Monday, January 23, 2006

Exclusive: What’s In The QDR

Exclusive: What’s In The QDR
Draft Boosts Spec Ops, UAVs, Cuts No Major Programs
Defense News
January 23, 2006

The U.S. military is planning a sharp new emphasis on unmanned aerial vehicles for persistent surveillance, boosting special operations forces, spending more on homeland defense and developing better ways to deal with weapons of mass destruction.

These and other changes are proposed in a draft version of the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to approve and send to Congress Feb. 6. They are intended to sharpen the military’s focus on the war against terrorism, which the Pentagon has relabeled “The Long War.”

Defense News obtained a draft version of the report, which was briefed to congressional staff members the week of Jan. 16.

The QDR will be presented to Congress along with the 2007 defense budget request.

Key changes Rumsfeld will ask lawmakers to enact include:

*Extending F-22 production through 2010 with a multiyear acquisition contract.

*Speeding up Littoral Combat Ship program.

*Increasing special operations forces by 15 percent.

*Establishing a special operations unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron under the Air Force.

*Increasing Navy SEAL and riverine warfare capabilities.

*Increasing psychological operations and civil affairs units by 33 percent, or 3,700 troops.

The military will also ask Congress to approve a $1.5 billion, five-year program to develop medical countermeasures to genetically engineered bio-terror agents.

Rumsfeld also promises in the document to overhaul Pentagon acquisition practices.

Noting “growing and deep concern” over acquisition practices that fail to accurately determine the cost, schedule and performance on major programs, the QDR promises reforms.

Among them: Contract awards would take into account technical and management risk as well as cost. And to help ensure weapons are delivered on time, early in program development, “senior leaders will make trade-offs necessary to balance performance, time and available resources,” the document says.

The Pentagon will continue to rely on “spiral development” to field systems and make upgrades and improvements later.

Sources said that during a recent briefing, Rumsfeld asked that the document include 21 Joint Capability Areas, which define desired capabilities such as battlespace awareness, logistics, and stability operations.

Ground Operations

The QDR suggests force structure changes to help wage “long-duration unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and military support for stabilization and reconstruction efforts.” It reasserts that the military should be able to fight simultaneous wars, but also stresses the need to integrate other U.S. agencies and friendly governments.

The report says conventional ground forces should take on tasks currently performed by special operations forces, and will receive more training in foreign languages and culture. The aim will be to develop “future warriors who will be as proficient in irregular operations, including counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, as they are in high-intensity combat.”

Strategically, the review recommends a move from “responsive actions” to “early, preventative measures.” The most important capabilities will be persistent surveillance and superior intelligence to find hidden weapons.

The review suggests the United States shape the choices of major powers and emerging countries.

Michèle Flournoy, defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, gave the review an “A” grade for its irregular warfare recommendations — they matched implementation to strategy, she said — but a “D” grade for homeland defense, which did not.

Another analyst, Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, said the report did not provide all the focus that might be desired.

“Although the basic framework of threats with which the QDR began is still intact in the report, it was toned down by a year of deliberation and not a single signature weapon system has been terminated,” Thompson said. “That tells you that Rumsfeld’s team is not so clear about what to do about this new environment.”

Air Power

The draft QDR wants to reorient joint air capabilities toward “larger and more flexible payloads for surveillance and strike” and “next-generation electronic warfare.”

The Air Force will be organized around 86 combat wings and has set a goal of increasing its long-range strike capabilities by 50 percent and quintupling by 2025 the penetrating component of long-range strike. The QDR suggests nearly doubling UAV coverage capacity by accelerating the acquisition of Predator and Global Hawk.

On the transport front, the Pentagon plans to acquire or upgrade 292 long-haul airlifters: 180 C-17s and 112 modernized C-5s.

The report calls for a new approach to the Transformational Satellite program: to “spiral develop” its capabilities instead of trying to field all of the expected technology at one time — and replan the satellite launches accordingly.

Maritime Operations

The QDR mandates a “greater presence in the Pacific Ocean” for the U.S. Navy and reports that the service is planning to base “at least six operationally available and sustainable carriers and 60 percent of its submarines” in the Pacific.

The implication would be there would be no replacement for the Atlantic Fleet’s aircraft carrier George Washington, now scheduled to move to Japan in 2008 to replace the Kitty Hawk, which will be decommissioned.

The report reinforces the Navy’s stated requirement for 11 carriers, although Congress has mandated the service keep 12 carriers.

For submarines, the report calls for a “return to steady-state production rate of two attack submarines per year not later than 2012” for $2 billion apiece.

The report also recommends restructuring the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System program and developing an air-refuelable, carrier-based unmanned aircraft.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home