Rapid Fire 2012-02-17: Sculpt, Don’t Just Cut
- German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the first rule of peace talks with the Taliban is, you don’t talk about peace talks. Well, he didn’t actually paraphrase Fight Club, but that’s the substance of his position expressed during a joint press conference with his American counterpart.
- Panetta and de Maiziere were also meeting to announce changes planned for US troops in Germany. The US Army will inactivate its 170th and 172nd infantry brigades this year and in fiscal 2014, respectively. Overall the US plans a rather moderate cut of 10,000 troops in Europe to a total of 70,000 by 2017. The Lexington Institute is asking where is the much-touted strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region?
- The RAND research firm published a paper trying to assess in what state al Qaeda currently is and notes that even though terrorist organizations rarely meet their strategic goals, some go on for decades. On Afghanistan:
“A victorious Taliban might offer al Qaeda asylum, although it could not guarantee immunity from continued American air strikes and special operations. For this reason, al Qaeda is
not likely to be able to establish the large, accessible training camps it had in Afghanistan before 9/11. Training and preparation for terrorist attacks will remain furtive. Al Qaeda’s terrorist strikes abroad might even be constrained by a tacit understanding with the Taliban not to again provoke foreign intervention.”
- Sustaining Afghan defense forces after NATO troops leave may cost $4B a year that Afghanistan doesn’t have. Afghanistan topped the DSCA’s list Foreign Military Sales for FY2011, mainly via what amounts to American donations.
- Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at the Atlantic Council last Wednesday that the US should be more open to buy from Europe, and actually does so quite regularly at the subsystem level. He underlined President Obama’s personal involvement in defining DoD’s new strategy and said they intend to “sculpt, not just cut.” 1-hour audio | Defense News.
- The US Department of State published the public comments they received from Huntington Ingalls Industries, DRS, UTC, Rolls-Royce and other parties on proposed revisions within ITAR export legislation: Category VI (surface vessels), Category XX (submersible vessels) [PDFs]. Carter called ITAR a “jewel of human creation.” He was joking, in case you’re wondering.
- Yuki Tatsumi chimed in CSIS’ PacNet [PDF] on the recent adjustments the US and Japan agreed to make to their
- US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Brett Lambert spoke at the CSIS Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group to talk about the implications of the FY13 budget. Charts/slides [PDF], video below: