Frank Oliveri

Armed Services Committees Look to Make Fiscal Room for Naval Shipbuilding Plans

Members of Congress and Navy officials were wringing their hands late last year over a roughly $60 billion shortfall forecast between 2021 and 2035 in the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan.

Republicans Poised to Slam Obama on Defense

Republicans are likely to pounce on the Pentagon’s $34 billion list of unfunded priorities as evidence that President Barack Obama is intentionally underfunding the military.

Logistics of Afghan Drawdown Prove Challenging

The United States military is making steady progress in the removal of people and equipment from landlocked Afghanistan, according to military officials who say the delay in a final decision about the U.S. presence after 2014 should not prevent a full-scale withdrawal, if that becomes necessary.

Delay in Afghan Pact Roils War Plan, Defense Budget

The bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan has still not been signed, sealed and delivered, creating budget uncertainty and potentially significant logistical problems, according to military and congressional leaders.

Ships Could Be Essential to Meet Navy Fleet Quota

While the Littoral Combat Ship would fill three distinctive Navy needs — countering submarines, mines and fast small boats — it plays a far larger role for lawmakers and some Navy officials and experts that isn’t laid out in its military specifications.

Lawmakers, Navy officials and experts often use the term “presence” to define what appears to be one of the ship’s most important roles. In layman’s terms, they mean increasing the size of the Navy’s fleet.

Littoral Combat Ships Shore Up Support, Despite Their Costs and Questions

The woes and ultimate truncation of a major Pentagon weapon acquisition program has become a Washington cliche.

Weapon after weapon, whether it’s a new Army or Marine Corps combat vehicle, a stealth fighter or a naval vessel has stumbled from benchmark to benchmark, blowing through cost goals so severely that the military cannot afford to buy the items in the numbers Pentagon planners originally said they required.

Defense Budget Process for Fiscal 2015 Likely to Be More Stable

At least some of the uncertainty that plagued the fiscal 2014 defense budget process likely will be removed from the fiscal 2015 debate.

Last year, for fiscal 2014, the White House released a budget tens of billions of dollars above spending caps set in law, while both chambers offered similarly fictional spending levels for defense appropriations and authorization.

Appropriators Keep Defense Cuts Close to the Vest

House and Senate Defense appropriators have been closely holding a secret, at the core of which lies the fate of hundreds of Pentagon programs facing billions of dollars in reductions from fiscal 2014 plans.

With the allocations for all 12 Appropriations subcommittees set to be revealed as early as this week, the Defense panels will soon reveal how they plan to cut their oversized spending bills to match the spending cap set by last month’s budget resolution (H J Res 59).

Overheard: The Schumer Rule, Debunked?

"You know that line about, 'You do not want to get between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera?' I am living proof that is not true."

Whose District Is It Anyway?

The first years after the decennial redistricting can be confusing for everyone. Case in point? Consider the situation of our CQ Roll Call colleague Frank Oliveri, a Bronx, N.Y., native who was talking Tuesday with Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., about the weekend's deadly Metro North train crash.

Rangel told Oliveri he was surprised that the train lacked automatic breaks. The two proceeded to the House subway and were joined by another New York Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Rangel informed Nadler, as he had told Oliveri moments before, that the crash happened in Rangel's district.

Ohio-Class Ballistic Submarine Remains Priority for Navy

The Navy views the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine as its top priority, indicating it would be prepared to slash other ship programs to build the 12 submarines it needs.

Senior congressional aides noted that the Navy would consider reducing its 11-aircraft carrier fleet before it would scale back its plans to replace the Ohio-class ballistic submarine.

Is the Price Right for Navy's Sub Replacement Program?

The Navy is planning to build 12 ballistic missile submarines that are so pricey the service is facing a $60 billion shortfall between 2021 and 2035, yet many of the lawmakers overseeing the Navy appear to have no problem with that.

Despite congressionally mandated automatic cuts in fiscal 2013 that are squeezing operations and maintenance accounts and have prompted civilian furloughs — and facing the prospect of yet another sequester in fiscal 2014 — key oversight lawmakers simply say the extra money must be found.

Chambers Split on East Coast Missile Defense Site

Democrats and Republicans agree that the nation’s missile defenses — designed to blunt missile threats from North Korea and Iran — need improvement.

But while the House wants to buy a new missile that has failed a recent test and commit to building an East Coast missile defense site, which would use an incomplete upgraded version of the missile, some key Senate leaders are far more skeptical.

Failed Missile Tests Spark Questions About System

The $40 billion Ground-based Midcourse Defense system was developed and deployed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles and consists of ground-based interceptor missiles, kill vehicles and radar located in Alaska and California.

But with a failed intercept test July 5, where a kill vehicle failed to separate from its booster, the Missile Defense Agency has had only eight successful hit-to-kill intercepts out of 17 since 1999.

Afghan War Vote More About War Fatigue Than Forcing Drawdown

When the House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved an amendment directing the president to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it was far more important in reflecting the nation’s current mood toward the Afghanistan war — and war generally — than in having any practical effect on administration policy.

Indeed, scholars, senior congressional aides and lawmakers acknowledged the amendment merely restates Obama administration policy, lacks any enforcement provisions and in no way calls into question the balance of war powers between the executive and legislative branches under the Constitution.

Military Spends Big to Get Camouflage Right

Beginning in 2000, the military services began a process that has led to a proliferation of different camouflage uniforms.

In most cases, the services each sought new uniforms to improve utility, fit and durability. Many of the uniforms are imbued with substances that repel insects and reflect infrared sensors. Many are also flame resistant, an important characteristic in light of the threat of improvised explosive devices.

Should Armed Services Have a Common Combat Camouflage?

When the full House and the Senate Armed Services Committee take up their fiscal 2014 defense policy bills this week, troops may literally lose the shirts off their backs.

Lawmakers want to push the services to agree on a common combat camouflage uniform.

House Defense Bill Aims to Implement Lessons From Benghazi Attack

The inquiry led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the slaying of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year has been attention-grabbing, but some senior GOP aides are worried that the partisan overtones are diverting Congress from identifying and addressing the real lessons learned from the attack.

In particular, these aides say key staffers have been overly consumed with chasing down or addressing inaccurate or unfounded accusations emerging from the inquiry.

Past Base Closings Raise Questions About Future

In the past, the Pentagon has been able to convince skeptical lawmakers to authorize rounds of base closures by promising significant savings.

But the 2005 base realignment and closure round may have been a game-changer politically because it cost far more than promised and breaking even on those costs will take longer than expected.

Could More Base Closures Be on the Way?

When the Pentagon last year asked Congress to initiate a base closure process, powerful lawmakers such as Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the military it needed to look for cuts in Europe before lawmakers would consider cuts at home.

Now that two brigades have been removed from Europe — eliminated from the force entirely — the military again is arguing that a base realignment and closure process is needed in 2015.