Where are we Heading? Watch DepSecDef Hicks

Solid I&W

What is the reality of 2021 for those concerned with the direction of our nation's defense? With no constituency of any significant power in the Executive or Legislative branches of government willing to expend political capital for a larger defense budget, much less a larger Navy, everyone should accept that through at least mid-decade there will be flat to decreasing DOD budges.

If you want to know where the low hanging fruit is from the perspective of those in the Biden Administration given responsibility for making policy in DOD, keep an eye on Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. She knows her business.

This summary by Paul McCleary at Breaking Defense is solid I&W. 

In the (Feb. 17th) memo, Hicks wrote that “due to the limited amount of time available before the Department must submit its FY 2022 President’s Budget request, the process to re-evaluate existing decisions will focus on a very small number of issues with direct impact on FY 2022 and of critical importance to the President and the Secretary.”

...

The Pentagon will focus on shipbuilding, low-yield nuclear weapons, Central Command funding and force posture and building capacity in the Pacific as it rushes to write its 2022 budget, a memo obtained by Breaking Defense says. 

If you need some more detail, these six bullets are worth your attention as well. Feel free to stamp the last two as sops to the political agenda, but the first four are the meat of the matter.

She directed the Office of the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to review a handful of critical acquisition efforts:

— Shipbuilding: current FY 2022 shipbuilding additions 

— Nuclear Enterprise/Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3): lower-yield weapons and select NC3 topics 

— Long Range Fires: current FY 2022 long range fires additions 

— Aircraft: F-35, Air Force tanker aircraft, and MQ-9 

— Climate: initial options for investment and set ground work for additional investments during the FY 2023 to FY 2027 review cycle 

— Build Back Better: extant FY 2022 investments and FY 2023 opportunities 

One little note - if the first four get too hard, then efforts will shift to the last two. Like the farcical "Great Green Fleet," such actions in the 5th bullet make political friend for those who see DOD as just a money source and place where the workers are easily ordered around and compliant. You can seem to be doing "a lot" with the right people with little expense of political or personal capital. 

The 6th bullet ... if you want to flex it as much as you want ... well ... 'thar be dragons.

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