No sooner had I written yesterday, arguing that the US Navy should forgo forward deployment for maintenance, that Defense News published (http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130124/DEFREG02/301240022) a clarifying point from Admiral Greenert, the CNO. With sequestration, the next round of deployments wouldn't come off, simply because the ships wouldn't be ready for it. Well, that's a fair point, if your financial management of the fleet is really planned to be that bad.
I, for one, simply cannot believe that the American contribution to the defense of the alliance cannot be accomplished on ten or twenty percent less than the Navy spends now. A few weeks ago, I separately laid out some strategies for bringing that about, so I won't repeat them hear.
The trouble is that sequestration puts that cut into effect immediately; while that is far from ideal, it's manageable if the Defense Department wants to manage it. Most folks in the Pentagon, I hazard to say, don't actually covet the exquisite guidance they get from Capitol Hill. This is not to say that specific congressional action is not sometimes useful. I simply observe that in some other countries—notably France and Italy—the parliament is hardly at all involved in the selection of weapons systems, the microscopic oversight of R&D programs, and the creation of useless barriers to efficiency.
Rahm Emanuel infamously argued a few years ago that no good crisis should go waste, if it could serve as an opportunity for forcing through unrelated changes. If sequestration does come into effect, the Defense Department will need to create send the Congress a reprogramming request almost the size of the budget itself. Just as an illustrative sketch, note that the Navy may not want to buy four-fifths of five ships, but would instead just like four fully-built. So what should that request include?
A repeal of virtually everything that the Department finds odious, but that is enshrined in statute. Argue that American national security is in perilous straits because of Congressional inaction, and that bold leadership is required to rollback the barriers to reform. What would a new defense secretary have to lose? He did, after all, call the Pentagon "bloated" a few years ago.
If the administration could demand a vote on its 2,000-page Obamacare Bill, and give the congressmen just ninety minutes to read it, then it can force through a bill like that. And in marked contrast to the healthcare mess, this would actually tear down barriers to efficient management. After that, the serious housecleaning could start.
Jim +1-512-299-1269 www.jameshasik.com