Mr Green makes the point about the need to cut spending and notes that Defense spending is discretionary spending, discretionary being as opposed to "entitlements". On the other hand, entitlements are just creatures of the US Congress and can go away with the vote of both houses (and the signature of the President). But, that is not the point. Mr Green takes the Obama/Biden Administration♠ to task for excluding Defense spending from his proposed three-year freeze on discretionary spending.
I agree that President Obama should not have excluded Defense spending. However, I find this statement to be tactical and not strategic. Referring to the F-35, the EFV (USMC amphibious armored personnel carrier) and the V-22, Mr Green says:
That we continue paying for these weapons makes even less sense now that terrorists, not communists, are the enemy.The sense lacks all sense of the fact that future threats materialize because the enemy is looking for our current weakness and our political leadership sometimes decides to engage even when it previously said it wouldn't (see, for example, the Korean War). The day before yesterday it was the Warsaw Pact armies on the German Plains, yesterday it was Iraq's Republican Guards, today it is terrorists/insurgents, but tomorrow it could be anything.
Not only could tomorrow be anything, but recruiting and training the force and buying the weapons could be a multi-year process. Remember, not a single US "big deck" carrier fought in World War II that had not be ordered before the war.
And then there is that Jet Engine the author pilloried Rep Barney Frank for voting for. A few decades ago having a jet engine competition was considered a major success and it save hundreds of millions of dollars, as competition drove the price down. Tactical vs strategic. More expensive in the short run, but less expensive in the long run.
Unmentioned is personnel costs. I am not saying bring back the draft, which would be a terrible and inequitable decision. I am suggesting that pay raises do not need to be going up as quickly as they are, especially in a time of economic turbulence. We are out of the pit where young Service members were paid a terribly small amount of money.
What we are doing is not hedging our bets against a future war that does not look like Iraq or Afghanistan. We are saying we have enough C-17s and F-22s. But, once we shut down the production line it will be near impossible to procure more—and at this point they are cheap.
For a couple of years when I was teaching at the National War College I ran the NWC Defense Budget exercise. It was a terrible thing to do to the students. At the end of the day they had to cut, and they had to get agreement across their seminars. They did better when they developed both a current and a long range strategy before they reached for the ax. That is a real bummer.
Here is a plug for one defense reform organization:
The group, The Sustainable Defense Task Force, encompasses the political spectrum — from Barney Frank, on the left, to Ron Paul, on the right — along with a host of military reformers. They share a belief that unrestrained military spending is a danger to the budget, and to the country. And they make a persuasive case that we can spend less without sacrificing security.Barney Frank and Ron Paul together. They may be on the right track.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Actually, I think the Vice President is not really part of the Administration, except to the extent that he is invited to sit in or even given some task. The Vice President is part of the US Senate, just like Vice President Cheney said. However, I find folks using the phrase Bush/Cheney Administration and there should be some form of legitimate reprisal against such people.