Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Obama vs. Navy/Air Force?

Shawn Brimley‘s article in the new hot-off-the-press Parameters hits a couple of points pretty hard. This is especially significant because word on Laura Rozen’s street is that he is going to be the brains behind some of the new Pentagon bigwigs. Among his arguments: The Navy and the Air Force both need to sharply accelerate ...

588000_090306_Fail2.jpg
588000_090306_Fail2.jpg

Shawn Brimley's article in the new hot-off-the-press Parameters hits a couple of points pretty hard. This is especially significant because word on Laura Rozen's street is that he is going to be the brains behind some of the new Pentagon bigwigs. Among his arguments:

The Navy and the Air Force both need to sharply accelerate their moves into unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Navy has a big role to play in missile defense.
The Air Force needs to curtail the F-22 program and slow the F-35 program.

Brimley argues for using the Quadrennial Defense Review and other strategic reviews to shape the force. My worry is that over the last 16 years, the services have become adept at using the QDR to keep the civilians busy and exhaust them, while making the big decisions elsewhere. Acquisition issues constitute a war of attrition that the services feel they can always win, because they have both more time and people than the embattled civilians of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

Shawn Brimley‘s article in the new hot-off-the-press Parameters hits a couple of points pretty hard. This is especially significant because word on Laura Rozen’s street is that he is going to be the brains behind some of the new Pentagon bigwigs. Among his arguments:

  • The Navy and the Air Force both need to sharply accelerate their moves into unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • The Navy has a big role to play in missile defense.
  • The Air Force needs to curtail the F-22 program and slow the F-35 program.

Brimley argues for using the Quadrennial Defense Review and other strategic reviews to shape the force. My worry is that over the last 16 years, the services have become adept at using the QDR to keep the civilians busy and exhaust them, while making the big decisions elsewhere. Acquisition issues constitute a war of attrition that the services feel they can always win, because they have both more time and people than the embattled civilians of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

Full disclosure: Brimley is a friend and erstwhile CNAS colleague, and a great Arcto-American. He also was one of the most helpful critical readers of my new book, The Gamble.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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