The Pentagon Budget—Breaking the Bank

According to the president’s 2007 budget request for the Pentagon,

by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the FY (fiscal year) 2007
Budget reflects the Department’s continued shift in emphasis, away from
the static posture and forces of the last century toward the highly
mobile and expeditionary forces, and accompanying warfighting
capabilities, needed in the century ahead.

According to the president’s 2007 budget request for the Pentagon,

by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the FY (fiscal year) 2007
Budget reflects the Department’s continued shift in emphasis, away from
the static posture and forces of the last century toward the highly
mobile and expeditionary forces, and accompanying warfighting
capabilities, needed in the century ahead.

guys are informed. No matter that they’ve unilaterally screwed up our
most recent and most expensive war, if we’ll just hand over $440
billion, they promise to get more highly mobile and expeditionary. Last
century we were static—not good. That static stuff keeps you from being
quick on the draw and this is the OK Corral century. Quick is good.
It has recently been said of the president and the small group that advises him, that they don’t trust
whoever follows them into the Oval Office. Part of the reason might be
the idiocy of their long-term proposed expenditures. If you look at the
intro to the Pentagon budget, you’ll find

Department of Defense has made great strides since 2001 in refocusing
America’s forces and capabilities away from the conventional military
campaigns of the last century toward the kind of irregular warfare
operations in which we are now engaged – and which are likely to be
predominate in the years ahead.

You bet your pajama-bottoms. That Rumsfeld guy was a great strider and a refocuser when he wasn’t leaping tall buildings.

Nation has gone from a time of reasonable predictability and a single
major adversary to an era of surprise and complex challenges; from
fighting major, conventional combat campaigns to multiple irregular
warfare operations in various countries around the globe; from large
standing forces to powerful expeditionary capabilities.

again. Fighting just doesn’t get any more irregular than Iraq. Who
would have thought we’d ever be nostalgic for the cold war?

changes, as well as advances in equipment and technology, have enabled
America’s armed forces to react quickly, apply force precisely, and
generate more combat power and capability, with fewer numbers of weapon
platforms and lower force levels than ever before.

Which doesn’t even count the weapons platforms that don’t work worth shit.

On Page 3, under Defend the Homeland, the Defense Budget suggests allocations that will

  • provide $10.4 billion in FY 2007 to produce and field
    additional ground- and sea-based interceptors, (those pesky systems Don
    Rumsfeld was never able to make work)
  •  acquire two additional forward-deployed mobile radars (in
    Poland and Czech Republic, where their populations overwhelmingly don’t
    want them).
  • The budget also includes $4.0 billion for FY 2007-FY 2011 to
    enhance spaced-based early warning systems (in case al-Qaeda suddenly
    becomes missile capable from those caves in Pakistan).

If this sounds a bit like the old
cold-war systems, you’ll have to forgive the Pentagon and just take
their word that all this stuff is actually a refocusing. Moving right
along, the budget notes that

“While the
traditional realm is not the only, nor even the most likely, one in
which the United States will be challenged in the years ahead, the
United States must maintain its significant advantages in conventional
war capabilities.”

Presumably, those are the same significant advantages
that wrecked our military in a four year confrontation against a
third-world, rag-tag insurgent force whose weaponry amounted to
car-bombs and those willing to blow themselves up. Or do they mean the
Russians, Chinese or North Koreans?
No matter, we’re going to spread $50 billion among the aircraft and
shipbuilding industries, mostly so their stocks do not tumble and they
are ‘there for us’ should the need arise.
Embarrassingly, all this largesse doesn’t do a damned thing to
provide a fighting force that keeps us from dependence upon family-men
and women reservists to take the bullets and Halliburton to feed, house
and humiliate them. The Pentagon doesn’t mind that the guy slinging
hash in the mess hall isn’t under their command and makes more dough
than the guy he’s feeding. That guy wears forty-pound body armor in 100
degree weather and faces car-bombs.
That’s certainly my idea of a 21st century fighting force.

In (partial) summary; The
2007 budget is the result of an extensive, year-long review of U.S.
military forces and capabilities, and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense
Review. The QDR identified strategic priorities for added investment,
and the 2007 budget initiates the process of funding those priorities.
The 2007 budget sustains the President’s commitment to defend the
United States, especially against catastrophic terrorism, and provide
for the security of the American people.

And by god, it’s only $4 billion a week. But
bear in mind that this budget includes not a single dollar for the
current fighting. All that is covered by ‘supplemental’ budgets and is
in addition to budgeted Pentagon spending.
$4 billion a week just became eight.
Looked at from another angle, Dan Morgan wrote in the Washington Post three years ago,

Congress moves ahead with a huge new defense bill, lawmakers are making
only modest changes in the Pentagon’s plans to spend well over $1
trillion in the next decade on an arsenal of futuristic planes, ships
and weapons with little direct connection to the Iraq war or the global
war on terrorism.

Nothing changed but language, Dave. The Pentagon talks
about shifts in emphasis and irregular warfare operations, but they’re
pimping for the same old Star Wars starry-eyed Rumsfeld big budget
systems. And they’re doing it at a rate 20 percent above the peak
levels of President Ronald Reagan’s historic defense buildup. The idea
is no longer to break the Soviet Union. We’re now hell-bent on breaking
ourselves and these guys with their fingers on the budgetary trigger
have supposedly proven themselves by

  • Missile defense that can’t shoot down missiles
  • Under protected U.S forces in combat areas
  • A commander-in-chief who can’t lead and won’t follow
  • A system of retiring any of ‘the officers he listens to’ when they disagree
  • Which has led to a military disaster and the heartbreaking destruction of a nation
  • An al-Qaeda force stronger than it was after 9-11
  • As well as a substantially broken military

Three years ago Morgan wrote,

“the debate in
Congress over the defense bill has largely skirted the budgetary or
strategic implications of this buildup, largely because Republican and
Democratic politicians are unwilling to appear weak on defense.”

That is still the case. Democrats make noises like mewing kittens about ‘de-funding the war’ and then huff and puff about their ‘power of the purse,’ but they have neither the guts nor the specific technological knowledge to rein in what has become a military in total disarray.
And they better damned well figure out how to do it. The electorate
is sick to death of rhetoric and Washington has yet to hear the message.
Aside from the disastrous financial implications of spending 20%
above the Reagan record military budgets, this compassionate
conservative lunacy contains neither compassion nor conservatism. Its
violent and destructive strike against the wrong enemy in the wrong
country after 9-11 has turned us, in six short years, from the most
envied to the most feared nation on the planet.
There are those who think that is just fine, but they are too few to
base a foreign policy and certainly too few to make a doctrine.
George Bush, under the thrall of Dick Cheney, mismanaged and
misdirected a search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Doing so,
in the place of a more studied and honest response, has lost for us our
own weapon of mass attraction.
Mere talk about the power of the purse is no longer enough.
Media comment;

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