Jeffrey LewisRNEP Mopping Up

The Defense Appropriations Conference report is out.

As expected, the Appropriations Conference gave $4.0 M to PE 0604327F Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat System (HDBTDS) Program for a conventional penetrator sled test as a sort of alternative to the terminated Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP).

The Conference Report did not address the crucial question of where the sled test would be conducted. (If you don’t know why that matters, read this, then this and accept my congratulations on having a life.)

On that question, Rep. David Hobson (R-OH) told an audience at the Center for American Progress that Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman assured him the sled test would not be conducted at Sandia:

There will be money for a conventional test, and we had a—and I’ve been worried that they were going to try to do the nuclear—the nonnuclear test at Sandia, and I got a problem with that because—and I won’t go into why, but there’s, in my opinion, a violation of the law or the understanding or the protocols on building a wall that got built out there and so I don’t think we should use that wall at this time for this stuff and it sends the wrong messages. And we have a commitment from the secretary of energy that he will not allow that test at Sandia. And I don’t care where else they do it, as long as they do it at a DOD site because I think that if they do it at a DOD site, that sends the right messages that it’s not a nuclear test and I think if they do it at a national lab, it sends the wrong problems.

This was big news that only Dave Ruppe caught at the time.

So what’s all this mean? Well, with an assurance from a Cabinet member to a Cardinal—and 3 bucks—you can buy a latte. And, some Air Force officials seem to want to circumvent Congressional intent and use the data in the RNEP program And the Administration will be back, hat in hand, asking for RNEP dollars next year.

Still, the the best shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. And this is