What will we cut in the DOD when the debt level crushes us? #military

With the debt ceiling up in the air—and thus presenting a lot of unknowns–maybe we can save real money by getting rid of unnecessary elements in the DOD.

For instance, just think of the savings if we didn’t have to fund that additional land army and redundant naval air force known as the USMC to such alarming levels.

Regardless, I figure that this problem is going to solve itself  when the crushing debt becomes self-aware sometime this year.

2 thoughts on “What will we cut in the DOD when the debt level crushes us? #military

  1. Start from the bottom and move up. If you cut the CVN-78 (Ford Class) you are looking at between 11.2 and 13.6 billion dollars _each_ for the hulls and another 20+ for the battle group and airwing. Not including fleet trains or a midlife SLEP and refueling on the carrier or nominal attrition replacement on the siingle engine naval jets with twice the hourly loading on fatigue life.

    If there is no hull, there is no need for that portion of the JSF buy which would occupy it. It is that simple. If you wish to Achilles tendon the military, kill the synergisms of need that they use to justify major system-of-systems purchases.

    I say this, with reluctance, because everything I see points towards our being a second rank power behind China in less than 20 years (less than 10 if the USD crashes before 2015 without a replacement hydrogen/electric economy even really planned let alone implemented).

    If you are down to gunboat diplomacy (see Egypt/Libya) as your sole justifiable military capacity in a post-World Cop role; loosing off waves of CMs, 1 billion dollars buys you 1,000 aimpoints which is roughly equal to what a CVN can reasonably service in the 3-4 days of intensive operations it can sustain before moving offstation to rest and rearm in the fleet trains (see ‘The Carrier Myth’ article). And that _only_ at indecently short ranges of <250nm radius for the strikers.

    OTOH, if you -really- (REALLY!?) want to play with the Chinese and world wide nuclear proliferation and ASBM/IRBMs with CEP down to 100m or less, you need to think about getting out from under the threat acquisition envelope (OTH-B and OTH-SW) and pushing for tactical options with longrange loop-around penetration of defensive belts and probably (again) powered standoff, at least in the first 5-10 days.

    All of which leaves you with an AfG force employment picture of 10-15hr sorties on direct strike and as much as 30-50hrs for RISTA. Do you need or want to surge more than 40 jets per sortie with 'half arming or enroute/RTB'? And can even the F-35C* give you the kinds of reach in, persistence and heavyweight/long-bay munitions options which make that worth while?

    What we are looking at square in the face, is the operational reality of a world where the trans-littoral depths of inland Asia stretch -well beyond- what even 700nm (in and out, no loiter) capable, manned, fighter can sustain for time on station at the pointy end of the radius before the pilot comes back a wreck, unfit for duty for 2-3 days after.

    But with small, boosted, IAMs and perhaps powered weapons (JAGM or SMACM) we are seeing a reality where a small orbit counts of unmanned jets, using extended sensor reach, can cover a large area, repeatedly and contiguously, if they can come out to a tanker once every 10-20 hours.

    This removes the 11-17hr 'raid window' that was typical in OEF and certainly makes it easier for SOF to put in a call and not have to wait a minimum 25-45 minutes (assuming their force is on the frag list for support at all).

    Five Laws Of Firepower:
    1. Shoot-shoot-shoot.
    The more you shoot, the more you hit. This is standard SSPH attritional math. The important thing to note however is that ground targets are usually part of a matrice of many subelement aimpoints and so may require several discrete servicings while the more -variety- of weapons you carry on a single platform, the more missions it can accomplish and the bigger/bulkier (longer ranging) those weapons are, the more self-defense options it has rather than simply retrograde scoot. This is a point blank endorsement of bigger gun cabinets over exaggerated top end performance.

    2. Mass fires not forces.
    Obvious from a threat exposure angle, using the USMC 'better to send a bullet than a Marine' truism. Whether you enter a WEZ directly or send a 2-way datalinked bullet to give the look see is going to be increasingly determined by ever longer slants as optical/acoustic (passive) tracking networks and DEW/hunting weapons become standardized replacements for conventional DCA in the future, even or perhaps -especially- in back of beyond locales.

    3. Maneuver to target, not to engage.
    This is largely about LOS graze angles on standoff sensors but it can also be a value statement on how much area you can cover in a lockdown or 'pursuit to contact' condition, whether you are trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack as a caravan of black SUVs. Or stop Fedayin technicals from leave-behind waiting for the maneuver elements to roll on by so they can bushwack the CS/CSS troops in-train. Total Coverage Area _counts_. And in combination with rules #1 and #2, give you the kind of awareness you need to make tactical choices on where to employ effects most usefully and often, concurrently, from a limited standing CAP force.

    4. Hold your Targeting and your Fires discrete.
    IMO, this is a blanket endorsement for the French approach to a 'Fast/Slow, Tactical' UAV with good sprint characteristics (500 knots, minimum) to a given rangepoint and subsequently great loiter in the 200kt range while abandoning multispectral (though perhaps not palletized Wx changeout) aperturization and weapons carriage options for simplicity and small size. These are the drones you want 50-100 of on a carrier and that means containing their deckspot and logistics footprint. Again, coverage and threat standoff are more or less random on a 'when the enemy chooses to hike over there' basis of engagement. The U.S. approach to resolving this is the 100,000 dollar SMACM and a 200nm range with a hyperspectral seeker package (Tri-Mode/Tri-Star) that I doubt seriously will survive developmental price incrementation.
    In any case, if you put your platform value as comms bandpipe and weapons carriage and absolute signature threshold (size parametrics) in one 'big' design and a cheap CCD (Coherent Change Detection) and narrow band, high rate, LOS squirt package in another, the one can be held in standoff as a ROBE type relay and the other sent right over the top of that S-400 battery (where it will be shot down by a Pantsir goalkeeper) if that's what you feel you need to do.

    5. Maintain Uttter COE.
    You seldom see a chess player go nuts over the loss of a pawn or even a knight/bishop people it's the rooks and queens that start to add up. As the enemy gets better, through internal R&D (China is now the #2 investor in this area) and espionage (PRC now #1 threat) and falling U.S. technical prowess (thanks Greenspan for a generation without indigenous engineers…); we will have to start accepting that we are going to 'lose pieces, not the war'. And the way you make sure you distinguish the two is never committing such a high value _symbol_ (any ship named 'America' or the B-2) as much as system that you cannot afford to aggressively use it to forestall as much as end the war. CVNs steaming up and down the Formosa Straight is an exercise in KMS Bismarck Diplomacy that sooner or later 'someone' is gonna call us on.

    Does the F-35, short on gas, short on weapons, heavy on weight, expensive beyond any acceptable metric and _most importantly_ '3 planes, 1 name' based on a design metric that isolates the inventory between non-common basing modes, represent a valid contribution to any of the above five laws?

    If not, then we should look at our mission taskings. Create smaller decks for lesser theaters, give the pilot community their job security in the smallest differentiated fleet structures and start thinking about reducing CVSF 'package costs' by taking the principle strike systems well out beyond the range for which 10 ships are necessary to provide a mixed defensive group sufficient to protect the ship from inshore SSK/TBM/Mines.

    Because an F-35B on one STOVL tramline and a CVTOL N-UCAS on another still translates to a 68,000 rather than 97,000 ton ship. And because the airshow fighter doesn't need to exist in more than 10 airframe packages for FORCAP and reactive STOM CAS/escort. While the UCAVs give you the option to go well over 1,000nm without refueling and _stay_.

    That is the way forward to reducing overall costs. The F-35C is an endorsement of the CVN-78 force structure metric and I just don't see that being the best choice. If you are serious about killing the U.S. penchant for adventurism as debt-loading in one swift strike.

    *Which went supersonic to all of M = 1.02 _at 30,000ft_, nearly THREE MONTHS AGO, on March 4 and now is caught up in 'flutter testing'. Translation: The F-15 community routinely rips wingtips off a jet which is designed to be a supersonic sprint maneuverer in response to the MiG-25's awesome ability to evade the AIM-7 envelope by cross-track shifts. The F-35C has the same wing area as the Eagle, vastly worse area ruling and aspect ratio modifiers and it's wingtips go up and down, on purpose! The F-35C will -never- be a fighter, for this reason alone. And increasingly, I question it's ability to be an adequate (Nagumo lost four carriers at Midway because he brought his CVBG too damn close to a force with twice the reachout and coverage numbers on ASST) overland power projector strike system where most of our missioning is aimed at 'from the sea, forwards' and you have to be at least 250nm offshore to avoid the most basic of ASST handoff to the likes of 3m54.

  2. In contrast to the British the U.S. empire is based on the sword. Though welcome and I’d even say healthy for the forces, cuts will probably not happen in any meaningful dimension. And if the sword isn’t kept sharp the empire will crumble.

    But hardware cuts will not safe the forces. Only an iron broom applied to all institutional questions without regards how things have been done since the Spanish War would change things. Basically inventing the Forces anew as a less comfortable, much more focused, leaner and meaner self.

    Anyway, let’s play the game: Cut the Army to 250k men, the Marines to 50k, the Air Force to 200k, disband ALL reserves, repeal the Dick Act with all its consequences, radically cut the DoD paid civil contractors down to a total of 100k max, cut USIC in half. As a result limit the DoD payrole to max 1 million men. Unify the services under a General Staff under the NSC; disband the DoD. Compensate reduced conventional fighting power with the widespread re-introduction of small tactical nuclear warheads (following Russia’s example). In principal focus on expanding the naval capabilities, of the current ground troops keep only a few airmech and amphib capable shock units, set up all infantry as unconventional warfare units, expedite orbital and aerial automation.

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