Inouye: U.S. Must Stay in Pacific Rim
During the past six months, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, traveled
to places like Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; Uzbekistan, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, China, the Philippines and Singapore. The underlying theme
in every trip, he said, was “the problem of terrorism.”
Terrorism “will be with us for generations to come,”
Inouye said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s
annual awards dinner. He was the recipient of the association’s
2002 Dwight D. Eisenhower award, for his contributions to the U.S.
national security. Inouye currently is the chairman of the Senate’s
defense appropriations subcommittee.
A supporter of U.S. military presence around the globe, Inouye
stressed that it is now more important than ever for U.S. forces
to remain deployed in the Pacific Rim region. “Every country
in the Pacific Rim is hoping we won’t leave that area,”
he said. An obvious example is the new naval base scheduled to open
in Singapore. Singapore’s government paid for this state-of-the-art
facility that can accommodate a gigantic U.S. aircraft carrier,
Inouye noted. That is a clear sign that “they want us there,”
Inouye predicted tough budget negotiations on the Hill this summer,
particularly on defense spending priorities. “Defense is expensive,”
he said. The nation, additionally, has “other needs”
that require funding and the military budget places a heavy financial
burden on taxpayers. The bottom line, however, is that “When
there are people [like U.S. military troops] willing to stand in
harm’s way for us, nothing is too expensive.”
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NATO Countries Much Too Obsessed by Tanks
NATO’s top civilian says he finds tanks quite useless for
the wars of the 21st century. “They don’t stop flows
of refugees. They don’t stop drugs. They don’t stop
people trafficking,” asserts Lord George Robertson, secretary-general
of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “There is an obsession
with tanks, but I think that is entirely wrong. It is the intelligent
soldier who is the key capability of the NATO countries. We saw
that in Afghanistan. It has got to be the intelligent individual
who is in charge of the super-intelligent equipment.”
During a roundtable with reporters, Robertson said that for countries
to join NATO, their governments must be willing to replace weapons
with trained soldiers. “These countries have got the capability
of changing their military forces into highly trained people. We’ve
already got people, forces, from all of the applicant countries
serving in the Balkans and serving extremely well. But nobody is
going to slide in under the door of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
They will have to work at it. There will be demanding standards.
And only then will they get in,” he said.
“They are not going to get into NATO unless they can prove
to the prime ministers and presidents in November that their commitment
to modernizing their militaries is going to be sustainable, and
not just a snapshot,” noted Robertson. New applicants will
receive invitations to join the alliance in November, he said.
“All of them are spending 2 percent or more of their [gross
national product] GNP on defense, which in many cases is more than
individual NATO countries are spending at the present moment. They
are responding to the pressure,” Robertson said. “It
is quite possible that the gap between the invitations being issued
in November and the actual accession of those countries will be
slightly longer than it was after Poland, the Czech Republic and
Hungary came in, and more demanding in terms of what they will have
Air Force to Change Acquisition Practices
The move away from fixed-price contracts has resulted in undisciplined
programs with cost overruns. For that reason, “We need more
disciplined program execution,” said Terry Little, head of
the Air Force Acquisition Center for Excellence.
The center was created to help the Air Force improve program performance
and lower costs. The chief of staff, Air Force Gen. John Jumper,
said he was “sick and tired of study and process,” Little
said. He wants to see the acquisition center produce results, in
the form of new weapon systems that get to the fleet faster and
that work as promised. Today, he said, “90 percent of our
buying is done exactly like it was done in the early days of the
Clinton administration.” Only the words and titles have changed.
“I’m trying to fix that for the Air Force,” Little
said. “Since the 1970s, the Air Force average cycle time has
gone from six years to 11 years. We have to fix that.”
Among the changes coming in the future, Little told a private gathering
of industry executives, is a shift from cost-plus reimbursable contracts
to price-based acquisitions. The cost-plus contracts are money losers,
he said, because the government ends up paying for unneeded overhead
and paperwork. Little said he was appalled to hear, for example,
that one company recently spent $2 million on a single cost-data
One piece of advice he gave contractors is to “make promises
you can keep. ... I’ll be watching big programs carefully.”
As a case in point, he cited a contractor who presented a new aircraft
design and vowed that the entire development would cost $500 million
to $800 million. “That’s crazy,” Little said.
“Anyone who’s been involved in a new development program
knows that. This sets up false expectations and disappointment.”
He said his goal is for the Acquisition Center for Excellence to
become the “911 organization for programs to call when they
are having a problem and they don’t know how to deal with
This organization also could become a vehicle to communicate with
contractors who have potentially useful ideas. “If somebody
has a good idea, they go knocking on doors. They get bounced around.
... We want to change that. If someone has a good idea for the Air
Force, they can come to us.”
However, he cautioned that there will not be enough dollars to
fund every good idea.
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Centralized Scans for Export Licenses
Navy officials are proposing to centralize the process of scanning
documents that defense contractors submit to the government to obtain
an export license. The military services and three other federal
agencies have some degree of jurisdiction in the export control
approval cycle. Each Defense Department service has elaborate procedures
and rule sets for approving or turning down the license applications.
As applications come in, documents are scanned into computers. “To
a large degree, we are all scanning in the same documents at the
same time,” said Gibson LeBoeuf, deputy director of the Navy
International Programs Office (IPO).
The Navy IPO is recommending that the scanning process be centralized,
arguing that it would save thousands of work hours.
Lisa Bronson, undersecretary of defense for technology security
policy and counterproliferation, supports the idea of centralized
scanning, and the Defense Technology Security Administration, which
she heads, is currently looking for ways to fund common scanning
software so every agency will have the same system.