Special report: DoD’s budget quandary

Special report: DoD’s budget quandary

There’s no end in sight to the apocalyptic tenor of Beltway defense news and, if anything, it could keep getting worse. Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments – who you also heard from last week – briefed reporters Monday on his new report on the fiscal 12 defense budget, including DoD’s future prospects, and the outlook for the military-industrial complex is bleak.

Today we take a special extended look at this situation, dispensing with the blog post format for the moment in favor of something like an essay, to try to take half a step back and a look at the bigger picture.

The trick is in the doing

The Pentagon’s long-term problems aren’t insoluble: Harrison outlined what he believes Washington needs to do to weather the buffeting of Austerity America, and included some interesting and innovative concepts along with the now-familiar prescriptions — control requirements, manage well, and follow a strategy. The problems for DoD and America lie in executing what many people agree must be done, but which requires today’s dysfunctional system to work perfectly.

First, the problem: At Monday’s brief, Harrison brought up numbers from the fiscal 2001 defense budget to compare against the fiscal 2012 plan now under consideration up on the Hill. Although the United States has spent about $1.3 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, those costs will theoretically diminish along with the smaller American presence in both countries. But the costs of DoD’s normal operations have grown enormously over the past decade, and they won’t stop growing or decrease without major strategic and structural changes:

Personnel costs have increased about 46 percent per person since 2001, Harrison said, even though the total force has stayed about the same size. The cost of the defense health program has increased 85 percent. The Air Force’s cost per flight hour has increased 90 percent since fiscal 2001; the Navy has seen the cost of one day at sea for one ship increase 22 percent, even as its ships have spent 11 percent fewer days underway. A big question mark for DoD is fuel costs, which could take an unexpected bite worth hundreds of billions of dollars if they spike again. And these costs just for standard DoD operations won’t be helped by the services’ aging arsenals, wherein older planes, ships and equipment require more effort and money to keep going.

What about all that money we spent since the Sept. 11 attack, you ask. Didn’t that buy a whole bunch of wham-o-dyne new toys? Not really, Harrison said: His report describes it as a decade of “hollow growth,” in which DoD frittered away billions of dollars and lots of time on advanced weapons it ended up cancelling.

“Overall, nearly half of the growth in defense spending over the past decade is unrelated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — personnel costs grew while end strength remained relatively flat, the cost of peacetime operations grew while the pace of peacetime operations declined, and acquisition costs increased while the inventory of equipment grew smaller and older. The base budget now supports a force with essentially the same size, force structure and capabilities as in FY2001 but at a 35 percent higher cost. The department is spending more but not getting more.”

Harrison showed a selective list of 12 major cancelled programs, including Future Combat Systems, the Army’s Comanche helicopter, the Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the new presidential helicopter, etc. Americans paid a total of about $46 billion for them, but none saw the light of day. (This does not include the costs of over-budget programs that did yield copies, such as the littoral combat ship or the F-22.)

Service officials might jump in here and say that they learned important lessons from these programs — for example, if the American special operators who killed Osama bin Laden used a stealthy Black Hawk that carried technology from the Comanche, it wouldn’t be fair to say all of that $7.9 billion was “wasted,” the brass would argue. Army officials would say that some components of FCS are still on track to be fielded and improve soldiers’ ability to fight. More basically, the service secretaries today have heard this song so many times they know they can’t repeat these mistakes.

So, to sum up: The Pentagon spent a decade becoming addicted to unlimited spending, much of which yielded nothing, much of which was paid for with debt. Now, everyone in Washington is throwing chairs and gnashing teeth over big budget cutbacks, which naturally must involve a big red bull’s eye over the Puzzle Palace.

Harrison and others, including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, say that the one thing Congress and the administration must not do is just send Secretary Panetta a slip of paper with a number on it and order him to reduce his budget by that much. If you try to shrink the military proportionally by giving everyone an equal cut — “salami slicing” — you’ll just end up with a force that has the same responsibilities but not to the ability to fulfill them. Commanders will still ask the Air Force for X patrols over Afghanistan, but it’ll only have Y aircraft, meaning it will have to wear out its fleet quicker to meet its tasking or tell commanders it can’t fly some missions, denying air cover for troops on the ground.

The strategy strategy

The answer, defense-watchers hope, lies in the Mother of All Reviews, now in the works in the Pentagon. If DoD can produce a roadmap that says, for example, we’re willing to decommission the Air Force’s arsenal of land-based missiles; try to get by with 9 aircraft carriers and 8 air wings; abandon our posture based on fighting 2 simultaneous major wars; and take your pick on what else — that will enable America to choose where it lessens its power, rather than weakening itself across the board, Harrison and others believe.

This will also give the defense establishment the opportunity to set down new markers about where to make new investments, and what strategic priorities the U.S. is willing to maintain going forward. So although DoD might want to disestablish some Army units in Europe, it could also increase the number of troops who attack and defend computer networks. It could say, for example, that the U.S. should expand its military presence in the Western Pacific, while shrinking it elsewhere, to deter a geopolitically ambitious China.

Harrison is an optimist. He told reporters Monday and wrote in his brief that he believes standing at the doorstep of Austerity America is an opportunity:

“It can provide both the fiscal and political imperative to jettison programs and activities that are no longer needed — so called “wasting assets” — and focus resources more efficiently on confronting the most likely future threats,” he wrote. “This period of constrained budgets can, if properly managed, result in a truly transformed military that fundamentally looks and operates differently – and more effectively – than today’s force.”

It’s a terrific idea: Through stringent management and sagacious planning, DoD, Congress and the administration can cut hundreds of billions, avoid a “hollow force” and reshape the military into something equal or greater. Problem is, there are many reasons to be skeptical about this.

The big, ongoing study may not even do its basic job of showing a clear way forward. DoD’s review dependence tactics worked for awhile, but Congress has figured them out and now fights fire with fire. You could see that just last week, in fact, when Rep. Randy Forbes, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, renewed his old complaint about the document that is now supposed to be the touchstone for defense planning: the Quadrennial Defense Review.

When it’s in the works, generals and admirals won’t tell you what they had for lunch on a given day because they’d rather wait for the QDR. Once the report comes out, it meshes with that year’s defense budget request like the gears of a Ferrari, but after only a few months, DoD officials begin telling you the assumptions in it are already out of date. (And won’t give you their current ones.)

This drives Forbes and other Hill defense advocates up the wall, so Congress convened an independent panel to review the QDR, which — no surprise — found it doesn’t serve its intended purpose: To outline the threats and strategies that should then govern how DoD buys and plans. Congress’ independent QDR panel has neutralized the power DoD once had to control the discussion, which means that now, no one does. If defense advocates on the Hill don’t like DoD’s mega-review, what’s to stop them from doing one of their own that reaches the conclusions they want?

Let’s say Congress doesn’t try to trump DoD’s big new report with one of its own. Under Gates’ and others’ ideal narrative, DoD submits its mega-review before or alongside its fiscal 13 budget submission, outlining who it thinks should be the winners and losers. For instance, let’s say the review says: “Given that the Navy won’t need to provide aircraft carriers to support air operations in Afghanistan anymore, we plan on reducing the carrier fleet to eight ships, based on the assumption they’ll take X patrols per year. Consequently, we’re requesting money this year to begin decommissioning the extra ships and we plan to draw down our force accordingly.”

Lawmakers will just rouse from slumber, reach over and rubber-stamp that idea, right? Wrong — the delegations from California, Washington, Virginia and elsewhere would wail like banshees and fight like wolves to keep their ships and squadrons. This year, the House couldn’t even bring itself to cap funding for the military services’ bands, or to cut off their support for NASCAR, let alone agree to let the Air Force decommission six B-1 bombers.

You’ll hear a lot of speeches like this one, given by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, the Texas Republican whose district includes Dyess AFB, home of the 7th Bomb Wing, and who is fighting to keep those aircraft in the force:

“Mr. Chairman, I know that in this new, and frankly refreshing, climate of tightening our belts around here, no program is off limits,” Neugebauer said. “There are no sacred cows and programs across the board, defense and non-defense, have to justify their funding levels. I believe keeping the B-1 fully funded and maintaining the current fleet size makes the case for itself.”

Translation: ‘Look, I know we’ve got to make cuts, but my particular piece of the military-industrial pie is too important.’ Multiply that times every defense advocate in the House and Senate, and you get a Congress where lawmakers will suddenly start looking very eagerly at the salami slicer. If you’ve got to cut, it’s easier to spread the pain around equally — but that’s exactly what defense analysts don’t want.

Maybe things will be different if the United States defaults on its debt this summer — if the consequences are as bad as some voices warn, it could no longer be politically rewarding to play budgeting games by the time the big DoD review comes out. Maybe people like those in Neugebauer’s district, some of whom would lose their jobs under defense reductions, will shrug and say “I’ve got to do my bit by giving up my livelihood for the good of the fiscal health of this country.” Then again, maybe not.

Efficiencies, shmefficiencies

But hold on, you say: What about finding “efficiencies?” Nah, said CSBA’s Todd Harrison — DoD can’t produce the kinds of savings America needs just by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. (Although there probably are a few billion dollars to be gained that way.) The defense budget can achieve around $400 billion in savings just by growing at or below the rate of inflation, Harrison said, but that would require steep cuts upfront, almost 3 percent this year, or deep single-year cuts in the future. That could be tantamount to salami-slicing, could shock the industrial base, and the word in the E-Ring is that President Obama may offer up even bigger cuts as part of a potential deal with Republicans.

Harrison said from what he’s heard, the Office of Management and Budget hasn’t formally told managers to plan for reductions beyond the $400 billion, but DoD budgeters are working up plans for even bigger cuts. If the White House does end up sending Panetta a slip of paper with a higher number on it, it doesn’t want to be totally caught off guard.

Although Harrison was skeptical about the potential for major savings from “efficiencies,” he did say DoD must get better at developing and buying weapons — it just has no choice. If the Army really wants a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or a Ground Combat Vehicle, the Navy wants an SSBN(X), or the Air Force wants a new bomber, the services must exercise monastic discipline over requirements, execution and production. If they don’t, they won’t be able to afford the numbers of weapons they want, which will increase the cost per unit of the ones they can buy, which will make everyone upset and put the programs in jeopardy. Same old story.

It’s worth pointing out here that some analysts have said no matter how stringent the services are about how they pursue their current programs, they still won’t have enough money to afford what they want. The Navy, for example, must buy not only SSBN(X) but also new cruisers and destroyers in the 2020s and beyond, and it’s not clear how it’ll get the cash to pay for all of that. Around that same time, the Air Force has procurement “bow wave” because its new bomber, the KC-46A tanker and the F-35 all are supposed to be in full-rate production at the same time. Service officials must figure out whether they can afford all that and the other things they want to buy.

Possible solutions

So what can the services do? Harrison said they need to crack down on requirements, to keep the Air Force bomber from becoming like the presidential helicopter. (Which, as Gates famously quipped, got to the point that it had to be able to “cook a dinner while in flight under nuclear attack.”) Part of that, Harrison argued, could require changing the way DoD approves these parameters. Its Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which comprises the services’ vice chiefs, ends up authorizing almost everything, Harrison said, because its members usually don’t have to deal with the cost of each new requirement they add.

“The process we have right now is really, I think, a stumbling block to achieving the kind of requirements discipline I’m talking about,” he said. “The JROC, if you look at them, there aren’t many requirements that go before the JROC that don’t get approved … They aren’t having to pay the bills directly for all these programs. So why not approve it? I mean, if someone comes up and says, ‘hey, I want this neat little widget to go in the cockpit of some airplane for the Air Force,’ why wouldn’t the Army say yes? It’s not going to be their budget. So if you create a tighter link between those who approve requirements and those who budget for them in the future, that will enforce better discipline on this process.”

Fixed-price contracts also will be essential in Austerity America, Harrison said, just so long as they actually impose fixed prices. He gave the example of the KC-46A contract, which technically sets a fixed price but still permits Boeing to charge from $3.9 to $4.9 billion, with taxpayers responsible for 60 percent of any overages.

“I don’t think most Americans would interpret that as fixed price, in that its price is not fixed,” Harrison joked.

He also warned that if DoD does try to begin using no-kidding fixed-price contracts, the upfront costs for weapons probably will go up, because companies will know they’ll have to budget appropriately to absorb possible cost overruns.


At the department-wide level, Harrison said DoD has no choice but to get its personnel and health care costs under control. To do that, he suggested that officials reevaluate which units and capabilities remain in the active force, verses in the reserves, given that reserve units are cheaper. Maybe it’s worth redefining the services’ different levels of readiness, at say, A, B and C levels, Harrison said. One Air Force unit could fly X percent fewer hours, with the understanding that it would require Y more days or weeks to get to a deployable state of readiness. Service officials might respond that they already practice a version of this.

Another way to control DoD’s department-wide personnel costs might be to revamp service members’ pay and benefits, Harrison argued. He called DoD’s current approach a “1950s-style” setup long ago outpaced by the private sector, and said the Pentagon might consider using a 401k-style system instead of traditional pensions, as well as regular increases in the amount troops and working-age retirees must contribute to their own medical care. Federal workers pay about $5,000 per year for their health care plans, but the Tricare enrollment fee for working-age retirees remains $460, the same as it was in 1995.

Harrison also said the services could change the way they talk about a service member’s pay and benefits, to create a clearer picture of the total amount of money involved. Troops draw basic pay, but they also get allowances for housing and other benefits and special pays that aren’t rounded up in the amount of money they appear to make every year. You can check out Military.com’s Basic Allowance for Housing tables for this year to get a sense of how much more a soldier stationed in Washington, D.C. can end up making than an airman stationed in Idaho. If it were clearer how much service members already bring in, total, there might be less incentive for personnel costs to keep going up.

The reality, though, is that lawmakers and most Americans believe service members can never be paid enough, and whatever they’re making now, they deserve more. (Many people still assume today’s military consists of the poorly educated, bottom-rung screwups they’ve seen in TV and movies, not the comparatively skilled, well-paid force it actually is.) Any proposals for major changes to pay, benefits, health care or the active and reserve components must be approved by Congress, and lawmakers don’t like to be seen as anything less than fully committed to the troops.


So where does all this leave us? No matter what happens with the Mother of all Reviews and Congress’ response, the Army looks like it will wind up the biggest loser, Harrison said. Americans won’t want to fight another big land war for awhile, and Harrison cited the post-Korea reshaping of the military under Eisenhower as a potential precedent for how DoD could look going forward. Ike didn’t like Korea in the first place, so he was in sync with the “no more Koreas” mindset that led to shrinking U.S. land power and increasing its strategic forces over the 1950s, Harrison said.

And then, of course, after a few more years, America went on to fight another big Asian land war anyway.

Military, congressional and political leaders use the same clichés to describe the coming era: “it won’t be easy;” it will require “tough choices,” etc. All true, but unless there are some major shakeups in the daily realities of business in Washington, even the broadest-spectrum, soupest-to-nutsest review in DoD’s history won’t make this process an easy splashdown. It’ll be like everything else in American political life — loud, contentious, often absurd, and always unpredictable.


Join the Conversation

Back when EFV, FCS, F-22, F-35, Comanche, Presidential Helicopter, and other programs were approved and funded to multiple billions of dollars, DoD & its contractors had both the opportunity and the resources to deliver slam dunk programs & systems that would have enhanced our national security and prestige as technological innovators. Through a combination of poor leadership, concept development, acquisition bumbling, lack of self discipline (requirements creep), groupthink, careerism, corruption, and greed the taxpayer has been treated to schedule delays, cost overruns, poorly performing systems, and a non-recapitalized force structure. DoD (the whole CMIC & political elite establishment for that matter) needs a radical culture change based on Core Values, similar to what USAF went through in the 90s, when CSAF Gen Fogelman instilled Integrity First. John Boyd taught us, “People First, Ideas Second, Hardware Last.” Until DoD leadership pursues technology as a TOOL to accompilsh missions, and not the mission itself, we will experience more of the same.

One question for Mr. Harrison. Do you believe that China will be a strategic challenge to the USA? If so, the responsible thing to do, would be to tell our political leaders: sorry, you really cannot cut the defense budget by much and we need all the ICBMs, B-1s and other means of deterrence we can find. Why engage in this lemming-like hysteria of unilateral disarmament. Let’s save money by cutting things we don’t need such as the LCS and let’s hold contractors responsible and let’s eliminate waste, but also let’s buy the weapon’s systems which can ensure our survival when our adversaries have built up their nuclear arsenal to 10000 plus warheads.

“Harrison showed a selective list of 12 major cancelled programs, including Future Combat Systems, the Army’s Comanche helicopter, the Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the new presidential helicopter, etc. Americans paid a total of about $46 billion for them, but none saw the light of day. (This does not include the costs of over-budget programs that did yield copies, such as the littoral combat ship or the F-22.)”

Don’t worry, US taxpayers. The defense contractors that f’ed up those programs to the point that they were cancelled made a profit on every single day they were able to drag out those miserable, psychotically dysfunctional programs. Of that $46 billion you spent, $4.6 billion went to pure profit for the lead defense contractors. That’s totally reasonable, since those companies have to pay the multi-million dollar annual salaries of their exectuives, whether they have a single program on time and on budget, or, like most modern defense corporations, they don’t.

DoD can’t control the budget because the leaders have not figured out that the finest schedule and best budget is still a waste if most of what is going to the field is “Deemed Unsuitable”. Only when you can produce a quality product that is good enough and then build up capability from there, can you start to control the budget.

As usual Dfens you blame the contractors rather than the politicians and policy-makers who are the ones behind these idiotic decisions.

I don’t blame anyone, William. I just tell it like it is. After all, isn’t that what engineers are supposed to do?

You are right. Too much “Top Down” decision making forcing contractor promised technology on the warfighter by General Officers who have demonstrated ineptness at systems engineering, maintenance, logistics, and acquistiion. Not enough decisions based upon “Bottoms Up” requirements from warfighters dealing with what is wrong and what can be improved upon our current systems. Couple this with leadership that thinks they can define an optimal solution for unknown threats 20+ years out, and you have a recipe for the mess we are in.

Hey while looking at cutting benefits for the active and retired service members how about looking at the house/senate and DOD civilian benefits? I think I just read where Weiner will receive $25,000 a year in retirement for twelve years of service and it gets bumped up to $35,000 a year when he turns 62 years old! He served and made out well sending naked pictures to the girls! I could comment on the overage of DOD civilians used as well but I won’t

There needs to be a decoupling of development and procurement. The government should use a round table development strategy with contractors and reserach labs. Press developmental test items and test vigorously. When you have what you want, conduct an open competition and pick two producers (30% to each, with 40% up for bids). That’ll keep costs in line, avoid excess profits to contractors, shorten the schedule, and field usable products as reasonable costs.

As of today on Defense Procurement News: Sen. John McCain and the Democratic Chairman of the SASC are very upset about the 700 million more for the JSF and followed up with a letter to the Defense Department asking among other questions what the AF bill would be if the JSF program was terminated. http://​www​.defenseprocurementnews​.com/​2​0​1​1​/​0​7​/​18/

And it’s Bills job as defense contractor PR flunky to lie to protect contractor profits.

Nothing is going to happen based on that letter. Means squat. While a respected serviceman, McCain is a toothless Senator. He is on the Armed Service Committee which sets policies, not on an appropriations commitee where the money is controlled. The JSF program costs are understated by a factor of at least 2. And have been from day one. I know. I was there when the first thorough review was done. Until the Pentagon budgets for the true costs of their programs (which means they can really only afford less than half the toys they want), they will be subject to death by a thousand cuts and the public’s scorn and ridicule.

Wait, I’m supposed to get paid for this? Give me my check Oblatski.

Let me try to clarify a bit. Take a serious look at how often congress has meddled in programs like the ATF (F-22). Constant changes in funding, planned production numbers, timelines, and so forth do cause delays and cost money. Many programs also get drawn out for various other reasons. Most of these are not due to incompetence or greed.

What became the Crusader was originally a heavier self-propelled gun that was part of the ASM program. This would have used liquid propellant, components common to the other ASM vehicles, and some other new technologies. Yet with the end of the Cold War, ASM was broken apart, then canceled. However the Crusader survived as a lighter more conventional vehicle. This required much redesign however.

The LHX (RAH-66) went through so many revisions and changes that you could write a whole book about it.

The AAAV (EFV) didn’t truly start until the contract award in the mid 90’s and much like the V-22 was a program that had a ton of challenges to overcome.

Future Combat Systems reached too far and put way too much into one massive program. The way Boeing was expected to manage everything simply didn’t work, and it seems like they stumbled through it in a confused manner.

As far as I know LCS had it’s basis in the Navy’s “Streetfighter” concept but expanded into a much larger ship. Yet the firepower and crew size did not seem to keep pace. In many respects it seems to be a disaster. Our shipyards are not up to the same standards they used to be either.

What a pathetic list of contractor excuses. Simply every greed driven contractor failure is someone else’s fault.

In the degenerate cyclic thinking of the contractors “Constant changes (increases) in funding, (lower) planned production numbers, (longer) timelines, and so forth” is not enough and in fact the “cause” of you guesses it — the increased cost lowered production and longer delivery delays.

Obviously over Bills desk is the motto: “overrun, under deliver and late — pick all three”

We could ask Bill where is the congressional pressure that has Americans front line fighter grounded for a record time, making us closer to a third world airforce. But when you finally jam the self-serving un-American weasel into a corner and he has run out of excuses he will tell you that Lockheed should steal as much as it can from America “because it can”.

People often complain that congressmen have no military service. The same rule should be applied to contractors. No contractor should get a cent before having to serve America.
They need to serve America first not just serve themselves.

I’m not saying that other parts of the system aren’t in bad shape too, but it seems a shame to concentrate on other areas of the problems we are having in procurement as long as the 800 lb gorilla in the room is these contractors making a profit off of dragging out development a jacking up costs. It’s clearly a conflict of interest that is built right into the system. Until we fix that, we won’t make a lot of progress elsewhere.

1. It is not possible for an affluent country like the United States to run a cost-effective military without a draft that was rejected by the people of this country, and therefore, terminated after the Vietnam War. Without military conscription, the personnel costs are going to be exorbitant. That is the reason why it was called military service, not military employment.
2. DoD, like the rest of the government, needs to implement the rigorous methodology of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in order to cut waste, increase efficiency, and improve quality.
3. H.R. 2188, once it becomes a law, will mandate Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) through the practice of LSS throughout the federal Government

Start cutting with the “affordable” F-35! Upgrade the standoff weapons for fighters to make the legacy fighter more effective. New weapons programs are much much cheaper than buying all F-35s. Instead of a high low mix of F-22s and F-35s we will end up with a high low mix of F-35 and legacy aircraft.

To save more SDD money they should terminate the A model and have the Air Force fly C models with longer range which they will likely need anyway.

You are grossly overestimating the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Ewing — Excellent presentation and analysis. I hope this is forwarded to all Members of Congress. I like the salami slicer analogy. The perverted inherent magic, of course, as well as the struggle, is that this is one salami that apparently can be fused or welded back together when lean and hungry interests give the signal. The cuts mean nothing.

I agree. Keep up the good work and stimulating articles Philip!

Excuses? Are you an idiot Oblatski, this is the damn history of these programs. When you expect something different halfway through development of course you’re not going to meet original timelines.

Some America-bashing over-entitled coward like yourself Oblatski is in no position to go around insulting Americans included the contractors you hate so much.

Do you really think somebody screwed up the OBOGS integration on the F-22 out of malice or greed? Something is clearly wrong here, but it isn’t a bunch of mustached villains laughing and counting their money somewhere.

Why dont they get real and do something about the illegals draining 385 billion a year from tax payers (other than the dream act BS)

Touche’ Oblat

it will be that size in 10 years because we are refusing to ask hard questions about their nuclear weapon program. In fact nobody knows how many warheads China has right now. We don’t want to know because we then might have to consider that we will have to restart production of new nuclear warheads and missile systems which is expensive and politically undesirable.

“When you expect something different halfway through development of course you’re not going to meet original timelines.”

Just feel free to tell us about the numerous cases of the “expect something different halfway through development” of the F-22.

What you mean to say is that when the pilot blacks out at 10,00 feet because of a well known problem with the technology used it’s “expecting something different” because the contract doesn’t explicitly say not to ***-up the life support and kill the pilot ?

The contractors are optimizing for profit above everything else that’s not capitalism that is a scam and the cheating, deliberately driving up costs, and outright fraud is defended by moral degenerates such as yourself who do nothing but try to pass the buck.

“Harrison showed a selective list of 12 major cancelled programs, including …, the Army’s Comanche …, etc. Americans paid a total of about $46 billion for them, but none saw the light of day.”

I’ll take exception to the remarks regarding the Comanche program. Allegedly started in 1996 — with an artists conception of the bird in the 11/96 edition of Science Week (I believe that was the mag) — Comanche was in fact operational in April of 1996. In fact, I had one hovering over my back yard in broad daylight, apparently using holographic imaging capabilities (fireworks on the horizon) on 6/6/1996 at about 4:45 PM.

The science article stated the program would be operational in 2006, but we all know it was “officially” cancelled in 2005. BTW, the chain gun and the crooked tail left me puzzeled until the 11/96 article, but it surely wasn’t an Apache — which came out the year I went into WOFT. Special Ops & still in use?

“We want a ground attack capability. Actually, cut that. Oh wait, we want it back again. Also we just cut your funding and production numbers, as a result we’re going to expand the EMD phase by a few years, as this will cost less in the short term (but more in the long term), and keep people employed in my district.”

You don’t see how such things can cause problems?

OBOGS is used in a number of aircraft over the years. However the problem only seems to effect the F-22. So you take a botched integration with the F-22 and attribute it to malice or a plot on the part of Lockheed Martin and Honeywell? While somebody is clearly responsible for this mistake, mistakes do happen in the real world.

Optimizing for profit? Lockheed wants to build more F-22s and further develop the aircraft because they would have made a profit off that. Honeywell wants to continue selling OBOGS. Neither wants their reputation damaged and sales hurt because of a contract to fix. Money that should and may well come out of their pocket.

Moral degenerates? You’ve gone around insulting soldiers putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and Iraq? You’ve insulted hard working men and women working for these companies you hate. You’ve pimped EADS aircraft while criticizing Boeing at every opportunity. Some America-bashing Frenchie like yourself shouldn’t speak of moral degeneracy.

This is going to get very bad very quickly, it will be like the demoralizing 1970’s all over again. However, at least back then we had a plethora of contractors that could get projects done in under a decade. Now everything seems to take 10–20 years minimum and always comes in over budget.

The absolute worst thing we can do is get rid of ANY of our 11 carrier groups, since we usually can only have a maximum of four at sea at any given time. This is already stretching our readiness, since we have also cut back on independent surface action groups. Also, retiring the Minuteman III is foolhardy in the extreme. This will leave is with only one immediate part of our triad in the Ohio SSBN’s. The latter should have always been used as a counter-value weapon able to carry out a devastating secondary attack, while the land-based force focuses on immediate counterforce response. This is precisely why it is called “deterrence”, because the strategic triad works in different ways. We scrub our land-based forced do you honestly think China or Russia would do the same, or even slow down deployment on new silo and road mobile systems?

Utter insanity at play here, but DoD and their contractor buddies are not blameless. Now our strategic posture will suffer as a result.

The hollow force is back again!!!!! Thank you Mr. Carter and Mr Obama,
seems the Democrats have a knack for this sort of disastrous planning.

How many people who are writing these reviews have any idea of how these very very complex, critical systems really work and NEED to function? How many have actually been in service positions — not staeside but actually in REAL Combat situations? Ever use or have to depend on an automatic weapon, like say for your lifem, and it jams/locks up? How about ever take say a few “rides” on a submarine say to a serious depth level and go through some SEA trial testing you know with LIVE exploding depth charges like the ENEMY can and does deploy? Sitting behind a desk, in an air conditioned office doesn’t quite create a REAL time perspective on what is critical, what needs to work how and why I suggest more of the people making these judgements and decisions spend some time with the troops, people who use and really depend on them. GOD BLESS and PROTECT our TROOPS!

We have all heard this stuff over and over again after a conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm 1 and 2 etc. People are removed, weapons layed up all in the believe that in the end this would be world peace and military to go back to being a hollow police force. We never learn, lets make saving then when 3000 people are killed go for it again. We all know someone thinks the chinese are going to be our biggest enemy, we ourself are. First get the right weapons for the right war. Stop letting industry come up with the weapons and get the users involved from the beging and no help from congress. Second instead of getting rid of solders and sailor lets get rid of wasteful administrators or in fact the DOD period do we need 200,000 GS-9s and above maybe not. RIFT civilains first. Third and final lets cut out wastefull weapons spending the F-35 should be cancelled period already obsolete. Cut out the BS and let get down to bear bones dececsion making thank you.

Thank you– we STILL dont have qualified Arabic linguists for a layman’s simple example, with all the wars the rocket scientists up in DC are starting– one would think this would be a priority… our intel sucks, we still cant fight the most primitive enemies, as they are too primitive for our ‘toys’- mostly it takes human beings who are well trained to intercept such threats, but then, common sense and USG dont belong in the same sentence. This is introducing ‘capitalism’ into homeland and national security… The last ten years are a great example of where this kind of system goes.

Waste, fraud and abuse is rampant at Army. Money is being thrown around like there is no end to it. I think the Army needs to be contracted out to mercenaries– it is a hollow force — they are only in it for the money now — no way will it ever become a profession, the Generals have sold out in the pursuit of oil and ghost “WMD“s . Cut the force — leave them at home to protect the borders, and hire XE to do the rest. Some soldiers reportedly at Fort Bragg were dreading returning back to the Fort and being garrisoned and losing their combat pay Well, there’s the solution — get out and join XE .

Mr. Harrison’s analysis of the increased personnel cost versus end strength does not consider that the end strength of the total force active and reserve remained constant, but federalizing the reserve forces created an increased the the concommitent pay increase

Lesson #1for Washington: if you want to keep bullying the world, asking sovereign country leaders to step down, which will almost certainly put our worst enemies in power in these used to be allied countries– you need a military — that is if there is a transition of power and not bloody civil wars that threaten the trade routes, oil, etc…
No military, no bullying– they go together.…
But I do have to agree, DOD has been wasting US tax dollars on absolutely nothing, or on enemy governments (such as the one in Iraq) and other ‘aid’ to countries, who use our weapons against their own people (certain country in the ME where US keeps vetoing any UN sanctions against over settlements, the main reason we were hit on 9/11)- these double standards and bullying are increasing the risk to the US homeland and American interests around the world .…
The basic fact is that the enemies the US is fighting today need humans to do the fighting, not ‘toys’- using the ‘toys’ gave us the last 10 years– we put in two corrupt unstable governments, and just now, 10 years later, got UBL, but not the rest of the bunch, they are still free to plan more attacks… but I think they will figure it out when it is too late…

Utter insanity is to support 11 carrier groups when no other nation has even 1. Yes, Italy has 2 small carriers, a few countries have 1 carrier but no single nation on the Earth can put to sea anything to rival just 1 carrier group — even China. So why the hell do we need 11? Our greatest strategic threat is borrowing money from China to counter the threat from, well, China? Seriously, the biggest threat to the US right now is ourselves. We can’t continue to spend money we just don’t have.

And we can’t cut education budgets because we need to invest heavily in STEM programs to economically compete, we’re already slipping behind the rest of the world. Spending $1 to $1.4 trillion on defense a year is stupid (yes, that is the *total* defense related spending bill for 2012), really stupid, when we only have about $1.5 trillion of revenue. The country is massively in debt, falling behind in science and tech education, falling behind in health care — we’re destroying ourselves, and we’re arguing about which toys to keep.

This article is spot on. However, why isn’t the lens focused on the Intel Community. That’s where most of the fat resides as a result of the post 9–11 spending / run-up on national security, namely in CIA, DIA, NSA, etc.

America is clearly over invested in “black” programs. The public and Congress have little to no insight into the IC’s budget, and we ought to be questioning the taxpayer return on these investments, along with DoD’s major acquisition programs.

Over 50% of the dollars DoD spends is for services, not hardware. Lots of waste there when the requirements are filled with time and material and labor hour type contracts where there is no incentive for the contractors to curb costs. DAU has developed a roadmap process which guides the services requirement defining folks on how to identify the expected results of the services, the standards for those services. All this is tied to an incentive (carrot/stick). DAU has developed a tool that automates this process (ARRT or Automated Requirements Roadmap Tool). Once an effective Performance Work Statement (PWS) is written, it challenges the contractors to be innovative in their proposed solution, resulting in more effective and cost saving solutions. The individuals who are tasked with defining and writing the PWS, are doing so as an additional duty. The vast majority of them have little to no training on writing a PWS. DAU has taken the first step by providing a tool and training, now the services must do their part by dedicating within its workforce a core competency where any services being purchased are required to be defined using processes and tools such as what DAU has developed. They must be dedicated individuals who have had the training and know how to apply the process.


I believe that there are ways to improve on how the military spends it’s money. One way I think should be looked at is how the military is organized. An infantryman is an infantryman easy as that. Now look at the design of a rifle squad between services. A marine rifle squad consist of 13 marines with a squad leader and 3 fire teams. An army rifle shad consist on 9 soldiers with a squad leader and 2 fire teams. Now a squad leader in the marines is an E-5 Sgt. and in the army the squad leader is an E-6 Ssgt. Why is it that it takes a Ssgt in the army to lead 2 fire teams and an e-5 Sgt. In the marine to lead 3 fire teams? If you look at the positions in the fire teams between the army and the marines you will find that the army is paying one level higher than the marines to do the same job. Even when you go the other route and look at the difference in rank with plt. Sgts A e-6 Ssgt is a typical plt Sgt in the marines and the army uses a e-7 sfc. for their plt Sgt. Why is there such a difference between these two services when both are infantry. This may not seem like a lot to make a difference, however when you look at the size of the army to the marine it is a big difference in spending. I think the army should take a look at its organization and consider the way the marines do business. I have served in both and if the army does this I think they will find a considerable amount of savings for other programs.

There would be a great big saving if the educational vetern benefit were to be reduced. Give the benefit only to the vetern, not spouse and children. Put some type of criteria on this benefit and a limitation as was in the past.

Couldn’t agree more. Oblat will only be happy when the whole place crumbles.

I’m sick of people blaming and wanting to bankrupt the “big bad defense contractors” who serve at the behest of congressional budgets and politicians. If the pols change their minds mindway through a proposal or bid harebrained proposals because they don’t really know what they want, who’s freakin fault is that? If the only criteria is cost, you can be assured that companies will underbid and overun. You can present a more realistic estimate and lose the contract; then hundreds end up unemployed. Given that the Constitution directs congress to fund the military as the highest priority and thousands of jobs are created as a result, wouldn’t it make more sense to cut funding to third generation welfare recipients, stop providing aid to countries that hate us, stop providing lifetime pensions to career politicians, and countless other such places where freeloaders have latched firmly onto the govt. teat? Lay off the folks who make it possible to speak your silly discontent!

Have you never in the past called the “big bad defense contractors” a welfare system for retired military folks? I think you have. Your comment re; contractors having to serve makes you a hypocrit. Which is it?

“The defense contractors that f’ed up those programs to the point that they were cancelled made a profit on every single day”

“I don’t blame anyone, William.”

Call back when you’re able to keep your lies straight pls.

Those that are in power are questionable in there judgement…to be kind. Idaho is looking to sell 55 sqare miles to China as I type. We will have to bomb our own country if China attacks from its own country in Idaho!!!!!

close unnecesary overseas bases like Camp Darby because there are too many people getting paid for doing nothing by US government through tax payers dollars, just to be keeping American Beach open on Italian beach area. There are no Americans on American beach and US military leaders know this and should be helping our government close sites that have no purpose in todays security.

This is a specious argument, based purely on assertion and justified on the basis of “we don’t know”. You just want another nuclear arms race — cut surface ships and buy nukes because they’re more useful? Are you kidding me???

Ummm…what? Please make constructive comments, not conspiracy fantasy nonsense.


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