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Time to reconvene the Grey Hairs...

Earlier this month I convened the Council of Auld Pharts to examine the DoD Strategic Guidance. Technically, the National Military Strategy should drive the guidance which is supposed to drive the budget. In practice, we usually put the cart before the horse and the budget is the driver. 'Tis no different this time around.
 
Here's the Defense Budget Priorities document, published yesterday.

You may commence.

20 Comments

The fundamental choice to gut DOD spending, one of the few true responsibilities of the federal government, instead of chopping all other non-essential, non-mandatory programs first is proof that there was no intelligent thought in making these decisions.

Especially the day after mandating that some of the precious few remaining DOD dollars be used to pay off experimental fuel producers.

Sadly, the cowards, yes, COWARDS, in Congress refused to man-up and make any real choices on spending priorities and budget responsibility and instead fell for Obama's scheme to gut DOD if the phoney "super committee" failed to make cuts.

Throw all their sorry butts out and slash the size of non-DOD departments by 50%, end all refundable tax credits, elminate Departments of Energy, Education and Commerce tomorrow to buy time to work on slashing entitlement programs.

Cutting DOD is just fundamentally wrong, misguided, ignorant, and confirmation that Obama hates this country and is purposely destroying every aspect of what has made us strong and great.

The specific choices for cuts within DOD are merely those of being shot, hung, starved or allowed to expire from disease.  No good options.
 
It's easier to cut DOD funding than to cut studies of shrimp running on minature treadmills.

I tremble for the Republic.
 
I've too often said "We're doomed!", but, really ... what are they thinking? Oh, that's it, they don't.
 
Well it read very uhm talked up. She'll be right but in diplospeak. I see this is a bad sign actually. I also wonder why, if some of these cuts are so easy, they have not been done already. The carrier etc fleet appears to be maintained for show. If so I think it might be quite foolish. Cuts to pay & benefits should make the reduction easy to achieve per se. I rather think the smartest and most useful of the mils will head for the doors. I wonder why they are not thinning the top ranks.

Overall I see this as a normal reaction to such a butcher cut and supports my belief that the US is in decline quite well.

If that 'supercommittee' paralyses which is likely and the Dem gamble to get the GOP to consider taxes fails (which is uncertain) this is all less relevant and the cuts will grind much harder on the bone. Although I rather think cuts are more likely to be weaselled out of in some way. Which is largely how the debt got this uncontrollable in the first place.
 
To the members of this highly steamed body, there are many considerations to be examined.

Yes, I read the document, I did not like it, but it is important in 3 ways, and what it says and what it doesn't say? The last way, is a very dangerous question. What does it infer or suggest?

I hear Democrats referring to Eisenhower's final address as President, 17 January 1961. This is the speech that he gives a solemn warning about the  “Military–Industrial Complex”. The biggest thing that they've failed to mention is context. At that point in time, what were the major threats to this  Nation? At that point in time, we were not involved on a large scale in Viet Nam until the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 under LBJ. Before then, our role was “primarily to support the French”.

I know that Eisenhower would never have said those things in the midst of an open war. Can you imagine him saying those things, on the night before the Normandy Invasion?

  The things we need to remember about this whole picture is something that Eisenhower had pushed for and that was The National Highway System. In his view, this was absolutely necessary for an “Efficient Defense of the Nation”. Whether we like it or not, infrastructure is a part of our overall National Security Viewpoint.

  As we look at the 21st Century, we have new challenges and they all reflect on our National Security Outlook. The threats will always be there, the trick is to find the best way to address them. But as we look at those threats, we must be mindful of the total cost to address them. Who, how, where, and when will these costs be addressed? There is another part of the issue, what are the consequences, if we don't do anything?There are no easy answers. The thing that we should strive for,  is balance. I don't see it  in the DOD Document.

Respectfully submitted to the “Council of the Auld Pharts",

Grumpy
 
I'm too young for this council (and have a vested career interest as well), but as as I'm studying to be a historian, I do feel compelled to correct one thing about Grumpy's post, above.

We were not "supporting the French" in Vietnam in January of 1961.  The agreements resulting from the Geneva Conference ended the First Indochina War in the summer of 1954, and French troops were withdrawn soon after.  So they were long gone by 1961.

In 1961 we were supporting the Diem (which I just learned this week is pronounced 'Ziem') government of South Vietnam.

Oh, and John, you forgot to liquidate the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie, Freddy, and the FHA, and end the War on (Some) Drugs (how much money would we save from the reduced prison space requirements and court costs?) to save even more money.
 
How about a flat rate tax and get rid of 90% of the IRS.  If 10% is good enough for Jesus, it ought to be enough for Uncle Sam...

Heartless Libertarian: I would end the War on Drugs per se, as far as resources devoted soley to that effort (get rid of DEA), but I wouldn't push for legalization. Why? Because if Marijuana were legalized, the state and federal lawmakers would instantly slap huge sin taxes on the weed and simply replace the DEA agents with BATFE agents (a la moonshine). Lets just let illegal drugs become a secondary offence.  If a cop pulls a speeding motorist and smells burning rope, he can add the weed posession, but no federal agents spending months undercover to bust some drug king-pin, that is a waste of resources.
 
It is manageable because the resulting joint force, while smaller and leaner, will remain agile, flexible, ready, innovative, and technologically advanced.

Yeah. Shades of the "We must be able to fight outnumbered and win" and "We can do more with less by fighting smarter, not harder" memoranda that used to appear on our unit bulletin boards during the Carter years. We were half-convinced that Jimmeh and the Dems were going to provoke a war just so they'd have an excuse to surrender to the USSR...

 
The simple fact is, when the majority of the people in the country feel that the country is no longer worth defending ... they will be right.
 
@Heartless, at the time, what you said, *if true*, would have been considered an OPSEC violation.
 
Well, next week's topic is Diem...but I've got 200+ pages of American economic history (it started at Jamestown - I'm up to the post-Civil War industrial expansion) to get to before I start the Vietnam reading.

We did watch a short French film about Indochina...kind of weird seeing M24 Chaffee tanks and F8F Bearcats with French roundels...
 
I think I remember reading something, somewhere, about giving direct aid and comfort to an enemy during a time of war supposedly being a bad thing to do.

Seems to me, dismantling the military during not only an ongoing generational war, but also concurrent with other traditional enemies ramping up their own war making capability with express intention of using that capability, for nothing more than political hackery, fits that bad thing.

Someday....
 
 Heartless, people like you are a valuable asset, beyond measure.  You are part of the treasure of this Great Nation. If we are smart, we will learn from history. History teaches us what to do, but also teaches us what not to do, the trick is to know the difference. But, sometimes history is sneaky, she hides the real lessons that we need to learn. The real secret of a good historian has many aspects. In some ways, the historian needs to find ways to get history to spill her secrets. After this is done, we must all work together to  appropriately apply history's  secrets to today.

There is just one more thing to say, Thank you, this is a service for all of us.
 
 Many years ago I read MacArthur's autobiography. The current fights remind of the period he was Army COS and the battles he fought with FDR over Army budgets. We know how that ended, but we had to time to spool up. Next time we will not be given any such cushion and we will lose the war with what we have.

There was a line in Tom Clancy's novel "Red Storm Rising" about the state of the US merchant fleet. Something along the lines of "to call it shame is like calling gang rape a minor social deviation." That's where we are heading - a Ron Paul foreign policy because we have not the money or the force for anything else.
 
There was a line in Tom Clancy's novel "Red Storm Rising" about the state of the US merchant fleet.

Hey! I'll haver you know we have more ships than the Swiss and the Nepalese *combined*!

So far, anyway...

 
I want to tell a story.

Grumpy has talked about History and I think what he has to say is important. History has long had the problem of shrouding and distortion which masks the true history. We see that in movies, books, politics and pretty much everywhere. Even well respected historians are not immune.

I think these distortions have become such a problem to the point that we don't do much history anymore. We do stories. These stories may be inspiring, they may be entertaining and they can even sometimes have great lessons. But these are not historical lessons grounded in hard won reality. Doing things the story way makes it impossible to learn from past mistakes and carry the beacon of past wisdom. It denies us the power of the past.

From conservatives I see a lot of rose coloured glasses and ignorance of actions their favoured have caused. But my ire for the left is stronger and naturally so because progressives by definition are not history (or they would say backward) looking they look forward and thus prefer to ignore the truths of the past. So much distortion from self-loathing, pain and the desire to change at any cost.

In the end both sides are doing the same thing. Emotionally yanking the truth towards their own world view. Which just results in a lie. It's a terrible and undisciplined mistake. As such Historians of any kind who can go past this folly to study, reveal and share history with us of any kind are people I respect.

FOXnews and MSNBC and the others of various shades all across the world also only run stories. The truth being an alien entity not so much because they want to mask it but because emotionally hooking stories sell a great deal better than what actually happened. Some of the least fortunate of these medias are told what stories to tell in the more dictatorial nations.

Then there's the layer of numerous thinktanks tainted a particular political colour busy using intellect of a kind to distort the truth to their favoured world view and peddle it as FACT.

Since we like stories so much that's what our political leaders are giving us. We need a lot more people to strive for the truth rather than settle for the story that gives comfort. To find facts not be fed FACTS. To benefit from the past to build a better future that is no story.
 
Grimmy, You make a good point, but where do we start? Geocge W. Bush? * *No!* There are many Administrations that would be the subject of investigation. The next thing is to consider is this, do we know where this money is going even within DOD? If we find any of our leaders, receiving Defense funding, directly or indirectly, including stocks and bonds, Grimmy, you have your target. If our leaders lead us into war and depletes our logistical  and personnel supply, we must be replenished. What is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

The only point I would suggest to you is this you describe it as a "Generational War", I believe you will find  this war will not be settled by us and that it is an “Intergenerational War”. I do believe I remember an "Auld Phart", much wiser than myself said, “The enemy has skin in the game, too."  Essentially, our adversary has final say.

Quartermaster, you raise a very important point. You point our focus on a little known subject, logistics, I do believe it was the same "Wise Auld Phart” who made the comment, “The students of war  study tactics, the professionals of war  study logistics.”

Thank you,

Grumpy
 
 As I recall the saying it was "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics." It's a bit of bufoonery that is only half in jest. Professionals study battles of teh past to try to absorb the lessons from the past. The manner in which a Roman Century fought would not have a lot to say to us, unless for soem reason we were forced to return to a time when heavy infantry would be decisive. How teh offices approached the battle, and maneuvered their troops on the battlefield may have lessons to teach, however. I think the way the German General Staff trained their officers, actually visiting a battlefield and looking over the way teh order of battle was dispersed and positioned over teh field has much to recommend it.

Logistics, OTOH, is mostly a technocrats field, but I think a good professional officer will do what he can to understand it. Having a dedicated Supply Corps (or Quartermaster Corps in the case of teh Army) helps enormously. That we don't have the ships we need for any sort of overseas sally, these days, really is a major problem. The Navy has barely enough auxiliaries to support their peacetime operations. I'd hate to see what would happen if we had to go to war for about 6 months with little warning. It would get ugly real quick.
 
Back off topic...for Grumpy...

"From 1955 to 1961, The Eisenhower administration poured more than $1 billion in economic and military assistance into South Vietnam."  George C. Herring, America's Longest War, p. 69.

I don't think they were worried much about folks knowing about it.
 
 @Heartless, as I understand it, your statistic is accurate. There was a reason I used the phrase, “At the time”.  Do we know everything that went on, during that time? I can not speak for you or anyone else, but I did *not*know everything that was going on at the time. We must remember Viet Nam was much more than it appeared. This is the reason for my “OPSEC" comment.

“He who does not learn from history is condemned to repeat it.”

@Quartermaster, I think you're right, on the actual wording of the quote about logistics. It does not matter how  the logistics are done, just make sure they are done, *right*! Your last sentence  is the one thing we are trying to avoid. "It could get ugly real quick." We  do not want to deploy our troops and their 100+ pounds of gear, by saying,  “It's a long swim.” Could you imagine the Armorer swimming with his bag of gear and trying to drag his artillery piece and also support, that  goes with it, overseas? I didn't think so, either. He's way too smart for that one. Logistics has its place in our over view of this problem.