Gen. Ralston: U.S. Ranks NATO Aspirants
The U.S. European Command has been studying the military force structures
of those nations seeking membership in the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization and will submit its assessment to the Defense Department
in the near future. (See related story, page 52).
EUCOM’s commander, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, told the
House International Relations subcommittee on Europe that the assessment
focused on four areas: strategy and force structure, defensive capabilities,
legal and legislative issues, and security procedures.
The 10 countries applying for NATO admittance “have a common
legacy of inflexible operational doctrine and authoritarian communist
defense planning that was unaccountable to the public,” said
Ralston. The aspirants have forces that fit into two categories:
“Those who inherited a burden of obsolete Warsaw Pact equipment
and imbalanced (sic) personnel structures, and those who had to
build their armed forces from scratch,” Ralston said.
Romania, Bulgaria and Albania fit into the first category, as does
Slovakia, “to a lesser degree,” he said, since it began
its existence as an independent nation in 1993, “obtaining
a disparate mix of one-third of the Czech armed forces.”
The Baltic states, Slovenia and Macedonia fit into the second category,
since the Baltics were stripped of all equipment and infrastructure
upon the departure of the Soviets, and Slovenia and Macedonia did
not inherit any part of the Yugoslav armed forces when they claimed
independence, Ralston said.
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Zakheim Cracks Down on Credit Card Fraud
After numerous reports concerning the misuse of government credit
cards, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld directed Dov Zakheim, his
comptroller, to review the Pentagon’s entire charge card process.
“Government charge cards enable the Department of Defense
to streamline its business processes and thereby free up resources
for critical national security needs,” Zakheim said.
He added that charge cards carry inherent risks however, and recent
audits revealed fraud, misuse and abuse. He recently announced plans
to install data-mining technology for surveillance and detection
of questionable purchases.
Zakheim emphasized that most Pentagon employees use the card appropriately.
However, he said, “We must continue to pay attention to charge
card management after this initial round of changes is implemented.”
Zakheim called for a new emphasis on management, with supervisors
being held accountable for preventing the abuse of credit cards
as well as government travel cards.
An Air Force Academy cadet explained that the government travel
card is needed, particularly in cases when the travel expenses are
higher than what most service members can afford to put on their
personal credit cards.
“Using the card for travel duty is necessary. For example,
I went to Italy for a competition, and I could have never have afforded
to put the expenses from that trip on my own charge card, but even
so, the process to get reimbursed took a couple of months,”
Deepwater Program to Pursue Foreign Sales
Within days of awarding a $17 billion contract to build a new fleet
of Deepwater ships and aircraft for the Coast Guard, the U.S. government
embarked upon an effort to sell the same platforms to allies around
The Coast Guard is betting that many nations will be interested
in its new assets. Most countries have navies that are more like
the U.S. Coast Guard than our Navy, said Rear Adm. Patrick Stillman,
program executive officer of the Integrated Deepwater Program. They
operate primarily along their coasts, and they sail relatively inexpensive,
small ships, not aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines, he said.
For this reason, U.S. Navy ships increasingly do not meet other
countries’ needs, said James Jochum, assistant commerce secretary
for export administration. Since the end of the Cold War, foreign
orders for U.S. warships have dropped 60 percent, he said. During
the past five years alone, U.S. shipyards have lost 5,000 jobs.
U.S. officials hope that the Deepwater program will begin to turn
this around, and the initial response has been good. Just two days
after the contract was announced in late June, a conference sponsored
by NDIA and the Navy’s International Programs Office—which
is helping the Coast Guard market Deepwater—attracted representatives
from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand
In order for many countries to buy Deepwater technology, however,
two hurdles have to be overcome, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Tome Walters,
director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. With little
extra money in their defense budgets, most countries will need loans
from the United States to afford any purchases, he said. He also
said that many of those nations have protectionist defense industries,
who will resist allowing their governments to buy U.S.-made systems.
U.S. contractors can overcome this barrier, to some extent, by
forming joint ventures with foreign companies, said Rear. Adm. Don
Newsome, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for international
programs. The Joint Strike Fighter has been handled this way, successfully,
thus far, he said.
Stillman agreed. “I personally believe that Deepwater could
be the Joint Strike Fighter for the maritime community.”
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Congressman Fights for Airborne Lasers
The highest-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee offered
an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill to transfer $30
million from the space-based kinetic boost program to the airborne
laser program. “The administration’s budget request
seeks to resurrect a space-based system to shoot down missiles in
the boost phase with a kinetic energy interceptor, a path the Reagan-era
Strategic Defense Initiative followed twice before and failed miserably,”
said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C. “We should not let this bad
idea drain money from more pressing military needs.”
His amendment would restore $30 million of the $60 million cut
to the Airborne Laser program. “ABL is the most promising
and realistic program to intercept missiles in the boost phase.
Restoring this $30 million cut will keep the ABL program on schedule
to conduct the rigorous testing we need to see whether ABL can pass
muster,” he said.
The amendment passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote.