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Shared Sacrifice? Okay...

From Military-dot-com:

Military.com is reporting that, according to [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Admiral [Michael] Mullen, the administration’s call for reducing the DoD budget by $400 billion by FY2023, will force the DoD find ways to cut the cost of pay and benefits for servicemembers — active, reserve, and retirees.

Mullen told reporters, “we have to put initiatives in place in the mid-term that would start to generate cash in the out years. Two of the big places the money is, is in pay and benefits.”

It seems the Pentagon is making a full court press on the issue of cutting pay and benefits — first Gates now Mullen.

I can see two ways of looking at that pronouncement:

Either the DoD power structure is attempting to send a very subtle, nuanced message to POTUS saying that, "With our forces presently spread out in Iraq (yeah, they're still there), Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen (you guys know about Yemen, right?), you might want to re-think that budget cut because pay and benefits *will* take a hit"

-- or --

the DoD power structure is actually contemplating cutting pay and benefits.

In the event that the first scenario is accurate, I think that it's a bit too subtle and nuanced for the Teleprompter Reader this particular Commander-in-Chief to "get" -- he's more likely to read it as an affirmation that DoD is falling into lockstep with his proposal. And in the event that the second scenario is accurate, well, that's the reason I titled the post that way.

Now, I'm a guy who's willing to prove he's a team player, Admiral, sir, even though I'm just a lowly retiree. I'm perfectly willing to donate those lifetime GI Bill benefits I earned in Vietnam -- but I can't. You see, Congress decided it needed cash to fund a study of the Paraguayan Fringed Banana Slug or something in '86 and tacked a retroactive expiration date onto my GIB, so I don't have that to donate. Or I could donate the lifetime VA healthcare I earned by making myself militarily useful to the Army (Active *and* Reserve, hoo-ah for me!), but I can't. Seems Congress needed more funding for that Banana Slug study, or some such, and took that away in the '90s and said I'd get TriCare (which I paid cash money for), but I can't even cut you in for a slice of the TriCare pie, because, ya see, I kinda got *old* and I was just informed I'll be on Medicaid and Medicare, instead. Oh, yeah -- and I have to pay for them, too.

So, that just leaves cutting into my retired pay ("pay," not "pension" -- the Army can still put me back in uniform if it has a pressing need for Little Bird -- or Cobra -- Instructor Pilots). I figure you could take a good 20% right off the top, and you'll have that $400billion in -- where's that calculator? -- only 670,000,000 years.

Oh, wait -- I've been selfish in only considering myself in this. After all, it *is* Shared Sacrifice, right? So, here's two suggestions for Teh Boss:

1. Hit all agencies, departments, programs, staffs, and bureaux with a 10% budget cut, across the board. No exceptions.

2. Cap military pay at the O-6 level. You get promoted, you get the increased prestige and responsibility, but no additional pay. Why at the O-6 level? Simple -- that's the highest grade at which an officer actually has a direct impact on, and a direct relationship with, the troops under his command. Most of the time, once someone pins stars to his epaulets, he's also adding at least three layers of filters that will insure he has minimal personal contact with the troops -- with a few notable exceptions, of course, but there will always be exceptions...

...just like there will always be exceptions to the concept of Shared Sacrifice and exemptions of people and programs from *any* form of sacrifice. Sic 'em, Jimbo...

13 Comments

I vote for number 2.  I am so peeved with Mullen - of course, I am often peeved with Mullen.  But this "shared sacrifice" stuff, just makes me want to call Mullen and say "You first!"
 
Betcha he wouldn't bat an eye at applying for a waiver from that "cap pay at the O-6 level" deal...
 
Agreed with all points, except to note that if studying the Paraguayan Fringed Banana Slug and similar fauna was the limit, the definition, of Federal and Congressional frivolity, budgeting for "hard needs," like ships, planes, tanks, and men, would be far less fraught.

Instead, it's SWAT teams for the Dep't of Education, agenda-driven studies (for bonus points, two studies on the same subject) and policy-making (I take no sides, but would far prefer if the elected set would simply pick solutions that work, whether it come from the mouth of a Deep South hell-fire preacher, monied Boston liberal, stoned San Fran hippie, or suited plutocrat), and a commitee system and set of house rules designed by mad lawyers on speed. And the on-going meta-study into the (cross-)breeding habits, courtship rituals, and feeding behaviours of lobbyists, Capitol-dwellers, and senior snivel serpents.

On the O-6 note, wasn't there, at one point, something similar in at least one US service? A rank-cap, with all promotions above it being on an ad-hoc, campaign- or appointment-related basis?

 
On Mullen: Some pigs are more equal than others.

The military is an obvious target but really everything has to be cut and cut hard.  You guys are neck deep.  Any cuts will bite deep too.  Where is the shining beacon the US was?  Nowadays it's all TSA, debt, idealogical battles and foreclosure.

On the Jimbo story the quote from Barney is telling but more importantly it is true.  Many really do feel that way and that's why the cuts to mil are so easy to pass.  Too many people have fluffy ideas that just talking things out will stop invasions.
 
Just to toss the discordant note in here... I the butthead who's been saying all along that if TRICARE was going to go with the model  for retirees it was using, then those fees were going to have to go up.  And then got in the fight to keep them doing teh stoopid.  The proposal that could only have come from 4 Regulars in the basement of the Pentagon to tie it to rank at retirement being just one such example. 

On the other note - I also support relooking the retirement system.  If there had been any form of vested retirement options, I would have jumped ship at 15 years (and I'm not talking the drawdown-related early retirement option) I'm talking about a reworked system that gives the soldier rights that vest before 20.  As it is - people, like me, hang on past their effective expiration date because if they don't - they have virtually nothing to show for it.

And Bill - the VA option isn't as good as it sounds, at least not if you have any family hanging around.  At a 70% VA rating, I'm entitle to full lifetime care, copay free - but nothing for Beth.  Hence I'm still paying for TRICARE anyway.

But, when it comes to money, there is nothing in the history of FDR and beyond to suggest that the political class and their appointees will do anything more than grab and low-hanging fruit, act only in short-term ways, and play grasshopper to the ant.  

Which, of course, is at root Da People's Fault.  First, because our grandparents and parents bought the line offered by FDR, and then, with the time and money that bought them, the Progressives and the Kultur Kampf allies schooled the kids to see that as normal.  And we have a large group of people in the country who are just as oblivious to reality as the rioters in Athens.

Feh.  Sometimes I think I'll just get a "DNR" medical bracelet.
 
Too many people have fluffy ideas that just talking things out will stop invasions.

Several months ago, Grim linked to a study which showed, among other things, that Libs are unable to recognize real or potential threats until after said threat walks up and kicks them in the teeth.

And Barney Frank has single-handedly done "more harm than good to our people and to our reputation in the world" than all the defense spending we've done in our entire history.
 
At a 70% VA rating, I'm entitle to full lifetime care, copay free -

Heh. If I'd put myself in for those PHs, my measley 30% would have been bumped up.

Scroom. Even knowing what I know now, I prob'ly wouldn't a-done it.
 
We've been plinkin' at them Yemenis out from our base in Djibouti, for the past 8 years.
 
Hey - I just took the physical.  They made the determination.
 
David - the higherst permanent rank is two star and when I was in pay was capped at that, but could "rise" on retirement if you held a higher rank and your name was submitted to teh senate to make the higher rank permanent along with the higher pay that went with it. Your retirement pay was then based on what you active pay would have been at the higher rank.

I may be misremembering, but Bill or Sir John (or anyone else that knows differently) are welcome to correct me.
 

QM - I think you have the right of it, mostly.  The last time I looked at the pay scales there was an asterisk that said (for the 3/4baggers) that actual compensation was limited to Level V (I think) of the executive pay scale - which basically is the lowest level of political appointees requiring Senate confirmation (that confirmation piece may be faulty memory).  But, as you relate, their retired pay was calculated (if they were allowed to retire in grade, which didn't always happen) based on the pay chart, not their actual remuneration.

 
I'm cool with cuts in defense spending, if necessary to balance the budget and pay off the debt.

But, first, eliminate all welfare programs.  Cut Congressional pay to that of an O-1 for first term, O-2 for second term and cap at O-3 pay if any of the thieves last longer than 3 terms.

Eliminate all foreign aid.
Eliminate all funding for ACORN, Planned Parenthood, PBS, etc.
Eliminate all federal money for college scholarships.
Eliminate the "public funding for campaigns."
Increase tax on lawyers to 50% of any income from litigation, and 90% on class action lawsuits.

Eliminate the entire Departments of Education, Energy and Commerce.

Repeal Obamacare- completely.

And, increase the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to 75 (phased in over 5 years- throwing out those already in but under the new eligible age.

There is no more money, and drastic cuts are neede, now!

Remember, it is only AFTER the above have been done that I will agree to messing with DOD expenditures.

Congress lied to the military repeatedly with benefit promises, so I have no regrets asking the lying bastids to rescind benefitspromised to others who were merely having their votes purchased.

 
 The sacrifice will be shared as it was in the Soviet Union. All the citizens will share the sacrifice and the Nomeklatura will benefit from the sacrifice made by the citizens. After all, they have heavy responsibilities and deserve their Dacha.

John(NTA) you are far too generous. They should have to live on the emoluments of a Spec 4. Buck Sgt max. They are worth far less than that, frankly.