Wednesday, June 06, 2012

American General in South Korea To Be Replaced After Spy Report - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

American General in South Korea To Be Replaced After Spy Report - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


SEOUL, South Korea -- The Pentagon announced the replacement of the commander of United States Special Forces in South Korea after a media report quoted him as saying that American and South Korean troops have been parachuting into North Korea on spy missions, a statement denied by Washington and the government in Seoul.
Brig. Gen. Neil H. Tolley's departure as commanding general of the Special Operations Command Korea, a job he held since October 2010, had been planned for some time as part of "routine" rotations of jobs and had "nothing to do with" the media report, said a spokesman of the American military in Seoul, speaking Tuesday on customary condition of anonymity....

-bth:  So I guess David Axe didn't make up his quotes after all.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Army seeks to replace combat vehicles, but it won't be easy – USATODAY.com

Army seeks to replace combat vehicles, but it won't be easy – USATODAY.com

 WASHINGTON – After more than a decade of war, the Army wants to replace combat vehicles worn out from millions of miles in rugged terrain in Iraq and Afghanistan or blown up by roadside bombs.

Its new personnel carriers must be safe enough for troops yet light and maneuverable enough to be deployed rapidly in support of the Obama administration's shift in strategy away from long-term occupations.
Trying to develop a light truck and a heavy personnel carrier that do everything the Army wants won't be cheap and could mean "we're pricing ourselves out of land warfare," says Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan defense think tank. He regularly advises top Defense officials.
The future, instead, could mean repairs, not replacements.
"I wouldn't gamble my house on those programs coming to fruition at the scale people are hoping," says Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. Federal budgets will be too tight, political support for major new weapons programs will be lacking, and industry hasn't been able to deliver systems the Pentagon wants at a reasonable cost, Singer says.
"That triumvirate is setting them up for not complete replacement but more likely a series of upgrades to existing vehicles," Singer says.
On the drawing board
The Army hasn't had much luck in fielding new vehicles in recent years. The Army spent $18 billion to develop the Ground Combat Vehicle for its Future Combat System, only to scrap it in 2009 because it couldn't protect from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Another project, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) meant to replace the workhorse Humvee, has been on the drawing board for more than a dozen years and still is not in production.
Despite that history, Lt. Gen. William Phillips, a top Army weapons buyer, says the Army has learned its lessons and will be able to field affordable vehicles relatively quickly.

Now, Phillips said in an interview with USA TODAY, the Pentagon hopes to have an operational JLTV by 2016 that would have the Humvee's maneuverability and the protection of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks credited with saving thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
JLTV's sticker price: about $300,000. An October 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office said, however, that meeting that price target "will be a challenge and will also likely depend on what type of contract the services award."
The other vehicle, the proposed Ground Combat Vehicle, is a larger armored personnel carrier designed to ferry about nine soldiers around battlefields. Its anticipated cost is about $10 million apiece, about half previous estimates, Phillips says. It wouldn't be ready for a mission until about 2019.
Both vehicles are essential to protecting troops from future threats, Phillips says.
However, as has been evident in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. enemies can blow up even the best armored vehicles with homemade bombs made from cheap fertilizer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience in an address at Harvard in April.
"The issue here is not whether it costs $10 million or $17 million," says Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute and defense industry consultant. "When an enemy can destroy it for a couple hundred dollars, that's the worst cost-exchange ratio I've ever seen."...

-bth: An article worth reading in full. The Army and Marines have done a terrible job managing their ground vehicles.  On the one hand they can't control their costs.  $10 million for a vehicle that isn't a tank is a joke.  MRAPS and MATVs have done an admirable job at something closer to a million.  

Also they have failed to adjust for changing threats.  IEDs are real and they aren't going away precisely because they are low tech and cost effective against a modern army.  The joint programs mentioned here have utterly failed when they try to plan for a war more than a few years out.  The fact is the wars are close in and the geography changes so to pursue a silver bullet is a joke. 

My conclusion is that the Pentagon has learned virtually nothing about vehicle program management and is hell bound to repeat the same disastrous program plans.  The Pentagon is better at working with large contractors with long term programs that deal with fantasy wars than it is about actually winning and fighting the wars at hand. Common sense isn't so common in these matters.