Case Study Congressional Involvement And Oversight In The Army Termination Decision Of The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Program

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Case Study Congressional Involvement and Oversight In The Army Termination Decision Of The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Program

The U.S. Congress is among the most maligned institutions in the country. In june of this year it registered an 11 percent approval rate--below banks, television news, and health insurance companies--and decrying partisan gridlock has all but displaced baseball as the national pastime.

Yet while the perils of this institutional failure are obvious for domestic policy, their consequences for foreign policy are under-explored. The Constitution delegates to Congress considerable responsibility for foreign affairs, including the right to declare war, fund the military, regulate international commerce, and approve treaties. At least as important are such congressional authorities as the ability to convene hearings that provide oversight of foreign policy. A failure to perform these functions could have significant results, leaving the United States hobbled by indecision and unable to lead on critical global issues.

In this Council Special Report, Kay King, CFR's vice president for Washington initiatives, explores the political and institutional changes that have contributed to congressional gridlock and examines their consequences for foreign policy making. Some of these developments, she notes, are national trends that have developed over a number of decades. Successive redistricting efforts, for example, have all but eliminated interparty competition in some House districts, leaving the real competition to the primaries and the most ideologically driven voters. King further notes that the rising cost of elections has increased the time devoted to fundraising at the expense of substantive priorities, and the twenty-four-hour news cycle has decreased the time and incentive for reflective debate. More subtle--but equally important--institutional changes have likewise diminished Congress's effectiveness. A decline in committee chairmen's authority and expertise, tighter control over voting by party leaders, and the relaxation of traditional customs limiting the use of procedural tools to practical ends have all, she writes, led to a breakdown in comity. The consequences she highlights are both broad and significant, from delayed presidential appointments to a poorly coordinated budget process for critical foreign policy areas such as intelligence, diplomacy, and development.

Solving these well-entrenched problems will likely prove impossible, but King issues a number of recommendations that can make a difference. Congress, she writes, should restore traditional restraint in procedural maneuvering, rationalize the budget process, and revamp committee structure in both houses to better address the fast-moving, interrelated threats the United States faces today. The Executive Branch should improve its coordination and consultation with Congress, while, she concludes, the public should hold Congress accountable by becoming better informed on international issues.

The Comanche RAH-66 reconnaissance and attack helicopter was being developed by Boeing and Sikorsky for the US Army. The first flight of the Comanche took place on 4 January 1996. The programme entered engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) in June 2000, which required the construction of nine aircraft in addition to the two prototypes by 2006.

Critical design review of the overall weapon system was completed in June 2003 and was to be followed by low rate initial production of 78 helicopters in three batches in 2007.

The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, or JCIDS[1], is the formal United States Department of Defense (DoD) procedure which defines acquisition requirements and evaluation criteria for future defense programs. JCIDS was created ...