Pentagon Preps for Increased Troop Presence in Afghanistan

December 18, 2008

Government Relations Update - Defense

During his visit to the Middle East last weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his hopes of expediting the deployment of 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan as part of a "sustained commitment" during the Obama administration, which will likely require a continued U.S. troop presence for at least three years.

Echoing the Afghanistan strategy goals made by President-elect Obama on the campaign trail, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, has publicly requested four additional combat brigades, the first of which is due to arrive in January. Although the Pentagon projects a 12 to 18-month timeframe to implement a troop ramp up of this magnitude, Gates’ goal is to deploy two additional brigades by next spring, ultimately highlighting the urgency of a mission in Afghanistan that has been plagued by surging levels of violence spurred by the Taliban and various insurgent groups.

Additionally, while speaking to Persian Gulf leaders in Bahrain, Gates reiterated his belief that the U.S. and other Western nations cannot solely bear the human and financial burdens of the war in Afghanistan, urging Middle East nations to lend their support by funding and training Afghan security forces.

Pentagon Still Hashing Out War Supplemental Request

It can be expected that the pending Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 War Supplemental—which the DoD will likely send to Congress in early 2009, despite Gates’ original aim to complete in December—will include funding that aligns with a new Afghanistan strategy that is currently being formulated by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command.

However, contributing to the stall of the FY09 supplemental’s completion is the Office of Management and Budget’s contention that the DoD method of calculating the cost of war related wear and tear on aircraft and ground vehicles is faulty, according to InsideDefense. Several billion dollars of the $80 billion dollar request—specifically for vehicle and aircraft procurement—are under scrutiny by OMB and are at risk of losing funding.

Prevalence of Coastal Bandits Could Propel LCS Program

A recent surge in pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa has caused Pentagon acquisition officials to modify force projections for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), according to the Pentagon.

John J. Young, Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said this week that the Navy will likely increase their LCS purchase from 55 vessels to at least 64, in an effort to utilize LCS speed capabilities in shallow, coastal waters to combat unconventional threats such as piracy.

Currently, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics are vying for the Navy’s LCS purchase order, as Young praised the competing attributes of both the Lockheed-built Freedom (LCS-1) and the GD-built Independence (LCS-2). Young also emphasized his belief that pitting multiple contractors against each other will ultimately help prevent cost overruns and acquisition delays that have stifled the LCS program in the past. "The competition is vital…and it serves the acquisition community to say to people, ‘Better price is going to win the lion’s share of quantity unless the requirements dictate it differently,’" said Young.

Although LCS funding has been heavily debated within the Pentagon and Congress over the past few budget cycles, discussions pertaining to fleet size is not exclusive to LCS, as the Navy continues its struggle to develop and maintain an overarching shipbuilding plan. Along with LCS, the destroyer controversy of DDG 1000 vs. DDG 51 procurement, along with the reconciliation of an inconsistent Naval submarine procurement plan have caused disruptions.

GAO Uncovers Navy Waste

On December 12, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report slamming Navy management of parts inventory, contending that $7.5 billion, or 40 percent of inventory, proved to be unnecessary.

After reviewing four years of Navy data from 2004-2007, the GAO report indicates that these budget accountability issues stem from poor planning, management and communication, and recommends Navy implementation of the following steps:

  • Establish metrics and goals for tracking and assessing the cost efficiency of inventory management and incorporate these into existing management and oversight processes.
  • Evaluate and correct demand forecasting procedures where forecasts have been consistently inaccurate.
  • Improve communications among stakeholders, to include promptly relaying changes in programs and other decisions that affect purchases of spare parts.
  • Revise practices regarding initial provisioning management, on-order management, and retention management.
  • Perform and document required annual reviews to validate retention decision methods.

Notice: The purpose of this newsletter is to identify select developments that may be of interest to readers. The information contained herein is abridged and summarized from various sources, the accuracy and completeness of which cannot be assured. This alert should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.