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General News

Our Military Turns on its Own

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Timothy V. Gatto     Permalink
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After trillions of dollars spent on over 800 hundred military bases, improvements on the weapons systems that can bring death from the sky anywhere in the world while the operators pull the triggers and watch the results on television monitors thousands of miles away, and new missile systems that deliver pinpoint strikes from global positioning satellites, there is a move afoot to trim the military budget.

When the budget was signed into law on October 28, 2009, the final size of the Department of Defense's budget was $680 billion, $16 billion more than President Obama had requested. An additional $33 billion supplemental bill to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was expected to pass in the spring of 2010, but has been delayed by the House of Representatives after passing the Senate, Defense-related expenditures outside of the Department of Defense constitute between $216 billion and $361 billion in additional spending, bringing the total for defense spending to between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion in fiscal year 2010. (Source; Wikipedia, Military Budget of the U.S.)

In comparison to other nations, the U.S. spends twice as much on its military (661 Billion Dollars) than the closest spenders, The European Union (322 Billion Dollars). China in comparison spends 100 Billion, and France, The UK, The Russian Federation, Japan, Germany and Saudi Arabia are in the range of forty Billion to sixty Billion dollars for each. We spend over ten times the amount that the Russian Federation pays for its defense, the same for China.

It is no wonder that the military is under intense scrutiny as to how they spend their money. Secretary of Defense Gates is concerned about the jump in defense spending (and I use the term loosely). So far, Mr. Obama has asked Congress for an increase in total spending next year of 2.2 percent, to $708 billion -- 6.1 percent higher than the peak under the Bush administration. (NYTimes- Shanker and Drew, 7/22/2010). I imagine that this is the result of the change Obama promised.

According to the NY Times, two-thirds of Pentagon spending is on personnel costs. It is possible that the Pentagon will have to look for the first time at cuts to the health benefits provided to active and retired military personnel and their families. This is different than the figures found at Wikipedia which indicates that military personnel accounts for only one sixth of total military spending. It seems that the numbers don't add up. Which is it, 2/3 or 1/6? Either way, it looks as if the men and women serving or who have served, often with back to back combat tours away from their families, ducking IED's and bullets, will bear the cost of an out of control military budget.

Aside from taking benefits away from soldiers that are not paid enough to do the missions they are asked to do, this could end up being a huge headache for recruiting and retention. The cutting of benefits for the Armed Services that are already tasked with outrageous demands on the soldiers and their families due to multiple deployments and intricate rules of engagement that hardly allow them to defend themselves for fear of civilian casualties is a slap in the face to the young men and women and their families, not to mention those that have already served that have come home with their own set of circumstances.

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The cutting of benefits to an already strapped military is another slap in the face to all those serving and those that have served. It doesn't matter whether you support this waste of life and resources in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever we find our military nowadays, cutting costs on the backs of our soldiers and veterans is shameful, but for years those that use our military resources have done many shameful things in the name of this war on terrorism.

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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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