* The F/A-18F was designed to be deployed as a carrier based multi-purpose jet fighter. It is being used instead to bomb suspected insurgents in Afghanistan. This probably isn't optimal, but makes bureaucratic sense. The Marines use F/A-18s before they are part of the Department of Navy which commissioned the design (most procurement happens at the service or department level within the Department of Defense). But, the nation needs ground troops to supplement an active duty Army that is too small to fight simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it has used Marines who can also function as ground troops to Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations, and of course, the Marines used the equipment and systems that they have and have trained to use.
So far, so good. But, F-18s are not designed to spend the long time periods overhead often necessary for close air support (CAS) in counterinsurgency battles, so other aircraft had to fill in when the F-18s started to run out of gas in a recent battle in Afghanistan. What was called in? A B-1B bomber, which was invented for jobs like dropping nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union before stealth techology was invented.
B-1B bombers (which belong to the Air Force) are far less suited for close air support during counterinsurgency battles than F-18s. This is a job where one wants to fly slow and close to the ground so one can be sure one is hitting the right target before letting bombs go, and where smaller ordinance is usually better as it destroys only what you intend to destroy. Five to eleven dozen civilians, depending upon who you are talking to, were killed as the B-1B bomber blew up a mosque, a shrine, and other improved vilage real estate in the village of Farah in Afghanistan during a long battle with insurgents there, using very large for the purpose (500 pound and 2000 pound) -- which conceivably could have been served with guided artillery shells and armed drone aircraft, both of which are also present (although scarce) in Afghanistan.
One wonders, indeed, what a B-1B bomber loaded with 2000 pound bombs is doing in Afghanistan at, all as U.S. troops do battle with opponents who are infantry that have few weapons heavier than the equipment usually carried by paratroopers. The Air Force is also the reluctant owner of more than one hundred A-10 aircraft designed for precisely this job, and reportedly, in all of Iraq, there are only a few aircraft of any kind in the air in Iraq at any one time, some of which, if not all of which, are of the non-A-10 variety.
It is one thing to use less than ideal aircraft if the Air Force is maxed out, which it isn't in the combat aircraft department (although its cargo aircraft operation is spread quite thin). It is another thing to do so when you have an embarassment of riches in our aircraft fleet.
* House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee chairman John Murtha, who has never met a weapons system that he doesn't like, has lost faith in the Marine's Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program after discovering 25 years into the R&D program (and several names later) that it is ill equipped to provide any protection to its occupants from IEDs and land mines. The EFV is meant to be something like the Army's Stryker, basically an armored personnel carrier, that serves as its own full speed landing craft. But, making the technology work has been challenging.
* Virginia class nuclear attack submarines cost $2.5 billion each to make, the production line is still open, and the current order from the U.S. government is two per year. Like everything else the Navy buys, it is grossly over budget, despite the fact that the design is well established.
The U.S. currently has 53 nuclear attack submarines. Two per year puts it on track to ultimately have sixty. One per year puts it on track to have thirty.
While attack submarines aren't sitting ducks like many surface warcraft of the U.S. Navy, they also aren't in high demand at a time when few potential opponents of the U.S. military have anything more potent than frigates, small coastal missile boats, and coastal, diesel powered submarines. Nuclear attack submarines were built to counter the then Soviet Navy, and Russia could still be a threat that would justify their existence (and China is trying hard to become such a threat), but a large scale naval conflict with Russia doesn't seem like the most likely scenario for the U.S. military right now and the cost of preparing for this contingency is very high.