Tag Archives: military budget

Engaging Young Voters on Defense Issues

danxoneil (CC)

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A study released recently by the national leaders of Young Republicans (YRNC) polled young voters on numerous issues, including defense and foreign policy. The study reports that only 17% of youngsters believe that protecting the country should be the government’s top priority; that defense is “the place to start” budget cuts; that 35% of young voters, including 45% of young independents, believe defense spending should be cut [further]; and that in general, many if not most young voters want to reduce the size and budget of the military, withdraw it from foreign countries, and entrench America behind the oceans.

Why do so many youngsters hold such mistaken views? I believe this is due to confusion, as well as Republicans’ failure to clear up that confusion and explain why America needs to stop cutting its defense budget, retain the military at no less than its current size, and generally remain involved in the world.

This article aims to explain these issues and clear up the confusion. If you are a young voter, please give me 10 minutes of your time to explain.

Firstly, why shouldn’t the US cut its defense budget further?

Because, quite simply, significant cuts would seriously weaken the US military. There are many building bricks of military strength: brave troops, good training, competent leaders, world-class equipment, force size, a steady supply of ammunition and other provisions – but other than bravery, none of this is possible to have without sufficient funding. Without an adequate budget, the military will be very weak.

An army marches on its stomach, as Napoleon said – or more precisely, on its budget. To have an adequately-sized military, quality training and care for the troops, decent base and housing infrastructure, a sufficient supply of goods, and world-class weapons in sufficient quantities, you need adequate funding.

The military is not too big; if anything, it’s too small. The Navy, with the smallest ship fleet since 1915, is able to meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ needs for ships; the Air Force is strained beyond hope, flying its smallest and oldest aircraft fleet (average age: over 24 years, meaning the USAF’s aircraft, on average, were produced before you were born; they’re older than the pilots flying them). The Marines are on track to shrink to 182,100 men – but if sequestration sticks, they’ll have only 145,000 – not enough for even one major operation per the USMC’s Commandnant. The military is a shadow of its former self; in the Reagan years, it ahd over 2.6 million personnel and the Navy had 600 ships.

Some question why the US spends as much as it does compared to other countries.

But in all non-Western countries, one dollar can buy several times as much as it can in the US. And in countries like China, central governments pay only for capital military expenditures like weapons development and acquisition, while basing and personnel costs are borne mostly by regional governments. Thus, China’s military budget (up to $215 bn according to the DOD) is actually worth several times that amount. In Russia, the Defense Ministry gets much of its property as “free goods” from other ministries.

Moreover, total US military spending, including Afghan war costs, are only 4.1% of America’s GDP, the lowest share of GDP going to defense since 1948 (excluding the late Clinton years). That was a time of total military demobilization. Speaking of which, history shows that everytime the US has deeply cut its military’s size and budget, it later had to rebuild the military at a high cost when a new adversary perpetrated, or threatened, aggression – after both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.

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Moreover, the US has a much larger economy (the world’s largest) and the 3rd largest population, so its natural that its military budget, in raw dollars, would be larger than those of other countries. Proportionally to its economy and population ($1,990 per capita, compared to almost $2,500 per capita during the Reagan years), the defense spending burden is quite low – especially by historical standards.

Many young voters are certainly frustrated with the waste in defense (and nondefense) spending. Believe me, so am I. That is why I’ve written, over the years, the largest DOD reform proposals package ever devised by anyone. But there isn’t enough waste in the DOD budget to pay for the budget cuts being contemplated by many young citizens – or those scheduled under current law. Because, you see, under the Budget Control Act of 2011, defense spending is on course to be cut by $1 trillion over the next decade (through FY2022, $550 bn of that under a mechanism called sequestration – which, making matters worse, doesn’t distinguish between legitimate defense priorities and waste, and instead requires cuts across the entire defense budget by 10%, in missile defense as much as in DOD bureaucrats. The DOD has zero legal flexibility to distribute those cuts.

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Before the sequester, the BCA had already mandated $487 bn in defense budget cuts; before that, Secretary Gates cut $178 bn in “efficiencies”; and before that, he had already killed over 50 weapon programs, including the F-22 fighter, the CG-X cruiser, and the Airborne Laser. Defense spending, in short, has already been subjected to deep, excessive cuts during President Obama’s tenure – while nondefense spending had not, prior to sequestration, faced any cuts (and even under sequestration, nondefense spending cuts will be shallow). And a full 60% of sequestration’s cuts are from defense.

Moreover, you could eliminate military spending entirely, and there still would be huge budget deficits for perpetuity. So defense spending is the wrong place to look for further cuts. It’s time for entitlements – which are exempt from sequestration – to face reductions now.

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Furthermore – and most importantly – defense is the most important function of the federal government, indeed its highest Constitutional duty, as made clear by the Constitution’s Preamble and Sec. 4 of Art. IV, and by the fact that half of all enumerated powers of Congress listed in Sec. 8 of Art. I of the Constitution pertain to military matters. Defense is therefore far more important than, say, farm aid or mass transit. And that is what the Founding Fathers believed.

George Washington told Congress in 1790 that “Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. (…) To be prepared for war is one of the effective means of preserving the peace.” John Adams said wisely that “National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” James Madison asked in one of the Federalist Papers: “How could readiness for war in times of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?”

Some will say, “But the US should do less around the world. It should be less interventionist.”

But less is not better. More is not better, either. Only better is better.

The US, of course, shouldn’t make every conflict around the world, and every nation’s governance or security problems, its own. But in crucial parts of the world, the US needs to intervene when (and only when) its interests or its key allies are threatened. Who rules in Bosnia, Zambia, or Lesotho is irrelevant to US interests.

But when North Korea tests nuclear weapons and missiles and threatens US allies and Guam; when China bullies and threatens countries across East Asia; when Russia flies bombers close to US airspace practicing attacks on the US; when Israel’s security is threatened, the US cannot stand by; it must do something. The key is to determine what constitutes an American national interest and thus when and where to intervene, if at all; I’ve attempted to do so here. Also, if and when the US intervenes, it needs to achieve victory quickly and then go home. Prolonged wars don’t serve the national interest.

You may ask, “What about Iraq and Afghanistan, then?” I believe the invasion of Iraq and the nationbuilding campaign in Afghanistan were big mistakes. The US, like other countries, sometimes makes them. But it’s crucial not to shift to the other extreme of the position spectrum and oppose any overseas interventions completely. The right path lies in the middle; the US should sometimes intervene, but only in defense of its vital interests and allies. Historically, that has been the policy of Republican Presidents such as… Ronald Reagan and his Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The latter officially enshrined this policy as the Weinberger Doctrine.

Dear Young Reader, if you’ve read all of this to the end, I want to thank you – even if you don’t agree with me completely, or even in 50%. The US military needs the engagement and support of every US citizen – especially young citizens, who are the future and the hope of any nation and its armed forces.

Soccer Field at Gitmo – More Obama Military Madness




Not only has President Barack Hussein Obama failed to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility (one of his primary campaign promises), he, through his administration, has spent $744,000 of taxpayer money on a new soccer (football to the rest of the world) field for detainees, some of them al-Queda and Taliban fighters. The field, half the size of a standard soccer field, is located at Camp 6, and reserved for “highly compliant” detainees. The field has special passages that allow detainees to go from the detention center to the outdoors without a military escort, a soft walking track, security cameras, and a razor wire fence. It should be open for detainees to use up to 20 hours a day after bathrooms and goal posts are added.

And this comes when the defense budget is, at Obama’s direction, being cut by at least $480 billion.

Immediately after being sworn in as president in January, 2009, Obama’s first actions pertained to “fixing the mess at Guantanamo,” (his words) was to issue an executive order to close it within a year, end all coercive interrogations, halt the military commission then in progress against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 co-defendants (so he could bring them to NYC for civilian trial), and review detention operations. The review of detention operations confirmed that detainees were treated humanely, and detention operations were in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

But that wasn’t enough. The review, led by a four-star admiral, looked at 27 areas of interest that recommended several measures to make life more comfortable for detainees. Among the recommendations were providing detainees with “more human-to-human contact, recreation opportunities with several detainees together, intellectual stimulation and group prayer,” recommendations designed to keep about 200 al-Queda and Taliban fighters and facilitators as happy as they could possibly be. I’m quite sure that the families of 9/11 victims were happy about the recommendations.

So why did Obama commit to improving the lives of Gitmo detainees even further? He had no clue about what he was talking. He had no clue what it was really like when he was campaigning, when he was elected, and when he was sworn in as president. He conveniently ignored the fact that the US was forced into a war with radical Islam and that Gitmo’s detention facilities were consistent with the “law of war,” allowing nations to hold enemy combatants until the end of hostilities. He also believed that abusing detainees was the norm, but investigations showed less than 1% of detainees were ever abused (if you characterize water-boarding as abuse), and mostly the result of interrogations to prevent a second 9/11. The ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, who advocated for detainee rights, all had no comment.

The $744,000 price is very significant, as anything over $749,000 needs congressional approval.

With Gitmo serving as a highly symbolic platform, Obama condemned George W. Bush, and he saw Gitmo as the perfect way to kick-off his world apology tour.

But that’s just my opinion.

Navy Biofuel Contract: Another Solyndra?




At a time when the military budget is under attack and is being cut, the Department of Agriculture and Department of the Navy announced earlier this month (December, 2011) that the Navy bought 450,000 gallons of biofuel at $26 per gallon, $16 per gallon if the biofuel is mixed with regular jet fuel. That is up to nine times the cost of regular jet fuel. In August, 2011, the Obama administration announced their intentions to spend $510 million during the next three years to buy advanced “drop-in” biofuel for military transportation. The purchase is part of the Obama administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, which involves bypassing Congress when possible. And all of this comes as Obama cancels the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would facilitate access to the estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of oil in North America.

And as is becoming quite frequent while Obama is in office, cronyism plays a part. The Navy entered the contract with Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels for $12 million for aviation fuel. Dynamic Fuels is a partnership of three firms, Solazyme, Syntroleum (a 50/50 venture with Tyson Foods), and Tyson Foods. Solazyme received $21.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) to build a “biorefinery.” T.J. Glauthier a principle at Solazyme, served on President Obama’s White House transition team, where he focused on energy issues for the recovery act.

The biofuels will all be used this summer off the coast of Hawaii. There, supersonic F/A-18 jets, powered by fuels fermented from algae, will launch from the deck of an aircraft carrier. A 9,000-ton destroyer and a cruiser, using fuel made from fats and greases, will join the aircraft carrier on a voyage across the Pacific. The aircraft carrier itself is nuclear powered. It will be the first demonstration of the so-called “Great Green Fleet” – an entire aircraft-carrier strike group relying on alternative energy sources.

Jared Youing, a spokesman for Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who has supported biofuel projects in the past, said, “The Department of Defense should not purchase alternative fuels that are priced 9 time higher than conventional fuels – $26.75 per gallon to approximately $2.85 per gallon – because those extra costs will further eat away at other necessary budget items such as operations, maintenance, training, and modernization. In addition, the alternative fuel is less available on the front lines, making its use more restrictive.”

“It’s another Solyndra situation in that they’re trying to keep some of these businesses afloat when the economics just don’t make sense right now. Give them a few million and they will be able to continue to exist,” said Dan Simmons, director of state and regulatory affairs at the Institute for Energy Research. He continued, “Mixing the biofuel with conventional fuel will help keep the price to less than what it could be, say $16 per gallon, but that’s still expensive.”

As part of his energy security goals of March, 2011 in the “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” President Obama ordered the departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy to advance “drop-in” biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel so the military will not be dependent upon foreign oil. “Drop-in” fuels do not require any engine modifications in order to be used. But the United States has 1.4 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be exploited, enough to last the military (and civilians) for 200 years. Dependency on foreign oil is not the problem, rather it’s an unwillingness to open up more areas for drilling.

If the US governments stopped subsidizing biofuels, their artificial “profitability” would disappear overnight. Price-wise, they can’t compete with fossil fuels. Subsidizing them while they can’t compete is not a method with any record of success for encouraging price efficiency. What it does instead is create public dependencies (with the American taxpayer footing the bill) and a tremendous opportunities for cronyism.

November, 2012, just can’t get here soon enough.

But that’s just my opinion.