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Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Bureaucracy and Inefficient Government Threatens US’s National Defense

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 10, 2013

John Lehman, who was President Reagan’s Secretary of Navy, has written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal concerning America’s depreciating military capabilities.  In the editorial titled More Bureaucrats, Fewer Jets and Ships Lehman points out that the problem is not lack of funding for the military, but instead inefficient and wasteful usage of the funds.  Here are some of the issues pointed out by Lehman:

  • America’s defense spending, adjusted for inflation, is now higher than at the height of Reagan’s military buildup.  However, the then 600 ship Navy is now down to less than half that number.  In addition the then 20 Army divisions have been cut in half.
  • Air Force fighters are now about 30 years old and their numbers have been cut significantly since the Reagan administration.
  • In the past 20 years the number of civilian and uniformed bureaucracy has increased by more than two times.  Currently there are over 1.5 million full-time civilian employees working for the Department of Defense, as well as 1,000 civil servants and 700,000 contract employees.  Making these numbers more protests, Lehman points out that currently more than half of active-duty servicepeople have staff positions.  As an example, Lehman points out that in the past 25 years Joint Task Force Staffs have increased from seven to over 250.
  • One of the most complex weapon systems developed by the US military was the Polaris missile system that took a near four years from its initial draft requirement to the first operational submarine.  Today, complex procurements require about 22 years for the same steps.

The inefficient bloating of US military costs is an example of government out-of-control.  It does not seem to matter whether the spending is for national defense, education, the needy, entitlements or the Department of Energy, costs increase and services depreciate.  This is an unfortunate result of a system that rewards (reelects) politicians for spending money that in essence purchases their future votes.  In addition, bureaucracies are self-perpetuating islands of power that fear cost-cutting as it endangers that power and potentially the incomes of those working for government.

Unless government employees are rewarded and disciplined based on results and not the size of the programs, the misappropriation of taxpayer funds will increase.  There is no better example than the current debacle that is called Obamacare.  Our depreciating military capabilities is a close second.

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Posted in Government Ineptness, Military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entitlement Mentality Affecting US Military Preparedness

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 1, 2013

Today the focus is understandably on the US government shutdown.  President Obama blames the Republicans and the Republican Congress blames the President.  Both contentions are political mere sideshows to the real economic problems facing the Country.  The United States’ overall fiscal problem is that we spend too much money, more each year that we bring in in tax revenues.  How the money is spent or wasted is secondary to the fact that we are stealing from our children’s future to our benefits today.

There are times when it is reasonable for a country to spend more than it brings in such as real economic crisis and war.  However, when a Country continues to run deficits year after year and ignores the perils of the excessive behavior, it is a clear sign of a country degenerating, both economically and morally.

As the federal government grew during the past hundred years, accelerating in the past fifty, it found new ways to generate revenues, i.e. taxes.  Some of these revenues were used appropriately to build infrastructure and supply Americans with essential services.  However, more recent the taxation system became a methodology to redistribute wealth from some Americans to others.  This includes corporate welfare with companies given special tax breaks, as well as entitlements to individuals, some of who are deserving and others who are not.  Also, as the federal government grew, a greater number of Americans became employed by that government and are now dependent on it for their livelihood.  Finally, when enough funds tax revenues could not sustain this perverse payments system, the government began running ever larger deficits.

One’s personal views and needs will likely affect who one believes is truly deserve it of the government’s sugar. This is irrelevant to the fact that when a government takes resources from some Americans and gives it to others it is a corruptive force.

Often those on the Right focus on entitlements given in the form of social programs as being corruptive to the capitalistic system.  While this assumption is correct to an extent, the social welfare given businesses, i.e. the military and other pet projects of the Right, are just as corruptive and damaging to the overall economy.

McKenzie Eaglen and Michael O’Hanlon wrote an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal last summer titled Military Entitlements Are Killing Readiness that reviews how the corruptive entitlement mentality is damaging the United States’ military and its preparedness.  Eaglen O’Hanlon list some of the entitlements military personnel currently receive including: 1) health coverage for life with minimal cost sharing, 2) retiree pensions and 3) housing allowances, grocery discounts, tuition assistance, and tax breaks more.

While many contend that our military personnel deserve such perks for serving the Country, the same argument can be made for many parts of society including police officers, firefighters, etc.  In fact this same argument has often made for municipal workers and has resulted in many cities and municipalities having to cut services in order to honor these entitlement benefits.

Now, the increasing cost of the entitlements is beginning to squeeze out the United States’ military capabilities and preparedness.  Here are facts presented by Eaglen and O’Hanlon:

  • The Navy will retire more ships over the next five years than it will build, with the fleet now at only 285 vessels.
  • The Air Force has one-third the number of bombers it had during the early 1970s and is currently is aging.  The relatively newest B-2 stealth bombers are two decades old.
  • In 2014, active duty Army and Marine Corps personnel are set to decrease by over 10% from 2010.

Should the above decreases be the result of a shrinking budget, while it may be bad policy, it would be an understandable economic decision. However, these decreases are more problematic when considered in tandem with the pay/benefit increases given military personnel that according to Eaglen and O’Hanlon include:

  • From 2001 to 2012, inflation-adjusted compensation cost per active-duty service member grew 56%.
  • From 2000 to 2010, the military’s health-care costs skyrocketed 180%, to $49.8 billion from $17.8 billion—more than double the rate of the national increase.  Tricare, a highly subsidized health care system for military retirees, provide members free health care for life.   This had led to over use. For example, in 2004 benefit recipients used outpatient services 44% higher than in civilian plans; with the inpatient rate 60% higher.
  • Military retirees have very generous pension benefits.  One benefit includes receiving 50% of the average salary for the three highest pay years after only 20 years of service.  This benefit also includes a cost-of-living adjustment.  In 2011 this system cost $20 billion, but also has a perverse impact on combat veterans who rarely serve for a full 20 years and therefore receive no pension benefits.
  • There are currently 760,000 civilians working for the military, a number that continues to increase even though the number of active-duty military personnel has decreased.

Certainly our Country should take care of its military servicemen and women, especially those that served in combat.  However, that does not justify pay scales or benefits that are considered sacrosanct by some.  As these pay and benefit costs squeeze out available funds for weapons and training, we are not only doing the Country an injustice, but also those that serve.

It is politically impossible to rein in the cost of any significant governmental program as long as the government is allowed to deficit spend..  Only when we stop robbing from future generations will true political wrangling and compromise be allowed to assist in bringing government spending under control, a requirement for any successful democracy in the long term.

Posted in Entitlements, Military | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Obama Says of SEALS: “I Don’t Take These Folks Too Seriously”

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 22, 2012

Obama Says of SEALS: “I Don’t Take These Folks Too Seriously”

Last week, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund and Special Operations Speaks started anti-Obama campaigns.  Both, founded by retired Navy SEALs, are complaining about Obama’s national security and the intelligence leaks and taking too much responsibility for killing Osama bin Laden.

When questioned Monday about the groups complaints the President said:  “I don’t take these folks too seriously.  One of their members is a ‘birther’ who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary.  You’ve got another who was a tea party candidate in a recent election.”

This is typical Obama.  Any who disagree with his positions are either demonized or marginalized without addressing the issues they raise.

As far as the President is concerned, the Navy SEALs are fine for sending in harm’s way, but are to be ignored when it comes to policy decisions.

Posted in Military, President Obama | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

President Obama Sending Troops to Central Africa

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 14, 2011

President Obama has just announced that he is sending 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to hunt down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  In a letter to the House Speaker John Boehner and Daniel Inouye, Senate president pro tempore, the President said:

“I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony [LRA leader] of from the battlefield.  I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.”

In further justifying the use of American troops, the President noted that the LRA “has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

This Blog does not question the President defining the LRA as bad guys who have committed atrocities in Africa.  However, for Obama to say that “deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests” is a stretch at the very least.

The timing of the President’s announcement of yet another US military action coming on the heels of the supposed Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador on US soil is curious.  Hopefully this President is not using foreign policy crises to deflect attention from the economic problems in the United States and his low poll numbers.

President Obama has shown a growing willingness to use force to project his foreign policies.  It will be interesting to see how much more of this the Left and the mainstream media will take before the protests begin.  Where is Cindy Sheehan and friends?

Posted in Military, President Obama | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Libya Catches the Tunisian/Egyptian Flu-II

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 21, 2011

Latest report from Libya from stratfor.com.  The events in Libya are changes rapidly and becoming more violent.

Unrest and the Libyan Military, Created Feb 21 2011 – 11:35

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ordered the Libyan air force to fire on military installations in Libya, according to what the BBC has characterized as a reliable source. Al Jazeera has suggested that air force fighters have opened fire on crowds of protesters.

Though the latter would be particularly draconian, the more important question is whether these signs reflect a split within the regime and Gadhafi using military force to crush opposition to his regime emerging from the military or other security forces. Similar reports of the Libyan navy firing on targets onshore also are emerging, as well as reports that Gadhafi has given execution orders to soldiers who have refused to fire on Libyan protesters.

The application of conventional weaponry is noteworthy and will warrant scrutiny — particularly in terms of the targets of the attacks and the rationale behind them. The use of these weapons is more appropriate for other armed entities rather than unarmed protesters. Libyan troops are good at instilling fear, but not good at stabilizing a situation, so the military may not be able to get in on the ground due to lost capability.

The situation remains opaque, but these latest developments combined with recent reports of defections of military units to the demonstrators’ side continue to draw STRATFOR’s attention to the possibility that the regime is fracturing.

 

Posted in Libya, Military | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Military Goes Progressive

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 13, 2010

Chris, who has commented on earlier postings, forwarded an article that deserves upfront posting.  Now the military is considering a medal for “courageous restraint”.  Wow, singing Kumbaya with the enemy, sounds like a Progressive strategy for protecting America and its troops.  Chris was a bit more direct in his assessment: “The medal for, not valor in battle, the purple heart etc – The medal for ‘Courageous Restraint.’  How about the medal for giving your barracks mates the most hugs, or handing out the most candy to Iraqi children?  This is the MILITARY being turned into Barney and Friends!”.

Below is the link to the story.  This is definitely a “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” moment!  Thanks Chris for sharing.

Hold fire, earn a medal

By William H. McMichael, Navy Times

Posted : Wednesday May 12, 2010 15:51:31 EDT

U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for “courageous restraint” for holding fire to save civilian lives.  …..

Hold fire, earn a medal

Posted in Military, Political Correctness | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »