About those defense cuts…

The one thing that any sovereign nation needs is a strong defense force. We need to effectively protect our borders, ensure our national security abroad and take care of our wounded warriors. Of course, we also need to balance the federal checkbook. But how can it be done with all these competing priorities?

To be sure there are cuts to be made.

There are weapon systems, aircraft, etc. the Pentagon doesn’t even want, but Congress keeps forcing the DoD to purchase them. For instance, in 2010 the DoD told Congress it needed no more C-17 transport aircraft. “We have enough C-17s,” said Mike McCord, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense (comptroller). “Money spent on things we don’t need takes away from those we do need.” So what did Congress do?

Along with Mr. McCord, Maj. Gen. Susan Y. Desjardins, the director of strategic plans for Air Mobility Command, and Alan Estevez, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for logistical and materiel readiness, repeated Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ position against the purchase of more C-17 Globemaster IIIs to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs’ federal financial management subcommittee.

All three defense officials agreed with the subcommittee’s leaders, Sens. Thomas Carper and John McCain, that the C-17, in addition to the C-5 Galaxy, has been critical to airlift in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they said, the military’s current fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 C-5s is more than enough airlift capability for years to come.

A department study that concluded in February was consistent with two other studies that found that the current fleet is sufficient “even in the most demanding environments” to take the military through 2016, Mr. McCord said.

The oldest plane in the transport fleet, Lockheed’s C-5, will be viable until 2025, and the fleet as a whole should last until 2040, he said.

The department has not requested C-17s, built by Boeing, since the fiscal 2007 budget, yet Congress has added them every year since, spending about $1.25 billion on C-17s “that we don’t want or need,” said Mr. McCord, who was a 21-year staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee before his current appointment.

And why would that be? Well, in this case, I’d have to agree with (GASP!) Think Progress and say: Lobbying.

As Congressional Quarterly pointed out, Congress’ insistence on funding a plane the Pentagon doesn’t want is “due in no small part to the lobbying efforts of Boeing Co., which builds the planes in California, Missouri, Georgia, Connecticut and elsewhere.”

Hmmmm. I wonder whose districts those are!

And then there was the F-35 boondoggle.

Condemned as a $450 million-a-year boondoggle earmark from House leaders who represent General Electric jet engine workers, supporters on the GOP-controlled House Armed Services Committee yesterday included a provision in the fiscal 2012 Pentagon spending bill that would force the department to continue the dueling engine programs for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Section 215 of the markup from the tactical air and land forces committee, however, does not include any funding. Instead, it limits spending for improvements to the F-35 Lightning II propulsion system, now focused only on Pratt & Whitney engines, unless the secretary of defense continues with the General Electric engine project.

A committee spokesman said that the panel continues to feel that having Pratt & Whitney and GE-Rolls Royce continue competing to supply the F-35 engine will save money and provide a better product.

Today there’s this: in one of the more ridiculous moves I’ve seen lately, the DoD is purchasing 1500 Chevy Volts. Not even kidding. In an effort to “green up” the military support faltering Government Motors sales and minimize their losses, the military is now buying a bunch of these idiot vehicles! It certainly doesn’t matter that the public has no desire to purchase these potential death traps, which may or may not have a tendency to catch fire when left plugged in. The government will force you to pay for them anyway – and purchase a whole lot of them at the bargain price of $49,000 per tin can!

And there’s, of course, the Navy’s “green fleet,” which purchases biofuels at nearly $27 per gallon in an effort to prop up the current administration’s environmental policies, no doubt.

Meanwhile…

Military retirees’ health care costs are getting jacked up. So much for not balancing the budget on the backs of military veterans, eh?

The Marines will cut four battalions and 12 air squadrons, as it cuts 20,000 personnel to meet budgetary constraints.

And more than a million jobs could be lost as a result of looming cuts.

We have a priorities problem. Cutting budgets is not the issue.

Buying stupid, politically correct, unneeded crap is the problem.

3 responses

  1. I have to wonder about “We have enough C-17s…”. Just ask anyone in the military who’s trying to get airlift. There ain’t enough to go around, and as long as we contract civilian planes (quite frequent)(sometimes even Russian ones), that tells this NCO that we DON’T have enough.

    YMMV.

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    1. It is cheaper to lease flights on civilian aircraft than it is for the military to own and operate their own aircraft (for missions where the unique capabilities of military aircraft aren’t required). Even some (many? all?) civilian airlines don’t own the planes, they just operate them.

      Also, when the military says “We have enough planes”, the implied meaning is ‘we have enough planes to meet the need for the *minimum* level of service militarily required’, not ‘we have enough planes to provide a top-notch level of service’.

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  2. The green fleet is important, but not for any environmental reason. We need to gain the technical and practical experience using alternate fuels to supply our mechanized forces.

    I wouldn’t want to see it expanded beyond the test, due to the outrageous costs, but the tests themselves provide vital engineering and practical data. They also let our enemies know we can continue to fight, even after the strategic petroleum reserve is empty.

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