Marcus Aurelius: Media Common Sense on Defense — Still Lacking on Substance

Corruption, Government, Idiocy, Ineptitude
Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius

Following is stunning, coming as it does from the left-wing newspaper we called “Pravda on the Potomac” during the Cold War.)

Two op-eds from mainstream media follow; both discuss need for Legislative and Executive Branches of the USG to get their [sierra] together and serve the national interest.

Washington Post, August 4, 2013, Pg. 18

Defense In Decline

Sequestration cuts at the Pentagon put the nation’s safety at risk.

DEFENSE SECRETARY Chuck Hagel on Wednesday released a sobering report on the deep funding problems looming at the Pentagon, which is on track to fall tens of billions short of what it needs to fulfill the strategic mission that President Obama has articulated for the national defense. The same day, Mr. Obama told congressional Democrats that the Pentagon should get no more attention than many other areas of the budget also subject to the punishing automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. That can’t be the final answer from the commander in chief.

Mr. Obama’s latest budget proposes $150 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, which Mr. Hagel claims could be managed. Sequestration, however, requires $500 billion in cuts over 10 years.

Mr. Hagel’s review estimates that closing unnecessary facilities and duplicative offices could yield $60 billion over a decade. Reasonable measures to rein in personnel costs, which have soared 40 percent above inflation for more than a decade, might yield $50 billion over 10 years, while harsher personnel measures might produce $100 billion. The Pentagon reckons it can safely slash the size of some forces, such as the cargo plane fleet, the ground and tactical air forces and the standing army and reserves a bit.

But even assuming Congress would permit what Mr. Hagel sees as rational cuts — and that is unlikely — these wouldn’t come close to satisfying the demands of the sequester. Instead, the Defense Department would have to choose between maintaining technological sophistication or numerical strength. If it chose the former, Mr. Hagel explained, it would keep “a force that would be technologically dominant but would be much smaller and able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world.” The other option would result in a larger force capable of international deployment but with aging weapons systems that rivals would have an easier time matching.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in testimony on Thursday that either way would “mark a significant departure from the missions our nation has been accustomed to being able to accomplish.”

The entire sequester, hitting defense and nondefense, was bad policy when lawmakers passed it, it was bad policy when they let it begin, and it remains bad policy. The president is right to press for the whole thing to end, along with Congress’s indefensibly short-term approach to budgeting. Political tactics may compel him for the moment not to give national security special consideration, given House Republicans’ intransigence.

But Mr. Obama ultimately can’t act as though the Defense Department’s sequester cuts are equivalent in consequence to every other item in the budget. The country’s defense is a core responsibility of the federal government, and its armed forces are critical to the nation’s ability to exert leadership, maintain alliances, defend human rights and preserve the nation’s safety.

1:  Some absolute truths are relevant to the following and every other framing of the guns vs. butter debate:

1.  Humans are more important than hardware; quality is more important than quantity.
2.  Wars may be fought with weapons but they are won by men.  It is the spirit of the men who follow and the man who leads that gains the victory.
3.  “…  you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud. ” )
(COMMENT:  Re green-highlighted passages, was generally tracking the Congressionally-mandated purchases of tansk but had forgotten about Global Hawk.)
(COMMENT:  Not mentioned here but currently crippling the Army and a major driver of DoD employee furloughs is the requirement to fund redeployment of equipment from Afghanistan from the Army’s “base budget” rather than through the traditional supplemental appropriations process for “overseas contingency operations” [Administration’s new PC euphemism for the “Global War on Terrorism”] )

Omaha World-Herald, August 4, 2013

Budget Dilemma For Our Military

A sharply reduced number of military personnel wielding cutting-edge technology, or a larger defense force with diminished technological capability.

That is the difficult choice facing the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said last week, as our military carries out the $500 billion in 10-year sequester cutbacks on top of the $487 million in spending reductions already planned.

If the military decides to make technology superiority its priority, Hagel said, cuts in personnel through 2019 could amount to as much as 29 percent of soldiers, 18 percent of Marines and three Navy aircraft carriers.

Another possibility, he said, is the loss of as many as five combat air squadrons from the Air Force.

Hagel then explained the big-picture ramifications from these drawdowns: “This strategic choice would result in a force that would be technologically dominant but would be much smaller and able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world.”

Our leaders always should choose to use military power only as a last resort, and there’s no question that the defense budget needs to be part of an overall approach toward fiscal discipline by the federal government. At the same time, we have allies and important security interests that include locales as far-flung as the Korean Peninsula, Pacific maritime trade corridors and the Persian Gulf. When it is in our national interest to exert our military power, it’s crucial that we have the capability to move swiftly and effectively.

As Hagel explains, the sequester budget-cutting process in particular threatens a considerable erosion in that capability.

This situation is a failure of both Congress and the White House. The two sides failed to work out an overall budget reduction strategy that would provide sensible flexibility in carrying out cutbacks. Instead, they allowed sequestration to proceed.

Recent news accounts have pointed to a related problem in Washington on defense budgeting: Congress has bowed to lobbying pressure and insisted on maintaining the Global Hawk drone program even though the Air Force, Army and the White House all have said they don’t want the program.

The Global Hawk program began with a $35 million-per-plane price tag under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and now has ballooned to $223 million per plane and counting.

This illustrates one of the fundamental fiscal challenges for Hagel and the Pentagon: Major defense systems start out expensive, and then the inflation rate in succeeding years winds up driving up the costs even higher.

Production of the Global Hawk drone was spread across a number of states and congressional districts, enabling local pressure to combine with corporate lobbying to exert leverage on members of Congress to keep funding it.

The same thing happened a while back, when a similar combination of forces talked Congress into keeping funding for the M1 Abrams tank even though the Army said it no longer supported the tank’s production.

It’s imperative that the allocation of resources be determined by sound policy rather than lobbying and parochial interests. Imperative, too, that our leaders in Washington reach agreement on a budget strategy besides the meat-ax approach of sequestration.

Congress and the White House need to stand up and do the right thing for the national interest.

Phi Beta Iota:  Full articles posted to carry over the value-added highlights from Marcus Aurelius.  US national security today is in the midst of the perfect storm created by the finally complete subversion of the two political parties that together agreed to borrow one trillion dollars a year to increase the pork pie, and together agreed to abdicate their Artticle 1 responsibilities and turn the USA into an executive corporate state.  It is not helpful that the Secretary of Defense has chosen to be a placeholder and not actually lead.  Anyone incapable of standing up to the domestic enemies of the Republic who advocate spending over security, is betraying the public interest.  The Pentagon NEEDS a 30% to 40% cut.  Anyone who refuses to recognize that is part of the problem.  The common sense from the above two media sources is most welcome, but still lacking in substance.  Put as simply as possible:

01  Absent intelligence with integrity being USED — ethical evidence-based decision-support visible to all and relevant to all, nothing done by Washington will be in the public interest.

02  We need both Whole of Government intelligence and Whole of Government planning, programming, and budgeting.  OMB needs a transgender operation that creates its male half in the form of a serious Deputy Director for Management who oversees the Open Source Agency (OSA).

03  Defense needs a 450 ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, an air-mobile Army, a robust White SOF, alternative C2, alternative ISR, and a 60% cut of all flags and senior executive officers before a single lower rank is cut.

See Also:

2013 Robert Steele Reflections on NATO 4.0 — Key Challenges AND Solutions [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]

2013 Robert Steele Reflections on Alternative Command & Control (AltC2) — Five Questions and a Game Plan 1.1 [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]

 

2013 Robert Steele — Alternative Command & Control and Four Transformation Forcing Concepts [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on Reform 2.2 Numbers for 30% DoD Cut over 2-4 Years

2012 Robert Steele: Addressing the Seven Sins of Foreign Policy — Why Defense, Not State, Is the Linch Pin for Global Engagement

2012 Robert Steele: Reflections on the US Military — Redirection Essential — and a Prerequisite to Creating a 450-Ship Navy, a Long-Haul Air Force, and an Air-Liftable Army

2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Concepts & Doctrine? Implications for Human & Open Source Intelligence

2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Concepts & Doctrine? Implications for Human & Open Source Intelligence 2.0

2010 Robert Steele: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP

2009 Robert Steele: Politics & Intelligence–Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both