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  • U.S. Military Direct Orders: Do More with Less

    Politicians looking for places to save money after an era of spending binges are now set to solve their self-made problem on the back of the U.S. military. Responding to this pressure, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will conduct a press briefing at 2 p.m. to discuss efficiencies initiatives in the Department of Defense.

    Cutting the defense budget without any change in U.S. foreign policy commitments would cause direct harm to those in uniform. Instead of asking, “How we can cut defense?” lawmakers should be asking, “What is required to protect the nation?” and developing a robust defense budget from there. America’s military power should match the commitments that America’s military is expected to keep, which in turn are dictated by how America’s political leaders, over time, define the nation’s interests and responsibilities.

    The 112th Congress should answer a fundamental question before even considering the latest defense efficiency and cut proposals: Do current and planned defense budgets allow the U.S. military to fully support the national security strategy without jeopardizing readiness or core military capabilities?

    In June, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stated, “The bottom line is for us to be able to continue to do all of the things that are going to be asked of us, we need to be as big and as well-equipped as we have been. And you can’t do that on 1 percent real growth.”

    Members of Congress often like to say they are simply getting rid of waste or cutting government bureaucracy. Everyone is for making the Pentagon more efficient, but no one wants to hurt the troops. Yet that is exactly what will happen if Congress isn’t careful.

    Those calling for defense cuts also tend to ignore the reality that defense has already been significantly cut over the past two years. Over 50 major programs for modern, upgraded systems were canceled in last year’s defense budget because of cost constraints. The plan to give tomorrow’s forces yesterday’s equipment should be unacceptable to all Americans.

    As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the nation in August: “It is important that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, where tough economic times or the winding down of a military campaign leads to steep and unwise reductions in defense. The current and planned defense budgets—which project modest but steady growth—represent the minimum level of spending necessary to sustain a military at war and to protect our interests and future capabilities in a dangerous and unstable world.” Gates has also said that his single “greatest worry is that we will do to the defense budget what we have done before. That is, to slash it in an effort to find some kind of a dividend to put the money someplace else.”

    Thankfully, U.S. Representative Buck McKeon (R–CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, agrees. John Holly, a spokesman for McKeon, said, “Mr. McKeon doesn’t want to see any savings generated with the military services harvested for other spending outside of the Department of Defense. Due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the need to develop a force structure capable of meeting future threats, he wants any savings to be reinvested into higher national security priorities.”

    Congress should support the Secretary of Defense in his effort to grow the defense budget modestly and allow any savings generated by the military services to be reinvested into higher priorities, including modernization.

    The time to rebuild the military is now. America’s enemies will likely exploit areas of weakness, attacking precisely those areas where the country is least prepared. But maintaining a broad range of capabilities will minimize these risks. As President Reagan clearly knew, weakness invites aggression and challenge.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to U.S. Military Direct Orders: Do More with Less

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Conn,

      I like the sounds of this. The montra should be Cut then Spend. Cut the waste, make the DoD efficient to a tee – cut out the programs that have nothing to do with defense (i.e. payroll, human resources, open government initiatives, etc) and combined them with other similar functions throughout the feds. Then take the savings and truely support he military with that.

      Cut then Spend!

    2. Lou Alfano, Pennsylv says:

      One problem with the defense budget is the attitude that the US has to be the "policeman to the world," as we multiply "commands" in all corners of the globe, the usefulness of many of which is questionable at best. The mission of the military is primarily to protect the US from foreign aggression, not to be a hand-holder to every tin-pot ruler who demands US military assistance. We could save a lot of money by getting back to basics and learning to say "NO!" when it is appropriate to do so.

    3. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      Defense Secretary Gates is correct to be concerned that we repeat the past failures of inappropriately funding DOD to allegedly create a savings only to be wasted in some non-DOD program.

      One of the primary means part of the DOD cuts costs is to cut personnel drastically via a "reduction in force" or RIF. This is simply because one of the largest cost items is reflected by the pay and benefits to active and later, retired military personnel. Shortly after Vietnam, in about May 1973 the Army RIF'd approximately 30,000 Captains (all seasoned combat vets) and gave them a onetime $30,000 payment [before taxes] and sent them on their way. I am unable to recall the other personnel reductions that were foisted on the remainder of active duty Army soldiers or the other services as well. That sure did not help the country shortly thereafter when it came to deterrence and projecting American military power.

      More recently, about 1991, some (unremarkable Congressman) in the House stood before that body an claimed something to the effect, "We have no need for such a large military force since the Soviet Union has disintegrated and the iron curtain come down. We can create a "Peace Dividend" by getting these young officers out of the services now, before retiring, in order to save on current pay and benefits and later on the enormous retirement pay and benefits they would receive. So let us direct our military services to conduct a RIF while incentivizing getting out prior to the RIF voluntarily by buying out their retirement with a financial program [a non-qualified payout] where we will offer (and pay them) an amount much smaller than their bonafide retirement would have been. When asked, many of us related that even though the Soviet Union is no longer there, the former WARSAW PACT was also going away and the Iron Curtain done away with, there are other formidable threats emerging that we would be facing either again (Iraq) or transnational terrorism. Both the Army and the Congress were apathetic! Of course we can't identify it as a qualified fund because we wouldn't want them to be able to roll that amount into another "qualified account" such as an IRA or 401(k) etc." And then they (or the respective service branches) put various other restrictions or conditions to get the monetary incentive. Of course the Army put several conditions including if (for example) an officer elected to run the risk of being RIF'd and got RIF'd out of the Army, they would only get paid $30,000 one time (before taxes) even though they may have served 14 years of the necessary 20 years of service to get 50% of their base pay as retired pay. Either the Army or Congress rescinded that a few months into releasing the initial program contents for the Selective Separation Bonus (SSB) and the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) programs. Additionally, the Congress drastically reduced the amount of the Active Component Divisions in the Army by approximately 50% and the Reserve Component forces by 52%. *On a sidebar many of us thought it was rather humorous when Army leaders then tried to sell us on having more command opportunity after completion of this reduction.

      The numbers in my case relative to being RIF’d, or accepting the SSB or VSI were $30,000, @$92,000 and a total of @$450,000 paid as an annuity over 28 years respectively. The length of PX and Commissary benefits varied with each as well from zero to about four years to how long you remained active as a Reserve Officer regardless of unit or no unit affiliation. That was another problem with the VSI option as virtually all the officers considered for the RIF or accepting one of the incentives to get out were field grade officers at the rank of Major. The higher in rank the fewer positions there are to be filled, the SSB officers were given priority over VSI officers for positions in reserve units AND, unlike the SSB officers, the VSI officers were required to pay back dollar for dollar the amount they were paid for actually doing their reserve duty! That last part was rescinded about two years into the reduction in force. Being relatively good at math I took the VSI option even though I had not the one successful command at the company grade level but two (one of which was a DA centralized selected command) and had been selected for advanced civil schooling at the Army’s cost, recruited by Delta Force but for which I did not follow up with due to an emerging unanswered health issue, and had two special positive performance appraisals called senior rater option reports. By the way, had I not cared about my health issue, accepted the Delta Force offer and successfully completed operator training I would NOT have been even considered for the RIF!

      Anyway, it appears to me that every time the Federal Government thinks they can create savings by merely cutting the Defense budget and use that money elsewhere we suffer as a nation and the branches of our military forces suffer greatly.

      The military needs to grow and modernize to meet current and emerging threats to the sovereignty of the United States of America to meet requirements in our Constitution.

      If Congress is looking for places to cut spending, how about eliminating the entitlements which actually incentivize unwed mothers to have babies they do not plan to support except for having the Federal government paying out $1500 per month per child until the child is 18 years old! Perhaps change this to only pay for the first child and only until the child reaches the age of six in order to allow time for the mother to bond with the baby, get some training or education and rejoin the workforce to support her child that she brought into the world? Perhaps they should eliminate two useless federal departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education as neither has met their chartered missions since their inception many decades ago.

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    5. Carol,AZ says:

      STOP NATION BUILDING!

    6. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 01/06/11 NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter

    7. George Colgrove, VA says:

      According to Adm Mike Mullins when speaking to a class of students, he remarked that the national debt is our number on security threat to the nation. He also stated that the defense budget has doubled over 9 years since 9/11/01. The 2011 budget for the DoD is over $700 billion. This means in just 10 years we have more than doubled the DoD budget. The winners here are defense contractors who have sold massive bills of goods to the federal government at the cost to cash strapped taxpayers. Though we have spent our grand children’s futures for the cause of fighting terrorism, OBL is still out there and terrorist are still causing people harm. The DoD had 10 years to put a dent in the war on terror and we are no closer to that resolve then we were 10 years ago. The world is far more dangerous then it has ever been. What have we got out of this insane spending? A very big DoD (over 400,000 civilian federal employees raking in an average of $123,000 annually.) Even after Obama placed a pay freeze in place. the DoD is sending out massive merit award checks to their employees to compensate. The federal employees do not seem to have any interest in keeping cost down in these times. There is a constant and unabashful grab for our money from these people. Every step of the way this federal work force is snubbing their noses at us and are scheming in every way to extort more cash from people who are using credit cards to pay federal taxes.

      Saying we are going to cut soldiers in a downsize of the DoD is like saying we are going to cut police in a city budget cuts. Our soldiers are not the problem. They get paid far less than the federal employees in the DoD. They actually accomplish something and I truly believe if we got rid of the very political federal department of defense (i.e. the DoD) and just let the military do their job, we would have had this war on terror over in just a year. Maintaining the war is big business for an increasingly prosperous District of Columbia. Winning the war would simply mean very rich people making big money would suddenly have their lucrative cash flow end.

      Lets make unabashful cuts to the federal department of defense in the same manner as we would with HHS, DOE or any other non-military department. However, leave our soldiers alone and leave their hardware that works for them in place. Give them proper support in new hardware in the most cost effective way possible. Stop the “throw money at it” mentality. There is no more money to throw! Get rid of needless hardware orders and put the soldiers in charge of weapons acquisition. Kick the politicians out who are making big money on campaign contribution from defense contractors. Get rid of the waste and then go for some more. There is so many programs and functions in the DoD that has nothing to do with fighting wars. These should be consolidated elsewhere in the federal government. The DoD should be focused to the cause of fighting wars and national security – nothing more.

      If we do not cut the size and scope of every part of the federal government – I do not care what we have as a budget item for the DoD, there won’t be a country to defend.

    8. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 1.7.2011 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    9. Robert, Edmonton Alb says:

      From Global Security Newswire:

      Russian Lawmakers Prepare New START Amendments

      Friday, Jan. 7, 2011

      Lawmakers in Russia's State Duma have proposed five amendments and two statements on the ratification of a new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, RIA Novosti reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 4).

      ————————————————————–

      Gee is Russia more democratic than the US? I thought any amendments meant the treaty was dead? Or was that more Obama and main stream media spin and lies?

      Here is my amendment: I hereby amend the new Start Treaty to never to take effect.

    10. MAJ Gerard M. Acosta says:

      The recent Secretary of Defense announcement for a proposed over 100B dollar Defense budget cut to support the next Five Year Defense Plan (FYDP) has inspired great debate and commentary regarding the current state of military fiscal constraints, the evolution of the military's mission and purpose to support the National Defense Strategy, and proper doctrinal, technical, and equipment set to support the mission.

      The forecasted President's budget request which will be submitted on 07 Feb, as statued by Congress to be submitted on the first Monday of every February, will demonstrate an increase in its base budget request to support its current discretionary and mandatory spending. As the operations and Iraq and Afghanistan drawdown, it is assumed that a reorganization of force structure, reduction in fiscal requirements, and grow of the force review will have to alter in order to support the NMS and National Defense Strategy. the SECDEF has recommended the closure of Joint Forces Command, a review of Defense civilian and political appointee positions, and the review of a number of major defense acquisition systems.

      It is my opinion after reviewing numerous case studies that the Department of Defense can sustain a 100B dollar reduction in the next five years, but will not be properly postured if it has to eliminate an additional 87Billion dollars as many economists and government budgetary agencies have suggested. An additional defense budget cut will force the military to reduce personnel, affect organizational maintenance requirements, reduce training and certification requirements, and affect current quality of life programs.

      The military has become the lead executive government agency in supporting the Global war on Terrorism and the new concept, "Expeditionary Econonomics"- the lead effort to sustain foreign government building. As proven, the new military missions and role is a proper fit that our Servicemembers can endure if properly resourced, trained, and maintained.

      The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

    11. jim, maryland says:

      I believe all the services are under secret or unpublished orders today, to get rid of the higher paid enlisted personnel, by any means possible…some of these efforts are criminal in nature too…false allegations…etc… Inorder to meet the lower budgets today.

    12. Natasha says:

      I feel that all this country wants is money. Then when they obtain that money they want to do something with it, like getting into war, and not consulting its citizens about it. By doing that the government then gets into situations that it can't get out of without messing with the civil liberties of its citizens. They choose to go against what this country stands on which is for the people and they choose to make its government more powerful then deal with its people later. They need to see the people's way of things first.

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