30 April 2009

All You Can Say About This One is "Good"

Man who threw kids off bridge gets death

A judge ordered a death sentence Thursday for a jobless shrimper convicted of murdering four young children by tossing them from an 80-foot-high bridge on the Alabama coast.

Circuit Judge Charles Graddick handed down the death sentence to Lam Luong and said he would order prison officials to show Luong photographs of the four children each day he is on death row.

Luong, 38, was convicted in March of killing the children on Jan. 7, 2008. A Vietnamese refugee, he was accused of dropping the four from atop the Dauphin Island Bridge after an argument with their mother, Kieu Phan, 23.

23 April 2009

Origins War College Speaker/Event Schedule


(weird HTML code-newss creeping into the direct posting of the grid... hmmmmm...)

By: Brant

07 April 2009

Checking out the 2010 SecDef Budget

Looking through the 2010 SecDef Budget Statement reveals a lot of interesting tidbits.

The Ford-class carrier program isn't being killed, it's being slowed. It'll cause a brief 2-year gap between the retirement of one carrier and the next one being completed. Waah. We'll only have 10 carrier battle/strike groups instead of 11. The rest of the world can float 10 combined and most of them (UK, France, Spain, Italy etc) are our allies. See Wikipedia's aircraft carrier article for more.

UAVs are fine for ground-support and reconnaissance, but currently lack the ability to fight air-to-air. That doesn't mean we stop R&D on getting there, but it's not operational now, and the best estimates are at least 10-15 years away. It's going to take some very sophisticated AI to get a try unmanned air-to-air capability out there.

One of the biggest arguments in the defense establishment right now is surrounding COIN v conventional warfare, and whether or not they are exclusionary of each other. There are good cases to be made on both sides.

But right now the Gates budget proposes cutting much of our land-force modernization. The FCS program was supposed to replace the M1-series tanks, M2/3-series IFVs, the M113-series APCs, and the M109-series howitzers. While a compelling case can be made that, for their roles, each of them is arguably the top dog worldwide in their respective classes, the truth is these systems are anywhere from 30 years old (M2/3 series) to almost 50 years old (M113 series). By the time the FCS was going to be in wide fielding, those numbers would've gone up to 40 and 60 years, respectively.

With no real follow-on plan for what's going to replace them, the current series of US ground combat vehicles will be in service for at least another 15 years or so. That equates to a primary APC designed in 1960 still being used in 2020. Nowhere in the history of ground warfare do you find vehicles in a first-world Army still in service in its same basic production form for that long. The closest you get are the M50/51 Super Sherman variants the Israelis tricked out from the WWII chassis that were still in use in the early 1980s, and even that isn't a good comparison considering how much the Israelis packed into the original chassis.

I get that there are real budget issues here, and that we can't make everthing a priority. I think the F22 being capped in the 180-range is probably about right. I also think that the F35 being capped for the us in the 200-range is probably right, too. (Neither of those counts include USN/USMC purchases). And we can afford to slow down on a carrier purchase, especially when you factor in the power-projection capability of the LPDs alongside the CVNs.

But slowing the modernization of the land forces is both an easy target and a bad idea, and I'm not saying that just because I'm an Army guy by background. The bottom-line metrics are what they are. We'll be fighting any war between now and 2020 with essentially the same force we designed for 1985 in the Fulda Gap. That's an astounding 35-year modernization gap. Imagine fielding the same Army in 1980 that we used to win WWII, and that's your comparison. And while the US Army had several conflicts between WWII and 1980 (Korea, Vietnam, etc), it's not like we've been sitting still since 1985 either (Panama, Gulf I, Somalia, Balkans, Afghanistan, Gulf II). Are we still ahead of everyone else? Today, yes. But in 2020? Who knows. We haven't sucessfully predicted any of deployments for the last 20+ years, despite a lot of very good knowledge of the world's trouble spots (heck, SPI predicted the implosion of Yugoslavia in their folio game by the same name, back in 1977!). So why would we assume that there won't be a need to replace 40- and 50-year old ground combat equipment between now and whatever our next war is?

More links:
Military Budget Reflects a Shift in U.S. Strategy - NYTimes.com
Gates Seeks Sharp Turn In Spending - washingtonpost.com
Gates axes some costly weapons, emphasizes 'irregular' warfare | csmonitor.com