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The Pentagon Budget, Breaking the Bank

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According to the president’s 2007 budget request for the Pentagon,
Informed by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the FY (fiscal year) 2007 Budget reflects the Department’s continued shift in emphasis, away from the static posture and forces of the last century toward the highly mobile and expeditionary forces, and accompanying warfighting capabilities, needed in the century ahead.
These guys are informed. No matter that they’ve unilaterally screwed up our most recent and most expensive war, if we’ll just hand over $440 billion, they promise to get more highly mobile and expeditionary. Last century we were static—not good. That static stuff keeps you from being quick on the draw and this is the OK Corral century. Quick is good.

It has recently been said of the president and the small group that advises him, that they don’t trust whoever follows them into the Oval Office. Part of the reason might be the idiocy of their long-term proposed expenditures. If you look at the intro to the Pentagon budget, you’ll find
The Department of Defense has made great strides since 2001 in refocusing America’s forces and capabilities away from the conventional military campaigns of the last century toward the kind of irregular warfare operations in which we are now engaged – and which are likely to be predominate in the years ahead.
You bet your pajama-bottoms. That Rumsfeld guy was a great strider and a refocuser when he wasn't leaping tall buildings.
The Nation has gone from a time of reasonable predictability and a single major adversary to an era of surprise and complex challenges; from fighting major, conventional combat campaigns to multiple irregular warfare operations in various countries around the globe; from large standing forces to powerful expeditionary capabilities.
Right again. Fighting just doesn’t get any more irregular than Iraq. Who would have thought we’d ever be nostalgic for the cold war?
These changes, as well as advances in equipment and technology, have enabled America’s armed forces to react quickly, apply force precisely, and generate more combat power and capability, with fewer numbers of weapon platforms and lower force levels than ever before.
Which doesn’t even count the weapons platforms that don’t work worth sh*t.
On Page 3, under Defend the Homeland, the Defense Budget suggests allocations that will
  • provide $10.4 billion in FY 2007 to produce and field additional ground- and sea-based interceptors, (those pesky systems Don Rumsfeld was never able to make work)
  • acquire two additional forward-deployed mobile radars (in Poland and Czech Republic, where their populations overwhelmingly don’t want them).
  • The budget also includes $4.0 billion for FY 2007-FY 2011 to enhance spaced-based early warning systems (in case al-Qaeda suddenly becomes missile capable from those caves in Pakistan).
If this sounds a bit like the old cold-war systems, you’ll have to forgive the Pentagon and just take their word that all this stuff is actually a refocusing. Moving right along, the budget notes that
“While the traditional realm is not the only, nor even the most likely, one in which the United States will be challenged in the years ahead, the United States must maintain its significant advantages in conventional war capabilities.”
Presumably, those are the same significant advantages that wrecked our military in a four year confrontation against a third-world, rag-tag insurgent force whose weaponry amounted to car-bombs and those willing to blow themselves up. Or do they mean the Russians, Chinese or North Koreans?

No matter, we’re going to spread $50 billion among the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, mostly so their stocks do not tumble and they are ‘there for us’ should the need arise.

Embarrassingly, all this largesse doesn’t do a damned thing to provide a fighting force that keeps us from dependence upon family-men and women reservists to take the bullets and Halliburton to feed, house and humiliate them. The Pentagon doesn’t mind that the guy slinging hash in the mess hall isn’t under their command and makes more dough than the guy he’s feeding. That guy wears forty-pound body armor in 100 degree weather and faces car-bombs.

That’s certainly my idea of a 21st century fighting force.
In (partial) summary; The 2007 budget is the result of an extensive, year-long review of U.S. military forces and capabilities, and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. The QDR identified strategic priorities for added investment, and the 2007 budget initiates the process of funding those priorities. The 2007 budget sustains the President’s commitment to defend the United States, especially against catastrophic terrorism, and provide for the security of the American people.
And by god, it’s only $4 billion a week. But bear in mind that this budget includes not a single dollar for the current fighting. All that is covered by 'supplemental' budgets and is in addition to budgeted Pentagon spending. $4 billion a week just became eight.

Looked at from another angle, Dan Morgan wrote in the Washington Post three years ago,
As Congress moves ahead with a huge new defense bill, lawmakers are making only modest changes in the Pentagon's plans to spend well over $1 trillion in the next decade on an arsenal of futuristic planes, ships and weapons with little direct connection to the Iraq war or the global war on terrorism.
Nothing changed but language, Dave. The Pentagon talks about shifts in emphasis and irregular warfare operations, but they’re pimping for the same old Star Wars starry-eyed Rumsfeld big budget systems. And they’re doing it at a rate 20 percent above the peak levels of President Ronald Reagan's historic defense buildup. The idea is no longer to break the Soviet Union. We’re now hell-bent on breaking ourselves and these guys with their fingers on the budgetary trigger have supposedly proven themselves by
  • Missile defense that can’t shoot down missiles
  • Under protected U.S forces in combat areas
  • A commander-in-chief who can’t lead and won’t follow
  • A system of retiring any of ‘the officers he listens to’ when they disagree
  • Which has led to a military disaster and the heartbreaking destruction of a nation
  • An al-Qaeda force stronger than it was after 9-11
  • As well as a substantially broken military
Three years ago Morgan wrote,
“the debate in Congress over the defense bill has largely skirted the budgetary or strategic implications of this buildup, largely because Republican and Democratic politicians are unwilling to appear weak on defense.”
That is still the case. Democrats make noises like mewing kittens about ‘de-funding the war’ and then huff and puff about their ‘power of the purse,’ but they have neither the guts nor the specific technological knowledge to rein in what has become a military in total disarray.

And they better damned well figure out how to do it. The electorate is sick to death of rhetoric and Washington has yet to hear the message.

Aside from the disastrous financial implications of spending 20% above the Reagan record military budgets, this compassionate conservative lunacy contains neither compassion nor conservatism. Its violent and destructive strike against the wrong enemy in the wrong country after 9-11 has turned us, in six short years, from the most envied to the most feared nation on the planet.

There are those who think that is just fine, but they are too few to base a foreign policy and certainly too few to make a doctrine.

George Bush, under the thrall of Dick Cheney, mismanaged and misdirected a search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Doing so, in the place of a more studied and honest response, has lost for us our own weapon of mass attraction.

Mere talk about the power of the purse is no longer enough.

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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)
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