Daily Archives: Mar 2, 2013

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    On the first press conference after his nomination US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his deputy Ashton B. Carter said  yesterday the first step in sequestration measures is being implemented. Initially, training of soldier, Marines, Navy and Air Force pilots flying hours and navy steaming days are curtailed. In response to questions Hagel softened the official tone, referring to the dramatic cuts as ‘adjustments’, “We will manage these issues.

    These are adjustments” Hagel said, “Over the past two months, DOD has begun to see the effects and consequences of that uncertainty… We anticipated these kinds of realities. And we will do what we need to do to assure the capabilities of our forces.” Hagel said, “For these reasons, the department’s senior leadership and I will continue to work with the administration and Congress to help resolve this uncertainty. Specifically, we need a balanced deficit reduction plan that leads to an end to sequestration. And we need Congress to pass appropriations bills for DOD and all federal agencies” he added.

    These actions are required under mandatory cuts of $47 billion in defense spending before Sept. 30, 2013. While the cuts represent only about 10 percent of $487 billion in defense cuts earmarked by the Pentagon in 2012, added to reductions of $300 billion as part of efficiency initiatives announced two years ago, anticipating the Iraq and Afghanistan drawdowns. However, according to Ashton Carter, the sequestration is a different matter. “It is arbitrary. It is abrupt. And on top of sequestration, we have a continuing resolution in force which creates its own set of problems, I won’t go into, but in some categories are just as serious.”

    Hagel also referred to the serious consequences of the current arbitrary measures “Uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions. Leadership in the Pentagon, all of us, have two serious concerns: first, the abrupt and arbitrary cuts imposed by sequester; and second, the lack of budget management flexibility that we now face under the current continuing resolution.”

    Impact on Personnel

    While manpower costs are exempt from the cuts, DOD civilians, contractor workforce and employees of defense industries will suffer the full impact of the current measures. Through March 2013 DOD will issue preliminary notifications to thousands of civilian employees who will be furloughed. The department has about 800,000 civilian employees and the vast majority of them face losing 20 percent of their pay through the end of September. “I know that these budget cuts will cause pain, particularly among our civilian workforce and their families. I’m also concerned, as we all are, about the impact on readiness that these cuts will have across our force.” Hagel said.

    As sequester continues, we will be forced to assume more risk, with steps that will progressively have far-reaching effects.” Hagel continued. He said the Navy will began to prepare standing down four fighter wings, the first wing will stand down in April.

    “Effective immediately, Air Force flying hours will be cut back.” Hagel added, saying this will have a major impact on training and readiness. The Army will curtail training for all units except those deploying to Afghanistan, adversely impacting nearly 80 percent of Army operational units. Other measures already implemented under previous cuts included delaying deployment of naval assets; imposing civilian hiring freezes; beginning to lay off temporary and term employees; sharply cutting back facilities maintenance; and beginning reviews to delay contracts. While the services have some flexibility in deciding what programs to support, they are using that flexibility to protect operations in Afghanistan.

    Impact on Air Force Readiness

    According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter the cuts will not be imposed proportionally over all units as certain elements, such as the nuclear-capable Air Force and tactical units supporting operations in Afghanistan will be protected. “That means that the cuts caused by sequestration, also the continuing resolution, will fall more heavily on other parts of the combat Air Force. They’ll need to cease training, which means they won’t be ready for other conflicts, which is a serious impact.” Carter explained.

    According to Carter, the impact on Air Force and Navy pilot training will be immediate and will be felt for years to come. “If you stop training for a while and you’re a combat pilot, then you’d lose your rating and eventually can’t fly at all… This impacts the readiness of the other units, declining the air force’s capability to respond to contingencies” Carter warned, and added “we are trying to minimize that in every way we possibly can”.

    Cuts are implemented across all procurement programs, said Carter, “Sequester affects each of 2,500 individual investment programs individually. And so we’re working with our industry partners on each of those.” He added he expects the services will reduce the number of weapons systems purchased in a given category.

    10 Most Affected States

    All states will be affected, but these 10 states will bear the largest brunt. Deputy Secretary of Defense Carter has sent letters alerting governors of sequestration’s impact on military bases their states, and both the direct and indirect impacts of sequestration. The ten states most affected are: California, Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Alabama, and Washington. For example, roughly 26,000 Defense Department civilian employees work or reside in Pennsylvania, and they will take home $155 million less over the rest of fiscal 2013. In Virginia, maintenance on 11 Navy ships at Norfolk Naval Base is cancelled, with a associated loss of civilian contractor jobs. In California, sequestration will affect Beale, Edwards, Vandenberg and Travis air force bases. In Maryland, the cuts will impact the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, Andrews Air Force Base and Patuxent Naval Air Station. In Texas, operations at bases around the state will be affected and operations at Red River Army Depot could lose $1.4 billion.

     

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    F-35A test aircraft AF-4, captured during refueling from the U.S. Air Force tanker.

    F-35A test aircraft AF-4, captured during refueling from the U.S. Air Force tanker.

    With Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) once again cleared for flight operations, the Japanese government has decided to allow domestic defense contractors to manufacture and export components for the aircraft.

    Japan has adhered to a long-standing ban on the export of weapons in an effort to honor a self-imposed rule not to contribute to the perpetuation of international conflicts. Exempting the F-35 from provisions of the ban is predicated on the understanding that the United States, as the primary manufacturer of the aircraft, will accept responsibility for enforcing strict controls over access and use of the components manufactured in Japan.
    The Japanese export ban was initiated in 1967 by the prime minister of the time, Eisaku Sato, outlined in an order embracing a guideline of “three principles” to restrict weapon’s exports to communist nations, all nations subject to United Nations’ armament embargoes, and those countries engaged in international conflict. This prohibition was strengthened in 1976 to become an almost absolute ban.

    Many critics of the ban have long argued that the restrictive nature of this edict has prevented Japanese defense contractors from keeping pace with vital technological advances, has deprived them of lucrative business opportunities, and has increased the overall cost of weapon’s procurement.

    At times, the ban has been eased to satisfy political realities. In 1983, the ban was modified to allow for the sharing of weapon’s technology with the United States and again in 2004 to permit the two allies to combine their efforts in developing a practical missile defense system. In 2011, the ban was again modified to allow Japan to participate in joint projects with foreign nations to develop and manufacture weaponry supposedly aimed at strengthening international peace efforts.

    In a prepared statement released 1 March, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the government’s decision to relax the ban while continuing to adhere to the nation’s pacifist principles. Secretary Suga stated that it was imperative for Japan to develop a viable framework to upgrade the nation’s defense capabilities, production of defense-related materials, and gain access to associated technology. During a press conference, Secretary Suga indicated that relaxation of the ban would enhance Japan’s national security and was in keeping with the nation’s security agreements with the United States.

    It is expected that Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited, IHI Corporation, and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will all have a hand in the production and maintenance of F-35 components. These business entities are expected to contribute to the manufacture of fuselage parts, radar systems, and engine components.

    In addition to authorizing the manufacture and export of F-35 parts, the government also agreed to allow the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) to use non-warfighting support equipment – construction equipment, protective vests, and the like – to assist foreign nations in humanitarian efforts.

    Japan’s decision to relax the ban comes at a time when the nation is embroiled in territorial disputes with China, South Korea, and Taiwan. The dispute with China over the sovereignty of a collection of rocky outcroppings in the East China Sea has escalated in recent months to the point where both nations have launched fighter aircraft and armed naval vessels to intercept intruders entering the disputed region. China’s apparent advances in military technology and its warfighting capabilities in the past year have also heightened Japan’s national security concerns.

    In 2011, Japan signed an agreement with the United States to procure an initial shipment of four F-35s, with a follow-on order for an additional 42 aircraft to replace the Japanese Air Self-Defense (JASDF) fleet of aging fighters. The first aircraft are tentatively scheduled to begin delivery sometime in 2016 or early 2017.

    Despite the bad press and technical problems that have plagued the Lightning II since its inception, the Japanese Ministry of Defense insists that the aircraft continues to be Japan’s choice for the future of its aerial combat fleet.

    The F-35 is being developed and manufactured by an international consortium under the leadership of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. This consortium now consists of ten nations each contributing parts, technology, maintenance, and expertise to the project. In his statement, Secretary Suga insisted that it was necessary for Japan to become an active member of the consortium to ensure the JASDF had full access to all resources required to optimize the operational capabilities of the aircraft.

    The system presently in use to develop the F-35 into an operational fifth-generation stealth fighter able to outperform any and all potential adversaries is called the Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS) program. The basic premise of this arrangement is to reduce costs and enable participating nations to acquire parts and perform maintenance with a minimum of delay.

    Opposition critics have voiced their concern that Japanese-produced parts will find their way into F-35s operated by Israel, a member of the ten-nation ALGS. This, the critics say, would violate Japan’s claims of pacifism in light of Israel’s precarious situation that has often escalated into armed conflict in the past.

    When presented with this inconvenient reality, Secretary Suga claimed that should any F-35s equipped with Japanese-made components actually become engaged with hostile forces, Japan could always discontinue producing parts for the ALGS. This stance, of course, would be virtually impossible to live up to since Japan will be wholly dependent on the ALGS to keep its own F-35s flying.

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