Monday, April 6, 2009

Defense Budget Marks Shift in Military Priorities

There's a lot of attention to the news today that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed a dramatic reshaping of the Pentagon budget. The New York Times has a big story in this, and see the additional commentary at Memeorandum.

By chance, I found the story earlier at Business Week, "
Defense Budget Reflects Shifting Priorities":

F-22 Raptor

U.S. military spending cuts urged by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Apr. 6 represent a fundamental shift in military priorities and strategy that could save large sums of money for the government. But even though a number of high-priced weapons programs are being pegged for the scrap heap, investors seemed relieved that cuts had not gone deeper. They also seemed heartened by the prospect of gains on other projects—and possible restoration by Congress of at least some of the money for programs such as the F-22, whose builders astutely spread production across 44 states.

Gates aims to slash elements of many weapons programs in a manner not seen in Washington for decades. Among them: the Future Combat Systems program, the F-22 Raptor, an $11 billion satellite network for the Air Force, and the nation's missile defense program, refocusing the latter on the "rogue state and theater missile threat." Many of the programs have faced substantial cost overruns, and military strategists now question their necessity.

Other systems were terminated entirely, including the Multiple Kill Vehicle, the Transformational Satellite program, and a second airborne laser prototype aircraft.
The lefties are loving it! (See here, here, here, and here, for example.)

But see also, "
Pentagon Chief Rips Heart Out of Army's 'Future'."

If Gates wants to shift military emphasis to fighting small wars on the periphery, the new focus in fact might well shore up one of the historically more vulnerable areas of America's strategic primacy, the "contested zones" of international conflict. See Barry Posen, "
Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony."

F-22 Raptor.


Dave said...

No wonder Obama kept Robert Gates around.


Tom the Redhunter said...

Right, Gates is providing cover for Obama.

I blogged on the F-22 also. The new plan assumes that all future wars will be like Afghanistn and Iraq. But we might end up fighting anyone.

that the world is full of bad regimes who would do us harm if they could. Others, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are nominally our allies today but could fall to hostile takeover by Islamist elements and become our enemies tomorrow. The former is armed with F-16s and the latter F-15s. It could happen, regardless of how good a job Obama and his team do. Recall that Iran has F-14s that we sold to the Shah that are still flying today.

I look around the world and see potential adversaries sizing us up. They're looking for any weakness and will at the very least become more aggressive if they see it.

So it's more that I think that terminating production of the F-22 sends the wrong message to potential adversaries, and that it puts our forces at a disadvantage if it does come down to a shootout. The F-15 and F-16 are old aircraft, and won't be useful as front line fighters for much longer. Thankfully I didn't read about any cutbacks in the F-35 Lightning II JSF, which is a good aircraft. But it was never intended to be our primary front line fighter.

Dave said...

I look around the world and see potential adversaries sizing us up. They're looking for any weakness and will at the very least become more aggressive if they see it.

I am seeing exactly the same thing.

After the events of the past week, it appears those who wish to harm us have received an unexpected boost, too, and now have far more to work with than they had previously.

One thing we seem do without fail is always assume the "next war" will be like the last one.

Billy Mitchell discovered that the hard way.