Weekend Reading Assignment- 2013 Report To Congress on China

I’m juuuuuust starting to draft a series on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. In the meantime, here’s a copy of the annual report to Congress on the PLA.

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The worst part about returning from a road trip is the list of chores longer than the trip I just took!


MoH recipient Dakota Meyer interested in running for Congress.

I think the last MoH in Congress was Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey.


Our post clear back in July on the Future Vertical Lift program prompted an email from the PAO, with the following press announcement.

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I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether that fully allays the fear of a technology demonstration program being leveraged into a prototyping and procurement program.


God knows I think the service academies should get out of the NCAA Div I football business, but this is just more #ShutDownKabuki.

Why is the government shuttering events and places NOT funded via appropriated funds?


I think there is a place for a small corvette or light frigate in our fleet structure. But Lazarus at Information Dissemination is spot on that our Navy can get by without them, but it would be disastrous to build our fleet around them.

He’s on a little weaker ground on the LCS front, where I think we get the worst of both worlds, but then, I don’t think he’s explicitly endorsing LCS. Just noting one of the drivers for increased size.


Hopefully I can catch up on chores soon, and post some more pics of Sox. What else do you want to talk about?

MG Scales on Intervention in Syria

I mostly know retired Major General Scales as the author of the official US Army history of Desert Storm. He’s also written several opinion pieces and essays. I tend to respect his opinion.

So when CDR Salamander links to his thoughts on a possible US intervention in Syria, I pay attention.

They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare. “Look,” one told me, “if you want to end this decisively, send in the troops and let them defeat the Syrian army. If the nation doesn’t think Syria is worth serious commitment, then leave them alone.”
They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

Over the past few days, the opinions of officers confiding in me have changed to some degree. Resignation seems to be creeping into their sense of outrage. One officer told me: “To hell with them. If this guy wants this war, then let him have it. Looks like no one will get hurt anyway.”

If the services are ordered to strike, they’ll do the best they can.

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URR has railed again and again about the spinelessness of GEN Dempsey. For him to say in front of Congress that he has no idea of what any possible US strategic objective is in Syria is a deliberate statement that the White House is clueless. I can assure you, it was no slip of the tongue, or off the cuff statement. After being a toady for the current administration’s policies for so long, one can only assume it is a sign of extraordinary frustration with the puerile thinking of the national security “leadership” in the Obama White House.

Paralysis by Analysis

Robert Kozlowski, writing at the US Naval Institute’s USNIBlog has a good post that shows a startling graphic.


Open the graphic in a new tab to see the whole thing.

I’m curious what happened to the acquisition process in 1975 that lead to such a sharp increase in the time needed to field a weapon system.

But the key thing is, time is money. Lots and lots of money. Now, you’ll say, XBrad, the items like the B-2 and the F-22 are pretty cutting edge technology. And so they are. But so were things like the B-58, and the F-111. Notice also, the F-117, a cutting edge technology, had minimal oversight, and yet it reached IOC well below the trendline.

I’d expect to see some increase in the trendline of development times. But I’d expect to see something more like that commercial aircraft timeline, or even a little steeper. But clearly, something in the process of acquisition has changed. And Kozlowski argues that it is the intense oversight. I’m agree. And I’ll note that the purpose of the oversight was to ensure money spent was well spent. Oddly, the oversight, both within DoD and from outside, be it the GAO or Congress or whomever, has stretched the timelines to untenable lengths. We’ve already seen programs such as the RAH-66 Comanche that ran so long in development that they were obsolete before they were even ordered into production.  And I’d argue that the drawn out development and oversight costs more than simply mismanaging programs in the first place would have.