Panel Ignores Pleas to Reform Defense Budget

Panel Ignores Pleas to Reform Defense Budget

A Republican-led defense panel in Congress is set to vote on a proposed budget that ignores bipartisan pleas to protect the military’s long-term solvency by shrinking the workforce, closing bases and limiting troop pay raises.

The House Armed Services Committee, headed by Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., is scheduled to meet June 5 to amend, or mark-up, its version of the 2014 defense authorization bill. The legislation sets policy goals and spending targets for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1.

“We serve well aware of our obligation not only to national security, but to the men and women in uniform that provide it,” McKeon said in a statement. “It is our duty to give them the tools to ensure they are ready, capable, and safe.”


The bill, H.R.1960, would authorize $552 billion in defense spending and $86 billion in war spending. That’s higher than what’s allowed under automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The measure would be paid for by reducing non-defense portions of the federal budget — a move opposed by the Democratic-led Senate and White House.

Outside experts are more concerned with where the money is going rather than the overall size of the defense budget.

For example, the cost of the military’s health care system almost tripled to $52 billion in 2012 from $19 billion in 2001. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009 famously warned Congress that “health care is eating the department alive.”

Lawmakers have repeatedly rejected a proposal to increase the enrollment fee that working-age retirees pay to use the military health system, called Tricare. The fee, unchanged since 1995, is set at $460 for a family. By comparison, the average family in the U.S. pays more than $4,300 toward the cost of health coverage, according to a 2012 study sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In addition, the Pentagon maintains 2.3 billion square feet of buildings and infrastructure — 20 percent more than what it needs; its civilian workforce is 17 percent larger than what it was in fiscal 2001 (its active-duty force is only 3.4 percent bigger); and the compensation cost per service member rose 4.1 percent annually over the past decade, according to a letter a bipartisan group of experts at think tanks in Washington, D.C., sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and leaders of congressional defense committees.

McKeon’s draft version of the legislation rejects the Pentagon’s requests to begin the process of shuttering bases, limiting troops’ pay raises to 1 percent and increasing some Tricare fees.

McKeon defended provisions in the bill for helping the military combat sexual assault by establishing minimum sentencing guidelines and preventing commanders from overturning a jury’s verdict, improving readiness by boosting flying hours and training exercises, and reducing “wasteful bureaucracy” in part by cutting two dozen flag officer billets.

It also supports “vital” weapons platforms such as the CVN 78 aircraft carrier, E-2D Hawkeye surveillance aircraft, C-130 cargo plane, KC-46 refueling tanker, long-range strike bomber, F/A-18 Super Hornet, amphibious combat vehicle, MQ-9 Reaper drone and F-15 and F-16 engines, McKeon said.

Like the White House’s, the House panel’s spending plan assumes Republicans and Democrats will reach a deal to avoid the automatic budget cuts, even though the parties remain at an impasse over taxes and spending. Defense Department officials have begun planning for scenarios in which the spending reductions continue into next year.

Even if the cuts were somehow avoided, the Pentagon needs to make significant changes to avoid bankrupting key areas of the budget, according to Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and one of the letter’s 25 signatories.

If personnel, operation and maintenance costs keep rising, they may consume the “entire defense budget” by 2024, leaving no funding for weapons procurement, military construction or family housing, he wrote in a budget briefing from April.

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“We serve well aware of our obligation not only to national security, but to the men and women in uniform that provide it,” McKeon said in a statement.
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While remaining ironically unaware that the proposed budget hasn’t a snowballs chance in Hades of passing the Senate (let alone a presidential veto), thereby making this yet another example of a complete waste of the taxpayers time.

Thank you, “Policy Wonk.” I trust all your deep policy expertise means you know what House-Senate conference is for. Yeesh.

Wow, the Republicans in the Senate won’t go along with boosting the amount of money available to the big defense contractors by yet again sticking it to the US soldier. Come on, who deserves that money more than the big defense contractors? Clearly not the men who put their lives on the line for this country.

And one more thing, isn’t it interesting how our military medical system has gone up in cost exponentially as they have outsourced more and more of those jobs to — get this — defense contractors, and then they turn around and blame the very people who put their lives on the line for this country, wounded American Veterans, as if they are to blame for the costs of their medical care going up so fast. It is mind boggling the very gall of these damn defense contractors!

I say cut the defense contractors across the board. Get them out of the VA. Get them out of providing mercenaries, quit using them for servicing weapons and vehicles, and if they want to continue to sell weapons to the DoD, let them cover their own development costs. These bastards are bleeding this nation dry and f’ing us over at the same time they tell us how much we need them. We need defense contractors like we need a new hole in the head.

That’s it. I give up on the F-35 issue. The House panel overwhelmingly killed a brilliant proposal to freeze the F-35 funds until Lockheed Martin had made sufficient progress. This made sense in every possible way, but it was killed because the F-35 is an unstoppable force due to the international nature program and the jobs that it creates. It doesn’t make sense during a time of sequestration and it doesn’t provide anywhere near the capability it costs. The jet itself is a total failure in terms of design and it will continue to move forward because it puts jobs in the right districts and money in the right hands. No country is willing to hurt their ego by backing out of the program and this program reeks of corruption by any standard. Lockheed Martin truly has pulled off the greatest scam on the US taxpayer and allies. They have managed to deliver nothing and take everything.

Link: http://​www​.navytimes​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​2​0​1​3​0​6​0​5​/​N​E​W​S​04/

On a side note I am very glad that the Super Hornet is still going. There is a brilliant article in this month’s issue of the Proceedings called “Averting the Navy’s Tactical Aircraft Crisis” that I highly recommend everyone read. It openly explains that the Navy is stuck in the F-35 program and suggests that the Navy would save money by replacing all its C-model orders with A-models, which would allow the Navy to save money because the C-model is more expensive than the combined price of an A-model and a Super Hornet. The Super Hornets would be used for the Navy’s mission, while the A-model would merely be bought so the orders don’t go down.

What’s it going to take, Buck, before you and your fellow congressites realize that we’ve got to reform? A T-Bond meltdown? Interest on the debt consuming half of tax revenue?

Come on, man. You people are elected to make these choices. Show some foresight beyond the next election cycle.

I don’t believe that you are capable of giving up on the F35 issue

The international market for fighters is still fluid though. Should Canada replace the F-35 order, and should South Korea provide the first F-15SE order along with the Australians buying more Super Hornets, the combined shift may be enough to start affecting the F-35 orders in other countries.

Yeah, the Sucker Bee is such a gift from God… What a piece of crap!

Buck has proven that, in the name of national security, nothing will change when it comes to Presidential and Congressional spending and malfeseance. Tax-and-spent Democrats. Borrow-and-spend Republicans. They don’t understand that our kids and grandkids will — without blinking an eye — default on the current national debt accumulated by their parents — us! So, be warned. Dump your Treasury bonds, bills and notes, because it is going to get very ugly when you try to cash them in and they are deeply discounted because Ben will have to print money faster to pay those military and government civilian pensions, which will probably only be worth 30 cents on the dollar.

That is the repooplican way of thinking. Spend what we don’t have, fight a war where we don’t belong, condemn other countries for fighting wars where they don’t belong yet it is ok for us to have our men and women stand in harms way for what? These elected officials would not send their own kids to war, ever wonder why…

“reducing ‘wasteful bureaucracy’ in part by cutting two dozen flag officer billets.”

Wow, the cuts are just sweeping and merciless. Are they sure the entire Pentagon won’t grind to a halt with those billets unfilled?

America managed to fight and win WWII with a ratio of flag rank headcount to total force headcount that was roughly _one-tenth_ of what it is today.

Under what definition does the Super Hornet perform badly? It’s not a game-changer, but it works well, is reliable and relatively cheap.

haha, that would be a wise more on the Navy’s part, buy all F-15A models and then go park them on the nearest air force base and leave ;-D

that’s right, but in WWII, all the real work was being done by the O-3 to O-5. Now O-5 and O-6’s just bring coffee into the Admirals

Actually, I was thinking that the Navy could sell them to the Air Force cheaper than we bought them. Maybe we should keep 12 of them as aggressors.

Dfens, I used to like you and you used to make at least some kind of sense, but you are lost to me now.

Health care!! Maybe if the Govt wouldn’t send us to stupid wars the casualties wouldn’t be a drain on the health care. May be we should not wear vests and helmets because more dead will not burden the health care system. You congressmen get free health care to dry out @ Walter Reed!!

It gets off the deck and immediately has to hit a tanker. Under what circumstances is that performing well?

Oh damn, one less fan. What will I do? Reality is a bitch that way.

Go bureaucracy.

I get so tired of them raising fees on retirees. These people have already given their service for a promise, a promise that Congress just isn’t keeping.….That really sucks! Just shows you what kind of people are really running our country.

Republican way of thinking please ! Spend what we dont have.…at least we are not giving it away to other programs where people are to darn lazy to get off their a$$ and work. .

Cut the contractors !

Which is why adding the conformal fuel tanks to them is a great idea. If that is the Super Hornet’s only real weakness and it is something we can compensate for with other means then it is still a great aircraft. The Super Hornet is not perfect, but in terms of satisfying the needs of the Navy and doing this during a time of sequestration and shrinking defense budgets, it is the best thing we’ve got.

Apart from that the Super Hornet has a utility factor that has saved the Navy a lot of money by adapting roles of older aircraft it couldn’t afford to replace. When the Super Hornet took on the buddy refueling role from the S-3B Viking and the electronic attack role from the EA-6B Prowler, it saved the Navy billions of dollars since it didn’t have to design and build an entirely new aircraft to fit those roles.

The Sucker Bee is not as good a fighter as the F-14. It is not as good a bomber as the A-6. It is not as good of a fighter-bomber as the F-14. It doesn’t measure up to the S-3 in anti-sub warfare. It doesn’t hold a candle to the EA-6 in electronic warfare. But what it lacks as an airplane it makes up for by virtue of being the survivor, because that’s what really counts is how good a lobby the vehicle has in Washington DC. The Navy was a damn sight better off before it started that way of thinking.

You’re absolutely right. But the fact is that the Super Hornet does all of these things extremely cheap and it is able to be made in large enough numbers to allow flexibility in all of these operations. Yes, as far as I know the Super Hornet has no anti-submarine warfare capability to speak of. However, the advanced sensors and new weapon systems that have been made available to the Super Hornet have been able to compensate or even exceed the capabilities of the aircraft that it replaced.

The new AIM-120D AMRAAM will have a range of 120 miles, beating out the AIM-54 Phoenix’s max range. The Super Hornet is better for close in dogfighting and with the helmet mounted sights it can easily take on any aircraft available to our enemies. On top of that the Super Hornet incorporates a lot radar signature reduction features and it was able to include these low observable features better than any of the Super Tomcat concepts could.

The only thing I disagree with you on here is the Growler/Prowler comparison. Many of the Growler operators said that their new systems made electronic warfare easier to do than it was with the Prowler and allowed for it to be only a two-man job instead of a 4-man one.

The Navy made the Super Hornet out of necessity when it realized that the A-12 had fallen apart and upgrading the F-14 would have been extremely expensive. For a fighter that’s loads cheaper than the F-14 it sure can still give the Tomcat a run for its money in the air-to-air combat arena. In terms of bang for the buck the Super Hornet beats out everything in the US arsenal. The Navy will only benefit from upgrading the Super Hornet since it will enhance the already highly flexible capabilities that it brings to the fleet.

Well when you start explaining why you think what you think instead of just insulting the platform you make a whole lot more sense. ;)

Buddy refueling was always at best, a workaround. The Viking also did ASW as its primary duty. Not sure which aircraft will take on that one.

Then where will Dfens sleep at night? :/

MH-60R performs close in ASW for naval vessels. P-3Cs, (soon P-8As), and SSNs perform more distant ASW. ASuW mission (a secondary Viking mission) is handled by FA-18. Vikings weren’t really needed anymore, except for aerial refueling, and it didn’t make sense to maintain a whole separate logistics tail just for that.

I wish they had a “100 thumbs” button, ’cause I’d click 100 up.

The causalties will stop when a general or admiral has the guts to tell the president NO! The president really needs to stop playing the international game and get back to the business of America, which right now is jobs.

The Growler Variant is better than the EA-6B, I should know this as there is a massive air station right near my place, and there is lots of commentary from the crews. The Super Hornet is 90% of the fighter the F-14 was, for much less money. Anti-Sub is now done by Helos primarily, which is why the S-3 was pulled in the first place. As for the final issue, tanking, naval craft will always have to compromise on either payload or fuel, as they have strict maximum weights.

President has limited authority, congress has most of the control. After all, the reason health care is eating the department alive isn’t because of the volume of casualties, but that congress has let costs charged to the tricare system go up, while not letting the amount charged to members similarly go up. This would cause huge losses even without war casualties.

Don’t worry about me. I’ll find something.

Yeah, the Sucker Bee does the electronic warfare job so well, the Navy still uses the Vietnam war era EA-6B. That pretty much says it all.

The “super” version of the bug came about because Grumman’s Navy prototype of their USAF Advanced Tactical Fighter airplane design didn’t work. Probably that switch blade wing wouldn’t tuck in as advertised at high speed. The Navy used the rest of that money to make the bug bigger, because no airplane design ever fails so badly that it wouldn’t be better if it were just a little bigger.

Does 90% as good make you only 10% dead?

I don’t “insult” airplanes. Airplanes are tools. Some work well. Others don’t work at all. Pilots get all head over heels with their airplanes. Engineers don’t finish one airplane that they’re already planning to do a better job on the next one.

The navy has plans to completely get rid of the EA-6B and replace them. Saying they still use it just because they haven’t all been phased out yet because they are limited by production of new planes is just a cheap comment.

No, but considering it has superior electronics and weapons, it isn’t big enough of a gap to matter in combat. It’s actually better than the F-14 in most regards, the only real reason for the 90% rating being the relatively small onboard fuel range. Also, the smaller size, lower cost, and most of all much better reliability means that the number of available super hornets will always be more than the number of available Tomcats in an area.

…“but in WWII, all the real work was being done by the ENLISTED MAN.”

Fixed it for you. :-)

Needs more contractors

If it makes you feel better, aerospace will be pretty safe, unless another president after GW1 declares a “peace dividend” and starts another contraction of the aerospace industry.

The fact is Tricare is eating up more and more of the budget every year. Most if those fees haven’t been raised since the early 90s not even to keep up with inflation. I hardly think asking retireees to pay an extra 10–12 bucks a month is going to bankrupt anyone but it would go a long way in stabilizing the system

Sadly,
if WW2 saw the US as so overly-dependent on contract support in-theater
as we’ve seen in this last decade,
we’d have been too bankrupt going into the late 1950s to even afford the Cold War.
We’d probably have reached that trillion-dollar-deficit back in Kennedy’s time, if not sooner.

Even economists say that having a deductible or fair-shared fee for low end medical care saves money. Otherwise, users (active and military retirees) will “over use” it. The Founding Fathers would be ashamed of the current attitude about “I earned it” or “a promise was made.” The believed in the citizen-soldier, who volunteered and fought for his country and then went home, expecting nothing in return for supporting his own freedom and that of his family. Life expectancy has been extended such that a person can have two, 20-year jobs, retiring on the combined income from both, rather than the work-20, collect for 40-or-more years attitude I see today.

Let me get this right. You’re suggesting cutting Tricare for retirees who gave 20 (or more) yrs but somehow don’t mention cutting the VA which serves many times more patients and most of them served just a few years AND few of their ailments are service connected.

Get your priorities straight!

Of course, there wasn’t supposed to be ANY fee charged.
Oh, and the recommendation isn’t to raise it ONLY 10 — 12 bucks a month, they want to raise it a lot more than that.

If we had a portable system for both retirement and health care we wouldn’t have this 20-year cliff disparity. And do we want a government-run healthcare system like VA for everyone OR a government-paid healthcare system like Tricare and Medicare? Our current system is not fair. Personally, to stem runaway rising costs, I believe the government needs to directly get back into providing healthecare services — sort of a VA done the right way.

The government DID have a system for career military before TRICARE, it was called the military medical system but then the government decided to kick out the retirees and put them on Tricare. Miltary medical system was supposed to be free for retirees also but somehow, TRICARE came with a cost. Then they whined about how the cost that was charged wasn’t enough. Now you want to end Tricare.

Once again, VA treats people who served only a year or two and you are begrudging the retirees who use Tricare after having given 20 to 30 or more years?

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