Status: Not Logged In; Sign In

See other Science/Tech Articles

Title: There’s Plenty of Room To Reduce the Pentagon Budget
Source: [None]
URL Source: ... ntagon-budget/?sh=705f482f2001
Published: Mar 26, 2021
Author: William Hartung
Post Date: 2021-03-26 08:28:50 by Ada
Keywords: None
Views: 38
Comments: 5

I am a defense analyst, and cover the economics of Pentagon spending. Advocates of increasing the Pentagon’s already massive budget continue to argue that current spending levels are not adequate to support the department’s wish list for the size of the armed forces and the equipment needed to outfit it. These analyses ignore an obvious point: current Pentagon plans are unrealistic, unwise, and unaffordable.

The latest entrant in the “more is needed” sweepstakes is a new study from the American Enterprise Institute that states that “this decade, the US military is facing a massive spending spike to pay for modernization bills across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.” The report goes on to suggest that absent a sharp increase in funding, U.S. troops won’t have adequate equipment to accomplish their assigned missions. I have dealt with the question of overly ambitious, misguided missions in other columns. But even absent a shift in strategy – which is urgently needed – there are plenty of ways to reduce the Pentagon budget and relieve its so-called “modernization crunch.”

Many of the steps that can be taken to reduce the Pentagon budget now are contained in a new letter to key members of Congress from a coalition of over two dozen groups from across the political spectrum (my organization, the Center for International Policy, is a signatory of the letter). The letter outlines roughly $80 billion in proposed savings in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, including cancelling additional purchases of the F-35 combat aircraft ($11.4 billion in savings); eliminating the Space Force ($500 million to $2.5 billion in savings); reducing service contracting by 15% ($28.5 billion in savings); canceling the Pentagon’s new ICBM program, formally known as the Ground- Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD ($400 million to $2.4 billion in savings); and eliminating the Pentagon’s slush fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations account ($20 billion in savings).

Let’s start with the F-35. The program has been plagued by cost and performance problems, so much so that a series of analyses by the Project on Government Oversight has suggested that the plane may never be fully ready for combat. House Armed Services Committee chair Adam Smith recently expressed his frustration with the F-35 program when he noted that “I know it doesn’t work particularly well . . . I want to stop throwing money down that particular rat hole.”

U.S. Air Force U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter flies over the San Francisco Bay in ... [+] NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES As for the Space Force, it is an exercise in creating unnecessary bureaucracy that could further militarizing the U.S. approach to space security, at enormous cost and great risk. Space has essential uses for defense and civilian applications alike, and the kind of weaponized approach that a new armed force for space may promote will undermine the ability to use space to enhance life on earth.

MORE FOR YOU Three Reasons To Reduce Pentagon Spending — Now The Five Most Important Facts About The F-35 Fighter Biden, Semiconductors, And America’s Future Service contracting is a little-noticed shadow bureaucracy that is both immensely expensive and substantially overutilized by the Pentagon. By some estimates the department employs over 600,000 contractors, many of whom do jobs that could be done more effectively, efficiently, and affordably by civilian government employees. Cutting spending on service contracting by 15% would still leave the Pentagon with roughly a half a million, surely enough to carry out any necessary tasks they may be charged with carrying out.

Then there’s the new ICBM, known formally as the GBSD but dubbed by critics as the “money-pit missile.” As former Secretary of Defense William Perry has pointed out, ICBMs are “some of the most dangerous weapons in the world” because a president would only have a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them on warning of attack, greatly increasing the risk of an accidental nuclear war. Even if the Pentagon and the Air Force were to persist in deploying ICBMs – which are both dangerous and obsolete – they could save tens of billions in the years to come by cancelling the new ICBM and refurbishing existing missiles. Governmental and private analysts from the Congressional Budget Office to the RAND Corporation have indicated that existing missiles could be made reliable for another two decades or more in lieu of building an expensive new ICBM. Given that a new ICBM could cost up to $264 billion over its lifetime, this would be a wise move at time when other security risks such as dealing with outbreaks of infectious disease and addressing the ravages of climate change are starved for funding.

Finally, there is the commonsense step of eliminating the Pentagon’s slush fund, known officially as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO. In recent Congressional testimony, Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight detailed the numerous downsides of funding military objectives in this undisciplined, under-scrutinized, and shortsighted fashion. Not only has the OCO account been used to fund tens of billions worth of projects and activities that wouldn’t have made the cut under the regular process of Pentagon budget review, but it has pushed up the department’s top line to astronomical levels that are far in excess of what is needed to ensure the safety of America and its allies.

The next time someone bemoans the lack of funding to carry out the Pentagon’s stated objectives, we need to take a closer look at what those objectives are and craft a new approach that will make us safer for less.

Post Comment   Private Reply   Ignore Thread  

TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest

#1. To: Ada, Lod, noone222 (#0)

I recall in 1950 we had a lean and mean fighting machine.

More bang for the buck, world super power.The fat was cut like this gentleman proposes.

Then we stumbled into a major war and off went the young expendables to bleed and die. But Congress,the Pentagon were ready.

Off we went, dragged or coerced.

Arriving in Texas, no place to sleep, here is a nice tent in a large field with thousands of other expendables. No shoes, no uniforms, even some meals were missing. Suck it up we were told. Imagine military formations in civilian clothes.

Then after a little indoctrination, we were given an olde B 29 that had been sitting in the desert in Arizona for six years, bid von boyage, have a good war.

Cynicom  posted on  2021-03-26   10:04:49 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Cynicom (#1)

So to answer my question, you did fight in Korea. Was anybody around you at that moment excited or passionate about going off to 'kill some gooks'?


USA! USA! USA! Bringing you democracy, or else! there were strains of VD that were incurable, and they were first found in the Philippines and then transmitted to the Korean working girls via US military. The 'incurables' we were told were first taken back to a military hospital in the Philippines to quietly die. – 4um

NeoconsNailed  posted on  2021-03-26   10:31:03 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: Cynicom (#1)

I recall in 1950 we had a lean and mean fighting machine.

The year of my initiation into life. I don't recall much of it.

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. "

Every county that Trump won should be declared a Conservative American sanctuary county !

noone222  posted on  2021-03-26   10:38:31 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: noone222, Lod (#3)

The year of my initiation into life. I don't recall much of it.

What??? Good heavens.One had to have a sense of humor to abide those in charge of the zoo.

Line up for "chow" five in the morning, civilian clothes, cold rain, wait half hour. Each man got a slice of French Toast. That was a bit much. However next morning we didnt get anything. We did suspect however the Generals had a good breakfast.

Of four long years, my best memory is this...One morning we were rousted out of our Waldorf tents, shuffled down to supply, stood in line, to sign a paper with your name and number on it, certifying that we each had received a pair of sneakers and a jock strap.

We got sneakers but no jock strap. They didnt have any for anyone but you signed that you received it anyway. We knew then, professional military is the biggest joke ever hung on the country.

Cynicom  posted on  2021-03-26   12:27:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: Cynicom (#4)

Aww, don't get depressed, we might have to do it again !

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. "

Every county that Trump won should be declared a Conservative American sanctuary county !

noone222  posted on  2021-03-28   9:27:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest