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Strategic Forces Still Winning

by John Reed on January 10, 2012

So, CDR Salamander is pointing out at the U.S. Naval Institute blog that the Pentagon’s new strategy is a potentially big win for the Navy, I’d add the  Air Force, too.

Sal points out that the new strategy’s focus on Asia and developing a host of deep strike weapons capable of defeating modern defensive systems (known as anti-access/area denial systems, A2/AD), ISR, increased electronic/cyber warfare, partnership building, counter-terror and UAV ops are right up the sea service’s alley.

A2/AD, “Influence Squadrons,” Asian focus, rebuilding neglected readiness areas – these are all Navy areas. We need to embrace them and lean in to the President’s challenge. Less money is always less fun – but it can also bring rewards if you take advantage of the opportunities it can present.

Well, many of these are missions that the Air Force will have a key role in as well. The air service is working hand hard with the Navy to craft the air-sea battle concept aimed at fighting in the vast expanses of the western Pacific Ocean. The two are also working on developing the long discussed “family” of long range strike systems that will included the Air Force’s new bomber along with cruise missiles — and possibly ballistic missiles —  and UAVs developed by both services, possibly jointly. As for drones, ISR and the Air Force, well, they’ve become pretty synonymous in the past few years.

Now, this movement toward Asia and cost-effective strategic weapons isn’t brand new. Heck, check out last year’s budget announcement and you’ll see a big focus on what the Pentagon considers its vital strategic weapons programs. Read the new strategy and last year’s budget for clues as to what programs will win and which will lose when the Pentagon reveals its new budget in a couple of weeks. Remember, in a time of tight spending, budgets will follow strategy.



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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexander January 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I for one am not surprised that the AF and Navy are the big winners here. A simple look at a map of the Pacific makes plain why this is. Look for a new bomber platform, longer range UAV assets, and enhanced naval numbers. Long range strike weapons will come as a matter of corurse. Don't be surprised at additional funding for intelligence gathering space based systems.


Kotch January 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

ground forces really dont need a lot of work either… maybe start thinking about better anti-air gear


bobbymike January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Need to develop a new heavy lift prompt global strike missile to supplement our strike forces.


fromage January 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Is that a veiled assertion that we need new nukes on new ICBMs, or did you forget a comma?


bobbymike January 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Prompt global strike has always been used to describe conventionally armed systems on "strategic weapon systems". As for the comma, huh?

As for the word "veiled" if you have ever read any of my posts (why would you) I often, quite obviously, call for new nukes on new delivery systems but to avoid confusion I use ICBM or SLBM as has been used for fifty plus years for nuclear systems.


neither January 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Yeah, I know. But you wrote "heavy lift…," which could easily be slang for nuke, which you promote at all occasions. So hooray, we just coined a new euphemism! That was the comma. As for your posts, I've read them for years and disagree with probably 90% of them. But I'm aware of them, which is why I asked about the contextual meaning of "heavy lift." Kablooey!


fromage January 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Gah someone used this computer before me. Apologies. Fromage.

jamesb January 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

As usual….
Hardware driven…..
Air Force Fast movers!
Things NEVER Change….


Prodozul January 11, 2012 at 12:19 am

War. War never changes.


blight January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hooray for a Fallout reference.


Prodozul January 11, 2012 at 10:48 am

It seemed appropriate


crackedlenses January 11, 2012 at 11:31 am

Fallout or not, it's still very true….


James Purdy January 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

…and the second cold war begins. Guess we shouldn’t have spent so much at wal-mart on Chinese rubber dog $&@%.


Lance January 11, 2012 at 12:27 am

Its a good idea. Ships and new Fighters.bombers are needed now days. Crappy Army programs like GCV and ICC are a waste of money and need to die. Most attention should be for deterrence and counters of China and Russia.


William C. January 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

Meaning I could actually see a B-3 before I die? That would be good.


Uranium238 January 11, 2012 at 10:23 am

I really hope it's built to look just like the picture I see on this article. That bomber looks beautiful and absolutely insidious. I love it!!!


fromage January 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Sorry bub. It's stealth. No-see-um.


Lance January 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I doubt it no program will start till the 2020s and then by the time a B-3 will be in service the B-52s will be in service past 2045 and B-2s might be retired due to budget cuts. I hope the new bomber wont look like the awful drawing on this page its another B-2 then. Hope for a new awesome design.


fromage January 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

It would seem that there's a rash of comma-forgetting going on.


Clive January 11, 2012 at 5:49 am

Wonder how big a balls-up that new strategic bomber will be, probably a massive one with half a billion doller cost per unit and a production run of 12.


William C. January 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

Or we could decide on a set of requirements and planned production numbers, not change them, and actually do it right this time.

Because going from 132 to 21 aircraft does have something of an effect on unit cost you know…


Sev January 11, 2012 at 7:25 am

Looks like the B1 had sex with the B2 to make the B3 in the picture. Similar nose and cockpit to the Lancer and wings of the B2


Uranium238 January 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

Yet it still looks amazingly good!!!


Joe January 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

Just building up for a new cold war that will never turn hot. Then when we are in a COIN battle in mexico in 10 years, we will be scrambling to replace the skill sets and gear necessary to fight a mountain and jungle based insurgency. While multi billion dollar platforms cruise the seas and skies looking for targets and defending us from threats our enemies have no desire to provide.


crackedlenses January 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

Or we can spend all our time preparing for COIN ops, then get caught with our pants down when our enemies turn out to be conventional militaries…..


Tad January 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

I guess the terrorists never really panned out as enemies; after all, there haven't been any attacks against the US mainland for over 10 years. Oh well, at least we got to spend 2 trillion dollars and institute mass surveillance of the populace. But now that people are seriously questioning the whole fiasco, it's time to go get another enemy, hopefully one with more staying power.


blight January 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

Flip a coin. Heads it's Russia, Tails it's China.


BigRick January 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Russians not very likely, China it is certain, all one has to do is to listen to what they are saying and see what they are doing, it's obvious to everyone not wearing the rose-colored made in China sun glasses.

But, China isn't just interested in the gaining control of the Pacific, they are also eying Russia's vast natural resources, water, land, minerals, oil, gold, just sitting there ready to be taken (Russia won't be able to stop them).


blight January 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Russia isn't in NATO: so the US wouldn't be obligated to defend them. We won't hit them, so they could certainly use European forces as their strategic reserve, in a reverse of how Eastern forces were strategic reserves for Europe.

A reading of Inside the Soviet Army suggests that at its heyday they recycled old Soviet tanks for use as border turrets, but with the demise of the USSR it's likely border troops have taken funding cuts, and since border troops don't do the military parade propaganda thing, they're unlikely to be well funded. I guess they can serve adequately as meatshields until reinforcements arrive. Wonder if they will use chemical weapons…


fromage January 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

The Kardashians?


Dave Barnes January 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

Flight of the Old Dog and subsequent novels.


Kevin McCune February 15, 2012 at 5:30 am

Maybe some of the legacy platforms can be updated-I may be old fashioned,but looks to me like something could have been done with the A-6.


SJE January 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I am concerned about underinvestment in human fighters. Sure, we need tech for near-peer conflict. But troops are not just for assymetric warfare. In fact, skills such as COIN and SPEC OPS are very useful for large conflicts, especially if we are supporting insurgencies in the enemy's territiory. Also, what is our back up if the enemy disables sections of the forces, such as with EMP or hacks into our comm-links, or we have a critical fuel shortage that limits abilities to operate with all our fancy kit? Finally, using troops instead of heavy strategic weapons allows us to scale our response to the threat, instead of having an all or nothing response.


Dark Truth January 12, 2012 at 4:50 am

In reality we do not need such a large amount of troops, there is always a large amount of well trained reserves that we can pull if there's a huge conflict. Why bring all the young men and women into the military when they can be working to build the economy which is critical for our security. Imagine 1.5 million soldiers meaning 1.5 million less workers. In general the world has been pretty peaceful for the past couple of decades with only small military conflicts here and there. It doesnt require the US to go all out with million of troops. Lets look at the most recent one, Libya, the airforce and our allies were pretty successful there with no ground troops present. It also shows 1 thing, if the US limited its military intervention other allies will have to jump in with greater responsibility. So why do we need to go all out all the time and take all of the cost burden? Like Japan wth is Japan doing with total military personnel of 250,000 when there neighbor China has 2 million? It doesnt matter how technological japan's military is, if 1 million chinese troops invade their island japan is still done deal. Cmon USA make our allies take more responsibilities.


SJE January 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

I agree that the economy would grow more if more soldiers were working in business. But the same argument applies to equipment. An F-22 is not a "productive asset" in the economy. If anything, soldiers are better investments because they can be more quickly turned into skilled workers, but you can't repurpose an F-22 into a crop duster.


The Dark Truth January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

If you were to read the New York Times article last month regarding the returning troops from Iraq, you would see that it is not "quickly" or easy for returning troops when they get home. The battlefront and military lifestyle that they have lived with for years are completely different with the ordinary life that they will encounter when they return home. Especially, when they are being interviewed for jobs their only listed experience is operating weapons, is that really competence in an ordinary job? And who say an F22 is not a productive asset? In order to successfully research and develope an F22 it requires thousands of engineers to work. So imagine if there is no such program what will happen to these engineers? jobless, but since there is such a program they get a job, and they are able to do research and advance our country technology, its a win-win thing beside losing some tax money on the program.


Guy January 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

The pretext of 'taking on China' with high-tech, capital intensive (read taxpayer funded) projects is… asinine to the say the least.

If the Israelis don't sell the tech outright to China before hand (a la PAC3s in Finland) or your GWOT 'Allies' don't hand the tech over to China (a la crashed stealth copter in Pakistan) or your enemies don't capture the tech for show&tell with China (a la Iranian RQ) then the legions of Chinese hackers and agents in the US, will simply just steal the tech directly from US contractors or .mil databases (a la F-22).

As such, the B3, Global Strike, et al. platforms, will be countered, copied and neutralized before they even leave the production line.


Hunter78 January 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

The windshield proves this is a multi100billion $ waste, unless you're on the receiving end.


William C. January 12, 2012 at 1:51 am

You're an idiot. Wait until your unmanned bomber loses satellite connection and glides to a landing somewhere where you don't want it to be.


Thomas L. Nielsen January 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

….and it's carrying four 20kT next-gen tactical nukes.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


Monk January 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Who’s “we”? The military gets its hardware, corporations profit, and the sheeple foot the bill.


William C. January 11, 2012 at 6:32 am

Of course you're ignoring the fact that they're different classes of aircraft. Why not compare the F-35 to the old S-3 while you're at it?


Belesari January 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Once again with this crap. Heres another stat for ya.

F-35C payload 20,000lbs
X-47B payload 3,000lbs

Im betting those X-47's will cost 35 mil or so atleast. And not be worth a shit in air to air or have any real situational awareness, etc, etc, etc…………………………..

Now i can see a day in the near future when most aircraft like the F-18E/F Superhornet will lose that second man to a computer as processing power goes up. But a pure unmanned force…………no.


Uranium238 January 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

Yup, ironically Kim Jong Il is dead too…just like in the game. Crazy.


Sanem January 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

so you're argumenting that two aircraft, with completely different designs and purposes can't replace each other

so you're saying the F-35 is similar to the A-10?


BigRick January 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

well put :-)


William C. January 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

And no the X-47B couldn't replace the F-35C. No supersonic capability, radar guided AAMs, and all of that. UCAVs are still rather inflexible compared to manned fighters.


blight January 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Considering the average American is no longer as fit as the average American of 1938 or 1968, the new army would be…interesting. I'm not concerned about their fighting spirit though. Troops would need to spend longer in physical conditioning to get fit, moreso than was the norm waybackwhen. Maybe it isn't as important today, since we aren't expected to do 26 mile forced marches in a day every day a la Stonewall Jackson?


bobbymike January 12, 2012 at 10:38 am

The JSF can carry 2000lb JDAMs in its weapons bay I'm sure it can carry SDB..


crackedlenses January 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

When we can make sensors with the reflexes and capability of the human eye and a computer smarter than a trained pilot, then we'll discuss replacing fighter planes with UCAVs….


Sanem January 13, 2012 at 5:42 am

actually the JSF has such sensors and computers: they detect, identify, track and target anything within visual range
the biggest problem is actually feeding this data to the pilot, whose reflexes and eye capacity are only human…

btw, French and English generals ignored suggestions to move the focus from infantry to tanks in the 1930's, probably because it was a "stupid and unproven" idea. the Germans listened, and even though their equipment was inferior in many ways, the way they used it made them superior

a fighter UCAV does not need to be able to dogfight. all it needs to know is where the enemy is, and its missiles will do the work. other than that its only job is to die

how can a handful of fighters with a limited number of missiles stop hundreds of UAVs, heading for their base/carrier/tanker/awacs? its physically impossible, and doesn't even take into account J-20's or T-50's using their stealth, speed and UAV diversion to deliver the real killing blow


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