More Calls for Less Defense Spending

Yikes. The drumbeat to cut defense spending is getting louder.

Now comes the Boston Globe with a story about the Defense Business Board, an internal oversight organization at the Pentagon, and its recommendation that the government "slash some of the nation's most costly and troubled weapons to ensure they can finance the military's most pressing priorities."

"'Business as usual is no longer an option,' according to one of the internal briefings prepared in late October for the presidential transition, copies of which were provided to the Globe. 'The current and future fiscal environments facing the department demand bold action.'"

Apparently no programs were mentioned by name. But there's no secret about some of the possible big budget targets, including the new F-35 fighter jet, Future Combat Systems, etc.

Will the move for cuts actually get traction after an eight-year run of extraordinary increases?

Here's an answer from a defense-monitoring group, as reported by the Globe:

"The forces arrayed against terminating defense programs are today so powerful that if you try to do that it will be like the British Army at the Somme in World War I," said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the liberal Center for Defense Information. "You will just get mowed down by the defense industry and military services' machine guns."

Ideas, dear readers? Government Inc. is standing by.

By Robert O'Harrow |  November 14, 2008; 6:16 AM ET defense
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The pressure to cut defense to fund handouts beloved by Democrats, at the start of a long war of self-preservation against jihadists and the tyranny of Sharia Law, is one of the reasons I voted straight Republican in this election. I think the election of Sen. Obama is a set back in the defense of western civilization.

What will serve us well in this war are well-trained combat troops, especially in special operations, and human intelligence assets. Those are not vote-getting expenditures. What the politicians of both parties prefer are expensive weapons systems, built in their districts, because they have their focus on their survival in the 2010 election, not the survival of freedom. As a Marine Vietnam vet, I am of an age and health condition that I will not be here for the collapse when the guardians fail:

But I do not want my granddaughter wearing a burka, deprived of equal rights, and forced to become the third wife of a man twice her age. We here must fight to preserve the fighting capacity of our troops, as opposed to weapons systems that buy votes, but do nothing in the back alley street fights in the third world.

Posted by: tartanmarine | November 14, 2008 11:05 AM

tartanmarine--you go right ahead and bray, pray for respect for your asserted military service, and your snide criticism of the new administration. McCain was the one true way to absolutely ensure your daughter and all offspring would suit up to go to war. he, who long ago poisoned his honor, ran a campaign that purported to be country first, but which would comfort and coddle the wastrels in the defense department and the services. we thank them for their service and praise them to the skies, but there is no need to give them a blank check. look at the quality of military strategy and decisions and performance by government management and their trusty contractors. would you be against a little cutting, tidying up, terminating wasteful weapons systems that the warfighters sometimes don't even want? we need such a robust defense because we can't learn the knack of keeping the peace, in some part. we are looking for trouble half the time. don't equate defense spending with safety and national security it is leadership and quality of decisionmaking and the will of the people that will keep us safe and secure. look at all of our terrible national security moves and the lies that went with them in he last 25 years. mccain was going to be more of the same. he is a man rooted in the past, with his future pegged to people like Palin (!!).
you should be thankful that the majority of americans would like to work for peace, no matter how much we have to spend for defense.
and we will spend, but more smartly.

Posted by: axolotl | November 14, 2008 12:24 PM

It is necessary to cut defense spending, and here are few of my own reasons for doing so:

1. We spend more on Defense than all the other countries of the world combined. Let that sink in for just a moment...

2. Defense (and related spending) almost doubled under Bush, yet the amount of auditors remained the same -- the result, FAR less oversight resulting in rampant fraud, waste & abuse totaling several HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.

3. Advanced weapon systems are the biggest scam in Defense spending! The systems are almost always overbudget, full of missed deadlines, and often times are not what the Military Brass wanted in the first place. The problem is the cozy relationships of the miltary industrial complex.

4. Too much of our recent defense spending was on military contractors -- which does not represent a good investment for our Government because Contractors were/are overpaid, not accountable for mistakes, and often times they won bids without any competition... this runs contrary to our free market ideals and letting the market shake out inefficiences.

5. Finally, on an ideological note: we can still have the best military in the world (by far) even if we cut some of these really expensive weapons programs. Lopping off a $100B off the budget would free up much needed cash that could go towards helping out people here in the U.S.

I bet if you asked 100 people if we should cut defense spending, a vast majority would so no because it sounds like we are opening ourselves up to potential takeover by China or Russia. The debate about defense spending should be dispassionate, objective, fact-filled and in a context where we are looking at our complete budget and how it falls hopelessly short on directing money towards those U.S. citizens that are paying taxes and struggling in this economy.

Posted by: winoohno | November 14, 2008 1:01 PM

Once the decision is made to stop using our military installations as foreign aid tools, cutting the budget will be a lot easier.

There are bases all over the world that don't serve a military strategic purpose, but are not shut down because the region around the base has come to be dependent on the commerce generated by the base. Keeping them open is a diplomatic issue at that point, not a military one.

We see this here at home too; every time there is an effort to consolidate bases to save money every little town screams "NOT US" because many bases are the lifeblood of holes like Del Rio Texas, where no one would live if it weren't for that base.

Posted by: lquarton | November 15, 2008 4:55 AM

Unfortunately, Obama has said he won't get rid of Star Wars (billions of dollars, probably won't work). However, he and Congress could reduce spending, stall, stall, etc.

That program is a big pit of money that we need even less than wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Tartanmarine's comments are paranoid. America's fine, brother.

Posted by: brian_away | November 16, 2008 11:13 PM

DOD and DOD contractors need to realize that because of BRAC DOD will lose approx 95% of the DOD adjudicator staff who work in Columbus, OH in 2011.

These DOD employees arent not making the move because they can not afford it. They will be taking a signifcant pay cut of more than 30% even with locality pay factored in because of the higher cost of living in the Fort Meade. MD area.

This will result in significant delays for DOD contractor security clearances. Much worse than any previously delays.

It takes approx 2 years to fully train an security specialist to adjudicate clearances. And other DOD CAFS do not have the manpower to pick up the slack.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | November 17, 2008 7:29 AM

As an ex-Navy guy, I witnessed a ton of waste while serving during Viet Nam. But nothing like the Coast Guard ships that are unsafe to put to sea at hundreds of millions each!

But now we deal with aging warriors with heavy-duty brass on their hats recommending weapons designed for 20th-century warfare, not what we face today. Many of these military folks wear uniforms one day and civilian clothes with big salaries from contractors the next. It won't be easy to fix, but we have to start because so much money is involved.

Posted by: bulldog6 | November 17, 2008 2:33 PM

Will the new Democratis Administration do the same as the Clinton Administration did--screw the military by taking around $83 Billion per year over the next four years for their Socialistic programs. It would appear that the CHANGE Obama promised is the resurrection of the Clinton gang.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 17, 2008 3:42 PM

I guess the CHANGE Obama promised is the ressurection of the old Clinton gang that screwed the military for over $83 Billion per year for four years running and will do the same for Obama's Socialistic programs for the re-distribution of the wealth. God help our Republic form of government.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 17, 2008 3:50 PM

Toward the discussion being dispassionate and fact filled, the notion that military contractors are overpaid is not supported by the facts. Our contractors have shared the battlefield with warfighters since the Revolutionary War, and today contractors represent cost efficiencies unmatched by civil servants or active duty military on a Total Ownership Cost basis. When our military hires a contractor to perform a job, like maintain a UAV in Iraq or a network aboard a warship on deployment, that price for that contractor does not include his/her past education, or retirement. I managed a government program with 112 contractors stationed around the world to keep the Net up, and time and time again we proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that those contractors did the job cheaper than it would cost the government to do it with government employees. As for not owning mistakes, that's simply ridiculous... as if government civil servants owned up to mistakes at a higher rate than contractors. My contractors in the field keeping the net up in Bahrain were designated Mission Essential, and when the bubble went up, they stayed for the duration, doing their job, day and and day out. When the annual budget review came around to the discussion of cutting those guys, the warfighter leadership stood firmly against it... every year since 1999. Too much of our military spending does NOT go to contractors, and those who lived in that business and have the financial spreadsheets and analysis of alternatives know that to be a fact.

Posted by: jbulger | November 19, 2008 9:30 AM

Here are the CHANGES American's can expect under Obama and the Democratic controlled House of Representatives.A marriage with the international community by Treaties and Executive Order.
A Law of the Seas Treaty; which challenges America's sovereignty; Biden's CEDAW, Women's-right Treaty,approves U. N. requirements to dictate domestic policy that alters our Constitution; Adoption of the International Criminal Court which is central to global governance; A global tax on American's payable directly to the United Nations which in turn will be used against American's; A Reparations for (only) Blacks in America Bill, how about the same for the perseucted Irish, Polish, Italian, German, Jews who came to America and the American Indians; Globalize thinking to nationalize and lawyerize American's security in general and the American Forces in particular, all this thinking coming from Harvard where Obama attended; A Treaty ratifying the North American Union; which will merge America, Canada and Mexico,causing the unconditional surrender of America.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 19, 2008 11:54 AM

Your former president, Ike , warned that the defence industry/supplier side could take control of the programs and even policy of the DOD if Congrss was not vigilant. It has happened in spades and the Congress has become part of the problem. The USSR collapsed trying to keep up with the USA in military programs. The USA`s military and its supplier complex are spending your treasure in a race with the themselves to get more and more unneeded weapons.

Close your foreign bases. Get out of Iraq in 2009. Shelve the new air force fighter program and stop building submarines, etc. that are already in excess of any possible need. Put the peace dividend to use in resurrecting your economy and building real wealth. Wealth comes from productive, value-added work. Weapons production takes work but it does not involve producing wealth for society.
A Canadian Friend

Posted by: ddmjlennox | November 19, 2008 11:55 AM

In the recent book I>O>U>S>A> (A Wiggin & K Incontrera, 2008), pg 26, a wonderful chart says it all, about federal debt as a % of GDP, in which US federal debt was 14% of the GDP in the War of 1812, 27% in the civil war, 35% in WW1 and 122% in WW2. Conclusion: war might be "good" in the short run for industrial military contractors, but is devastating in the long run for the American economy and financial well-being. Most US wars have brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

Posted by: fisherrw | November 20, 2008 6:55 AM

In the book I.O.U.S.A., A Wiggin, 2008, page 26, the chart shows that with each war the US has approached bankruptcy. The civil war resulted in federal debt being 14% of the GDP, the civil war 27%, WW1 35% and WW2 122%. Conclusion: war is bad for the economy and financial well being of our country, saddling us with a debt that future generations have had to shoulder.

Posted by: fisherrw | November 20, 2008 6:58 AM

A great number of people have been complaining about giving mortgages to members of the public who can't evidence ability to pay them. Well I'm afraid the country is in the same position. You can't expect to continue to maintain or, Heaven help us, increase military spending when the country doesn't evidence to its international lenders that it has the wherewithal to repay the loans. Also how can anyone with half a brain rationalize or defend the expenditures on the military that equal what all the other countries in the world annually spend in total? It can't be done! The civilian government must reassert control over the increasingly wayward military. It's extremely dangerous to allow the military to assume such a dominant position in the economic and social affairs of the nation. Very dangerous!

Posted by: Archie1954 | November 20, 2008 3:35 PM

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