Tag Archives: defense

A Darwinian world-AFJ


I think he is incorrect in giving future global influence credit to IGOs…if his argument is the economy, then it would be corporations and/or illicit corporations. IGOs will only give credibility to actions so that one nations actions are not perceived as one sovereign infringing on another sovereign.

At least we have conflict to look forward too.

Libya points to a new era of aggression and turmoil
BY BOB KILLEBREW

As these words are written, U.S., British and French warplanes are striking Libyan ground forces along the Mediterranean littoral; American and other NATO troops are pounding out “fragile and reversible” gains in Afghanistan; and unrest continues to roil governments in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. To our south, criminal cartels and violent gangs murder government officials, civilians and one another in Mexico and points south. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose state policy protects cocaine production and smuggling, invites into his country the Iranian Republican Guard and Hezbollah, while, over the horizon, China continues its naval buildup.

Whatever happened to the “peace dividend” and the long rest the world was supposed to get after the end of the Cold War? Those days are long gone, obviously, in the tectonic forces moving the world forward into a century more unstable than many had predicted.

Three years from now will be the centennial of the 1914 disaster that set the 20th century careering down the road to two world wars and the mass murders of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. We can hope that the 21st century is more peaceful, but it’s not looking good. For all the hope that globalization and the communications revolution would bring people together — and they have — at least part of the result has been to make aggression and murder more practical.

via Armed Forces Journal

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Paying the piper-AFJ


I think his argument is that an aerospace centric strategy will allows us to bridge this period of fiscal constraint; however he continues to argue that airpower will not resolve our national security challenges and that airpower is expensive.

 

Paying the piper

An aerospace-centric defense strategy makes fiscal sense

BY GENE MYERS Defense in an uncertain world is vital, but ensuring national security involves far more than military prowess. We now find ourselves asking how we satisfy two conflicting requirements: frugality and security. And I find myself having concerns and making recommendations I would not have even a year ago.

 

I will start this discussion with the suggestion that we avoid putting ground forces in harm’s way if at all possible, as I think President Obama is trying hard to do in Libya, and that, when we must act, we maximize the use of our air power — Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps. We are the world’s pre-eminent aerospace power. It’s our asymmetric advantage. Let’s use it.

via Armed Forces Journal

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Defense in an Age of Austerity: 2022 (SWJ Blog)


Defense in an Age of Austerity: 2022 (SWJ Blog).

This fictionalized speech is delivered by a future Secretary of Defense in 2022

My fellow Americans, it is with a grave heart and serious reservations that I come to you today to announce the implementation of the results of the Preserving America’s Economic Security Commission. This congressionally-authorized panel was established to provide our nation’s elected leaders with recommendations to better balance the abyss between our national treasury and our collective ability to pay for our own government and security. Decades of delay and delusion have brought us well past the crisis point. We have preserved global stability for others for many decades, but at great expense. The long war against extremism has cost us well over $2T in direct costs alone and the interest compounds daily. Meanwhile the country’s demographic aging, rising health care costs, and insatiable appetite for entitlements has placed our great Nation’s balance sheet deep in the red. A culture of entitlement over sacrifice and shared obligation has eroded our stature as a great power and our moral standing. A decade of continued economic pressure, unemployment above 12%, coupled with a determined resistance on the part of the nation’s elected officials to come to any serious resolution of the country’s fiscal crisis has brought us to the point of peril….

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Fiscal Jeopardy: The strategic risks of U.S. debt and how to avoid them


Excerpt from Armed Forces Journal
“Perhaps the most underappreciated effect of diminished fiscal space is a reduced capacity for response to future unknowns. The extension of federal government resources to underwrite risk in wider areas of the U.S. economy signals the possibility for greater commitments in the future and further limits response capacity. The magnitude of resources and associated contingent liabilities committed to stabilize the financial sector and avert a larger downturn dwarf the size of the nation’s 2010 defense spending of $664 billion. Whether such interventions are an appropriate use of federal resources will be a subject of debate for some time. However, the precedent signals a broader role for the federal government in private markets and an interpretation of national security that transcends physical threats to the U.S. In the present fiscal stance, federal budgets bound by mandatory spending and saddled with onerous debt service lack the flexibility to reprogram resources on a massive scale in response to a changed security landscape. The appearance of a new peer competitor, natural disasters resulting from unexpected climate change, or renewed financial crisis among state and local governments would represent significant challenges for the U.S. government.”

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Defense spending doesn’t equate to national security


What really matters
Defense spending doesn’t equate to national security
BY GENE MYERS
Much of what I am about to discuss here may be unpopular with many in the defense community. But there comes a time when one reaches an intellectual critical mass, when silence is more harmful than professional risk and when, in this case, issues from different disciplines — national security, economics, education, politics — gel into an overheated mass that demands release.

I am a retired Air Force officer and longtime government contractor — often less than affectionately referred to as a “Beltway bandit.” As such, I am familiar with the intricacies of national-level political governance but can claim no more expertise in the subject than the average concerned citizen with a reasonably good education. But that’s the point: As a concerned citizen, I have every bit the same right to comment on the decisions our leaders must make as the politicians and pundits do — and I intend to step out of my expected role as a conservative champion of “defense rights” to do so.

Unlike many people with backgrounds similar to mine, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the U.S. defense budget cannot be exempt from the cuts that are now so necessary to national well-being. Although I agree with my colleagues that national security is the most vital task of the federal government, I also submit that there is far more involved in providing that security than soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, ships, planes and tanks. Let me make the point even more bluntly: Blind adherence to the mantra of defense establishment supremacy in national budgetary policy will not provide future security.

Yes, I am very aware that we are still immersed in a war in Afghanistan and a large support operation in Iraq, as well as increasingly threatened by surging Chinese military capabilities and a paranoid and belligerent North Korea. Then there is Iran. And the new uncertainties raised by events in Tunisia and Egypt. But the nation has allowed itself to get into such lamentable economic, educational and political condition that we have no choice but to urgently address many problems, probably simultaneously. The future of our nation’s general well-being and security demands it.

If those in uniform are not well enough educated to accomplish the increasingly complex technical tasks asked of them; if our industry is no longer capable of producing the tools needed for defense in a technology-dependent environment at an affordable cost; if the national budget is so unbalanced that our credit goes into the sewer and confidence is lost in the U.S.’s ability to effectively manage its affairs; if our political leaders are more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing their jobs; then national security will surely suffer, and no one need fire a shot.

THE POLITICS OF CYNICISM

How did we get to the point where we elect our representatives based on who is the most, or least, cynical? Vitriol and fear have replaced debate and respect for an intelligent electorate. We now often vote for the lesser of two evils. I realize that, in many ways, I’m preaching to the choir; more experienced and learned people than I have lamented the same issues, especially lately. NBC special correspondent Tom Brokaw observed in a Jan. 24 Time magazine article that “most of the country believes” the political dialogue has gone “critical mass.” The nation’s “political class across the spectrum … spend an awful lot of time finding ways to attack each other that have very little to do with the common welfare of the country.”

True enough. But let me throw another log on the fire. How do we think international respect for this nation and its form of government is affected by such shameful public displays, and what effect does that have on our security? The U.S. portrays itself to the world as the champion of freedom and democratic rule backed by moral strength and military might to be used when necessary. I would suggest that publicly displayed contempt for our highest ideals of open civil debate and government of and for the people by our elected leaders will not win many allies. I suspect it is not surprising that I see a cynical, untrusting political cadre playing a major role in perpetrating the other deficiencies outlined here, from failing education to industrial incapacity and pending bankruptcy. Many observers see a glimmer of bipartisan light in the aftermath of the bloody Tucson attack. We must hope that to be the case because, without bipartisan and truly enlightened legislative action, the nation will continue our precipitous decline. Make no mistake, the United States of America is in decline.

EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATIONS

Security is a complex thing. Economics is no longer a choice between guns or butter. In the defense arena, long gone are the days when a new soldier could receive a few weeks’ training, be issued a rifle and sent out to do the nation’s business. The modern soldier must deal with increasingly complex weapons, communications and data systems. An education system that produces one of the lowest national literacy and science ratings in the developed world cannot long maintain a high-tech military. The notion that, since we have a population pool of around 310 million to fill the ranks and we still attract some of the brightest minds from overseas, we will always have sufficient talent for our needs is bankrupt and downright dangerous. The truth is that as each generation has produced lower education expectations, there will be a time, and it will be soon, when we cannot meet the demands of both the public and private sectors. And those who think we can continue to lure the brightest prodigies of rapidly advancing nations such as India, South Korea and others to a “brighter future” in a declining American industrial and technological market are dead wrong, especially as U.S. companies move overseas. There is no choice but to buttress a failing American education system, and that will cost money and require the expenditure of political capital that seems increasingly hard to come by. Further discouraging news: The Pentagon says that today — not in some distant scenario of doom, but today — “75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t even qualify to take [the basic military entrance] test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.” And even worse, “23 percent of recent high school graduates [who do take the test] don’t get the minimum score … to join any branch of the military.” That’s not just disturbing; it’s embarrassing.

LOOMING BANKRUPTCY

Alarm bells should be ringing. The nation is more than $14 trillion in debt and a great deal of that debt is held by a nation that may not be our friendly neighborhood banker. Bottom line: This must be fixed. So-called financial experts say it’s not the problem that many of us think. We can just grow our economy out of debt. I’m no financial wizard, but with unemployment approaching 10 percent and many financial institutions and companies afraid to invest in our economy, I don’t see much beyond a fickle stock market to give us solace. Employers have found that in some, or even many, cases people can be replaced by technology more cheaply than providing paychecks. On the face of it, that’s not encouraging for growing jobs. It gets worse. Remembering the earlier discussion of educational failings, how long could it be before we cannot provide the workers and soldiers trained to keep this spiraling technological demand fed with qualified specialists Industry and defense will face the same problem. Competition between them may become fierce, pushing the huge defense personnel costs even higher. As for the security apparatus itself, for a while now, those of us who participate in the public defense debates have mostly agreed that our security is as much dependent on a robust diplomatic and financial aid structure as boots-on-the-ground military presence, and even Defense Secretary Robert Gates has offered funds from defense coffers to improve State Department funding. There just isn’t enough money to go around.

INDUSTRIAL CRISIS

It seems to be a rare major defense contract that is completed on cost and on time. Deciding who is responsible here is not easy. To start with, competition among defense system contractors has been all but eliminated by mergers and takeovers. The captains of the few remaining major defense companies point to the government (mainly the services and Congress) as the reason for spiraling costs and tardy production as requirements repeatedly change, production runs are extended and political pork is served across the country. On the other hand, government representatives maintain that since there is so little competition, companies aren’t as careful as they should be in their bids, or maybe are more ardently serving their financial interests. In such instances, they would have the government between the classic rock and a hard place: Pay increasing costs and tolerate broken schedules or don’t get the products. I suspect that if one could actually determine ground truth here, it would surely be some combination of both positions. As a result, defense and congressional leaders must often accept less than ideal defense programs at staggering costs, but I strongly believe they also share the blame. The defense dollars that are available are buying less security, and we face the very real possibility, and I would suggest necessity, of major funding cuts.

Then there is the need to repair our disintegrating national infrastructure. Our roads are dilapidated, many bridges are dangerously weakened by age and our electrical grid is out of date and increasingly inefficient. By itself, this is a budget-busting task.

I realize that what I have said here is not news to many readers, but awareness is not remedy. Our defense challenges are indeed daunting. Dan Blumenthal and Michael Mazza at the American Enterprise Institute recently commented on the obvious challenge posed by China’s potent armaments program, noting that “a serious U.S. response is not on the horizon. Instead we are hollowing out our air, naval and Marine forces at a time when we should be reinforcing and modernizing them, so as to reassure allies that we will maintain the capability to deter Chinese aggression and defeat Chinese forces should they attack.”

I do not challenge or doubt either the good intentions or accuracy of their remarks. But our defenses are likely to remain hollow unless we muster the bipartisan political wherewithal to seriously address all components of our nation’s security.

The more pressing issue is: Do we continue heavy defense spending in the face of so many other challenges that already are hobbling the nation’s ability to defend itself?

As a nation, I fear we are racing to mediocrity — or worse. We face massive problems that, if not ignored, have surely been inadequately addressed. We most often want to tackle our problems in isolation, dealing with them one at a time. But defense, as an element of national security, is not a different concern than our national debt, industrial strength, educational shortcomings or acrimonious political environment. All the elements are not just mutually supporting, they are synergistic. We must address them that way. For at least the near term, that may require continuing the defense cuts already begun by Gates — a worrisome prospect in the current international environment, but due to our own mistakes, probably necessary.

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Expert: Defense must be cut to avoid crisis


Expert: Defense must be cut to avoid crisis

By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 8, 2011 11:53:35 EST

The U.S. won’t be able to avoid a crippling debt crisis as long as Congress refuses to include defense spending, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the mix of program cuts to reduce federal spending, the co-chairman of the presidential debt commission said Tuesday.

“We want to keep the country safe and secure, but I don’t think the country can afford to spend more on national defense than the next 14 countries combined,” said Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration and co-chairman of the last year’s presidential Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

“I know these cuts are probably difficult, but this is not a decision we can postpone. … We have to act, and have to act now,” Bowles testified before the Senate Budget Committee.

Bowles predicted the U.S. will face a financial crisis in “two years, maybe a little less, maybe a little more,” when it runs out of the ability to borrow money.

“I think it will come before two years,” said former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., the commission’s other co-chairman.

The Senate Budget Committee is responsible for coming up with a 2012 budget plan. There is some willingness on the panel to attempt dramatic budget changes, although it is not clear whether they are ready to make large cuts in defense spending.

“I believe we need to seize this opportunity,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the budget committee chairman. “Make no mistake, we are at a critical juncture.”

The debt commission did not make formal recommendations, but the majority of commissioners — five Democrats, 5 Republicans and one independent — voted for a plan that called for defense spending to be cut through 2015 by the same percentage as any cut in non-defense discretionary spending.

Additionally, commissioners also voted for cuts in federal retirement programs, including military retired pay, by stopping payment of cost-of-living adjustments to retirees until they are age 62.

Bowles acknowledged Congress is talking about budget cuts, but said it is on a scale too small to make a difference. On the pending 2011 budget, House Republicans have proposed a $60 billion reduction while Senate Republicans are talking about $6 billion in cuts. Neither plan amounts to enough to resolve the debt crisis, he said.

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