Rapid Fire September 19, 2012: DoD Contract Spending
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a data-rich report [PDF] on defense contract spending from 1990 to 2011, based in large part on FPDS data. This has a number of limitations, such as limited visibility into Air Force obligations given their significant use of classified contracts that are not filed in the FPDS database. The document includes a good number of interesting charts that track products vs. services, and relative obligations among and within the three major components. The Navy looks set to become again the biggest recipient among them, as it was before the Army saw a post-9/11 obligations boom that has been receding since 2008. The authors note that:
“In the years 2008 to 2011 there was a profound shift in DoD contract spending. While absolute obligations for defense services contracts declined by $25 billion and dropped from 64% of total DoD acquisition outlays to 55%, noncontract defense spending increased by $71 billion and increased from 36 percent of DoD acquisition outlays to 45%. Therefore, as DoD contracts spending decreased at an annual average of 2.1% in total value, its noncontract acquisitions increased by an 11.1% CAGR for the same period.
- The Taliban have adjusted their strategy away from holding ground, into attacks that can have more impact on the transition process and Western public opinions. If they know that NATO troops will have left within the next two years while the Afghan government’s military remains in shambles, why would they try to hold terrain?
- Meanwhile NATO’s ISAF said that reports of their stopping of joint patrols with Afghan forces were overstating what is only a temporary security measure. On background, the RAND Corporation documents historical precedents to the use of local defense forces against counterinsurgencies, while CSIS reviews the economic and aid conditions necessary for a successful transition.
- And in the latest Air Land Sea Bulletin [PDF], an article claiming that the “western way of war” is the wrong approach in Afghanistan:
“The principle foundations of the Western way of war will win battles tactically by eliminating adversarial combatants, but they do not tend to win the hearts and minds of the contested populace – the goal of the actors in question.”
- In a joint press conference with Leon Panetta, Chinese Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie did not rule out the use of force in his country’s dispute with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.
- The Strategic Studies Institute asserts that the US both underestimates China’s investments and clout in Africa, and under-appreciate Africa’s own progress during the last decade.
- The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering (DASD/SE) recognized the following programs for their systems engineering performance: AN/TPQ-53, Apache Block III, JPALS Inc-1, Trident Guidance MK6 MOD1, and AEHF.
- The US Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) published its FY11 report [PDF] on the federal suspension and debarment system. They are pretty happy about themselves, as well as related inter- and intra-agency work. As is the OMB. DoD and the military services, by virtue of their sheer size, are leading the number of show cause letters or administrative agreements with contractors that had compliance issues. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the report sounds like it is awarding an A for effort based on the appearance of activity over provable results.
- Reuters describes defense industry lobbyists as “feeling a bit powerless” in a gridlocked political environment.
- The US Army is testing an “osmotic dehydration” process to conserve meat in its rations. Despite the unappetizing lingo, this is supposed to make cured beef taste better. The fact that the technology was first developed in France gives it tasty credentials. Military test and evaluation is planned for mid-2013.