Sunday, February 24, 2013

Expensive Sequester Sailing


The boat alone is $2.5 billion. The equipment inside is billions more. How much of it do we really need?

The Obama administration foresees 21st century wars fought with fewer boots on the ground and more drones in the air, while the Pentagon continues buying weapons from the last century.

In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said America no longer needs to deploy tens of thousands of troops to occupy nations or meet the evolving threat from new extremist groups. Cyber-attacks are the “rapidly growing threat,” he said.

Nevertheless, the defense budget contains hundreds of billions of dollars for new generations of aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need and combat vehicles too heavy to maneuver in desert sands or cross most bridges in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

Indeed, when we are training more drone pilots than fighter pilots for tactical strikes on small targets, why would you need to spend more than the next 13 nations combined to maintain a 20th Century fighting force?

While they warn that further budget cuts would cripple the military, Panetta and Dempsey, as well as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have said the Pentagon can cut costs by eliminating jobs and waste.

“Not every defense dollar is sacrosanct,” Gates said in September at an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “One need only spend 10 minutes walking around the Pentagon or any major military headquarters to see excess and redundancy.”

Something to think about as you hear about cutting food for seniors and children to the exclusion of the elimination of "redundancy." As it stands we spend more on the military than we do Medicare or Social Security. And when certain members of Congress complain that we haven't passed a budget, keep in mind Obama just signed the new defense budget in January.

It's an impressive ship. There are thousands of jobs tied to this as well, the only leg anyone has to stand on when it comes to arguing against cuts. The smart thing to do would be to draw down slowly through normal attrition and target our resources to fit the needs of the new cyber-warfare world we live in.

Seems easy, doesn't it?

More pictures of your tax dollars on the USS Makin Island here. A big salute goes out to the women and men stationed within.

Update 2/25: The Hill: Cutting defense spending is the popular option when it comes to sequester:
"In order to reduce America’s debts and deficits, more than twice as many voters said they would support defense cuts as said they would support cuts to social programs. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would support cutting military spending, while just 23 percent said they would support slashing Social Security and Medicare. An overwhelming majority, 69 percent, said they would oppose cuts to social programs."