Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO
Year Started At POGO: 2012
Areas of Expertise: Defense budget, Weapons, and Congress
Winslow T. Wheeler focuses on the defense budget, why some weapons work and others don't, congressional oversight, and the politics of Pentagon spending. Before joining the Center for Defense Information in 2002, he worked on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators from both political parties and for the Government Accountability Office. At GAO and the Senate, Wheeler focused on Pentagon budget issues, weapons testing, the performance of U.S. systems in actual combat, and the U.S. strategic "triad" of nuclear weapons.
The F-35 is not just the most expensive warplane ever, it's the most expensive weapons program ever. But to find out exactly how much a single F-35 costs, we analyzed the newest and most authoritative data.
The largest defense program in U.S. history—the F-35—is facing two critical events this coming week.
Supporters of the A-10 "Warthog" close air support aircraft in Washington and US combat Soldiers and Marines who have seen, and are seeing, combat in Afghanistan were stunned Monday to read about a decision of the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA).
Many Republicans and numerous Democrats, especially on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, have been characterizing the US defense budget as inadequate. Absent from all their talking points are three salient facts:
Last week the Defense Department released its new report on its major weapon programs. One key point in the report seems to have been missed: The cost to acquire the F-35 has gone up compared to last year’s estimate.
2013 ended with some outrageous claims from Lockheed-Martin on the oh-so low cost of the F-35 in just a few years. Sadly, the prognostications were reported in multiple major defense media outlets without balance or any checking for the available empirical data. In his first blog post for 2014, Winslow Wheeler attempts to set the record straight.
The Marines issued a flashy press release last week: “first operational F-35B conducts initial Vertical Landing.” It was an amateurish, somewhat slimy piece of hype.
A new report, titled "F-35A Joint Strike Fighter: Readiness for Training Operational Utility Evaluation," reveals yet more disappointments on the status and performance of the F-35 fighter jet.
The Pentagon seems ready to implement the cuts mandated by law in the most destructive, negative way possible, which has the convenient effect -- for them -- of pushing Congress and the White House to cough up more money.
Greg Jaffe’s Washington Post article last August offers a good explanation for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s hysteria about defense budget cuts, and a useful criterion to assess Panetta’s nominated replacement, former Senator Chuck Hagel.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about Chuck Hagel and the speculation is almost entirely based on what former Senator Hagel has said, rather than his actions--or lack of them--which speak a lot louder.
In part 3 of his series on the U.S. Navy, Winslow Wheeler looks at the prevailing wisdom that America’s smaller fleet is more capable than the U.S. Navy of yore because of higher capability per individual ship. It is a dangerous assumption.
The shrinking size of the Navy's fleet is just one variable in considering its adequacy: the ability to perform assigned missions, especially after withstanding whatever threats may exist, is a far better measure than mere numbers.
Winslow Wheeler takes a look into the future of the U.S. Navy given our present budget situation.
On June 14 - Flag Day, of all days - the Government Accountability Office released a new oversight report on the F-35: Joint Strike Fighter: DOD Actions Needed to Further Enhance Restructuring and Address Affordability Risks. As usual, it contained some important information on growing costs and other problems. Also as usual, the press covered the new report, albeit a bit sparsely.
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (sometimes called the HAC-D) have reported their separate defense bills to the House of Representatives (both bills purport to address both spending and policy).