Navy programs that avoided the budget ax include efforts key to the service’s transformation efforts, including the Littoral Combat Ship and the conversion of Ohio-class submarines to fire conventional missiles and ferry special operations forces. Yet many defense strategy experts see a clear pattern in the budget cuts that suggests traditional Navy modernization programs are not in step with Rumsfeld’s new vision of the future U.S. military.
His focus on new types of threats is several steps beyond the emphasis on force transformation that was a major priority in the first four years of the Bush administration. But he wants the military to be ready for more dynamic and frightening scenarios than those in the recent past.
That vision was spelled out last year in the 2006 Strategic Planning Guidance that recast into four categories the types of threats the U.S. military should prepare to face: conventional, irregular, catastrophic and disruptive. Of these threats, the U.S. military is well prepared to deal with only one: an adversary that attacks with conventional air, sea and land forces.
Rumsfeld and key deputies — including Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and James Thomas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans — have warned that they intend to pare back investments in weapons programs where the U.S. military enjoys a comfortable “overmatch” against potential adversaries. The goal is to redirect funding to improve capabilities against a wider range of challenges, including “irregular, catastrophic and disruptive” threats.
Hmm. Maintain a vigilant watch.
Update: More on this at Power and Control. Hat tip: Instapundit.