The news is out about the budget cuts in the Pentagon budget for the coming year and for the outlying years. The proposed cuts will draw flak from all corners and stripes of the political spectrum. It is to be expected because that budget affects so much of our economy and our feeling of security or insecurity as the case may be.
When discussing the military budget it is always best to reflect on a bit of history so we have a perspective. During the Cold War we didn’t have much of a choice about the size of the military budget because we were constantly under direct or indirect assault from the Commies around the world. The direct assaults were in Greece after WWII, the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, the various insurgent and rebel movements all over South America and the unrelenting secret but real war at sea with our Boomer subs and the Soviet navy. The indirect pressures were the Hungarian revolt, the never-ending presence and pressure all over eastern Europe where the Soviets had dozens of armored divisions within striking distance of the West, Viet Nam, Grenada, and the clandestine war of the intelligence agencies around the world. The list is much more than those but they give a flavor.
Reagan won that Cold War for us against tremendous opposition from the Democrats at home. They opposed his military build-up at every turn and ridiculed the Star Wars program and drummed the “he’s a wild Cowboy” mantra without end. But the Soviet Union did collapse due to that pressure and steadfast resolve of Reagan. He didn’t even back off from calling them “evil” which was also highly criticized by the left as being simplistic. The fact of the matter though is that the strategy was successful and we began in the early ’90’s to save billions annually on the military budget. It was called the peace dividend. That dividend along with other factors, such as a Republican Congress for several years to restrain spending, had much to do with the boom of that decade. Of course the internet came to life then thanks to Al Gore and that lead to an enormous increase in economic activity.
It was really only after 9/11 that references to the peace dividend began to fade from the headlines. The threat we face today is from muslim terrorists which are at the front of the line but there is the emerging threat of the Chinese as they continue to expand their military capability exponentially. You may have notice the increase in their missile defense systems and the recent news of their own version of a stealth fighter/bomber. That will be a very serious concern in a decade or so and certainly within the next generation. It can still be a dangerous world at there.
Olcranky believes we should begin to seriously cut the spending programs of the Federal government and that the Pentagon is not a sacred cow in that regard. There is so much political pressure regarding the Pentagon budget because it has an effect on jobs in many congressional districts around the nation. What is troubling about this budget proposal is that it removes the cutting edge of the military. It proposes reducing the number of troops, the submarine service personnel, the destroyer fleet while only reducing the civilian workforce by 1000.
Like any large organization the Pentagon grows moldy and calcified and ends up with a redundant workforce. People are doing things simply because those things have been done in the past, not necessarily because they are useful now. You can rest assured that there are more than 1000 civilian workers at the Pentagon today who don’t really do anything more productive than shuffle paperwork. The military mission is not complicated. It is to destroy things and kills people when the political will believes such action is in the best interest of the nation’s security How much money is the Pentagon spending to implement the don’t ask, don’t tell repeal for example? If that is the new policy so be it but do we have to spend money on training and sensitivity programs for that policy. The money spent by the Pentagon should be audited with one focus. Does this program or procurement put good weapons and bullets in the hands of our troops, give our airmen the best fighters and bombers to accomplish their mission and provide the Navy with the resources to scare the hell out of tin pot dictators and wanna be tyrants around the globe. The other expenditures should be eliminated.
The Pentagon budget could be cut even further in the opinion of olcranky than that proposed but it should be done with the above mandate. We should allow the various military establishments decide the cutting. Give them a set budget and tell them to pick what they really need to get their job done. They can’t have every new “toy” that comes along. Let them decide how many civilians they really need to assist their operations rather than the politicians. The politicians will always aim high on procurements and personnel simply to “bring home the bacon” for their constituents back home. We have to trust someone with making the monetary decisions for the military. Let the politicians give the cap as they should under the
Constitution but then let the military allocate the money where it is most needed to accomplish their mission.
The military budget will still be large regrettably for years to come in all likelihood but it could be reduced significantly. Cut the civilian pork and we all can have some bacon back home.
Please recall that we had a very small military budget during all the 1930’s. Our armed forces were minimal and thus the costs. It was a great savings at the time. The issue is though, how did that work out for us in 1941? www.olcranky.wordpress.com