Breaking:$500 Billion Defense Cuts Possible
The data on this story is about 1yr old, but In From the Cold George Smiley ‘s commentary is new, based also on recent speeches by SecDef Gates. He says “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet“:
Brace yourselves for massive decreases in military spending as the War in Iraq winds down and we begin our withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011. No one’s saying how much of a hit the Pentagon will take, but we’ve filed away a copy of a 2009 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study that provided an “alternative” strategy for Pentagon procurement. The study outlined potential cost savings of roughly $500 billion (over a 16-year period) by canceling or down-sizing various weapons programs. The plan was produced under the auspices of former CBO Director Peter Orszag; he is currently President Obama’s budget director…
Specifically, the blogger singles out the following for likely cuts:
- Thousands of Army and Marine troops, especially those called up for the two Surges, into Iraq and now Afghanistan.
- “Elimination of the Air Force’s next-generation tanker (KC-X)”
- Major decreases in the Joint Strike Fighter buy.
- Another aircraft carrier cut from the fleet, perhaps more.
This will be hard to take for some, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. Historically after every war, there is downsizing in the military, and with the economy in its current shambles, the military will be specifically targeted, no matter which Party will eventually be in charge.
This is why I plead, and beg the military to kick the gold-plate weapons addiction, before we end up with the world’s most expensive, but most useless armed forces, filled with wonderful superplanes, giant warships, and heavy tanks, which we don’t have enough of for all our enemies, and which we can’t arm, maintain, or even fuel properly. Neither will we have trained personnel to operate these wonders of the world, because as In From the Cold also pointed out, training is the first to go when trying to save pet projects:
A case in point? During the mid-1990s, the Air Force reduced its ranks by 10,000 personnel. The “savings” were used to fund development of the F-22 Raptor, which was seriously over budget. The additional money kept the program going, but the down-sizing produced a predictable consequence: by the time the Raptor became operational, the USAF was noting a drop in experience levels in certain career fields. Some of the airmen projected to serve as experienced technicians and mid-level supervisors had left the service years earlier, part of the forced exodus mandated to “save” the F-22.
Still, this shouldn’t be all bad news. A leaner, meaner military might induce the admirals and generals to make do with less, and stretch precious procurement and operating funds. Even if we drop to 1990s levels in defense spending, that would leave us with about $300 billion (adjusted for inflation) to play around with, much greater than the $60-$80 billion estimated spent by the Chinese Military.
With such funds, there is little excuse why we can’t buy adequate numbers of planes, armored vehicles, and ships, replace them when they are worn out, and operate them where they are needed, without keeping ancient weapons in service linger than reasonable should be, just to maintain the facade of Great Power Status. We are still great, lets start acting like it again, by spending responsibly.
We have had plentiful funds flowing since the end of the Cold War, and yet this has induced the downsizing and rapid aging of our forces, even greater than the post-Vietnam slump with gave us a “hollow military“. Logically, if we make cuts, then we should start to see increases, if the Pentagon would adequately reform itself.