Obama’s final defense budget will be a huge headache for the next POTUS

There is a defense budget crisis on the horizon, but the Pentagon is hiding its head in the sand. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s reluctance to deal with it threatens to waste billions and saddle the next president with a political time bomb before she/he even sets foot in the White House. …

According to a Jan. 27 report by budget guru Todd Harrison at the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), many of the new weapon systems the Pentagon plans to build will reach their peak funding requirements at the same time, around 2022. This is known in defense jargon as a modernization “bow wave” and, given budget caps and limited resources, there will not be enough money to pay for it. Continue reading

Obama missed his last opportunity to bring down unsustainable nuclear weapons spending trajectory

The Fiscal Year 2017 proposal contains significant increases for several Defense and Energy department nuclear weapons systems pursuant to the Obama administration’sredundant, all-of-the-above approach to remodeling the arsenal. (See chart). The request does not make significant changes to the planned development timelines for these programs.

The president missed one of his last opportunities to make common sense adjustments to the current nuclear weapons spending trajectory.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report in January 2015, the direct costs of the administration’s plans for nuclear forces will total about $350 billion between fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2024. Over the next 30 years, the bill could add up to $1 trillion, according to three separate independent estimates.
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RAND: Nuclear weapons in Europe useless to deter Russian attacks

The central nuclear observation of the report is thatNATO nuclear forces do not have much credibility in protecting the Baltic States against a Russian attack.

That conclusion is, to say the least, interesting given the extent to which some analysts and former/current officials have been arguing that NATO/US need to have more/better limited regional nuclear options to counter Russia in Europe. Continue reading

British Nuclear Arsenal’s many safety problems

For the British Parliament and much of the media, the problem is mainly the vast amounts of money spent to keep it going. According to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, the program’s total cost is £15-20 billion. Anti-nuclear campaigners give a figure of around £100 billion, give or take. At least, that’s how much it should rack up in costs over its 40 year lifespan.

However, what is less talked about is how both the submarines and the bases that maintain them have suffered from a series of glaring safety mishaps. …
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5% Digest (week 06/04/15)

Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan stated,

It’s a long war, unfortunately. But it’s been a war that has been in existence for millennia, at the same time—the use of violence for political purposes against noncombatants by either a state actor or a subnational group.

Terrorism has taken many forms over the years. What is more challenging now is, again, the technology that is available to terrorists, the great devastation that can be created by even a handful of folks, and also mass communication that just proliferates all of this activity and incitement and encouragement. So you have an environment now that’s very conducive to that type of propaganda and recruitment efforts, as well as the ability to get materials that are going to kill people. And so this is going to be something, I think, that we’re always going to have to be vigilant about. There is evil in the world and some people just want to kill for the sake of killing…This is something that, whether it’s from this group right now or another group, I think the ability to cause damage and violence and kill will be with us for many years to come.”

Micah Zenko summarised Brennan’s whole speech:

To summarize, the war on terrorism is working, compared to inaction or other policies. But, the American people should expect it to continue for millennia, or as long as lethal technologies and mass communication remain available to evil people.

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5% Digest (week 16/03/15)

According to SIPRI’s latest report, there is a 16% increase in the volume of arms transferred around the world. The world’s biggest arms exporters in the past five years were the US, Russia, China, Germany and France. China’s exports of major arms rose by 143% in the five years to 2014 from the previous five years. Germany’s arms exports fell by 43% and France’s dropped 27% in the same time frame.

India was the world’s largest single arms importer. Four other Asian countries, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore, are also among the top 10 largest arms importers.
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