Congratulations on being nominated for Secretary of Defense, Mr. Panetta. Or should I say my condolences on being nominated for Secretary of Defense?
I’m just saying —- DOD isn’t the CIA. You’ll need all of your considerable skills in your new job. You’re the right guy to deeply cut the enormously high DOD budget. You’ve been in the Office of Management and Budget, been the White House Chief of Staff, been in Congress and run the CIA, so you know how Washington works. DOD’s nearly three quarters of a trillion dollar budget is going to get cut, really cut. There will be no hiding behind black programs as you did at CIA; no assumptions that the 535 members of Congress who think they know what DOD should do, and how much they need in resources to do it, that they can be handled by a classified briefing or a few phone calls. The demands for cuts in the DOD budget will go well beyond the reasonable demand that we stop spending $2 billion a week trying to bring a 13th century country like Afghanistan into this century; risking the lives of 100,000 soldiers and Marines in a country with no strategic relevance to US security. But the good news is that the DOD budget is ripe for cutting. I’m just saying — cut immediately and cut a couple hundred billion dollars deep.
There are numerous programs that you can cut immediately and not adversely impact US security. Here are a few:
Terminate the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program
The Navy says that its ships will have to stay at least 100 miles from a potentially hostile shore because of the anticipated proliferation of shore-to-sea, high speed, anti-ship missiles. Yet, DOD has recently approved procurement of 20 LCS ships that are specifically designed to operate in this very same littoral environment, well within the 100 miles from shore, the very area in which the Navy claims their ships cannot operate in because of this deadly threat. Oh yeah, you’ll also note that the Navy didn’t program any money for the “mission modules” that each LCS needs to be effective. Basically, we’re buying ship’s hulls, but not the offensive or defensive capabilities needed of a warship.
Terminate the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Program
The taxpayers will love you for killing this corporate welfare program. With a truck fleet in the Army of 266,000 trucks, one truck for every two soldiers, we don’t need and certainly cannot afford the JLTV. I’m just saying that a 30,000-50,000 lb JLTV isn’t light. Have you seen one of the huge prototypes? Fifteen feet high, ten feet wide; envision a marginally slimmer MRAP. Expensive? Consider that the last Jeep we bought (M151) costs the taxpayers $18,000 each. We replaced that Jeep with the Humvee for about $48,000 each; then we up-armored the Humvee for about $160,000 each. And now the Army reports that the JLTV could cost around $800,000 each with GFE. Over three quarters of a million dollars for a Jeep replacement for which there is absolutely no evidence that the trucks in the Army and Marines current fleet (Humvee’s, MRAPS, etc.) cannot do what the industry hopes the JLTV can do! I’m just saying —- if industry wants to continue development of the JLTV, let them do so on their dime, not the taxpayers.
Don’t start the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program
I’m just saying —- this son of the Future Combat System (FCS) Program is a dog that won’t hunt. Kill it now until the Army can identify what it wants, and industry can demonstrate what they have that satisfies those wants.
Reduce Military Headquarters Personnel
Cut personnel in every headquarters above Army Corps, Navy Fleet, Numbered Air Force and Marine MEF levels by one fourth, focusing the cuts on GS-12’s and above civilians, officers at or above Major/LtCdr, and enlisted personnel at or above E-7. In the 1980’s, US Army Gen Bernard H. Rogers, former USCINCEUR and NATO’s SACEUR, used to refer to such headquarters as “echelons above reality.” Today’s DOD echelons above reality are the vastly overstaffed Service headquarters (HQMC, HQ-DA, HQ Air Force, OPNAV); all Services’ “Forces Commands”; all Theatre or Specified Command headquarters, (EUCOM, PACOM, CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM, TRANSCOM, STRATCOM and AFRICOM), as well as their theater Service component headquarters; all twenty-eight (28) Defense Dept agencies, and lastly and particularly the unbelievably staffed beyond all reality 20,000 person (+) headquarters of your DOD staff and the enormously inefficient and overstaffed Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS).
Change the Military Procurement Process
If you truly want to make an impact, save the taxpayers from throwing good money after bad, and get the immediate attention of DOD and their bosom buddies in the defense industry: take control of the Defense procurement morass by announcing an immediate policy that “DOD will no longer fund the development of new systems until after their benefits have been demonstrated to DOD in the prototype stage.” I’m just saying —- If the military-industrial complex has a better system or weapon for DOD, let them build a prototype and demonstrate it to DOD before any taxpayers’ money is committed to its further development and procurement.
I’m really just saying —- welcome aboard (you poor bastard), and good luck!