Tag Archives: Navy

Engaging Young Voters on Defense Issues

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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.

Oops…Navy Scraps Grounded Minesweeper

USS_Guardian_aground_in_January_2013Adding to the embarrassment of accidentally running aground on a national marine park coral reef in January, the Navy has decided its $300 Million Minesweeper ship is not salvageable and has chosen to scrap the state-of-the-art vessel.

The official statement stated that their initial review of navigation data indicates an error in the location of Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines.

The Navy decided to dismantle the ship due to the severe damage to its hull and the potential to further damage the pristine coral reef.

 


For more information and additional photos of the grounded craft visit the Guardian’s website.

$80M Pork Project Sits Useless in AK

It sounds like an April Fool’s news story. But it’s not. Over the weekend a report emerged that should make everyone shake their heads. A brand new, unwanted high speed ferry worth $80 Million was put up for auction receiving only one bid of $750,000.

The 200 foot vessel was christened in 2010. Built in Southeast Alaska it was designed for use in the Southcentral area of the state. Only problem? There is no dock or plans to build any docking facilities for the ferry.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, a boat designer convinced the state of Alaska and the Department of Defense that he could create a new type of boat that could be raised or lowered in the water providing icebreaking ability. This high speed vessel would be used to ferry residents the length of Cook Inlet and would be available for rapid deployment in case a disaster, such as an emergency plane landing in the inlet.

It sounds good on paper right?

Imagine with me a whole bunch of guys spending other peoples’ money talking about this idea. You might call them ‘Yes-Men’. Imagine the adjectives being tossed around: novel, new technology, rapid response, ground breaking. . . Sure, they all said, “Let’s build it!”

But what about the cost?

The population of the entire borough this ferry would serve was only 80,000 residents. In fact, Alaska’s most populated city of Anchorage hovers at 300,000. A pricey endeavor for a small population. Luckily, the Navy was interested and because they were, much of the money was paid from the DoD budget. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was said to be instrumental in getting the earmarks for this pork project added. (Yes, he was a Republican.)

MV_Susitna_-_Catamaran_Ice_Breaking_Ferry_for_AlaskaUnfortunately, without additional foresight, the prototype was built.

After its completion, a state study discovered the boat can hold 134 passengers but only 20 vehicles, and burns 375 gallons of fuel an hour. A state ferry with a similar capacity, the Lituya, burns 55 gallons an hour. The borough and the state decided they really couldn’t use it. It was too expensive and docks currently within the state ferry system would have to be reconfigured.

Here we are three years later. It costs the state $75,000 each month to maintain and now we know nobody else even wants to bid on this white elephant…or should we say orca?

One has to wonder, in light of the severe military cuts via the sequestration, how many veterans college tuition costs would have been covered if the federal government had just thought this project through?

Read more at the Mat-Su Borough website, the Anchorage Daily News or even the MV Susitna’s own website.

Michele Bachmann's Chinese Chips Comment Ignored

Photo courtesy of Zephyris

While Rick Perry’s “Oops” moment is one of the most reported from Wednesday night’s debate, Rep. Bachmann dropped a bomb on the stage that seems to have largely been ignored by the media – Chinese counterfeit computer components are showing up in U.S. defense weapon systems.

As long ago as 2005, Bloomberg reported that fake computer components were causing failures in multiple military systems. Some reports say that as much as 15% of the spare and replacement components the military buys are counterfeit.

While reliability and safety are prime concerns, national security must also be considered. If it is such an easy matter to get a non-conforming component into a U.S. Department of Defense weapon system, it would be even easier to hide code in those components that might cause failure on command or under a certain circumstance.

Senator Carl Levin spoke at a hearing on Tuesday relaying that his committee had investigated 100 cases of suspected counterfeiting. More than 70% of the couterfeit components came from China.

One weapon system reported to have been impacted by Chinese knock-off chips is the P8-A Poseidon military patrol aircraft.  A chip in the de-icing system failed and upon inspection it was discovered that the system had a counterfeit chip.

Counterfeit transistors have also been found in the Navy’s SH60-B helicopter by Levin’s committe. Raytheon, the defense contractor responsible for the components, did not know about the fake circuits until the investigation by the committee revealed them.

The GAO has also reported that the Navy had purchased counterfeit routers that have a high rate of failure, the Air Force had bought counterfeit chips for use in F-15 flight control systems and unreliable oscillators had been bought from a “prohibited supplier” for use in Air Force and Navy navigation systems seemingly for use in unmanned vehicles.

Sen. Levin testified that the use of counterfeit Chinese components in an Air Force missile cost American taxpayers $2.7 million to repair. Sens. Levin and John McCain are working on legislation preventing Pentagon reimbursement when counterfeit components cause problems. “There’s no reason on earth that the replacement of a counterfeit part should be paid for by American taxpayers instead of by the contractor who put it on the system.”

Defense contractors Raytheon, BAE and Northrop all purchased counterfeit components through brokers such as VisionTech who, despite not employing a single engineer or quality control expert, was able to sell components to defense contractors.

Osama bin Laden dies an Ignoble Death but Lady Liberty lives on

Once upon a midnight dreary, Osama pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While he plotted, clearly scheming, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some SEAL gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” he muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled him – filled him with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of his heart, he stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some Paki Minister entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently his soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Infidel,” said he, “or kafir, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was plotting, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here he opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long he stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “helicopter?”
This he whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “helicopter!” –
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, his black soul within him burning,
Soon again he heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said he, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here he flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately SEAL of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, bursted through his chamber door –
Looking down his rifle’s gun sights just beyond the chamber door –
Locked, and loaded, nothing more.

“Prophet!” said Osama, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if SEAL or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Abottabad? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the triggerman “Nevermore.”

Osama bin Laden is no more. In one important sense our national nightmare is over. Finally there is some closure for the families of the thousands that died that terrible day in September of 2001. Like most Americans I take what happened on 9/11 personally. My son, Joshua, had just enlisted in the United States Army. He was part of the first class that graduated from Army boot camp at Fort Jackson after the national tragedy that started America down the road of the War on Terrorism.

I travelled from Florida to Fort Jackson for Joshua’s graduation ceremony. It was a chilly day and I was bundled up against the cold that morning. But my heart warmed as a thousand new Army recruits passed in review and the base commander addressed us all. He told us of the admiration he had for all of the recruits who were graduating that day. An all-volunteer force now, the Army gains its new blood from those who feel the burning pride of patriotism. And America’s best, its youth and its future, were placing all that they had on the line so that we all could live in freedom. There was an upsurge in military enlistments post 9/11. The country came together in defense of freedom. It was an era for the ages. That feeling of national unity had never before been experienced by many Americans. And for those who had experienced that feeling it had been a long time – perhaps as far back as the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Following the graduation ceremony Joshua was released to us with the provision that he was to remain on base until he boarded the bus which would take him to Fort Eustis for advanced training. So for the next two days we toured the base. We went to the enlisted men’s club. We visited the base museum. We saw it all. And then Joshua boarded the bus and headed to Fort Eustis in Virginia where he was to be trained as a helicopter power plant mechanic.

The next time we saw Joshua was at a Holiday Inn near the airport in Jacksonville, FL. The Army had that entire hotel rented out. Joshua was now a member of the 101st Airborne Division and the Screaming Eagles were being deployed to Kuwait (though we didn’t know exactly where at the time due to security concerns). Joshua’s unit had spent the past week wrapping all of their helicopters in plastic wrap to protect them from the salty ocean spray. All of the helicopters were being loaded onto cargo ships for the slow transit to the Arabian Gulf. We hugged Joshua and said our goodbyes – not knowing when we would see him again.

A few months later Joshua crossed into Iraq as far of the invasion force. His unit made its way up to Mosul in the northern part of Iraq and there Joshua stayed for the next year. We learned bits and pieces of Joshua’s war experiences – like the time he went out to retrieve a downed helicopter and his unit came under enemy attack. Joshua saw one of his friends blown to bits that day – nothing left but blood. That is what it is like defending America. Every day isn’t a victory. Friends die. Comrades in arms are sent home in either body bags or via flying hospitals. Ezra Taft Benson, who served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, once said that when freedom is lost it is only regained through the shedding of blood. Truer words were never spoken.

Joshua eventually returned stateside but was later sent back to Iraq for another tour of duty. This time he was assigned to Bagram Air Force Base north of Baghdad. It was more of the same. Blood. Sweat. Tears. And a steady diet of combat patrols. Joshua was assigned to carry his squad’s M249 light machine gun. It was previously known in the Army by the name of Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW. A fully loaded M249 weighs in at 22 pounds. Imagine lugging the weapon on patrol day after day. No wonder Joshua returned home with arms the size of small logs.

Joshua is out of the Army now. He didn’t re-enlist. But with two tours of duty in Iraq he has more than carried his share of the load in defending freedom. I salute him and every other man and woman who wears the uniform of a United States soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. Joshua’s unit spent countless hours and days hunting for Saddam Hussein. He knows the frustration of coming up empty on patrol after patrol. Seeing Seal Team 6 successfully corner Osama Bin Laden means something to him, and to me.

America didn’t ask for the War on Terrorism. In fact, America absorbed blow after blow without a significant level of response. America slept through the bombing of our Marines in Beirut. America slept through the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. America slept through the atrocities in Somalia. And then America woke up. 9/11 penetrated our hearts and our minds. Never again would America take it on the chin without seeking out those responsible for such wanton murder. President George W. Bush promised to seek out those who were responsible for attacking the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and bring them to justice. Bush put into place the intelligence infrastructure that Barack Obama benefitted from years later. Regardless, killing bin Laden finally cut off the head of the snake that attacked us in 2001. The war rolls on but at least justice has been served to the evil mastermind that murdered thousands of innocent American lives.

Joshua, your honorable service in defense of our country is magnificent. I salute you, my son! I salute all the heroes who have sacrificed their blood for freedom. I salute all of our American heroes who give their all in defense of our freedom and our liberty. It is a dangerous world and there will always be new bin Ladens seeking to enslave us. But there will also always be Joshuas and countless others who will rise to the occasion when liberty is threatened and who will save us in our hour of need.

Lady Liberty continues to lift her lamp in New York harbor, giving hope to the oppressed and symbolizing freedom and liberty to all men everywhere. It is with thanks to the American military that we acknowledge the death of Osama bin Laden. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. Though bin Laden’s crimes are great and his evil designs monumental in their scope – the American dream refuses to die. Lady Liberty shines like a golden city on a hill. Her light will not be dimmed and America will always be free.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
–    Emma Lazarus

May 30th – Special Memorial Day Show

Show Description: CDN Staff are compiling a tribute to America and the men and women in our armed services that defend her.

Show Time: Monday May 30th 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific

To Listen to the show click this link:  Plain, Hard Truth Tribute to America and Our Troops

To Call in to the show: (424) 220-1807

Reference Links from the Show (work-in-progress)

“If I Die Before You Wake” – Dustin Evans
Dustin got involved in music at a very young age, influenced mainly by his father. Dustin learned most of his dad’s songs and was singing them with true pitch at the age of three. As a teen, Dustin taught himself to play guitar, drums, bass, and piano, and began writing his own songs.
John Wayne’s collection of patriotic messages are still valid today. We’ll be listening to “Face the Flag Son”.

Please click on the CD image to purchase the entire CD if you find The Duke’s true American messages as inspiring as we do.
The CD contains these tracks:

1 Why I Love Her 2:58
2 The Hyphen 2:30
3 Mis Raices Estan Aqui (My Roots Are Buried Here) 2:42
4 The People 3:46
5 An American Boy Grows Up 4:31
6 Face the Flag 3:55
7 The Good Things 2:43
8 The Pledge of Allegiance 4:21
9 Why Are You Marching, Son? 3:44
10 Taps 3:05