In Controversial Move, Mexican Senate Approves Military Operations Against Criminals

by Bill Ostrove, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Mexico Army paratroopers

In a 71 to 34 vote, the Mexican Senate approved the Internal Security Law, which gives the Mexican armed forces a legal framework to conduct internal security operations. Proponents of the law say it will give the military the ability to support police in combating criminal networks that have hurt Mexico, while opponents believe it will lead to increased human rights abuses. Continue reading

Acquisition Programs Dominate Pentagon’s FY17 Spending Increase

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

The defense bill added a dozen Super Hornets for the U.S. Navy.
Source: U.S. Navy

The Pentagon’s FY17 budget was signed into law on May 5, more than halfway through the fiscal year.  The legislation couldn’t come soon enough, as the military has been operating under a series of three continuing resolutions that funded the department at FY16 levels.  CRs bring with them a host of difficulties, including restrictions on launching new programs, and leave many existing programs overfunded or unfunded.  The Pentagon has become quite adept at navigating CRs, which have sadly become the norm in Washington.  However, this year’s scenario was particularly troubling, as CRs in recent years haven’t lasted more than a few months. Continue reading

Reaction to White House Budget Plan Highlights a Divided Congress

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

The White House
Source: Teddy Yoshida/National Science Foundation

The White House has issued initial budget guidance to federal agencies for the 2018 fiscal year, calling for an increase in defense spending that will be offset by an equal reduction for non-defense discretionary programs.  The plan calls for $603 billion in defense spending in FY18, reflecting an increase of $54 billion, or nearly 10 percent, over the current $549 billion Budget Control Act (BCA) cap.  The topline figure applies to budget function 050, which covers the Department of Defense, defense programs within the Department of Energy, and defense-related programs in other agencies.  The Pentagon’s base budget accounts for 95 to 96 percent of function 050 spending each year, with the exact amount varying with each budget. Continue reading

Mattis Budget Guidance Spans Multiple Budget Cycles, Calls for FY17 Growth

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

The Pentagon. Source: Department of Defense

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis released a memo on January 31 providing initial guidance for strengthening the armed forces through an FY17 budget amendment, the FY18 budget request, and the FY19-FY23 Future Years Defense Program.  The memo is a direct response to a memorandum on rebuilding the U.S. armed forces, released by the president on January 27.  Mattis outlines a three-phase approach: improve warfighter readiness; achieve program balance by addressing pressing shortfalls; and build a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force.  Those objectives are centered around the completion of the FY17 budget process, and the release of the next two budget requests.

Continue reading

U.S. Army Lays Out $26.5 Billion Worth of Unfunded Priorities

 by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Strykers on the way to the Raptor Fury training exercise
Source: U.S. Army

The U.S. Army has released a pair of unfunded priorities lists for FY17 and FY18 calling for $26.5 billion in additional spending.  The documents serve as wish lists for items not contained within existing budget plans.  The FY17 portion is a revision of a list released in March 2016, and supports end-strength increases contained in the FY17 defense authorization bill.  Continue reading

U.S. Defense Authorization Bill Prioritizes Halting End Strength Reductions

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Source: U.S. Army

Source: U.S. Army

The U.S. House and Senate have signed off on an FY17 defense policy bill that would halt ongoing end strength reductions, but the legislation does not include a House proposal to shift billions of dollars to bolster procurement programs.  The bill, which cleared the House on December 2 (375-34) and the Senate on December 8 (92-7), authorizes $543.4 billion in base spending for the Department of Defense and nuclear functions within the Department of Energy, plus $67.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.  The latter includes $8.3 billion set aside for base budget requirements, comprising $5.1 billion requested by the administration and $3.2 billion added by lawmakers for additional troops.  The bill also includes funding to pay for a November 2016 supplemental budget request submitted by the White House that contained $5.8 billion for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Europe.  The supplemental contained $529.9 million in additional acquisition funding. Continue reading

Norway’s New Long-Term Defense Plan Focuses on Military Readiness with One Eye on Russia

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

F-35A Weapons Carriage (Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short)

Norway will purchase 52 F-35A’s (Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short)

Norway’s center-right, government-led Ministry of Defense unveiled the country’s latest long-term defense plan (titled “Capable and Sustainable”) on June 17.  The new LTDP follows the previous iteration published in 2012 by the former Red-Green (center-left) government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, which drafted the plan during a period when the greater European security environment had yet to be upset by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further destabilization activities in eastern Ukraine. Continue reading

U.S. Army’s Cyber Collaborative Research Alliance: Seeking an ‘Asymmetric Advantage’ Against Cyber Attacks

by Greg Giaquinto, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Cyber, electronics

Recognizing the need to address the growing threat of attacks on its cyber networks, the U.S. Army launched the Cyber Collaborative Research Alliance in 2013.  The alliance – comprising the Army Research Laboratory and a consortium of university partners – conducts research to advance the theoretical foundations of cyber science in the context of U.S. Army networks.  In the Army’s own words, research into cybersecurity is critical due to “the growing number and sophistication of attacks on military cyber networks coupled with the ever-increasing reliance on cyber systems to conduct the Army’s mission.”  The ultimate goal of this research is the rapid development of cyber tools that could be used to dynamically assess cyber risks, detect hostile activities on friendly networks, and support agile maneuvers in cyber space in addressing novel threats. Continue reading

Deciphering Congressional Budget Markups with Forecast International’s Online Budget Tool

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.US Flag

The United States has what is probably the most transparent defense budget process in the world.  The Pentagon releases an annual budget request that provides detailed information on virtually every line item in the budget.  House and Senate defense committees then release markups of the budget, comprising hundreds of pages of mandates, recommendations, and opinions and providing insight into the often fickle minds of lawmakers.  Congressional budget markups also contain the all-important funding tables that dictate the various winners and losers throughout the budget process.  Continue reading

Forecast Roundtable – F-22 production resumption?

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Welcome to the fourth episode of the Forecast Roundtable podcast. Each podcast features several analysts discussing various aerospace and defense-related issues.

This week Doug Royce and Matthew Beres discuss the possible resumption of the F-22 production line. Continue reading