Trump can ap­ply his busi­ness skills to start mil­i­tary re­build­ing.

The pres­i­dent-elect can ap­ply his busi­ness skills to fis­cal and strate­gic ad­van­tage

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Jed Bab­bin Jed Bab­bin served as a deputy un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense in the Ge­orge H.W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. He is a se­nior fel­low of the Lon­don Cen­ter for Pol­icy Re­search and the au­thor of five books in­clud­ing “In the Words of Our En­e­mies.”

Pres­i­dent-elect Trump is test­ing the ways he can ap­ply his busi­ness skills to his new job. He can learn a lot from that process, as can we, about how he can re­build our mil­i­tary. The first test was his tweet say­ing that the Air Force’s con­tract with Boe­ing for two new Air Force One air­craft should be can­celled be­cause it was too costly at $4 bil­lion. The sec­ond came last week when he crit­i­cized Lock­heed’s $400 bil­lion F-35 pro­gram say­ing its costs were out of con­trol. Both of Mr. Trump’s crit­i­cisms were right. If the life cy­cle cost of the two Air Force One air­craft is $4 bil­lion, it’s too much. The prob­lem-plagued F-35 chron­i­cally falls short of mis­sion re­quire­ments. The De­fense De­part­ment es­ti­mated its life-cy­cle cost at about $1 tril­lion.

Mr. Trump was un­doubt­edly look­ing for lever­age in fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions rather than think­ing about can­celling ei­ther pro­gram. He needs to think deeper than that and in dif­fer­ent terms.

Dur­ing the cam­paign Mr. Trump of­ten said that our mil­i­tary should be so strong that no­body will mess with us. In Septem­ber he said, “We want to de­ter, avoid and pre­vent con­flict through our un­ques­tioned mil­i­tary dom­i­nance.”

As a businessman, he knows in­stinc­tively that reach­ing that po­si­tion of strength can’t be ac­com­plished by just throw­ing money at the Pen­tagon. It will re­quire a lot of care­ful think­ing and plan­ning in how to deal with the threats Amer­ica faces. They come from many sources and in myr­iad forms.

Im­por­tant ex­am­ples of where Mr. Trump can use his busi­ness skills are in meet­ing one of our most se­ri­ous threats, China, a na­tion he has fre­quently spo­ken of as an ad­ver­sary, and in per­form­ing a proper and nec­es­sary de­fense plan­ning anal­y­sis.

China’s mil­i­tary bud­get will re­port­edly roughly dou­ble be­tween now and 2020 to over $230 bil­lion. But that fig­ure is mis­lead­ing be­cause China never re­veals how much it spends on its mil­i­tary. Part of that spend­ing is con­cealed by pass­ing it through non-mil­i­tary chan­nels. But China in­tends to dom­i­nate the en­tire South China Sea and sur­round­ing na­tions, in­clud­ing our al­lies Ja­pan and Tai­wan, which means it in­tends to struc­ture its forces to push us out of that area. And it ev­i­dently has no in­ten­tion to rein in North Korea, its dan­ger­ous client state.

A re­cent ar­ti­cle in Avi­a­tion Week and Space Tech­nol­ogy magazine gave an ex­am­ple of how rapidly China is evolv­ing its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties to back up its in­ten­tions. En­ti­tled “Long Ranger,” it de­scribed what may be a new Chi­nese air-to-air mis­sile with an es­ti­mated range of one hun­dred twenty miles. (Our best air-to-air mis­sile has a range of about twenty miles).

If it is what it ap­pears to be, the mis­sile will en­able Chi­nese fight­ers to shoot down slow-mov­ing air­craft such as tankers, JSTARS bat­tle man­age­ment air­craft and AWACS air­borne early warn­ing air­craft. It would be a game changer if the Chi­nese were able to shoot down those air­craft from dis­tances too far for our fight­ers to pro­tect them.

The Chi­nese have also claimed (prob­a­bly falsely) that their new radars can de­tect stealth air­craft, ren­der­ing them ob­so­lete. Even if what China claims isn’t true, some­one will “solve” stealth soon, nul­li­fy­ing a huge tech­no­log­i­cal edge on which we’ve come to de­pend.

The Chi­nese are also re­port­edly pre­par­ing the test of a mis­sile de­signed to de­stroy satel­lites in or­bit. It suc­cess­fully tested such a mis­sile in 2007, leav­ing a trail of de­bris in space.

A Chi­nese anti-satel­lite ca­pa­bil­ity would be an­other game changer. Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity are al­most en­tirely de­pen­dent on satel­lites for in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing, nav­i­ga­tion and se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions. We don’t have the abil­ity to pro­tect those hun­dreds of satel­lites (some so clas­si­fied we don’t ad­mit they ex­ist) from a Chi­nese ki­netic kill ca­pa­bil­ity.

That brings us to the most im­por­tant con­text in which Mr. Trump should learn to use his skills. De­fense plan­ning is all about de­ter­min­ing, mea­sur­ing and plan­ning to deal with our en­e­mies’ in­ten­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The “Qua­dren­nial De­fense Re­view” — QDR in Pen­tagonese — is sup­posed to do all that, but it has be­come a bloated bu­reau­cratic ex­er­cise that fails to per­form the task it’s sup­posed to do.

In 2012, De­fense Sec­re­tary Bob Gates an­nounced mas­sive cuts in de­fense spend­ing that he and Pres­i­dent Obama had agreed on even be­fore the QDR was per­formed. The QDR was ren­dered a use­less ex­er­cise to paper-over what had al­ready been de­cided.

We have to do bet­ter, and we can. The for­mula that the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion de­vel­oped was called “De­fense Guid­ance.” It gath­ered to­gether the best in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts and prod­ucts of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity to mea­sure which of the threats were sig­nif­i­cant enough that they had to be dealt with. From that a national de­fense strat­egy was de­vel­oped to de­ter or de­feat those threats. Then, and only then, was a de­fense bud­get cre­ated to re­tire what we didn’t need and to de­velop what was needed to de­ter or de­feat those threats.

In­com­ing De­fense Dec­re­tary Gen. James Mat­tis will need to re­vive the “De­fense Guid­ance” for­mula and get the study done as his first and most im­por­tant task. It will have to be done un­der the pres­i­dent’s guid­ance in se­cret and then re­vealed, in part, to congress and the pub­lic.

If Mr. Trump can suc­ceed in ap­ply­ing his busi­ness skills in those con­texts — not just in cost-cut­ting but in tak­ing ad­van­tage of and increasing our strate­gic and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­van­tages, he and Gen. Mat­tis and Gen. Flynn will re­build our mil­i­tary so that we can de­ter or de­feat any sig­nif­i­cant threat.

ILLUSTRATION BY HUNTER

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