As with any kind of change of priorities or new projects taken on by the military, defense contractors will be soon scrambling for a piece of the pie, as will the folks on the Hill looking to bring the pork home to their states and districts.
U.S. Army top brass recently announced that they are briefing “top military commanders” about the construction of new weapons that would better prepare them in an all-out war — or, in their words, a “high-intensity conflict” — against Russia and China.
Army officials have already briefed Admiral Philip Davidson, who oversees all military personnel in the Asia-Pacific theater.
“We want to talk to [U.S. European Command] as well,” Army Secretary Mark Esper said, according to Defense One.
The move is in line with Pentagon goals to prepare the United States military for “great power competition,” the new, primary objective of the Defense Department first put forth in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. This document, now official doctrine, prioritizes this goal over all other objectives of the military, including combating terrorism and counter-insurgency.
Though concerning that the main fighting force of the U.S. military is seeking better equipment in preparation for a potential “high-intensity conflict” with its two most formidable foes, there is no reason to panic, at least not immediately.
“Everything we are laying in place right now, by 2028, if all goes well, you’ll see these things roll off and roll into units,” Esper told Bloomberg.
Esper said that he wants to reallocate funds from vehicles and aircrafts made for “different conflicts” — i.e., Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. Army has been fighting for 17 years, and Syria — into what he “need[s] to penetrate Russian or Chinese air defenses.” He’s also looking to acquire artillery that could “hold at bay Chinese ships.”
Among the new war toys on the U.S. Army wish list are: long-range artillery, attack and reconnaissance aircraft, air and missile defenses, and command-and-control networks, according to Defense One.
According to Bloomberg, this year’s budget proposal “plants the seeds for a new generation of long-range cannons and rockets, vertical-lift aircraft, vehicles and soldier gear.” The outlet elaborates on the reallocation of funds:
- “Long-range precision fire capability — $6.4 billion, up from $1 billion.
- Next generation combat vehicles — $14.7 billion, up from $5.4 billion.
- Future Vertical Lift, advanced helicopters — $5.38 billion, up from $690 million.
- Air and Missile Defense — $9.65 billion, up from $5.68 billion.
- ‘Soldier lethality’ improvements — $5.93 billion, up from $1.4 billion.
- Improving battlefield communications networks — $12.5 billion, up from $8.2 billion.”
Corporate and congressional pork on the taxpayers’ bill
The weapons investments will come at a cost of $54.56 billion to American taxpayers. The reallocated funds, which the Army stated were intended to help it prepare for a war against Russia and China, account for about $25 billion.
The Army hopes to reap the fruits of these changes by 2024.
Funds for these projects may come from cuts to others. Last year, Esper and Army Chief of Staff Mar Milley spent months in “night court” weighing their options. “They operated as judge, jury and sometimes executioner over about 500 programs,” according to Bloomberg.
Cuts were made to 186 weapons programs.
“What I don’t have right now is an attack/reconnaissance aircraft,” Esper reportedly said on Tuesday during a Pentagon briefing. “That’s what I need to penetrate Russian or Chinese air defenses. I’m not going to do that with a CH-47.”
Of course, as with any kind of change of priorities or new projects taken on by the military, defense contractors will be soon scrambling for a piece of the pie, as will the folks on the Hill looking to bring the pork home to their states and districts.
Let the bidding wars begin before the real one wipes us all out.
Top photo | The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell launches a SM 2 missile during a MSLEX exercise. MSLEXs are designed to increase lethality in an “Era of Great Power Competition”, March 17, 2018. Jeremy Graham | DVIDS
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.