Military May Need More Troops, Says Senator
The size of the armed forces may need to expand in order to meet the nation’s
commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terrorism, said
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., ranking minority member on the Senate Armed Services
Committee. He spoke to a recent gathering of defense writers.
Levin noted that the reserve and National Guard call-ups over the last two
years are resulting in deployments of longer duration, often for more than what
the soldiers signed up for. “The stress is huge on the force, on the Guard
and reserve. We obviously can’t continue to use the Guard and reserve
If it is necessary to place several hundred thousand troops in Iraq for an
unspecified amount of time, “I don’t see how that can be sustained
under the current size of our force,” Levin said.
Don’t Mess With the Joint Chiefs
A Pentagon proposal to reduce the power and independence of the joint chiefs
of staff “will be a major issue … for us, if it surfaces,”
said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., ranking minority member of the Senate Armed Services
The proposal—not yet approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld—would
reduce the chiefs’ terms from four to two years and combine their staffs
with those of the secretaries of defense, the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Such a move would undermine the independence of the chiefs “totally,”
Levin said. It would put the chiefs on a “very, very short leash,”
he said. With two years, “you don’t have enough time to learn your
job.” The idea “will be hotly contested if it ever gets to Congress,
and I hope contested on a bipartisan basis.”
Levin said he was “concerned about the way [Army Chief of Staff Gen.
Eric] Shinseki was kind of castigated, because he gave me an honest opinion
about how many troops would be needed in Iraq after Saddam Hussein … That
is too bad, because we need our military people to give us their honest opinion.
In fact, they take an oath that they’ll do that at their confirmation
Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs, “may
say they haven’t seen the final version” of the proposal, Levin
said. “That doesn’t mean they haven’t seen any version,”
he said. “I am a lawyer. I know there are at least two evasive words in
there. One is the word ‘seen,’ and one is the word ‘final.’”
Zakheim: Budget Supports Transformation
The $400 billion defense budget that the president proposed for 2004 “closes
and prevents gaps between resources and requirements,” particularly in
the area of transformational concepts, said Dov Zakheim, undersecretary of defense
and comptroller, in a recent speech to defense executives. Changes in strategy,
weapons systems and overall management of the department altered priorities
at the Pentagon, he added.
Approximately $20 billion is earmarked for transformational acquisition programs,
Zakheim said that the rise of new technologies is replacing the need for full
replacement of old systems. For example, fielding unmanned vehicles mean that
“we don’t necessarily need one-for-one replacement of systems, such
as tactical aircraft.” In the past, the acquisition of aircraft simply
followed the pattern of previous aircraft, he explained. “Now, we can
think about a mix of manned and unmanned vehicles that we couldn’t have
imagined 10 years ago,” he said.
Zakheim also plans an overhaul of business transformation concepts at the Department.
“I want to pursue a two-year budget cycle, which would mean an off-year
that we could use to focus on other things,” such as acquisition and performance
budgeting. “It’s amazing: when you measure something, it seems to
improve,” he said.
In the past “cash management has alluded the Defense Department, because
it is only allowed to move $2 billion in a given year,” Zakheim said.
Got an Idea for Special Ops? Here’s How to Submit It
The U.S. Special Operations Command wants to receive proposals with new ideas,
suggestions and innovative concepts for weapons, supplies, facilities and equipment,
according to Frank Wattenbarger, the command’s director of advanced technology.
Before submitting a detailed, unsolicited proposal—one not made in response
to specific request—it is advisable to make a preliminary contact with
the appropriate special operations personnel, officials said. An unsolicited
proposal that closely resembles a pending competitive acquisition requirement
will not be accepted.
The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is the designated
coordinator for unsolicited proposals. Phone (813) 828-7549, or write:
ATTN: SOAL-K770d1 Tampa Point Blvd.
MacDill AFB, FL 33621-5323
Be sure to ask whether there is an active broad agency announcement covering
your idea. A BAA is a mechanism that the Federal Government uses to solicit
research and development proposals from the private sector.
The Special Operations Acquisition and Logistics Center maintains a Web page
with pertinent information, including announcements and notices. It can be accessed
Jumper: Air Force to Reduce Personnel
The U.S. Air Force is bracing for personnel cuts this year. The plan is to
“take all of the slots off the books that the money already went away
for,” said Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper.
Jumper explained that the funding for those positions has already been reduced,
but “we have failed to take the people away, or take those slots off the
books.” He said that 4,500 positions have not been accounted for and need
to be slashed.
Under an ongoing personnel study, the service is trying to identify jobs that
could be done by civilians. “We have gone outside the Air Force and we
have found there are 12,000 airmen out there that are doing things that one
could legitimately question whether you need to have that uniform on to do that
job or not.”
The service is trying to determine how many of those people need to be put
back into the operational force.