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What DoD’s New Strategy Means for Post-9/11 Tech

by John Reed on January 5, 2012

Here are some interesting technology-related quotes that Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice Chairman of the joint Chiefs, Adm. James Winnefeld just said about the Pentagon’s defense strategy that was unveiled unvieled this morning. The two were responding to a reporters question about whether the UAV fleets that were built up for the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan will be cut as the U.S. ends its fights in the Middle East and slashes defense spending.

While many capabilities, such as Cold War legacy systems will be cut, new tech that was developed in the wars in Iraq and Afgahanistan will be nurtured and integrated into the 21st Century military replied Carter and Winnefeld.

Here’s what Carter had to say:

There are lots of capabilities that were developed over the course of the last decade that reflected modern technology and modern warfare, not just COIN [counter-insurgency] warfare, that we want to make part of the future. So when I say we’re not going to keep the large force structure in being, but the critical skills, the critical enablers, the novel things that war over the last decade has taught us, we do want to keep and include in our force structure. You’ll see examples of that in a couple of weeks, very deliberate ones in which we’re building in some of the things you saw in Iraq, you see in Afghanistan and designing how they will fit into the force structure in the long run.

And here’s Winnefeld’s two cents:

We’ve learned an awful lot over the last ten years in these two fights in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think it’s sometimes important to tease out the difference between COIN and counter-terrorism, and we’re doing an awful lot of counter-terrorism work right now using those tools. One of the interesting things for me is that a lot of what we’ve learned in the COIN business transcends the COIN business and is applicable to a lot of the other things that we can find ourselves doing in the world. By the same token, a lot of the things that we’ve built, that we’ve added to the force technically, and it’s not just ISR platforms, it’s networked approaches to warfare and the like, are applicable to other forms of warfare. So we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, we’re gonna take the lessons, take the technologies that we’ve developed over the last ten years and apply them to the future.

While the Pentagon won’t discuss the details of what tech will be cut and what will be kept, this gives you a clue that we’ll be seeing investment in advancing the drone, communications and cyber tech that has been developed in the last decade.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

dddd January 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Question for everyone:
1) If you could cut the JSF and invest the saved funds into three areas (not including benefits or salaries), where would you choose?
I would say a) unmanned systems b) directed energy weapons c) rail guns (you may think its pie in the sky, but I think we will be surprised how soon these are a reality)


SJE January 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Sharks with frickin lasers


SomeGuy January 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm

agreed with sharks with Freakin’ lasaers


A. Nonymous January 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Using extensive CAIV analysis, ill-tempered sea bass are the better investment. Both life cycle costs and recurring maintenance are significantly lower, which will be increasingly important as we reduce the size of our military.


Billy January 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

I pick d.


EJ257 January 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Preparations A through G were a complete failure.


Billy January 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

Is the U.S. prepared for large scale conventional wars? We’ve been focused on fighting and training against counter terrorism and insurgency.


B-2 January 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm

b and c


Sanem January 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm

a, b en c, all these will change the way warfare works

UVs will put expendable numbers back into the military. I believe the next evolution will be for ground vehicles, infantry are the soft spot in current wars

lasers will give ground/sea forces the edge over air forces as they'll be able to shoot down both low flying aircraft and any bombs/missiles. this will make ships and tanks impossible to attack, except with mines, ambushes and other lasers

rail guns will be a much cheaper alternative to cruise missiles, at about $10,000 vs $1 million per shot. park a cruiser off the coast of North Korea, Lybia or Iran and create your own little Armageddon (and lasers won't be able to stop these shots, as they're too fast and too solid to stop). give the ship laser and missile defences, and it'll be untouchable (expect by other rail guns, which make me wonder what the Chinese might be working on)


gunslinger6 January 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I would say buy more F 22's, invest in rail guns, and last gear (i.e. a camouflage that would work so it wouldn’t change every other year, and new assault rifle.)


Black Owl January 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Niether a, b, or c.

I would invest that money in making special factories that build anything and everything that Americans buy and is made in China. I would put an extreme focus on computer parts since China has a tendancy to make flashdrives and hard drives with infiltration programs pre-loaded on them that could breach our security once activated. Also, the more of these Made-in-China objects that we make the more their prices will go down and the less money we will be giving to China. On top of that these factories will be held strictly accountable for employing only American citizen, producing jobs here in the US, and avoiding the use of anything made in China.


jumper January 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Energy weapons and rail guns…. that's how you would invest the "savings" from killing the JSF program. Thank god you're not in charge. We need these fighters now, despite the issues with the program. Rail and energy weapons are not "closer than I think". I work in the industry and know about where we are… we don't have the ability to generate the power to make them practical nor or they reliable. This isn't likely to change soon. Killing a program that is just now beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel after so much invested and infrastructure created to play with science experiments will hurt the military and the industrial base in a significant way. Sharks with lasers would be a good backup plan though.


dddd January 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm

For the record, I don't want to kill the JSF. It was a hypothetical.


Marcase January 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I find it always interesting how US DOD policies say “we won’t do that”, yet in the end they do precisely the most unwanted thing.

George H Bush said “We don’t do nation-building”, yet that’s exactly what was done (well, tried anyway) both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What I’m trying to say is that policy papers may say that the Two Block War (capability) is abandoned, I would not be surprised if that may happen in the future.

Often, conflicts / wars themselves pick the time and place, all you can do is react to it instead of claiming that we don’t *do* that type of thing.


blight January 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

There was no way we could afford the Two Front War, realistically. We would've gone the way of the Soviet Union if we let our military machine eat our peacetime economy alive.


kotch January 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Dddd if they cut the F35 i would hope a ton of funds were put into another manned fighter program asap. I dont think were ready to replace manned strike fighters with drones and a little under 200 F22s


Lance January 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Well true more of a deterrence force against Russia and China are needed and the Army is not needed for such a task a more robust Air Force and Navy are needed so I see the Army getting slashed and the Navy and USAF getting the life line. Fact is army projects are NOT needed GCV JLTV and the even more wasteful ICC need to go away. Like some said it be better for the DoDs dollars to goto new planes like the F-35 and F-15K/SE upgrade's and new ships like Virgina Class subs and DDG1000 destroyers than wasted on wasteful army programs.


Black Owl January 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I only have one question: When will someone get the balls to cancel the F-35?

The Iraq War cost a little over $300 billion. The JSF is over $300 billion. We could have fought a whole other war with the amount of money the JSF cost and it still isn't ready. Or it would have been better if we tried to invest that money into some sort of active stealth technology that could be equipped to all our 4.5 gen fighters like the F-16.


SJE January 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

This is a very difficult decision. A lot of allies bought into the F-35 program and did not make purchases or investments in other fighters. If the US pulls the plug, allies would be pissed and the US defense industry would lose credibility. Already there are replacement purchases of other fighters (e.g F18), leaving less in their budgets for the F35.


Black Owl January 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Honestly, that is not worth the price of the F-35. It should still be cancelled. I highly doubt our defense industry would lose that much credibility over this weapons platform. If anything Lockheed's credibility is what's mostly at stake. I'm also betting our allies would be relieved to not have to pay so much for a very small fleet of complex fighters with very questionable reliability.

Tell our allies that we're offering deals on F-16s, F-15s, and F/A-18s. It would be a good gesture of apologizing to them for the failure of the F-35 and be a way to still show that we want to maintain a healthy relationship in the area of defense.

The Australians have purchase F/A-18Fs because they doubt the F-35 will arrive on time or be worth its price. They have committed to only buying 14 of them and they were wise to do this.


guest January 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

"The Iraq War cost a little over $300 billion"

LOL. Where did you get those costs…fantasy land?


Black Owl January 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I was talking about the annual cost.


blight_ May 11, 2012 at 1:06 am

JSF cost the same per year? Or is it meant to evoke the idea that the annual cost of 110-150k men per year plus contractors, basing, munitions, water bottles, POL and bribe money is the same as the current total R&D costs of JSF?


nitrox January 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I agree because just like at the end of the Cold War and at the beginning of the new millennium we can be damn sure air power nerds can handle everything and no one will ever start any wars that require experienced ground troops.


blight January 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Bomber always wins, right Douhet?


BYOGuns January 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Can we just admit that the IED literally and figuratively killed the US' will to fight ground wars? The conflicts in Iraq and AFPAK would have and should have been a cakewalk, but were not thanks to this device. JIEDT Spend 100 of Billions to solve it and never did.

Now we pack up and go home wiht our tails between our legs, saying we will never do that messy thing again. Let us do what we are good at, spending money and on things that will never be used and preparing for scenarios that will never come; and and once again be caught with our pants down, with the wrong products and skill-sets. We suck at wars but are tops at planning and buying for wars that never materialize.



blight January 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Really? You'd think once they adapted to fighting this particular war, that they'd be all too happy to fight it again. Nowhere near as bloody as the Korean War, where entire divisions were encircled and had to fight their way clear, or Vietnam, where battalions and companies were attacked by many times their number and had to fight for their lives to stand against a Hutier storm attack.

Then again, the insurgents did attempt these kinds of tactics in Iraq, where they failed miserably.


The_Hand January 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Powered armor.


blight January 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

As much as I have a soft spot for the T-11b…


TH1 January 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I love unmanned platforms for all the reasons most people do. But there is one huge problem… they can be hacked and once they are, the entire fleet could become useless in the middle of combat… US must be overly careful to not allow itself to become volunerable to such a real threat against a top tier enemy (Russian, China)


flatwoodsflyer March 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

here goes congress again, cutting the ANG, do these idiots ever do anything right, just keep cutting and put us in a bind, the countries that hate us are just setting back waiting for us to weaken our military, Iran is one country to keep our eye on, China is another, in fact China has weakend our economy to the point that we couldn`t win a war with them, big time back stabbers, get rid of congress and the senate, that have made a life time of screwing up every bill that is put before them: just vote in Nov, get off you`re duffs and VOTE


dddd January 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm

If we learned one thing, its that you cannot change societies that have operated on a divided basis for thousands of years in a decade, even with hundreds of billions of dollars. Money doesn't do a very good job changing culture.


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