America's Defense Budget Focus on Counterinsurgency
Here is a quick summary of winners and losers in the 2010 defense budget:
1. Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR): budget to be increased by 2 billion dollars.
2. Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV): Fielding and sustaining 50 Predator-class UAVs.
3. Army aviation forces: recruiting and training of additional Army helicopter crews and increase the budget by 500 million dollars.
4. Special forces: increasing special operation personnel by more than 2,800 and buying more aircraft for the special forces.
5. F-35 fighters: Gates plans to buy more F-35 fighters in fiscal year 2010, raising the F-35 budget from 6.8 billion U.S. dollars to 11.2 billion dollars. The proposal is to double the number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters the Pentagon buys next year -- to 30 from 14 in 2009. The F-35 is a cheaper, more multipurpose plane but it can't begin to compete with the F-22 as a fighter jet.
6. Littoral Combat Ships (LCS): Gates proposes to increase the purchase of LCS, seen as crucial to counterinsurgency operations in coastal regions and to improve inter-theater lift capacity.
7. F/A-18 fighter jets: Gates plans to buy 31 more F/A-18 fighter jets in fiscal year 2010.
8. Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV): increasing the charter of Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) ships from two to four until the Pentagon's own production program begins deliveries in 2011.
1. F-22 Raptor fighter jets: Gates said the Defense Department would complete its contract for 183 F-22 fighters and add four more, bringing the total to 187, before stopping the purchases.
2. VH-71 presidential helicopters: Gates said he plans to terminate the program, which had nearly doubled in cost to over US $ 13 billion and was six years behind schedule.
3. Transformation Satellite Communication System: Gates plans to cancel the program and buy two more Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites instead.
4. CG-X next generation cruiser: Gates plans to scrap the program for now, which was initially planned to be based on the DDG-1000 design.
5. Aircraft carriers: Gates also envisions to reduce the number of aircraft carriers from 11 to 10 after 2040.
6. Future Combat Systems (FCS): Gates will restructure the Army's modernization program and cut costs.
7. Missile defense: Gates will cut annual funding for missile defense by $1.4 billion. The losers include the Airborne Laser, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in the boost phase, and additional interceptors planned for the ground-based system in Alaska.
Combat Search and Rescue X (CSAR-X) helicopter program: Gates plans to cancel the 15-billion-dollar program to build new search and rescue helicopters.
8. Amphibious ship and sea-basing programs: Programs such as the 11th Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship and the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) SHIP will be delayed.
Gates characterized the budget shift as tailored to face the challenges of America at war with a host of players, many of them stateless and highly mobile, as opposed to the Cold War approach that long dominated the Pentagon's view of planning.
Gates acknowledged that his decisions would invite a lot of strong reaction.
"There's no question that a lot of these decisions will be controversial," he said at a press conference on Monday where he outlined his budget proposal. "My hope is that, as we have tried to do here in this building (Pentagon), the members of Congress will rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole."
Going by the history of defense budget process, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are more interested in funneling money to their home states than in spending dollars most effectively. Democrats and Republicans both help themselves and their constituents' short-term interests while criticizing the executive branch for failing to make tough choices.
The announced US defense budget for 2010 is nearly $700 billion (more than half of the trillion dollars spent on defense by the entire world) while the total aid for the developing countries from all the rich countries is only about $60 billion, including about $20 billion from the United States, accounting for less than 1% of US annual budget.
Here are some facts about the US foreign aid program:
1. Less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries.
2. The largest recipients are strategic allies such as Egypt, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
3. Israel is the richest country to receive U.S. assistance ($77 per Israeli compared to $3 per person in poor countries).
4. Even after the planned tripling of the US aid to Pakistan, it still amounts to less than $8 per Pakistani.
The planned $1.5 billion annual aid to Pakistan will be just over 1 percent of the $130 billion US budget for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Professor Anatol Lieven of London's King's College recently put it, "the stabilization and development of this country (Pakistan) is not merely an aspect of the war in Afghanistan, but a vital US interest in itself. Indeed, Pakistan in the long term is far more important than Afghanistan. The second is that changing Pakistani opinions will mean changing Pakistani society, and that is a project that will require massive, sustained and consistent aid over a generation." The professor adds, "Eight dollars per head is not going to transform anything much in the country. More over, the US statement emphasizes that the aid will be made conditional on Pakistan’s help to the US against the Taliban. This is a recipe for constant hold-ups, congressional blockages and the wrecking of any consistent, long-term programs."
The process of piling on all sorts of conditions by various interest groups and Indian lobbyists in Washington has already started as the aid to Pakistan bill comes up for debate in US Congress. According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, the first major condition for aid requires Pakistan to undertake not to support any person or group involved in activities meant to hurt India and to allow US investigators access to individuals suspected of engaging in nuclear proliferation if it wants to qualify for a threefold increase in US economic assistance. This is probably just one of many conditions that Pakistanis will see as an insult to and assault on the nation's sovereignty.
With Pakistan's growing population and rising expectations of its young people, it appears to me that the radical Islam is now spreading beyond its traditional home in NWFP and FATA to Pakistan's heartland of Punjab. It is also clear that the new generation of Pakistanis do not want to accept life under a feudal or tribal system that denies them basic human dignity. In the absence of significant economic growth (even the phenomenal 8% growth roughly equals 2.5m jobs), not enough jobs are being created for 3 million young people ready to join the work force each year, resulting in growing availability of recruits for terror outfits who pay them fairly well by local standards. According to Rand corporation estimates, the Taliban pay about $150 a month to each fighter, much higher than the $100 a month paid by the governments in the region. This fact has been amply illustrated by recent growth of the Punjabi Taliban who have been found recruited by terrorist groups for suicide bombings and violence within and outside Pakistan.
By adding more American UAVs and US troop reinforcements in Afghanistan, the commitment of significantly more money for greater firepower will remake neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan. On the contrary, it is certain to have major long-term negative repercussions for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the American interests in the region. At the very least, it is natural to expect more fighting and mounting American and civilian casualties during this year and the next few years, unless saner minds prevail and US changes course in favor of more political dialog and much greater use of soft power in the region.
Here's a video clip of Secretary Gates announcing his defense budget priorities:
Obama Seeks $ 663 billion for 2010 Defense
Pakistan's Choice: Globalization or Talibanization
Insights Into a Suicide Bombing in Pakistan
Feudal Punjab Fertile For Terrorism
Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy
Valuing Life in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Pakistan's Defense Industry