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State Fragility: Putting Our Mind and our Money Where our Mouth Is October 12, 2010

Posted by Guest Blogger in Uncategorized.
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By Dr. Pauline H. Baker, President of the Fund for Peace

Since the end of the Cold War, and especially after September 11, 2001, foreign policy experts have come to realize that the problem of failing states should be one of our top national security priorities. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that: “In the decades to come, the most lethal threats to the United States safety and security are likely to emanate from states that cannot adequately govern themselves or secure their own territory. Dealing with such fractured or failing sates is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time.”

Despite such warnings, U.S. foreign policy has not sufficiently adjusted to this new reality. Our foreign assistance programs are weak with respect to strengthening state capacity, subordinated to the two main themes that dominate our foreign aid: fighting terrorism and fighting poverty. For example, country breakdowns show that aid to weak states does not match the rankings in the Failed States Index, even when we remove states with sanctions, such as Sudan, and those in which the U.S. has special national security interests, such as Pakistan.. READ MORE

Anticipating the national security priorities of the 112th Congress October 12, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Uncategorized.
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By Matthew Leatherman, Rebecca Williams, Laura Hall, Hans-Inge Lango, and Elizabeth Cutler

Come November, the Republicans look set to win back the House and make significant gains in the Senate.  That switch has major implications for a number of domestic issues – but it says surprisingly little about the 112th Congress’ national security priorities.  In this area more so than any other, ideology cuts within parties more than it unifies them.

This is not a new phenomenon. Both parties have various factions that see defense and foreign policy, and thus spending, in different ways. The terms “libertarian” and “exceptionalist” or “realist” and “Wilsonian” mean far more in this debate than… READ MORE

Pentagon management turns “Development Fund for Iraq” into misnomer August 5, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Uncategorized.
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Eight former officials of the Defense Department or Coalition Provisional Authority currently are in federal prison for bribery, fraud, and money laundering in association with $96.6 million in Development Funds for Iraq that went missing in 2005.  Last week the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported that the Pentagon cannot account for another $7.73 billion of these development funds, bringing the total to $8.7 billion.

Fully 96% of this total fund ($9.1B) was lost somewhere in Pentagon accounting.  And this wasn’t even the Pentagon’s money – the Development Fund for Iraq held export revenues from Iraq’s oil and gas fields, along with surpluses from the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program, and was operated by the Pentagon under management delegated by the interim Iraqi government.

The Defense Department confesses that it is “one of a very few cabinet level agencies without a ‘clean’ financial audit opinion.” Abstract as that sounds, it is a critical obstacle to our success overseas.

There was no mysterious purpose for the Development Fund for Iraq – it was meant to fund development in Iraq.  There is no way to know if anything of the sort happened with this money, but it is clear that a number of other things did.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was delegated between $2.1 – $2.3 billion, for instance, and it kept the money.  According to last week’s report, USACE treated it as “advance payments for reconstruction work they were planning.”

This flies in the face of development practice – subsidizing USACE does nothing to build local capacity; locals have no authority over USACE decisions; and money was hemorrhaged on costly American salaries instead of maximized on the local economy.  Added on top, we broke the newborn government of Iraq’s trust.  It was their money, after all, and the best that we can tell them is that it disappeared through inefficiency, outright loss, and – occasionally – crime.

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Guest Blogger Featured in Washington Post October 7, 2009

Posted by Trice Kabundi in Uncategorized.
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Robert Haddick, Managing Editor of Small Wars Journal, was featured in the Washington Post’s Outlook and Opinion for October 4th.  Highlighted was his September 1st guest blog piece for Budget Insight, “The Promise and Perils of Security Force Assistance.” The essay provides an assessment of the current and future state of US security force assistance, as well as Haddick’s suggestions for improvement.

Budget Insight Poll August 19, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Uncategorized.
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We at BFAD’s Budget Insight want to better serve our blog community. Over the coming months we will post a number of polls to get a better understanding of the makeup of our audience and how we can better serve them. We appreciate your participation.

The first poll is below:

In Today’s News June 24, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Uncategorized.
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In Today’s News June 11, 2009

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In Today’s News June 10, 2009

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In Today’s News May 14, 2009

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Procurement in the Overseas Contingency Operations Budget May 8, 2009

Posted by dglaudemans in Uncategorized.
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HVPresident Obama’s defense budget, released yesterday, asks for $130 billion for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (Overseas Contingency Operations – OCO).  In past years, the Bush administration requested funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through supplemental appropriations.  These requests frequently included the procurement of equipment that was unrelated to combat-related losses or irreplaceable damage.

Such requests allowed DOD to buy additional equipment without making tradeoffs in the base budget. The Obama administration pledged to end this practice by restricting the use of war funding vehicles to items that were lost or rendered inoperable as a direct result of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Analysis of the FY 2010 OCO budget indicates that the administration’s first war budget makes significant progress toward greater war budget discipline, with some question marks.

The $130 billion includes $24 billion for procurement, or 18% of the total. This procurement share is consistent with war budgets in prior years.  The request includes funding for Army and Marine ammunition, a small number of helicopters, some ground equipment items, and several types of missiles and bombs, such as Hellfire (2,133 units), Javelin (864), TOW (1,294), and JDAM (3,860).

The missile request raises the most questions.  Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan include considerable use of these systems for combat operations.  The replacement request may meet the administration’s narrow test for war budgets.  It also raises an issue. Over the years, the services have built a large inventory of such systems, but the test allows their replacement, one-for-one. The inventory requirement, however, was built with the Cold War in mind, not counter-insurgency operations.  There remains, as a result, a very large inventory of these weapons, which might be safely drawn down, rather than replacing those fired in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The HUMVEE request also raises a question.  The Pentagon asks for 1,770 Humvees in the base defense budget and an additional 8,444 in the OCO request.  This high OCO number may result not only from combat losses, but from the transfer of vehicles to the Iraqi Army, which counts as a combat loss.  Under this rubric, the Humvees requested in the OCO budget meet the criteria set forth by the administration.  However, replacing the Army’s inventory to reach broader unit requirements may be better considered in the Army’s base budget request.

The Pentagon is also seeking $5.5 billion for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP).  This may be justified.  Roadside bombs are an increasing source of US casualties in Afghanistan, rising from 50% to 75% in just over two years.  In addition, modifications to the MRAPs used in Iraq may give that vehicle more maneuverability in the harsh terrain of Afghanistan, but its off-road maneuverability may continue to be a question.

There appears to be one procurement item that does not fit the administration’s narrow criteria: “ammunition and missile stocks consumed in pre-deployment training” for Brigade Combat Teams.  Training equipment and ammunition should more properly be included in the base budget, as highly predictable.