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Will the sacred cow be cut between 2011 and 2015? Nope, America, the budget on Defense is set to go higher and higher.

There is a lot of hopeful news these days, that the USA's Department of Defense and HOMELAND SECURITY will undergo spending cuts soon. Nonetheless, the fear is that such cuts will not be soon enough and not implemented fairly across states and borderlands. Finally, they are not likely to be deep enough to redistribute American wealth and resources more appropriately.

Even Defense Secretary Robert Gates has chipped, having announced this week "that the Pentagon will cut U.S. ground forces by up to 47,000 troops in 2015 . Citing the country's "dire fiscal situation,' Gates said the military plans to save $150 billion over 5 years, yet, the money saved "will be transferred to other programs, such as buying more drones" and to pay for fuel costs, health care and other bills ."

However, this offer by the aging cold-warrior Mr. Gates appears superficial in light of the fact that the U.S.A needs to save many more lives and pull-out of Afghanistan faster than that if the USA economy is to be taken out of the spend-on-the sacred-cow-defense mode it has been in since the early 1990s.


According to many, " [one] potential area for bipartisan action in the new [112TH ]Congress may be cutting the massively bloated Pentagon budget, which has risen to $540 billion annually and more than $700 billion [in the past decade] if you include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. Total defense spending in real terms is higher than at any point since World War II ."

This is why, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a series of efficiency proposals to reduce waste in defense spending and to cut the projected Pentagon budget by $78 billion over the next five years ", I just thought--where was this during the spend-as-you-may George W. Bush administrations?

According to the authors of THE PROGRESSIVE REPORT, "[w]hile these proposals [by Gates] represent a good start in constraining the runaway spending that accrued during the Bush administration, the cuts will result only in a decline in the rate of growth in the Pentagon's budget, not in absolute dollars. In other words, Gates was allowed to shift money around, and was not forced to actually cut the budget. As a result, under this proposal the Pentagon's budget will be bigger in five years than it is now. This is not real fiscal restraint. To adequately address the problem of out-of-control defense spending and a growing deficit, not only are more defense cuts needed, but the U.S. must also re-balance its foreign policy and defense priorities . This means taking a hard look at the utility of continuing combat operations in Afghanistan, eliminating white elephant weapons programs, and looking for ways to make the Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient. Reducing Pentagon spending is possible, since it is advocated not just by progressives, but by Tea Party conservatives and now the House Republican leadership . "
Moreover, there are apparently WHITE ELEPHANTS galore to be kipped out of the DOD immediately if Congress and DOD officials had a bit more gumption.

For example, " Gates insisted that "we must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary , not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable." He said the Pentagon would cut the over-budget Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, an amphibious assault vehicle designed to storm beaches and a program the Center for American Progress has advocated cutting for years . Gates also put the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 on " probation ,' due to cost overruns and poor performance. Yet there are many other unnecessary and costly weapons programs in the Pentagon. The Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey is a program with a confused tactical purpose and has been plagued with technical problems . The U.S. nuclear arsenal remains ridiculously large and costs $50 billion a year to maintain. As ret. Gen. Colin Powell noted, these weapons are militarily " useless .' There is also no need to spend $85 billion on modernizing our nuclear arsenal when a panel of nuclear scientists said the stockpile was in fine shape. The Pentagon also continues to spend nearly $10 billion per year on missile defense, much of that directed to the ground-based missile defense system, which just failed another significant test .".

As well, a " recent report from Lawrence Korb and Laura Conley of the Center for American Progress outlined additional ways to significantly and responsibly reduce Pentagon spending, noting that " we can afford to make cuts ,' the "global security environment has changed,' and "technological advances' can lead to greater efficiency. "

Think Strategically.

The bottom line for all Americans suffering poverty and from war-strain n 2011 is: What is wrong with our priorities?

"A critical question when approaching the defense budget is whether we are pursuing the right missions and whether we have the right composition of forces to address challenges of the 21st Century. In this vein, Gates ". recommended moving to a smaller ground force and advocated future reductions to overall troop levels for the Army and Marines. "

"However, " progressive think tanks have noted, "the U.S. must also think about the types of missions it is currently pursuing. War is incredibly expensive and the U.S. is currently spending more than $100 billion per year on combat operations in Afghanistan. During the Bush years, when the housing bubble fueled a mirage of endless prosperity, perhaps the financial costs of such operations failed to raise significant concern. But economic times have changed and it is increasingly hard to justify this expenditure when a U.S. military commander compares the Afghan war to a "' Tom and Jerry' cartoon which never ends . ... The only difference is the cartoon does not claim lives, but here we lose men every day.'"

Last year was deadliest in Afghanistan.

According to thinking progressives (and thinking Americans, et. Al.) "[l]ast year was the deadliest year yet for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and new polling shows that the American people overwhelmingly favor withdrawal . Furthermore, U.S. force deployments abroad are increasingly anachronistic. The large force deployments in Europe remain unnecessary particularly at a time when Europe is increasingly slashing the size of its defense forces. Reducing our footprint abroad could save billions.

Luckily, there is now clear bipartisan support for reductions in 2011--just as there were in America 40 years ago, in the midst of the Vietnam debacles. "More and more Republicans, spurred by the Tea Party's demand for spending cuts, have said they favor cuts to the military. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in interview last night, " I believe there's room, to find savings in the Department of Defense " -- a statement that was also echoed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) . In the Senate, Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that " Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible ' . We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon's sacred cows." Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said that reducing the deficit " begins with the Department of Defense .' Sen. Bob Corker (TN) said defense cuts have to be "on the table' because there's " a lot of waste there .'"

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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