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  • Don't Cut Defense to Fund State

    It is no secret that when it comes to the use of power, the Obama Administration vastly prefers “soft” power to the military variety. In a recent article in Politico, Michael Clauser, executive vice president of the Society of National Security Professionals, writes that proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget will “reignite a key Washington budget debate: the proportionality of military spending relative to nonmilitary international affairs.”

    As the Pentagon still spends almost 20 times more on defense than the State Department does on other nonmilitary-related international affairs activities (for very good reasons), this is undoubtedly true. No love has been lost over the years between the departments of Defense and State.

    For its part, the Pentagon tends to look upon State as an ineffectual bureaucratic swamp where endless talk takes the place of action, while State tends to look at Defense as primitive and overmilitarized in its view of the world and suspects that the Pentagon secretly wants to run U.S. foreign policy. Yet, writes Clauser, “of all national budget debates, the fratricide for funds between State and Defense is most puzzling as their roles are so intrinsically complimentary.” National defense and the diplomatic tools of American leadership in the world should be mutually reinforcing.

    In reality, however, the Obama Administration had made up its mind about the Defense vs. State debate early in the Obama presidency. In December 2010 the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) published a “Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR)” intended to serve as a roadmap to implement the Administration’s “Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Global Development.” The Obama Administration’s vaunted “smart power” approach to development promised to change the ways the government does business, but in practice, the QDDR mainly proposed expanding the bureaucracy of State and USAID and supporting a host of existing and new development assistance programs—despite empirical evidence that many of them will not work.

    Furthermore, as far back as 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed the desire to hand off the Pentagon’s communication and reconstruction capabilities to civilian agencies, famously questioning how “one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world’s greatest communications society?” (That would be the late and unlamented Osama bin Laden). Gates proposed to rebalance budget priorities toward the State Department and advocated increasing its funding significantly. He got what he wished for. Since then, the vultures circling the Department of Defense have come home to roost.

    The Defense budget will decline by 5 percent according to the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget, to $702.8 billion, setting the department on a trajectory toward a disastrous decline in capabilities. Meanwhile, the State Department is enjoying golden days with its biggest bump in recorded history—increasing its funding by more than 25 percent since 2007 to $47 billion, according to the International Affairs budget proposal for FY 2012.

    At a time when Defense is under pressure to make crippling cuts, State Department and USAID programs should not be exempt from scrutiny. American international leadership, after all, is intrinsically tied to its global deployments, which provide peace, stability, open sea lanes, and disaster relief as well as military action when required in the national interest. Though they are key elements of foreign policy, American diplomacy and foreign aid can hardly be said to have produced the global preeminence enjoyed by the United States since World War II. State and Defense should work together—but “rebalancing” that robs Peter to pay Paul will not serve the nation well.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Don't Cut Defense to Fund State

    1. Patti, Georgia says:

      Soldier home from Afghanistan this week told me this about his outpost: only 3 toilets (requirement for the number of soldiers is 9), not enough food, sometimes water is rationed due to short supply, working 17 hours a day on average. What's left to cut?

    2. Bobbie says:

      Leadership failure on all public fronts with no sense of actual duties or set priorities. Undermining the good of Americans… on all fronts.

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:


      I hear you. Consider this:

      2005 BRAC – as implemented by the same DoD that is rationing supplies to our soldiers.

      - Walter Reed replacement was estimated to cost $200 million – today that building will end up costing taxpayers born and unborn over $2 billion

      - Total cost of the BRAC will be over $35 billion

      - The 2005 BRAC will move 128,000 federal workers and soldiers

      - Taxpayers will need to pay $280,000 to move only ONE worker (including current construction costs) or nearly a MILLION DOLLARS TO MOVE JUST THREE WORKERS!!!!

      - The atrium at the new Walter Reed hospital can house the Statue of Liberty

      - Fitness centers will be available for federal workers with taxpayer supplied trainers, fitness classes and each of these federal workers will be given three PAID HOURS use of the fitness center!

      - Federal workers in the DoD receive annual compensation packages of over $130,000 whereas Navy Seals (like those credited with the OBL raid) with 12 years of experience only receive about $55,000 in compensation.

      - Nearly every BRAC building in the greater DC area will negatively impact the local taxpayers with mounting costs at all levels inlcuding parking restriction monitoring, road and bridge construction, legal concerns, amortized taxpayer supplied "free" transportation for federal workers who earn twice what the private sector does (you know, people who still have to pay for their personal expenses in full with less money) loss of business and loss of property value. And we have no way of determining the cost in lost time to the locals on greater traffic congestion we will face. After the move in date, these projects will continue to drain the DoD budget by $100's of millions every year.

      - The DoD fedeal workers are granted lucrative "free" transportation within DC on top of their very high pay to the tune of a minimum of $75.00 a month. And this is given out in the more costly version of paper cards rather then the more efficent and cost effective smartcards.

      - Treasury reports show that the DoD is paying over $400 billion to lucrative defense contracts.

      - There are about 700,000 federal workers draining the DoD budget to the tune of $91 billion. Ongoing Combat Operations costs in the order of $175 billion now that we are meddling with three countries now. With a DoD budget of about $730 billion, we have $64 billion to pay for and support our soldiers. There area bout 2 million soldiers – this leaves about $32,000 for each of our soldiers needs.

      All this shows is that there is enough money for our soldiers and ample places to cut as well. Adm Mike Mullen admitted that the DoD lost its sense of priorities after being "flushed" with cash after 9/11 and that it will soon need to begin again prioritizing what it is doing in these tough economic times. Back in 2001 when the federal government was fully funded the DoD budget was $336 billion ($480 billion in 2011 dollars). The MILITARY was better funded in those days than it is now. We are pouring truck loads of money to these contractors (which is job 1 for the DoD), then we are bleeding billions on a workforce and their luxurous work environments, that when you ask any soldier does very little to help the cause.

      You want to know where the money is going? It is clear that when you look at the places money are spent in big blocks, the soldiers are not the DoD's primary concern and it shows in the field.

      In the spirit of a good Marine drill sargent:

      Did we need to spend $35 billion on high class, excessively luxurious office spaces for overpaid and over numbered feds? I don't think so!

      Do we need 700,000 federal workers in the DoD? I dont' think so!

      Do we need the DoD performing Payroll for the federal government? I don't think so!

      Do we need to continue to have every DoD program office littered with highly paid top heavy managers? I don't think so!

      Do we need to continue duplicative programs in the DoD? I don't think so!

      Do we need 16 intellegence agencies? I don't think so!

      Do we need a 2 to 1 ratio of soldier to federal worker in the DoD? I don't think so!

      Do we need a DoD that is a stimulus spender and a jobs program manager? I don't think so!

      Do we need replicative administrative programs in the DoD when they exist outside the DoD? I don't think so!

      Setting aside the merrits of the issue, do we need DoD federal workers drafting a manual on how same sex couples can kiss and show PDA or even enteraining any topic on sexual relations, considering fornication in the military is not allowed? I dont think so!

      Do we need weapons programs designed by corporate doners and congress members? I don't think so!

      Do we need to be using our solders to rebuild towns and cities? Do we need to use our soldiers to provide eduation? Do we need to use our soldiers as ongoing security forces for other countries? I don't think so!

      What has the DoD become? After the OBL event, the top brass had to start telling its federal workers to be tight lipped or face criminal action. Why did they have to do that? Where is the professionalism? From the outside, it looks like the DoD is a day care facility housing people incapable of functioning in the real world. Is it any wonder our secrets are on a free flow out of DC and we are spending this nation into the ground.

      Lets give our soldiers what they need, at the same time cut the waste and duplication in the DoD. Focus the DoD on MILITARY. We need to be spending less in the DoD at the same time spend more on the MILITARY mission.

      The way the neocons have framed the arguement is that if it is anything DoD, god forbid we look at cutting anything. Current DoD spending is 54% over 2001 spending when comparing 2011 dollars; 212% when comparing the line item amounts of each year. Every time the budget is increased to cover war time efforts; when those efforts are no longer needed and the corresponding line item is removed, the neocons freak out and call it a cut. The irrationality of the neocons is not much different then the same for environmentalist. Both yell at the top of thier lungs and we the taxpayers pay dearly. Well the DoD budget can go down to $480 billion without me considering it a cut. I am not worried. I feel once we take the federal government element out of the DoD; put command and control back in the hands of the men and women in uniform who know the meaning of frugality and stretching resources; and once we get the DoD to be lean and mean, I feel that $480 billion may proove to be too much. Politics and self-interest have no place in our line of defense. Today, the DoD is heavily polluted and dragged down by those factors.

    4. George Colgrove, VA says:

      After applying tax money collected for social security, Medicare and Medicaid from tax collections that are $1.6 trillion short of fulfilling a budget of $3.8 trillion, we need to start recognizing that 57% of the federal government is UNFUNDED! Meaning 57% of the Sec of States office is UNFUNDED and 57% of the DoD is UNFUNDED! BOTH need to see cuts – and big ones!

      Heritage, make a stance! All of what you promote cannot be done. You only target $300 to $400 billion in total federal government cuts. You point fingers at all the inept federal agencies and somehow magically say that the DoD is the only well run federal department when they are employed by the same ilk. You demand cuts to every department, except the DoD, yet at the same time reject tax increases and demand we balance the budget – without cutting defense. Your demands cannot be met, unless you completely hack off the entitlements which means you are saying we conservatives want to throw the elderly under the bus. I can tell you conservatives I know want cuts made to entitlements, but we DO NOT want to hack off the elderly people who were conned into these unsustainable programs. I also know that is not what you are saying, but it is the only way out to meet all your demands.

      You never talk about making smart cuts (though you do have a great list of cuts that can be made). You simply say, let us not do this, but rather add this program. That is not a cut and is not helping this nation meet the dire need for a balanced budget. We need to cut – meaning the bottom line goes down – permanently. If I have a budget that is $10,000 over my annual income for my family. When I cut vacations, weekend trips out to the shore, buying that expensive car, and postponing the addition to the house; I am not doing that to “make room” for new spending – ‘cause I ain’t got the money man!

      Now I do not advocate stripping 57% off the $730 billion DoD budget. That takes us down to $314 billion, which IS a $166 billion cut from the 2001 DoD budget (in 2011 dollars) back when the federal government (under wise GOP congressional leadership) was fully funded. We need to “hold the line” at $480 billion (or the 2001 budget in 2011 dollars) for core military and ongoing combat operations. This means we need to cut the bloated DoD budget by $250 billion annually! Should this go to the Sec of State’s office – NO! Because that $250 billion does not exist! Currently $416 billion of the DoD budget is unfunded and we only lessened that by $250 billion – get the point?

      Why is this so hard for DC-insiders to grasp? It just seems to me that we are fighting over vapor – imaginary money with dire consequences. Since the GOP took over the house four months ago, we have picked up over $700 billion in additional debt. Not good!

    5. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      There are obviously many angles to analyzing the nation’s fiscal policies to include an unvarnished review of ALL the departments in the federal government with ruthless integrity. To the best of my recollection there have been instances of gross negligence, ignorance and profound stupidity by virtually every department; and that is just in the years since I was able to read and understand basic arithmetic, the English language and ethics our elected officials were supposed to have been imbued with and demonstrate consistently.

      In my assessment over civilian and military leaders (in the federal government and DOD specifically) over the last several years have failed to focus on their primary mission and then went absolutely tangential to their charter. There is a Constitutional requirement for raising a military force which entails providing for the common defense. Military forces by nature are to be the warriors that defend our freedom because “Freedom isn’t free”. They have been used by previous Presidents not in a warrior’s role but that of nation building and things far more relative to the State Department (DOS) for which they have taken far too many casualties and had too many pay the ultimate price for serving in dangerous areas in less than a combatant role. Refocus them to warrior tasks and have the DOS conduct the restoration of essential services but only after the warriors have been issued orders with clear tactical and strategic objectives which they have accomplished first. A leader of the most powerful nation on earth must be willing to accept collateral damage when prosecuting a war in order to neutralize those causing the problem in the first place. In our case those who are terrorists as well as those who harbor terrorists. They were put on notice almost eleven years ago by us, and we started out strong then diverted dramatically to allegedly not offend certain cultures, religion or people. War cannot be effectively conducted that way. We must kill the enemy and, just like all previous wars, some innocent civilians also get killed. Why is it that we appeared to be “soft” about destroying the poppy fields in Afghanistan which is where the Taliban (and probably al Qaeda) uses them to produce opium to sell on the illicit drug market to fund terrorism? In WWII we apparently did not have that same concern about bombing ball bearing factories and weapons manufacturing plants in Germany. We didn’t have the technology that we do today so we used what we had and yes, unfortunately we, as well as the British and others caused innocent civilians in those vicinities to die as a result of our military actions. Hopefully you see the point about working smart to precious resources wisely rather than merely working harder while using more of those resources wastefully.

      There is one branch of the military that has just realized they are not as professional as they were twenty years ago due to various internal policies. Twenty years ago, for example, the service routinely promoted about 35% to 40% of its Captains to Major. It was very competitive and the policy was used to screen out underperforming officers. Likewise the promotion rate from Major to Lieutenant Colonel was about 25% to 35% for the same reasons. However, those promotion rates have ballooned to about 98% from Captain to Major and 95%+ from Major to Lieutenant Colonel. The leadership, technical abilities and ethics of many of these officers are not up to the same standard we had twenty years ago.

      Remember the “My Lai Massacre” in Vietnam? How about “Tail Hook Scandal” in the late 1980’s early 1990’s? The battlefield promotion rates for the company grade officers was too high and too fast during the first and for the field grade officers about what it was twenty years ago and we still ended up with a leadership and ethical lapse. What do you think we will get with these promotion rates?

      The greatest budgetary challenge for the military is to determine what they are going to be expected to do and what they need to accomplish those missions. Civilian and military leaders have to analyze with these in mind as they cut, build, develop and maintain units and equipment as they spend our tax dollars and, at times have to put troops in harms way to defend our freedom.

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