Reflections on Reform 2.3 Numbers for 30% DoD Cut over 2-4 Years

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Robert David STEELE Vivas
Robert David STEELE Vivas

It never occurred to me, when I lost the first bureaucratic battle on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in 1992, that my innate sense of  integrity [do the right thing] would lead me to resign from the Marine Corps civil service in 1993 as a very young GM-14, and spend not five, not ten, but twenty years wandering in the wilderness helping over 66 governments and over 7,500 mid-career officers get a grip on sources and methods the traditional secret services refused to consider and the traditional consumers of intelligence did not know how to do.  Of all my student bodies, the USA was the worst, remaining ignorant at the leadership level, helpless at the follower level–butts in seats, no brain required.  Hence, as we approach a historic turning point, the possibility that we might have a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense that can actually get a grip on reality together, I thought it might be useful to offer up three things I have learned during my 20-year walk-about:

01  Truth & Reconciliation is the only way to go.  As much as we may want to hold people accountable for their persistent and pervasive betrayals of the public trust, it is vastly more important to simply get them out of the way, with the least amount of time and energy being invested in cleansing the stables.  As we have learned in past wars, people promoted in peacetime (despite IQ and AF, the Pentagon is still running in peacetime bureaucracy mode, especially with respect to promotions above LtCol and GM-14) have to be flushed out, and a leavening of older retired folks brought back (think CWO with no agenda) along with new younger minds that have not been toxified by the system.  This will take six months instead of two years if and only if the President wants it so.

02  Reform must be job and revenue neutral, district by district, state by state.  I learned this lesson watching Senator John Warner kill the National Security Act of 1992, an Act I supported with proposed language.  It might seem impossible to NOT cut the defense budget or the secret intelligence budget while achieving reform, but that is not the case if you protect domestic payroll while pulling back sharply from overseas construction, overseas operations and pause RDT&E.   Addressing that specific perceptual contradiction is why I am posting these reflections tonight.  The key is to focus on the difference between real dollars spent at the district level, and vapor dollars paid to the military-industrial complex for no good reason.  None of this can be done without Congressional reprogramming authority.

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02-A  41% of defense weapons systems is documented waste.  This tracks with 47% of agriculture, 50% of energy, and 50% of health.  Four things matter in national security: people, mobility, communications & intelligence, and LAST, are weapons.  When I say people, I include all contractors employed in direct support, or indirectly in assembly lines, design shops, etcetera.  I believe cuts can be made in defense that do not cut people or wages.  This is NOT the same as the separate number. $2.3 trillion that is unaccounted for (much more by now–that was as of 10 September 2001).  That money I consider to have been one third waste and two thirds spent on underground cities and the intra-terrestial continuity of soft dictatorship (no plans for Congress, ever) including the financial and other corporate elites.  The first IG ordered by the new Secretary of Defense could usefully focus on a clean-sheet review of all the crazy “deep secrecy” stuff that is not briefed to Secretaries of Defense in the same way that the Seven CIA's do not brief the Director of the CIA (especially when he is an analyst with no clue).

02-B  At least 30% of all cost plus government specification contracts is consumed by corporate vaporware, concealed excess profits, and other forms of pork as well as bells and whistles from an out of control requirements system that is both dishonest and incoherent.  While protecting and redirecting as appropriate all those real jobs across America that are funded by defense and intelligence, I believe we should have no problem at all in identifying 15% in cuts to major contracts with a mix of specification simplification and improved cost transparency — if we cannot see it, we do not pay for it.  A new concept for the Pentagon, but one that will help us all and still protect the labor force.

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02-C  For some time now I have been championing a 450-ship distributed Navy, a long-haul Air Force, and an air-liftable Army.  I am not the first–my colleagues at the US Army Strategic Studies Institute tell me these ideas were studied 20 years ago, but the Pentagon chose to go for big expensive instead of small less expensive.  I maintain, with help from my retired colleagues from the Office of Management and Budget, that we can BOTH cut the defense budget AND create the four forces after next that we actually need.  Right now, no one is listening to me because “the system” is on auto-pilot and incapable of learning from outside the system.  The single best thing any Member or their staffs could do today to break the log-jam is ask CRS to produce, within one week — two at most — an integrated effort by the senior specialists on the three major military services, on what such a force might look like, over what time frame at what cost, and what savings could be achieved simply by selectively closing down major military bases overseas, bringing our troops — and their purchasing power — home.

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Preliminary concept subject to case by case contract negotiations and Congressional approvals–this will not be easy but it is possible: 5% cut to existing contracts; 5% cut to overseas operating expenses, and 5% cut to unobligated dollars that can be held back without cutting an awarded contract.

Task: cut DoD by 15%, or about $82B in each of the next two years.

5% cut to existing contracts: 

  • Unexpended balances at end of 2013 are estimated at $376B. Less unobligated balance of $62B leaves 314B on existing contracts.  5% DOD reduction requires $27B cut from these contracts or about 9%.
  • Would require renegiating each contract.  Governors and Congress will come unglued–with full transparency of what is being cut, while protecting the domestic labor force, this is very hard but not impossible.  The  bottom line is that “busiuess as usual” is no longer acceptable, affordable, or in the public interest.

5% reduction from reducing overseas expenses:

  • Can be done only by closing bases and bringing troops home.  Savings of 27B.  A potential nightmare in relation to established treaties and agreements.  With all the new military constructuion underway, and use of the moth-balled military induction centers, some creative transition employment options could be developed (the Reagan plan).

 5% in cutting unobligated dollars that can be held back without “cutting” an awarded contract:

  • Unobligated balances generally are for out-year costs of multiyear R&D, procurement and construction projects.  Estimated unobligated balance at end of 2013 is $62 billion (procurement 33, RDT&E 8, and construction 10).  Given that most contracts are front-loaded, time has come to publicly expose the depth of corruption in the existing acquisition process.  Prime candidate for termination by proper acquisition process (not the Dick Cheney sweetheart slash) is the F-22 and any mobility system that weighs more than 30 tons.

5% cut to 2014 DOD budget would require cut of $27B or 44% of possible unobligated balance.   This will not happen unless the President goes “all in” and uses truth and transparency to inspire public participatory budgeting.  Before DoD is cut any further, DHS should be eliminated, along with the Departments of Education and Energy.  Above cuts are separate from redirection of existing contracts toward a new strategy that rapidly builds a 450-ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, and an air-liftable Army.

Former OSD Assistant Secreetary comment:  The 15% two year reduction and 30%+ reduction over the POM period easily accomplished by reducing active Army end strength to 250,000 excluding Army SOF structure. I assume current USMC end strength maintenance.

NOTE:  Everybody on the planet will be telling the new SecDef what he cannot do.  This is about what we can and must do.  We are in the fix we are in today because the majority have sacrificed their integrity and failed to demand serious decision-support (intelligence) or make sustainable decisions.  The time has come to get serious, applying intelligence (decision-support) with integrity (holistic analytics) to our strategy (does not exist), policy (incoherent and corrupt), acquisition (incoherent and corrupt), and our operations (ham-fisted, incoherent, wasteful).

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03  There are more reform opportunities present today than I realized.  I used to be very concerned, thinking that only comprehensive reform would be effective, in one paper in 2002 pointing out the need for integrated and thus virtually simultaneous electoral, intelligence, governance, and defense reform.  Now I see several possibilities for radical reform in the US Government, and itemize these below, while emphasizing points 1 and 2 above:

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03-A  National Security Advisor become National Strategy Advisor.  National Security as the USA has been practicing it is rancid pork, nothing more.  “Strategic decrepitude” is well-entrenched in Washington, DC.  Should the President appoint Ambassador Susan Rice as his National Security Adviser, I would be very glad if she were to consider a radical redirection of the job with three responsibilities:

03-A-01 lead the creation of a real strategy that forces the issue, as Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) has so wisely put it, of providing a coherent narrative for achieving ends with ways that work and means within our limits, while for the first time providing the President with a vehicle for rebalancing and leveraging all of the instruments of national power, with appropriate reallocation of human and financial resources as needed [for example, shifting $100M from Program 50 to Program 150).

09 CH 4 Strategy 35-44 DRAFT 1.0

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

2000 Presidential Leadership and National Security Policy Making

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03-A-02 become the champion of ethical evidence-based decision-making.  There appears to be no one in Washington right now that is responsible for asking the question: does this program help or hurt the domestic economy and the social fabric of our Republic?  Poverty has sky-rocketed during the last three Administrations, epidemic diseases are looming, the infrastructure is a mess, and we continue to spend more on the failed reconstruction of Iraq (along with a $100 million mink-lined bunker in Tel Aviv) than we do here at home.  We have 18 veteran suicides a day, day after day — one from IQ/AF, the rest from past wars.  At the same time, the Department of State appears to have lost the ability to listen, reconcile, and bring home to the President, the deeply felt legitimate grievances of hundreds of millions, beginning with the Palestinians and our own Southern Hemisphere. Remember the USS Liberty whenever a Zionist tries to play the anti-Semitic card.  ENOUGH!  What we have done over the past 200 years, and especially in the last 50 with our support for over 40 dictators against their own people, is reprehensible.  If ever the President needed a trusted adviser with ethics foremost on their minds, now is that time.  Our government — both domestic and foreign affairs — has lost its mind and become morally disengaged from reality.

2014 Rethinking National Intelligence — Seven False Premises Blocking Intelligence Reform

Rob Dover: Putting the Steele into intelligence reform

Steven Aftergood: Jesselyn Radack as “Traitor” or Whistleblower – the Death of Ethics Across the Entire US Government

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 + Sanity RECAP

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03-A-03.  Lead the reconfiguration of the White House staff and the intelligence community on behalf of the President, while supporting the Vice President in reconciling Congressional committee jurisdictions and Executive bureaucracy so that they have the one to one relationships needed to allow the Open Source Agency (OSA) to provide unclassified decision support on any given issue to BOTH Congress AND the Executive at the same time, then also releasing it to the public and the media.

2009 Fixing the White House & National Intelligence

2009 Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else

2009 Perhaps We Should Have Shouted: A Twenty-Year Retrospective

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03-B Deputy Director of OMB for Management.  What OMB “M” does today in the way of management is zero.  It's more like a side office to do number crunching, and it has absolutely no say in developing the Whole of Government Strategy that does not exist.  What have been put forward as a national strategy and military strategy are pathetic, incoherent, and not at all evidence-based.  If there were one single job outside that of National Security Advisor that could radically enhance the competence of our government across the board, DD/OMB/M is the job IF and only IF the President is serious about making the most of his last tern in office.

2008 Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power–Army Strategy Conference of 2008 Notes, Summary, & Article

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03-B-01  Promote Open Source Everything (OSE).  A DD/OMB-M who has line item veto authority and can force the issues of Open Access, Open Cloud, Open Data, Open Hardware, Open Software, Open Spectrum, and Open Standards–among others–will change America for the better before President Obama leaves office.  OMB's approach to common solutions so far has not worked.  OSE will work, and it will work faster, better, and cheaper than what we do now.

2012 List of the Many Opens (Need to do “all in” IT strategy)

2012  THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust

03-B-02  Demand unclassified intelligence estimates across every policy area.  The Cabinet agencies do not do intelligence and do not make ethical evidence-based decisions.  They focus on protecting budget share, growing the base, and meeting the needs of the special interests that buy “chips” from the President and Congress, the latter discounting the Treasury 95% in return for their 5% kick-back.  Since the secret world is incapable as well as recalcitrant in this area, DD/OMB/M is the logical sponsor for the Open Source Agency (OSA).

2012 PREPRINT: The Craft of Intelligence [Full Text Online]

2008 Open Source Intelligence (Strategic)

Robert David STEELE Vivas
Robert David STEELE Vivas

So there you have it.  In 20 years, I have learned three things: Truth & Reconciliation; Reform Has to Protect District-Level Spending; and the Open Source Agency (OSA) is how we cut costs and increase benefits in a declining fiscal environment.  I am immediately available and if there is one thing I am better at than anyone now serving in government, it is intelligence with integrity that leverages OSE and M4IS2.  Have brain will travel.  St.

See Also:

Chuck Spinney: The Real Challenges Facing the Next Secretary of Defense, Robert Steele Comments

21st Century Intelligence Core References 2.8

Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: Robert David STEELE Vivas

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