20 October 2010

Brits Plan Deep Defense Cuts

Outlining the first defense review since 1998 [British Prime Minister David] Cameron said 17,000 troops, a fleet of jets and an aging aircraft carrier would all be sacrificed. . . . Naval warships, 25,000 civilian staff and a host of bases also will be lost, while the country's stockpile of nuclear warheads will be trimmed from 160 to 120.

Two new aircraft carriers will be built at a cost of $8 billion — but one will effectively be mothballed immediately and the other won't have any British fighter jets to transport until 2019. Instead, Britain will invest in its much admired special forces and develop expertise on cyber threats to secure the country's status as a major global power[.]

From here.

The cuts do not include cuts to spending on British involvement in Afghanistan.

The U.S. should follow suit in rethinking its defense spending. We are long overdue for a debate on the size of the non-war related military budget, and on the appropriateness of the current mix of spending.

There are some things the U.S. is not devoting enough military capacity resources to, and others we spend more than a fair share upon, and the total amount of defense spending is too high for our means and our reasonable defense needs.

The defense budget has plenty of fat in it, like a proposal to develop a Humvee that can fly. Flying cars have been a mainstay of Popular Science for a couple of generations, but they still don't make sense as a useful technology, military or civilian.

At least some of that thinking is happening. The Army, for example, is rethinking its $40 billion ground combat vehicle program, which was to have replaced to Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which is something of a compromise between a tank and an armored personnel carrier. Most notably, there could be a major change in Army doctrine, that could lead the military to "move away from tracked vehicles, except for specific missions." Despite strong insistance on off road capability in the procurement phase, in the field in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, the military has largely conducted operations on terrain that wheeled vehicles, which have far lower fuel and maintenance requirements, can handle.

The Marines are also rethinking their ground vehicle procurement plans.

Every program in the corps’ fleet, from Humvees to marine personnel carriers (MPC), is under service scrutiny in the wake of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s announcement that he intends to cut $100 billion from the defense budget over the next five years. . . . Leaders worry that the planned vehicle force will be too heavy for expeditionary operations. “The current table of equipment … is too heavy for amphibious shipping,” Conway states in the report, a copy of which was obtained by DTI. “We should expect to continue to be postured forward aboard Navy ships, immediately operationally available,” he said later. . . . “We recognize that we’ve got to reduce the inventory,” he says, noting that the corps’ fleet of 43,000 vehicles is expected to be reduced to 32,600.

Some of the Marine's cuts will also probably be across the board reduction in force size cuts.

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