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Shots fired in re the Defense Budget.

The Army pretty much rolls over on FCS (which is instructive, really).  The Air Force sends out the proxies. 

Over at National Review, retired AF Major General Bently Rayburn weighs in. Here's a snippet, click the link to read the whole thing (you should *always click the link, people!!!!):
President Obama’s 2010 budget amounts to an eye-popping $3.7 trillion, and opens the floodgates to a projected $42 trillion in the next decade. This is the largest domestic-spending increase in history. The interest on the national debt will be $800 billion in 2014 — more than we currently spend on national defense.

Meanwhile, Obama is cutting our military’s budget to the bone and marrow. Funding for land-based missile defense, the F-22 Raptor, and the Air Force’s refueling tankers will be reduced, eliminated, or delayed — even though these programs are vital to our national defense.

As a career Air Force officer, I agree with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that we must focus on winning the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we also need to be preparing for — and deterring — future conflicts. At a time when Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons and North Korea is firing missiles over Japan, it makes no sense to cut $1.4 billion from missile defense. The U.S. has made major strides in missile-defense technology and has spent enormous diplomatic capital to encourage Poland and the Czech Republic to let us base missile-defense installations in those countries. Cutting this program at this time sends the wrong signal to our friends and adversaries alike.

Around here, Dusty has the chops for this, so I asked him if he had anything to say.  He did.
- Well, duh...

- Most of the points Rayburn made are simple common sense, to me. But I'm biased. There's no question the defense budget's being cut significantly. But the Air Force has had a perennial problem almost since its founding--technology is expensive and cutting-edge technology is really expensive--but getting the layman (to say nothing of the rival Services) to understand that the money spent returns significant dividends has always been problematic.

My point being that regardless of the argument's merits, it is irrelevant. It's expensive, so the Raptor program must be terminated.

- This brings to mind two thoughts, however. First, the money spent doesn't just go into Lockheed Martin's CEO's personal bank account. Talk about a "shovel-ready program"...we're already shoveling, a lot.

It pays for thousands of designers, researchers, engineers, machinists, secretaries and janitors, among others, who not only make a fine product but need the work. Especially now. And they're producing a product whose spin-offs benefit not just the soldier, sailor, airman and/or Marine. Like the space program, military research gives us lots of other products.

Second, given the Administration's breathtaking spending plans, it makes, for example, the 40 billion for a new tanker fleet look (literally!) like pocket change. If ACORN gets what the Democrat's wants to give it, that's only 8 times the ACORN "budget," so to speak.

Who knows, there may be an ironic outcome to Obama's present slash-and-burn assault on the DoD budget...pretty soon "a trillion" will be thrown around for things like health "care" and 40 billion WILL start to look like pocket change to the man on the street, perhaps making a DoD program sell easier, not harder.

I know, I know...dream on.

This would particularly be the case if someone starts to compare money spent to effectiveness of the article or service purchased...again, another fantasy of mine.

- In any case, I think we fail to realize how little we spend to get what is a military unique in human history, in terms of its effectiveness, its "bang for the buck." Honestly, the Constitution spells out the need for a "Common Defense" and we throw a paltry, what, 4%?, at keeping our citizens free and relatively safe. That is Job 1 for the President.

Except this one.

- As far as spending money on something we don't "need" right now, well, permit me to doubt. "Today" is fleeting and so is this short time without peer competitors. Lesson One in service school is: don't fight the last war. Already, Iraq and Afghanistan are the last war. Could be wrong, but I doubt it. Methinks, the next one will be WMD-centric by the way.

- So, I wish he'd said something about our nuclear deterrent, too. When the Iranians get their weapon, my guess is it'll be more modern and quite possibly more reliable than our own arsenal.

So, it's nice to see Gen Rayburn toss in his two cents but I think his effect will be as dramatic as my classmate's in trying to get The One to take national defense seriously.


G'night,
Dusty

14 Comments

Oh what horse manure. The Bush administration proposed a $2.9 trillion budget for 2008, and that budget ignored a lot of issues, but they were leaving so it didn't really matter. You want to argue about a few hundred billion when we face a huge debt as a result of both the endless wars in the Middle East (only $12 billion a month, but going down, sorta kinda) and the economic boondoggle we are all facing (but no need for regulating the financial industry, right Repubs?), fine. Have your debate.

However, Rayburn is out to lunch in his narrow commentary. It's hard to see how Obama administration cut "our military’s budget to the bone and marrow" when it's growing by four percent as compared to last year's base budget, plus we still get both an FY09 and an FY10 defense supplemental to ensure we can fight the current fight. I know the Air Force is losing its mind as to wanting the F22, the F35, a new tanker, a new long range bomber, the Airborne laser, but hey, there's this funny thing about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few or one. If you look at the defense budget, it spilts equally between personnel costs, operations and maintenance, and modernization. Which one do you want to cut, considering that we have doubled the size of the defense budget since 9/11?

Do you cut personnel benefits to get your precious F22? Or do you cut back on flight training or air operations to get that new bomber? Can you make the case that the Army or Navy should get less money because of the desire by the Air Force to dominate the skies (which it already does)? The Air Force's infatuation with technology has blinded it to the need to weigh one very simple issue - can you sustain this capability in future scenarios and does it really contribute to the main battle in proportion to your service's roles and missions? To put it briefly, just because you *can* build it doesn't mean you *should* build it.

Others have already addressed the need for the Air Force to redefine its goals relative to conventional and irregular combat and to do a little more sane analysis of what it ought to build. As for the missile defense program, please. RAND and others have already stated the obvious - why build a missile defense program in Europe when the Europeans don't want it, the Iranians are years away from actually having a missile capability (let alone one that can range the United States), and the threat from Iran is very overblown considering our capability and Israel's capability (because let's be serious, that's who's really at risk, not us, not the Europeans) to retailate. So wake up, Rayburn, and get a shot of reality.

 

Hey, we woke Jason up!

 
Now this looks a job for me
So everybody just follow me
'Cuz we need a little controversy,
'Cuz it feels so empty without me

:)
 
Eminem sucks.

I don't necessarily like not buying as much as we might need of the best, shiniest new tech, but there are two ways to 'lose'. I don't want to see the United States 'lose' the same way the Soviet Union did, by spending more than it had, until it collapsed.

Something, somewhere has got to start getting pared down. I'm MORE concerned that we are apparently not going to be getting many more F-22's, maybe shelving the ABM system, no modernized warheads or delivery systems for our aging nuclear deterrent, etc, and STILL the Defense budget is still projected to grow 4% over last year, through 2010.

We are going to spend ourselves to death. Social Security yet looms, beyond the immediate supersized federal deficit. We had the White House. We had the Congress. We didn't hold them to fiscal responsibility. Now we're out of power, and in deep kim chi of our own making. We have no credible leadership, no coherent message for the interim elections. Now what?
 
Have some tea, MCart.  Heh. 
 
 You're right Jason. Republicans are all f--cked up. They should be in reeducation camps to get their minds right about budgets, defending the country and all that other stuff. Of course, the tripling of our deficit in ten years by the Obama administration will have no effect at all on our liberty or security. 

How did I miss that? Of course I should have voted for Obama. Only he and the Democrats are willing to save me from myself. And let's not forget the need to apologize to our detractors for having the temerity to fight back when attacked and spend the money to do it. It was our fault we were attacked anyway, since we voted those mean GOPers in in the first place. We deserve to be punished. And buying modern weapons to defend ourselves will only delay the attacks we so richly deserve.

I so glad you're here to show us the error of our ways as retired USAF veterans. God knows you have a much better grasp of what we need in terms of an effective air arm both now and in the future. Besides, having more capable weapons than our betters (the Europeans, Chinese, Russians, et al.) only prevents us from taking the losses we should absorb for the crimes we've committed as a nation. We need less capable systems that are cheaper so we can bleed the way we should. It's only fair, right? After the crimes we've committed against Muslims? Against the heroic fighters struggling to throw off the oppression that we've brought to the Middle East?

Besides, if more US pilots are killed, that's fewer voting Republicans around to continue to slow are march to a New Dawn under The One and his successors.
 
Dang, thih skins 'round here.  Who grafted gollum skin onto everyone? 

Bottom line?  Being the cornerstone of the security-market nexus is very expensive.  Either we accept the cost of underwriting the security that makes this current round of high economic activity or we pull back and live with the consequences of such an action.  I just get pissed when we hear there won't be any consequences.  We saw what happened when the USN contracted over 20 years---world piracy is up, big. 

When are people gonna wake up and smell the reality of it?  It costs mega to defend the Liberal World Order.  Poney up or shut up.  End of story.  
 
Y'know, reading the Jason and Dusty exchange...  neither of you two are going to convince the other, that much is clear.  Therefore, taking whacks at each other is just goading each other and pulls the discussion off course. De-personalize it.

Treat it like a formal debate - don't talk to each other, talk to everybody else.  That's where the movement is, and the real success, and the learning.

And you'll annoy each other less, I'm thinking.
 
Regarding the military budget being up by 4%.  It's a nice little sleight of hand.  Obama has said there will be no "emergency funding" bills for the military now, so when you look at actual dollars from this year's budget compared to last year's budget plus off-budget funding, it's a major cut.
 

Jason's argument assumes the Air Force acquisition program is geared only toward self-graftification.  Apparently, we buy expensive planes simply to stroke our egos.  However, I would argue the Air Force buys these planes in order to achieve certain objectives.  Namely, the Air Force is tasked with three primary missions:  to achieve air supremacy and defend the homeland; to bomb our enemy's center's of gravity to coerce them into ending conflict; and, to provide close air support to our brothers and sisters in the Army and Marines if they are committed to a ground campaign.  To do this, we require the tools that can be expected to meet these goals. 

The F-22 is the first 5th generation fighter to be produced .  However, the Russians, Chinese, and Indians are developing their own 5th generation fighter.  This technology will eventually proliferate throughout the world.  The F-35 JSF is also in this category.  Both the SECAF and COS have agreed our current number of F-22s is sufficient, countering the argument put forth by the fighter community for additional purchases.

A new tanker:  The USAF mission is a global mission.  Our current inventory of KC-135s are averaging between 40-50 years of age.  We are literally flying the wings off these birds.  A new tanker is very much needed.

Next Generation Bomber:  We need to begin now on developing either a manned or unmanned bomber to replace our current inventory over the next couple of decades.

I will agree the Air Force should be working on building inexpensive attack aircraft for low-intensity/hybrid warfare.  But I will steadfastly argue we must continue to produce technologically superior weapons, knowing full well the cost involved, to provide us with good amount of certainty for victory (not to mention crew survivability).  We don't view the F-22 as "precious", we view it as highly capable.

 
Fuzzy, is it a cut or is it a smaller growth?  I haven't looked and done the math meself yet.  I'm just wondering if it's the old 'it didn't grow as much as we wanted for the year and so we'll call it a cut' politese thing.


 
As far as I understand it, it's a cut.  Proposal-wise, it's a smaller number than the  increase the Bush administration had said it should be.  But when you factor in the off-budget bills for emergency spending (which Obama says he will no longer sign), the toal money is MUCH LESS.  In other words, the baseline budget the Pentagon will be dealing with this year is slightly bigger than last.  However, there will be no giant "emergency spending" bills that were funding the Iraq/Afghanistan operations; they're now folded into the general budget (the war spending was previously off-budget).

So, the Pentagon is working with a much smaller pool of money for the coming year than for the last.
 
Let's Hear It: I WANT MY OTV! ... Not.
 
Well really that's a defacto cut.  I don't think emergency bills are unreasonable the war is after all very expensive and not supposed to be ongoing so rolling it into the main budget is a bit distortive.