Apolitical DoD Budget Blues

Still going through the Pentagon’s 2015 Defense budget, along with other sections of discretionary spending. First impression is that the emphasis is on research and development in lieu of production. This places that much more pressure on project managers to get the most value from the dollars being spent and to do so in segments that provide deployable systems.  The basis for this thinking goes back to analyses from World War II and other major conflicts where there were opponents of roughly equivalent capability.  For example, during World War II Germany and Japan had the technological advantage in deployed units, especially in tanks for the Germans and aircraft for the Japanese, and scored early victories against the Allies.  The United States had a small standing military force but a robust technological base.  Sustainability costs were higher among the Axis and the tradeoff of resource commitment between operations/maintenance and R&D favored the former.  By the time 1943 and 1944 rolled around the newer systems that the Allies deployed, particularly given the U.S. industrial base, was key in the destruction and total defeat of the Axis.  The key now is to still meet worldwide commitments given the evolving role of the United States in world geopolitical stability, while expanding flexibility and maintaining our technological advantage.  Major Power disagreements like the current one in the Ukraine highlight the limits of military power since nuclear weapons still make major conventional conflicts unthinkable, thus the QDR seems to be focused on the threats that can be realistically addressed.  I’m not wild about the personnel benefit and pay cuts, which always seems to have a misplaced place in the heart of the Beltway insiders–must be their patrician bias against the common working man and woman.  “Supporting the troops” is easy when it doesn’t cost anything.  Both the left and right are already playing partisan football with the budget with the usual suspects taking usual positions but, in the meantime, I’ll defer the early scoring to Lawrence Korb and company over at the Center for American Progress until I have something important to say.

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