were originally touted as costing $220 million each, plus perhaps a $100 million more for the "mission packages" that would be installed as needed. Currently, the ships alone are expected to cost about $640 million, and the program is still in trouble.
In general, the navy is not happy with the performance of American ship builders, and the LCS problems are just another reminder. Costs are rising sharply, quality is down and the admirals can't get satisfactory answers from the manufacturers. For example, the new class of destroyers, the DDG-1000 class destroyers have also faced ballooning costs, up to as much as $3 billion per ship, as opposed to planned costs of $800 million. The current Arleigh Burke-class destroyers only cost $1 billion each.
That cost is going up much faster than inflation, and trying to meet up with the expansion of programs like Social Security... going up nearly 300% in cost in less than a decade, the LCS is in real trouble, and the mission packages are *still* not fully priced out. At the Open Congressional Reports site on CDT they have a summary of the cost of the next generation aircraft carrier:
The Administration's proposed FY2003 defense budget requests $243.7 million in advanced procurement funding for CVNX-1, an aircraft carrier that the Navy plans to procure in FY2007. The FY2003 budget request includes additional research and development funding for the ship. The Navy plans to gradually evolve the design of its aircraft carriers by introducing new technologies into CVN-77 (an aircraft carrier procured in FY2001), CVNX-1, and CVNX-2 (a carrier planned for procurement around FY2011). The Navy estimates that CVNX-1 will cost $2.54 billion to develop and $7.48 billion to procure, bringing its total acquisition (development plus procurement) cost to $10.02 billion. The Navy estimates that CVNX-2 will cost $1.29 billion to develop and $7.49 billion to procure, for a total acquisition cost of $8.78 billion. A Defense Science Board task force is currently assessing how aircraft carriers should serve the nation's needs in the 21st century; it is to report its findings by the end of March 2002. This report will be updated as events warrant.
In theory that is how it should go, if the design can be relatively well set-up before procurement begins and *nothing* gets changed as it goes along. That, however, may turn out to be just the problem with the CVNX program, as seen at Globalsecurity:
The Navy concurred with the March 2007 GAO assessment, but emphasized that a lengthy construction period provided additional time to mature technologies. The Navy noted that technology readiness was closely managed through proven design processes, risk assessments, site visits, and contracting methods to ensure adequate maturity. Specific attention was given to requirements, legacy system availability, technology readiness, affordability, schedule, and return on investment. In addition, initial construction efforts aimed at validating new designs, tooling, and construction processes were already under way.
In the report the Navy also stressed that the decision to delay the program in 2006 had not been related to technology maturity, weight, or stability issues.
By a March 2008 GAO assessment, five of 15 current critical technologies were fully mature, including the nuclear propulsion and electric plant. Six technologies were expected to approach maturity, while four others would remain at lower maturity by construction contract award. Since 2007, the Navy had eliminated an armor protection system from CVN 78, but was evaluating use on follow-on ships, and the air conditioning plant and automated weapons information system were no longer considered developmental. Of CVN 21's technologies, the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), the advanced arresting gear, and the dual band radar (composed of the volume search and multifunction radars) present the greatest risk to the ship's cost and schedule. By January 2008, 76 percent of the design was complete. Challenges in technology development had the potential to lead to delays in maintaining the design schedule needed for construction.
And that is what happened to the LCS, DDX, and, now, apparently CVNX, although how much leeway in building and design there is on something like and aircraft carrier will be interesting to follow. Again, this next generation CV platform will be more 'multi-mission' in its outlook - but that design integration comes at a price, which is nearly double that of the current Nimitz class carriers. The longer-term lifetime cost is supposed to help, but that has yet to be demonstrated.
This is not a new problem as many of these articles point to previous cost over-runs during the 1970's and 1980's with DoD procurements that underwent similar cost inflationary moves. When any change to procurement via changes in technology, changes in procurement length (trying to stretch out a procurement to lower the per year cost) or in plain numbers to be procured happens, each of those brings the cost per each item on an upward escalating cycle. Any change to the contract allows the contractor to then give the cost of those changes to the government. Whenever you want a deviation from the contract, no matter how trivial, the cost moves up. This was true of the B-1, B-2, Stealth Bomber, and current stealth fighter aircraft, along with ground-based systems such as the Paladin artillery replacement which skyrocketed in cost due to constantly changing government requirements until that follow-on was canceled. Stepping over the interim technology, by the incoming Bush Administration, was an attempt to get rid of those programs which were put in during the 1990's and then changed, extended, or shortened due to the end of the Cold War.
This is seen in the section on the Air Force which is highly forward looking, but ignored development time for weapons systems:
Air power: Air power that can be quickly deployed and engage the enemy with devastating effect is a critical element of any future force structure. Our air assets must be maintained at the forefront of technology in order to pose a viable threat to our enemies.
Our tactical aircraft must have the capability to deliver precision weapons on enemy targets. Multimission platforms and maximum firepower per platform should be absolute requirements, as the cost of aircraft continues to climb at an enormous rate. Precision-guided stand-off weapons, such as cruise missiles, will increasingly become the weapon of choice for their ability to attack enemy targets without endangering air crews and expensive platforms.
Procurement of self-protection equipment is both necessary and cost-effective. Every effort should be made to build upon existing electronic and other countermeasures, including expendables.
At the same time, we should explore opportunities to increase the use of remotely piloted vehicles [RPVs] and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs]. Both RPVs and UAVs offer great potential to provide a cheaper, more effective means of gathering information and delivering ordnance, while minimizing risk to our air crews.
We must act now to resolve the issue of strategic versus tactical bombers. We must maintain a viable offensive capability at an affordable cost. Therefore, we must carefully consider cost versus capabilities in assessing the effectiveness of our strategic and tactical bombers in a conventional role. Current information supports a decision to cap the B-2 bomber program at its present fleet size and give higher priority to precision-guided munitions and improved tactical fighter/bomber forces.
This causes some problems as the strategic/tactical accords of the post-WWII Key West Agreement were never examined. Yet it is here that Congress, in its procurement and regulation role of the Armed Forces, should have weighed in and heavily. Changes in what will be procured by Congress inevitably changes force structure, readiness and capability which are to be guided by military needs as seen by the armed forces, but leavened by the National needs of the US against foes or possible likely foes in the future. That is part and parcel of the Congressional procurement system: addressing the overall needs of the Nation, not just the armed forces.
Here Sen. McCain makes a major blunder in his conception of wanting a 'multimission' platform and yet have 'maximum firepower per platform': that is one very expensive aircraft even in thinking about it. When added to the view of wanting to separate the strategic/tactical situation, what this calls for is a platform that can either be a maximum air firepower or maximum ground (Combat Air Support or CAS) firepower or multimission with reduced capability in each of those roles. Which does Sen. McCain want?
The CAS role was then and TODAY filled by the A-10, which was procured in the 1970's... you can't get more in the way of maximal, flexible, on-demand, firepower than an A-10, really. We could use more of them and hand that role over to the ground forces... but that is Key West, again.
A maximal firepower air supremacy platform was then filled by the F-14 and would be filled by the F-22/35 Stealth Fighter... and find a world of few air opponents in the Stealth realm and they are too expensive to deploy into CAS roles. So you have a highly flexible platform for air supremacy that can't be deployed because cheaper, non-stealth systems do a great job once there is no air combat around. And the time to repair/refit a stealth system is enormous, and so the trend towards Hangar Queens of the 1970's, of aircraft spending as much time in maintenance as they did in the air, continued to shift to the maintenance side.
There there is strategic/tactical bombing, which, today, sees the B-52 delivering precision guided munitions because *it* has long loiter time and is multimission. And paid for. The joke that has gone around is that we now need a B-767 for even longer loitering of more, yet smaller, precision guided munitions. The B-2 and B-1 have both played roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the old workhorse because it can carry so much and so efficiently with lower cost and time in the hangar is the B-52.
Sen. McCain was forward looking in the UAV/UCAV arena, but no one expected them before 2010. Plus Key West shows up *again* in the USAF wanting control of these while the ground forces want quickly deployable INTEL assets. Here it is conflict that drove the necessity of having such platforms more than strategic guidance by Congress. Having them developed and being able to deploy a few showed their utility and delivered a crying need for tactical and theater level INTEL that just could not be had from the strategic/space based platforms. This coupled with the PGM concept are both stand-outs for Sen. McCain while the inability to address the problems of strategic/tactical systems and understand that a 'maximal firepower' platform could be robust and *cheap* without being multimission, while a multimission one, by having to address so many mission types, made it liable to higher per unit cost. Apparently we are now coming down to the need for a generic, long loiter 'bomb delivery platform', CAS, air supremacy stealth fighters and bombers plus mixed mode/multimission UAV/UCAV platforms.
On to the ground forces as seen by Sen. McCain:
Ground forces: As our overseas basing continues to decline, we must reassess our requirement for large ground-based forces. This will require greater emphasis on allied capabilities for ground combat missions. U.S. ground forces must be readily deployable, requiring a reassessment of the balance between heavy and light forces. Greater emphasis and reliance on smaller, lighter, and more automated systems may be appropriate.
We need to retailor both our active and reserve forces to concentrate our resources on forces we can rapidly deploy or move forward within a few months. We do not need units, bases, reserves, or large stocks of equipment that we cannot project outside the United States without a year or more of mobilization time.
Information technology will continue to revolutionize the battlefield, giving ground commanders unprecedented levels of situational awareness on the battlefield. We must ensure that resources are dedicated to providing these essential technological enhancements.
Our ground forces must be properly equipped to maintain superior offensive and defense capabilities. Increased night warfighting capabilities, increased survivability of tanks and heavy artillery, and improvements in antiarmor defenses are particularly important. Increased capability to detect, defend, and survive in a biological or chemical warfare environment is absolutely essential.
This is, actually, quite good, with Congress to assert its role in restructuring the armed forces. That, like the procurement end, is the Congressional role in regulation of the armed forces, so this is looking at the proper role of Congress in this context. The reducing in the bases and stockpiles, however, does ignore one salient problem: actually supplying troops in the field.
While DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) was undergoing a revolution using IT, with Fedex and UPS as guidance, what is required is that when Congress actually authorizes the use of the armed forces overseas it *must* have stockpiles of consumables *ready* beforehand. While the armed forces and logistics delivery end, the actual production end is ignored in this view. To get quickly ramped up production of necessary goods Congress must ensure that enough contract support and 'emergency production contracts' are laid out within the US industrial base. This was not done in the 1990's and so by the time we get to Iraq, the list of things that were 'out of stock', as in not produced, started to mount: bullets, batteries, body armor, actual rifles/carbines/pistols, HMMVs, HMMV armor, dust protection equipment.
If you want a highly deployable, small and flexible force one must supply the depth to *have* such a force. Even without new weapons, like the Barrett M-107/82, or the problematic integrated weapons platform like the OICW, just having enough M-16's and M-4's around with ammunition was proving to be a problem, along with HMMVs, first introduced in the 1980's. By not doing its job to ensure industrial capacity, Congress would seek to get lighter, smaller, flexible armed forces that are forced to trade weapons to those rotating in as they don't have enough equipment. Congress would not do this in the 1990's, even with a Republican majority, and so when the time for going back into Iraq to finish the job rolled around... you know, one of those 'known conflicts' that we had studied for a decade... we did not have the necessary supplies to ensure that the armed forces had what they needed. Of course we got Congresscritters standing up to decry the supply problems, which they had caused.
Finally that 'emphasis on allied capabilities' would be placing reliance on the only Nations cutting their defense budgets faster than the US: our overseas allies who had come to depend on us for their security.
I will skip over the sections on Special Forces, heavy lift and missile defense, save to point out that defense of space based assets, like INTEL and communications satellites, is not addressed. Those are key to strategic weapons and are assets in maintaining an advantage over future opponents.
From here Sen. McCain would then address a Three Tier Readiness system for the armed forces:
Tier I--Forward-Deployed and Crisis Response Forces: In peacetime, our forward-deployed military forces support our diplomacy and our commitments to our allies. Our forward military presence takes the form of fixed air and ground bases that are home to U.S. forces overseas, and our forward-deployed carriers, surface combatants, and amphibious forces. Some special operations forces are also forward-deployed, both at sea and ashore. Reserves become part of the equation through our military exercise programs.
Tier II--Force Buildup: History shows that crises can usually be resolved or contained by the deployment of only a small portion of our military capability. In the past 50 years, the United States has responded militarily to crises throughout the world over 300 times, but we have deployed follow-on forces in anticipation of a major regional conflict only 5 times. These include the forward deployment of United States troops in Europe at the onset of the cold war; the deployment of forces to Korea in 1950; the deployment of forces in response to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962; deployment to Vietnam in the 1960's; and deployment to Southwest Asia in 1990.
Tier III--Conflict Resolution: In only three of the cases mentioned above--Korea, Vietnam, and Southwest Asia--were we engaged in sustained conflict, requiring a large-scale deployment of United States forces.
Forces that seldom deploy must be maintained and available to ensure that we have the force superiority to prevail in any conflict. Conflict resolution forces include those that deploy late in the conflict because of limited airlift or sealift, and the finite capacity of the theater to absorb arriving forces. Also included are the later-arriving heavy ground forces, naval forces that have not already deployed, and air forces that become supportable as airfields and support capability in theater expands.
The reason he looks at this is that Congress has been unwilling to foot the bill to have forces at high degrees of readiness across the board. Yes, this is institutionalizing a problem created by Congress.
The highest readiness forces are Tier I, in this schema, which would consist of those forward deployed, which would be about 1/3 of PACOM, most of CENTCOM and a lesser percentage of EUCOM and SOUTHCOM. Or roughly 1/3 of the armed forces would be maintained at this state of readiness.
Tier II is to be ready in 'weeks rather than days', and have significantly lower readiness coming from CONUS. This is basically the majority of active forces plus that section of the National Guard and Reserves maintained with equivalent equipment, although fall to a somewhat lesser status due to their less than full time activity level. They are follow-on only after initial activity by Tier I forces.
Tier III are the 'peace keepers' and those backing places such as S. Korea, Philippines, and doing joint counter-narcotics and COIN work overseas. These are to be deployed 6 months or more after a conflict starts overseas.
Strangely Sen. McCain then adds this proviso:
Finally, we must reexamine the practice of maintaining combat units for which there is either no identified requirement under our national military strategy, or which cannot be deployed to a theater of operations until after a time certain following the outbreak of a conflict--perhaps 9 months to a year. We should not be spending scarce defense funds on combat forces which do not significantly enhance our national security.
Which is what happened: we did not spend money on forces designed to enhance our national security. We did spend *lots* of money on bi-athlon tracks in Alaska, all sorts of 'bullet proof vests' for police officers, and ignore those units deployed in the field for long periods of time like the 10 MD and 1 ID. When it finally came to Afghanistan, the 10 MD was not 'ready to roll' and it IS a national security asset being able to quickly deploy to parts of the planet that normal forces can't train for easily, which would mean that by the time things were having to be tracked down we were at Tora Bora. No one expected things to go that quickly in the 'graveyard of empires' with the 'brutal Afghan winter' bearing down.
Then there is Iraq.
For all the supply problems, deficiencies, political oversights and just pure blindness towards conditions, when Sen. McCain got up in 2003 to say we needed COIN against Ba'athists when it was al Qaeda doing the worst damage in different areas than he wanted to have COIN, and our troops were not TRAINED for it, I have a severe problem and heartburn. That is a critical national asset called: training and readiness for that role. If you want a force to hit the ground able to do COIN you need at least a year of preparing for it, if not more. How do we know this? Look at the period from 2004-mid 2006. That is how long it took the basics of COIN to start deploying *before* Gen. Petraeus got there. His manual was just being finished, draft copies sent out to the armed forces and training was starting to adapt *then* before he got the thing published. What had happened during the 1990's is that SOCOM and some of the higher status units in the regular forces got such training, but they were limited by force understanding to get their jobs rolling. Even then some of those did outstanding and unheralded work in Anbar province, which would prove key in turning Iraq around.
Like with equipment, if you want well trained, multimission soldiers, you must expend more per soldier and keep a higher level of capability with those soldiers so that they can perform those missions. By not seeking to address the actual, real problems of the 1990's and, instead, institutionalize them, Sen. McCain was ensuring that our logistics supply train would fail at *production* not delivery and that the cost per unit for 'multimission' ships and aircraft would skyrocket because of the complexities involved in their design and construction. And by frequently changing role and mission, that would change design specifications and increase the per unit cost of every piece delivered.
Finally, the need for faster, lighter and better prepared troops is necessary up and down the line. You cannot tier readiness unless you want forces with training and no equipment or equipment and no training. Training is very, very costly and yet it IS the national asset we put back into the armed forces. By keeping the talent, training it, challenging it to keep up with a changing world, the US invests heavily in its own protection. Those decreasing outlays by Congress starting in the mid-1980's and going through the 1990's yielded results that could be expected: uneven at best, difficult to transition and maintain at worse. Those problems in Iraq and Afghanistan did not start with the Bush Administration of 2000, but date back through the Clinton, Bush 41 and late Reagan Administrations with a bi-partisan Congress more than ready to ignore its job and duty to the Nation and cut back on force size, readiness, supplies and backing.
We saved much money during those years.
And we have no right to complain in the cost in dollars and blood for our misguided outlooks then.
We got what we wanted via our elected Representatives.
And what we deserved.