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Old 04-27-2012   #1
AmericanPride
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Default Combat Power, Conflict Resolution, and US Economy

The recent conversation about the utility (and impact) of conscription in the United States has led me to consider the relationship between the US economy, combat power, and conflict resolution. The downward spiraling relationship between US military expenditures and declining US combat power is already well-established. For you visual folks, here is a visual depiction:


The graph is a quick overview of US combat power from 1973 to 2009.

So, I ask, what is the future of US military readiness and security given that the JCC believes we live in an unprecedented dangerous world? My questions are:

- Is there a relationship between any economic indicators (wealth concentration, unemployment, tax revenue) and US military expenditures and/or combat power?

- Is there a relationship between US combat power or US military expenditures and conflict resolution (conflict propensity, conflict intensity, and conflict termination)?

- Of the terminated conflicts, is there a relationship between US combat power and definitive and favorable terminations?
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Old 04-27-2012   #2
OfTheTroops
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Default Platform numbers vs platform capabilities

I don't think 10000 aircraft in 1973 have greater combat capability than 4000 in 2009.i thought there were way more sm 1991 than what's reflected I could be wrong
. The answer I think is a false reasoning cycle ie we always draw down after war
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Old 04-27-2012   #3
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Hi OTT,

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTT
I don't think 10000 aircraft in 1973 have greater combat capability than 4000 in 2009.
You are right, according to the DoD/NATO definition of combat power: "The total means of destructive and/or disruptive force which a military unit/formation can apply against the opponent at a given time." During a speech at Harvard University this month, General Dempsey stated:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Dempsey
What truly concerns me as chairman is that these lethal and destructive technologies are proliferating in two directions. They’re proliferating horizontally across advanced militaries in the world, and they’re proliferating vertically, down to nonstate actors, especially insurgents, terrorist groups and even transnational organized crime. As a result, more people have the ability to harm us or deny us the ability to act than at any point in my life [my note: Dempsey was born in 1952]. And that’s the security paradox.
His assessment about the proliferation of threats is shared by the intelligence community:

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Clapper
Although I believe that counter-terrorism, counterproliferation, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence are at the immediate forefront of our security concerns, it is virtually impossible to rank - in terms of long-term importance - the numerous, potential threats to US national security... Rather, it is the multiplicity and interconnectedness of potential threats 0 and the actors behind them- that constitute our biggest challenge.
Clapper's testimony continues with listing every conceivable threat to US national security, from Al-Qaeda and Afghan instability to China and Iran. Realism is the dominant frame of thinking US policy circles, and one of its core assumptions is that "relations between states are determined by their levels of power derived primarily from their military and economic capabilities." In other words, power is relative; therefore, the absolute number of aircraft in the US inventory is not as important as how many aircraft we have relative to our adversaries (it is also important to note that studies indicate that operator efficiency is a better predictor of combat performance than technological advantage). As noted by both Dempsey and Martin, the amount of threats are proliferating.This will be examined later on when I look into US combat power and conflict resolution.

An problem underlying this trend is the congressional testimony I cited in the first post that identifies drastically slowing US procurement vis-a-vis military expenditures. In sum, military equipment is taking longer and more cash to develop and are procured in fewer numbers with higher maintenance cost per unit; in other words, inventories are shrinking and aging and this trend is not a function of decreased spending.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTT
i thought there were way more sm 1991 than what's reflected I could be wrong
My numbers were from the Office of Personnel and Management's federal employment statistics, which says there were 2,040,000 uniformed military personnel in 1991.
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Old 04-27-2012   #4
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Default Napoleon Dempsey and James Rommel, the Desert Mason...

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Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
So, I ask, what is the future of US military readiness and security given that the JCC believes we live in an unprecedented dangerous world?
By JCC I presume you mean the CJCS.

I wouldn't put too much stock in that "unprecedented dangerous world." It's been far worse several times. !942 was not a good year. Even 1962 was fearful to many. There have been others in the last 70 years or so. The system requires danger or an approximation thereof to keep the budget up to the maximum possible extent. DoD and the JCS are not above hyping the 'threat' to do that. Way the game is played in Washington...
Quote:
Is there a relationship between any economic indicators (wealth concentration, unemployment, tax revenue) and US military expenditures and/or combat power?
There's a direct relationship between tax revenue and military expenditures. Precisely what that relationship happens to be varies from time to time depending on Administration and perceived threat levels. There's an indirect relationship between wealth concentration and the other economic factors but it also can vary considerably over time due to many things. The relationship between any of those -- including military expenditures -- and combat power is tenuous and infinitely variable. As you have correctly stated, recent large expenditures have not produced more effectiveness. Indeed, some say the opposite has occurred, a surfeit of money has enable and enforced mediocrity...

Most of that variability is produced by humans; they after all are the one who start wars and who fight in them and that's why the metrication of warfare and attempts to produce empirical norms, rules or 'doctrine' are rarely successful
Quote:
Is there a relationship between US combat power or US military expenditures and conflict resolution (conflict propensity, conflict intensity, and conflict termination)?
Not consistently because propensity and termination are under political control; intensity is not solely under US military control, the opponent gets a vote as to an extent do politicians from both sides. Heh -- even the weather can interfere...
Quote:
Of the terminated conflicts, is there a relationship between US combat power and definitive and favorable terminations?
Not since World War II other than for Grenada, Panama and Desert Storm -- all of which were aberrations. In most of the others, certainly the three largest, US combat Power was held on a very short leash; much was not used due to some military and a great many political factors. In any counterinsurgency or similar operations, a definitive conclusion is generally not achievable, a compromise of varying satisfaction is most likely. Subutai would not understand.

Napoleon Bonaparte had some problems but he won a bunch before he lost the one that counted -- he's alleged to have said "...morale is to the physical as three is to one." If he didn't, many others certainly did over the centuries because it is an absolute truth. Combat power comes from capability, capability is in part dependent upon expenditures but actual capability ultimately relies on people. World War II was an exercise in expenditure but it was brought to a successful conclusion by many people from many nations, all of whom suffered under far more pervasive and discriminatory wealth concentration and unemployment problems due to a major depression than many today can comprehend. Tax intake was higher on a percentage basis due to the value of money but net revenues were lower due to that same factor.

That said, Of the Troops has a point. Ship, Aircraft, all Equipment -- and soldier -- capability (not performance allowed...) today is far greater than was the case in 1973 so straight line comparisons can be very misleading. To use one factor I've mentioned elsewhere, the average infantryman in Viet Nam walked around with about $2,500 (inflation adjusted) worth of gear on his body; his counterpart today has about ten times that and near concomitant capability. There is a difference between the two other than that -- the earlier guy was allowed to take his even more mediocre training than today's Troop and put it to use; he had fewer constraints. Combat power is comprised of many factors and the economic aspect may be only a third or so, Political and Military will are important while training and experience are also a variable that can have salutary effect.
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Old 04-27-2012   #5
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Before we look at the relationship between combat power, conflict resolution, and the US economy, I want to look at each service separately; first land power, then air power, and then sea power.



This graph compares the Army's budget with the number of its uniformed and civilian personnel. I have not been able to find numbers for the Army's vehicle inventory as I have for both the Air Force and Navy, so I admit this picture as of now is incomplete. However, I would like to point out that the 2001 sharp increase in funding did not produce a notable increase in personnel. This is because the majority of new spending was operational expenses. This should be compared to the number of soldiers that actually served in combat zones by year between 2001 and 2009 instead of overall end-strength. Since only a small percentage of personnel were actually ever in theater at any one time, it calls into question the sustainability of the force in prolonged conflict. The Army's budget more than doubled to maintain a tiny fraction of its forces in the field.

What does this imply in regards to US ability to engage and defeat the proliferating, disparate global threats identified by both Dempsey and Clapper?
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Old 04-27-2012   #6
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All the way back to Colonel Warden's first book 1990 ( The Air Campaign) he was warning that the US should be thinking about and preparing for the fact that we may have to fight a future war where we are NOT the economically superior power. That will require a very differnat force and very differant way of thinking than we now have. Very interesting thread American Pride!
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Old 04-27-2012   #7
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Quote:
In other words, power is relative; therefore, the absolute number of aircraft in the US inventory is not as important as how many aircraft we have relative to our adversaries (it is also important to note that studies indicate that operator efficiency is a better predictor of combat performance than technological advantage).
It's not really possible to compare numbers - even relative numbers - and reach a valid conclusion. There are too many factors involved and # of platforms is highly deceiving.

Quote:
The downward spiraling relationship between US military expenditures and declining US combat power is already well-established.
Well, the defense numbers in your chart include the costs of actually fighting wars. Fighting a war does tend to use up combat power and, at the same time, cost a lot of money. You'll notice there is an uptick in 1991 which was the First Gulf War and another in 1999 for Kosovo, then it exploded after 9/11. Therefore I don't think it shows a death-spiral but the financial reality of fighting two large land wars in Asia. Peacetime and wartime defense costs are apples and oranges IMO.

Also, Spinney's opinion is always worth noting, but a lot of equally smart people disagree with him.

Quote:
- Is there a relationship between any economic indicators (wealth concentration, unemployment, tax revenue) and US military expenditures and/or combat power?
Yes, it's call GDP. The more you have, the more military you can afford.

Quote:
- Is there a relationship between US combat power or US military expenditures and conflict resolution (conflict propensity, conflict intensity, and conflict termination)?
Pretty much agree with Ken on this one.

Quote:
- Of the terminated conflicts, is there a relationship between US combat power and definitive and favorable terminations?
Combat power is only one factor and it's relative importance is situational.
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Old 04-27-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
So, I ask, what is the future of US military readiness and security given that the JCC believes we live in an unprecedented dangerous world? My questions are:
Agree with Ken, this is way overstated. Exactly what are these "unprecedented" dangers?

Te extent to which military spending is proportional to our ability to avert or preempt danger would depend on the nature of the probable threats. A large inventory of ships or aircraft is not going to do much to control the threat of a terrorist group with WMD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
- Of the terminated conflicts, is there a relationship between US combat power and definitive and favorable terminations?
I'd think "favorable terminations" have more to do with wise selection of goals than with the amount of military power available. More military power would not have turned Afghanistan into a democracy; that was never a reasonable goal to begin with. Sometimes what you choose to do with what you've got has more to do with success than what you've got.
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Old 04-27-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
I wouldn't put too much stock in that "unprecedented dangerous world." It's been far worse several times. !942 was not a good year. Even 1962 was fearful to many. There have been others in the last 70 years or so. The system requires danger or an approximation thereof to keep the budget up to the maximum possible extent. DoD and the JCS are not above hyping the 'threat' to do that. Way the game is played in Washington...
I agree in principle, but I also must finding a starting point in measuring security threats, and the testimony of the highest ranking military officer and the highest ranking intelligence official seems like a good place to start. Later on, I will look more specifically into the claim of threat proliferation to test whether or not America's combat power is in decline from that perspective. Right now, I am focusing on combat power and military expenditures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
There's a direct relationship between tax revenue and military expenditures. Precisely what that relationship happens to be varies from time to time depending on Administration and perceived threat levels. There's an indirect relationship between wealth concentration and the other economic factors but it also can vary considerably over time due to many things. The relationship between any of those -- including military expenditures -- and combat power is tenuous and infinitely variable.
I am withholding my opinion on this subject until I lay out the data. It would seem, at least superficially, that there is a direct relationship between tax revenue and military expenditures, but the last ten years of a simultaneous increase in military expenditures and decrease in tax revenues calls into question the nature of that relationship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
That said, Of the Troops has a point. Ship, Aircraft, all Equipment -- and soldier -- capability (not performance allowed...) today is far greater than was the case in 1973 so straight line comparisons can be very misleading. To use one factor I've mentioned elsewhere, the average infantryman in Viet Nam walked around with about $2,500 (inflation adjusted) worth of gear on his body; his counterpart today has about ten times that and near concomitant capability.
This is a problem of space, which the DoD/NATO definition of combat power does not acknowledge. Whatever the firepower capability of a soldier, aircraft, or warship, it can only be applied in one geographic space at any one time; so, the number of soldiers, etc must be compared to the number of geographically disparate threats. So how we measure relative combat power between, say, the 1973 aircraft and the 2012 aircraft is to find their ratio of cost-per-unit to how many units are active. The F-35 costs between 197 and 237 million dollars. One of the aircraft it will replace is the F-16, which cost 14 - 18 million dollars per unit. If we assume that the amount of combat power that a dollar can buy is fixed, then in order for the F-35 to be "worth it", it must provide at least 1,316% more combat power than the F-16. By anyone's definition of combat power, does it? The US has 2,230 F-16s, 335 A-10s, and 409 F/A-18s (the other two aircraft the F-35 will replace), for a total of 2,974 aircraft. The official plan is to buy around 2,400 aircraft. If we assume that to be the case (even though procurement has been both delayed and reduced because of cost of growth), and use the DoD/NATO definition of combat power, then even though the US intends to buy 20% less aircraft than current inventory, for now it is purchasing an equal or greater amount of combat power. For the US to replace F-16 combat power 1:1 (assuming the F-35 can provide 1,316% more combat power), the US must purchase at least 1,600 new F-35s. These are numbers that I will look at in the near future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy
Well, the defense numbers in your chart include the costs of actually fighting wars. Fighting a war does tend to use up combat power and, at the same time, cost a lot of money. You'll notice there is an uptick in 1991 which was the First Gulf War and another in 1999 for Kosovo, then it exploded after 9/11. Therefore I don't think it shows a death-spiral but the financial reality of fighting two large land wars in Asia. Peacetime and wartime defense costs are apples and oranges IMO.
Operational expenses and the base budget are calculated separately, so we can see clearly in the documentation that the increase in spending is related to the cost of maintaining the forces in the field after they have already been trained and equipped. Yes, war is expensive, and for the US Army at least (I have not looked at USAF and USN numbers yet), it is become more expensive to actually use combat power. The data so far strongly suggests that the cost to maintain forces in the field has far outpaced military appropriations and US economic capacity to finance it. This means, if trends continue, the amount of combat power that the US can deploy or the amount of time such forces can be sustained will diminish. This is a major economic and security problem if true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy
Yes, it's call GDP. The more you have, the more military you can afford.
This is true if we assume that the growth in cost-per-unit is lower than than the growth in US GDP. If that assumption is false, then with every budget cycle, the US will actually be purchasing less combat power per dollar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan
Exactly what are these "unprecedented" dangers?
Read the document.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayhuan
Te extent to which military spending is proportional to our ability to avert or preempt danger would depend on the nature of the probable threats. A large inventory of ships or aircraft is not going to do much to control the threat of a terrorist group with WMD.
This is not necessarily true. How many soldiers, aircraft, and ships has the US used in combating Al-Qaeda and the Taliban? There are X amount of soldiers on the ground, Y amount of aircraft providing tactical, logistical, intelligence, etc support, and Z amount of ships moving to and fro (at times with escort) moving supplies, combat aircraft, etc. Then there are overhead assets that enable communication, etc, with their operators also. Whether or not all of this is necessary for defeating a terrorist group (with or without WMD) is besides the point; it can and is being used for that purpose. Your objection is one of military effectiveness, which will be looked at when I investigate conflict resolution.
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Old 04-27-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
I agree in principle, but I also must finding a starting point in measuring security threats, and the testimony of the highest ranking military officer and the highest ranking intelligence official seems like a good place to start.
Mmm. Be careful. My observation over many years is that is a flawed assumption. My two pet, if minor, examples of the error of that approach are the testimonies before Congress of then General Louis Wagner as CG AMC that the Sergeant York DivAD was the finest air defense weapon in the world (shortly before it shot up a Latrine on the Range at Fort Bliss at its Press introduction (and shortly before it was cancelled)... ) and then General Robert RisCassi, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army that the Dragon (LINK)was the greatest anti tank missile in the world just before we canned it and started buying Javs.

Omitted from the Wiki article is the disconcerting tendency of some Dragons to go a few feet out of the launcher and plop on the ground -- and the fact that the gunner had to be unusually well trained and experience in firing the missile to obtain an even marginal hit.

Generals, like all humans, have agendas so be careful...
Quote:
Right now, I am focusing on combat power and military expenditures.
You're probably aware that there are numerous hookers in the defense budget and several blind alleys. There's also a lot of Congressional vote buying concealed therein...
Quote:
It would seem, at least superficially, that there is a direct relationship between tax revenue and military expenditures, but the last ten years of a simultaneous increase in military expenditures and decrease in tax revenues calls into question the nature of that relationship.
True and you'll also find other incongruous periods -- the overall trend for a multi decade period, five or more, will I believe give you more accurate data.
Quote:
The F-35 costs between 197 and 237 million dollars. One of the aircraft it will replace is the F-16, which cost 14 - 18 million dollars per unit.
Check the new costs for the F-16 when it appeared in the 1970s and adjust for inflation. Using only current publicly available prices can badly skew your data.
Quote:
If we assume that the amount of combat power that a dollar can buy is fixed, then in order for the F-35 to be "worth it", it must provide at least 1,316% more combat power than the F-16. By anyone's definition of combat power, does it?
I think that is a bad assumption; that the costs must be very accurately assessed and compared; and that the mechanically derived variance factor all must be approached with great caution. Combat power is a function of both capability and of application not only of the equipment but of its operators and support systems. How much, if any, better trained are today's pilots and how much more capable are all the mission systems? A Sidewinder is a Sidewinder but the AIM-9X is a vastly different creature than an AIM-9B. Mission planning capability? Sortie generation? Maintenance man hours versus flight hours? Sensors? How much is the 'Stealth' feature of the F-35 worth...
Quote:
Operational expenses and the base budget are calculated separately, so we can see clearly in the documentation that the increase in spending is related to the cost of maintaining the forces in the field after they have already been trained and equipped.
As I'm sure you're aware, many items in the O&M budgets of all the services are spent on things other than supporting elements deployed or in the field -- much of it goes to maintain the massive (and unduly expensive...) garrison and base operation in CONUS. Much also is spent on Exercises and add-on training, on TDY and travel to esoteric meeting in CONUS and around the world. Lot of fluff in there...
Quote:
The data so far strongly suggests that the cost to maintain forces in the field has far outpaced military appropriations and US economic capacity to finance it. This means, if trends continue, the amount of combat power that the US can deploy or the amount of time such forces can be sustained will diminish. This is a major economic and security problem if true.
I suspect you will discover that (a) it is quite true and (b) little is being done about it.
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Old 04-27-2012   #11
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OK, so now let's look at air power.

USAF Budget, Inventory, and End-Strength


This trend should come as no surprise to anyone. However, as I mentioned in my post with Ken, at least in regards to the F-35 replacement of the F-16, the US is actually purchasing per dollar less combat power with each new procurement cycle. If this is true, we will continue to see the number of tactical fighters decline at an increasingly higher rate compared to appropriations in the budget.
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Old 04-27-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
Generals, like all humans, have agendas so be careful...
I agree. As I stated, I will be looking at conflict resolution after looking at combat power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
I think that is a bad assumption; that the costs must be very accurately assessed and compared; and that the mechanically derived variance factor all must be approached with great caution. Combat power is a function of both capability and of application not only of the equipment but of its operators and support systems. How much, if any, better trained are today's pilots and how much more capable are all the mission systems? A Sidewinder is a Sidewinder but the AIM-9X is a vastly different creature than an AIM-9B. Mission planning capability? Sortie generation? Maintenance man hours versus flight hours? Sensors? How much is the 'Stealth' feature of the F-35 worth...
It doesn't matter how we calculate or determine "combat power", or what other factors we include under its umbrella, as long as we apply both to the F-16 and the F-35 (or any other compared platforms). If all these factors are the same, but one aircraft costs X amount more than another aircraft, then in order to be cost effective that aircraft must also see a proportional increase in its combat power. I very much doubt that the F-35 has two or three times more combat power than the F-16, much less 11 times. As a side note, if we continue to see a decline in aircraft numbers combined with greater maintenance requirements and higher operational costs, then I suspect at some point we will also see a decline in flight hours. This could be off-set temporarily by increased simulator time and larger outlays for operations, but neither are sustainable to maintain combat power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken
As I'm sure you're aware, many items in the O&M budgets of all the services are spent on things other than supporting elements deployed or in the field -- much of it goes to maintain the massive (and unduly expensive...) garrison and base operation in CONUS. Much also is spent on Exercises and add-on training, on TDY and travel to esoteric meeting in CONUS and around the world. Lot of fluff in there...
This budget document (slide 5) illustrates that the majority of new funding came from the operational budget, starting in 2002. Whether or not they used it for expenses elsewhere doesn't matter, since that money paid for overseas combat expenses in totality.
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Old 04-27-2012   #13
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AmericanPride,

You really need to define "Combat Power." You seem to be using the term in multiple way and in multiple contexts.
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Old 04-27-2012   #14
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Quote:
It doesn't matter how we calculate or determine "combat power", or what other factors we include under its umbrella, as long as we apply both to the F-16 and the F-35 (or any other compared platforms). If all these factors are the same, but one aircraft costs X amount more than another aircraft, then in order to be cost effective that aircraft must also see a proportional increase in its combat power.
The problem is, all those factors are not the same. Comparing numbers of platforms is going to lead to bad analysis. Comparing platforms in a vacuum also leads to bad analysis. Just look at the various debates over the years as to what is better - The F-16 or the Mig-29? The answer is, it depends.

Platforms function as parts of a system where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (which is the essence of combined arms). Just to give a quick example, the fact that we have AEW aircraft makes our air-to-air fighters much more effective than they otherwise would be.

As far as the F-35 goes, I think it's way too expensive. As I noted a couple years ago, it's too big to fail at this point.
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Old 04-27-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy
You really need to define "Combat Power." You seem to be using the term in multiple way and in multiple contexts.
There are three modes of analysis occurring simultaneously. First, there is the absolute measurement of combat power (as defined by DoD/NATO) of a platform's capabilities; this is more accurately described as "combat capability" for our purposes. The second mode of analysis is based on the first and is really just relative combat capability between different platforms of the same class. Lastly, there is relative combat power, which I described in my response to OTT, as a comparison between the US and its adversaries and threats. This is probably best described as "combat capacity"; the potential combat capability that can be leveraged by the US. Hopefully that clears it up some.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy
The problem is, all those factors are not the same. Comparing numbers of platforms is going to lead to bad analysis. Comparing platforms in a vacuum also leads to bad analysis. Just look at the various debates over the years as to what is better - The F-16 or the Mig-29? The answer is, it depends.
I agree, which is why I selected the cost-per-unit as the base measurement. I am certain that the F-35A, for example, has greater absolute combat capability than the F-16. But when we're discussing whether or not the US is actually purchasing more combat capacity when replacing the F-16 with the F-35A, we also must factor in how many platforms are being purchased. So, if the ratio of cost-per-unit:total inventory is different between the platforms, not only do we know that the aircraft have different combat capabilities, but that the US is also purchasing a different level of combat capacity. In the final tally, the US is purchasing an aircraft with greater combat capability but is simultaneously reducing its own combat capacity because it cannot procure as the necessary aircraft to replace the F-16's combat capability one-for-one. For this reason, I agree with you that the F-35 is too expensive. And I suspect that you are also right about it being too big to fail.

Before continuing on to seapower, I am going to look out USAF outlays; so hopefully that information will help guide our conversation some more.
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Old 04-27-2012   #16
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USAF Personnel, Operations and Maintenance, and Procurement Outlays


Here are some key events in USAF procurement:

1976: F-1t enters operational service
1976: A-10 enters operational service
1980: F-16 enters operational service
1983: F-117 enters operational service
1986: B-1 enters operational service
1993: C-17 enters operational service
1997: B-2 enters operational service
2008: F-117 retired from service
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Old 04-27-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
If all these factors are the same, but one aircraft costs X amount more than another aircraft, then in order to be cost effective that aircraft must also see a proportional increase in its combat power.
I doubt many blue suiters would agree. I'm a retired and retarded no suit wearer and I sure don''t. Your problem in that statement is the "if"...
Quote:
Whether or not they used it for expenses elsewhere doesn't matter, since that money paid for overseas combat expenses in totality.
That implies that you do not believe money spent elsewhere has any or much application to combat power...

I advised caution on your assumptions. This response adds to my belief that your study will likely not do what you wish it to do. Howsomeever, the best of Irish luck to ye...
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Old 04-28-2012   #18
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USAF Maintenance and Procurement Outlays, and Combat Inventory


Now, just a quick note, the outlay figures are different from the last graph because in this one I am using the total obligation authority (TOA), which contains all budget authority (the numbers used in the previous graph), and authorized credits and transfers from other accounts. I think this provides a more accurate picture of USAF sustainability (the ratio between number of aircraft and costs). The inventory is shrinking while its sustainability cost is increasing. I suspect that this will become more profound when the F-35 enters service. In this aircraft's particular case, the USAF intends to purchase between 1,000 and 1,300 aircraft, well below the 1,600 platforms necessary to not diminish America's air power. And, already, the procurement process is facing cost overruns, delays in acquisition, and diminishing orders, which will only push the outlays and inventory size further apart.

At what point does this trend become a national security risk? What is the future of air power threats (not only peer competitors, but also the development and proliferation of air defense systems)? How long can the USAF (and the US economy) sustain a prolonged conflict with intense air power competitiveness?
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Old 04-28-2012   #19
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I'll never get why Americans are so much focused on national military power while being allied or befriended with the majority of foreign military power.


Well, if you really want to look at the economical underpinnings of U.S. military power, look first at the U.S. shipbuilding industry. It's going to be a tough search for a needle in a haystack.

The U.S. produces
* few overpriced warships, none of them are competitive export produces
* Great Lakes ships that will never see an ocean
* leisure yachts
* a couple oil rig servicing boats and ships
* not much else

Its shipbuilding industry is rated lower than the one of such great historical naval power as Poland or Croatia. In fact, almost all (about 80%) of global shipbuilding is concentrated in East Asia.
Don't bring up the supposed special skills of military shipyards versus civilian ones; getting cables wrong, do poor welding, deliver late and over priced are not desirable special skills. Besides; 20 semi-mil spec hulls beat one mil spec hull.


edit: I may have been too subtle.
Quote:
Yes, it's call GDP. The more you have, the more military you can afford.
A look at the GDP is useless in this topic. What counts are
* economic sustainability (at the very least balanced trade and an appropriate net capital investment; the U.S. has neither)
as the background of military spending
* the size and composition of the share of the economy that can convert to a wartime economy
(electronics, machine building, chemicals, metal industries, resource production, automotive industries, shipbuilding, aerospace industries)

The GDP includes -especially in partially de-industrialised countries such as the U.S., France or the UK- a far too great share of irrelevant economic output. You're not going to win a war with the economic output of investment bankers, car washers, lawyers, fast food servants, mobile phone services, website designers or coiffeurs.

Last edited by Fuchs; 04-28-2012 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012   #20
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USN Strength and Budget


Here is a quick look at USN strength. I think the glance at the USA, USAF, and USN trends suggests that the post-Cold War cuts did in fact significantly hollow out America's military power. Problems in cost growth, combined with the start of the GWoT, has had an upward pressure on the budget without producing any notable increase in military power. In other words, over time the US is purchasing less military power per dollar. Additionally, the capacity for the US to actually sustain its military forces in combat operations is also shrinking.

I don't think we need to go into detail of the decline of the US manufacturing sector, since this is probably generally accepted. Given increasing US reliance on advanced technologies for much of its military inventory, there is a question of how much and quickly the relevant parts of the economy can be converted for war-time production. Is there enough capacity to replace attrition and increase inventory in a conflict? Can that be accomplished before the termination of a conflict?

The next graph I produce will compare the growth of US GDP with the growth of the defense budget. Also, on a side note, I would be interested in seeing data comparing US, Chinese, Russian, Indian, and UK military flight hours and accident rates for this time period (1973 - 2009). So, if anyone has that data or knows where to find it, please let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs
I'll never get why Americans are so much focused on national military power while being allied or befriended with the majority of foreign military power.
There is no guarantee that allied military power will be available for any conflict in the future, for whatever reason allies decide not to participate. There is also the problem that US military power is decreasing relative to the amount of money needed to sustain it.
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We are marching to the field, boys,
We're going to the fight,
Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom,
And we bear the glorious stars
For the Union and the right,
Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom.

Last edited by AmericanPride; 04-28-2012 at 05:03 PM.
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