Lawmakers are giving the U.S. Navy three more littoral combat ships than the service actually wants or needs, because of course they would.
Although the Navy set a requirement of 32 LCS', lawmakers offered up funding for three more while cutting funding for modules that would make the current ships more useful, such as an anti-submarine warfare package and a variable-depth sonar.
The annual cutting spree has created a baffling cycle of inanity wherein Congress, unhappy with the development of the modules falling behind schedule, will cut funding and cause development to fall further behind schedule, according to a source familiar with the details of the impact of the cuts who spoke on background. All this while Congress continues to pump money into building ships without any of the mission packages having achieved what’s known as initial operating capability, meaning the equipment is ready to deploy in some capacity.
(The surface warfare version has IOC-ed some initial capabilities but is adding a Longbow Hellfire missile system that will be delayed with cuts, the source said.)
The Navy isn't the only service to deal with this kind of weirdness. The Army, for example, repeatedly and emphatically told Congress, please, for the love of all that's holy, do not give us money for any more tanks, before lawmakers authorized a truckload of cash for the service to buy more or upgrade its existing tanks.
Then, of course, there is the issue of the LCS itself, which has been unofficially dubbed the "Little Crappy Ship" due its host of problems, from insane cost overruns to lack of survivability. Or its absence in the deployment schedule, despite nearly a dozen ships being deemed ready.
Still, funding more of a terrible ship rather than improving the existing ones is pretty much par for the course in the defense contracting world. With LCS numbers 33, 34, and 35, we're just seeing the most recent examples.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
Members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepare a seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTRV) to be lifted by a CH-53E Super Stallion at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Clare J. McIntire)
If you are in the market for any size of military surplus vehicle, keep an eye on GovPlanet. The online auction house is about to start selling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps surplus M1161 ITV Growlers and seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks.
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)