SFTT Military News: Week of April 7, 2017

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Found below are a few military news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

US Military Options in Syria
Trump said that Tuesday’s attack “crossed a lot of lines” for him and that his “attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much.” And Trump told some members of Congress that he’s considering military action in Syria in response, a source familiar with the calls told CNN on condition of anonymity. Trump has not yet spelled out what his administration will do, if anything. But inevitably, speculation is focused on whether he might embark on military action where former US President Barack Obama did not. So what are the possible military options for the US in Syria?  Read more . . .

Budget Gridlock Could Harm Military
Lawmakers must finalize a budget for the remainder of fiscal 2017 by the end of April or trigger a partial government shutdown. In recent days, talk of a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of September has slowly built in the halls of Congress, raising concerns among defense officials who say that would cause tremendous funding headaches for the military.  Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned that with the U.S. facing foreign threats and wars against terrorism, it is no time to risk national security by closing the year with a continuing resolution or returning to statutory budget caps.  Read more . . .

sftt_soldier

Being a Military Advisor in the Middle East is Not Easy
Americans are currently advising Iraqi troops in a vicious fight against ISIS in Mosul, and the United States has almost doubled, to nearly 1,000, the number of U.S. soldiers and Marines on the ground in northern Syria just in the past month. But training local fighters is a risky job that’s hard to do right, especially in the Middle East, which is splintered into groups with conflicts that go back centuries. Those divisions can be religious (Sunni vs. Shiite), ethnic (Arab vs. Kurd) and national (Turkey vs. Syria). An advisor’s job is made all that much harder by the fact that the divisions overlap.  Read more . . .

Taliban to Focus on Vulnerable Provinces in 2017
“There will be an increase in attacks in those provinces that are on the verge of collapse,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Stars and Stripes. While in the past the group had single units covering several provinces, Mujahid said: “This year, we have a unit for every province in the country.” The ability to control the capitals of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces appears to be the barometer that U.S. and NATO forces use to measure success in the Afghan conflict. Occupying a capital has been a top priority of the Taliban, and some fear this could be the year they finally succeed.  Read more . . .

Common Antibiotic Helps Inhibit Fear Memories
Researchers from University College London and the University of Zurich recently discovered a startling side-effect of the common antibiotic doxycycline – it can disrupt and suppress the formation of fear memories in the brain. This fascinating discovery could not only lead to novel treatments for PTSD, but also offers scientists a clue to how the brain forms lasting fear and threat memories.  Read more . . .

Can Ayahuasca Reduce Dependence on Addictive Drugs?
Combat-related PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat and in theory ayahuasca can work as a form of drug-assisted exposure therapy. When traumatised people repeatedly avoid fear-inducing situations this only serves to maintain and reinforce the deeply ingrained conditioning that underlies their illness. The idea is that by dredging up traumatic memories and exposing them to conscious awareness within a safe, controlled environment, ayahuasca allows the brain to reassess and extinguish conditioned fear responses.  Read more . .

J. David Cox

J. David Cox

Legislation Needed to Fire Incompetent Employees at the VA
A bill to give Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin authority to quickly fire incompetent employees faces a major battle in the Senate, although it has his backing and has already passed the House. Shulkin came out in favor of the legislation after realizing he couldn’t immediately fire an employee caught watching pornography at work.  While the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 passed the House, only 10 Democrats voted in support.  The ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, voted against the bill.  Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops

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SFTT News Highlights: Week Ending Mar 3, 2017

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

Does President Trump’s Military Budget Add Up?
“. . . as Trump invokes former President Reagan’s “peace through strength” doctrine, few in the military policy community know what Trump really wants to do with the proposed 10% annual budget increase or what vision he holds for the armed forces. Though Trump repeatedly has called for a military buildup, he spent much of his campaign promising to pull back from the type of expensive commitments and endeavors that would require such a large expansion. He pledged an “America First” policy and complained bitterly that trillions of dollars spent fighting wars in the Middle East could have been used to rebuild the homeland.”  Read more . . .

Sweden Reinstates Military Draft
Sweden is reinstating the military draft — for men and women — because of dwindling volunteers and growing concerns over a more assertive Russia in the Baltic and Ukraine. “The security environment in Europe and in Sweden’s vicinity has deteriorated and the all-volunteer recruitment hasn’t provided the Armed Forces with enough trained personnel,” the Swedish defense ministry said Thursday. “The re-activating of the conscription is needed for military readiness.”  Read more . . .

Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Reportedly Not “Truly” Tracking Health Care Delays in Two States
Government inspectors say actual delays in delivering medical care to military veterans remain far worse at Veterans Affairs medical facilities in North Carolina and Virginia than internal records showed. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said Friday the new report by the Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general found 90 percent of the vets eligible to see private doctors because of long VA delays weren’t getting the help they were due.   Read more . . .

Reported Unease Among Turkish Military Prompts Dismissal of Newspaper Editor
According to Turkish media reports, the headline angered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government, leading to the removal of Sedat Ergin, Hurriyet’s veteran editor. Ergin, a journalist and political commentator, was appointed as the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet in August 2014.  Saturday’s news story, filed by Hurriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Hande Firat, was focusing on how the General Staff, the highest military body in the country, evaluated the criticism and speculation directed at the Turkish armed forces following last year’s failed coup attempt.  Read more . . .

Missing Chemical for Veterans with PTSD?
Dr. Lynn Dobrunz is a Neurobiologist and U.A.B. Associate Professor who has studied the human brain for years. Dr. Dobrunz explained, “Many people experience a traumatic or frightening experience and have a fear response at the time. That’s normal and appropriate.” In normal brain function, a release of the chemical Neuropeptide Y, or NPY, produced anxiety-relieving effects to trauma. Dr. Dobrunz said traumatic flashbacks replace reality for these people. Her new research now helps explain why. “I was not surprised to find that Neuropeptide Y was altered in this PTSD model,” said Dr. Dobrunz. “I was surprised to find that Neuropeptide Y seemed to be completely absent.”  Read more . . .

Shulkin Proposes Changes to Veterans Choice Program
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on Sunday proposed eliminating a controversial policy that limits veterans from receiving private-sector health care. Speaking to hundreds of people at the Disabled American Veterans annual conference in Arlington, Va., Shulkin laid out his top 10 priorities for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was his first public address since becoming VA secretary. High on Shulkin’s list was redesigning the Veterans Choice Program into what he called “Choice 2.0.”  Read more . .

stealth destroyer

Stealth Destroyer, not the USS Porter

 

 

Details Emerge on Russian Jets who “Buzzed” US Destroyer
Russian pilots buzzed the guided missile destroyer Porter repeatedly last month, but also had “relatively large number of interactions with” U.S. and NATO aircraft the same day, according to the Defense Department. The DoD shared new details regarding interceptions that took place Feb. 10, “some of which were deemed to be safe and standard and some of which were assessed as unsafe and unprofessional,” according to a statement from the Office of the Secretary of Defense provided to Military.com The USS Porter incident involved Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft and an Ilyushin Il-38, an anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol aircraft, near the warship in the Black Sea on Feb. 10.   Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops

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SFTT News: Week of Jan 27, 1917

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

Strong Military Higher Priority than Budget Deficit to President Trump
President Donald Trump said Thursday night that he is willing to subordinate balancing the federal budget in favor of strengthening the military, possibly putting him on a path to clashing with his own pick for budget director. “Our military is more important to me than a balanced budget,” the president declared in an interview with commentator Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel. Prioritizing the military over balancing the budget isn’t at odds with positions Trump expressed during the campaign. While he said on the campaign trail that he did want to balance the budget, he also said that he knew it would take time and that rebuilding the military and America’s industrial infrastructure were equally as or even more important.  Read more . . .

North Korean Missile Threat
The U.S. Army’s top commander in the Pacific region said Wednesday his biggest worry is the missile threat from North Korea but sees his growing relationship with the Chinese military and other countries as a sign that stability is slowly spreading across the region. “The thing I worry the most about is North Korea, the most likely threat to all of us,” Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific Command, told an audience at Asia Forecast 2017, hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Brown said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continues to display a “belligerent aggressiveness” with his efforts to arm long-range missiles with nuclear weapons.  Read more . . .

Federal Hiring Freeze Could Hurt Vets
Veterans already in the pipeline for job openings in the federal workforce could have their employment opportunities scrapped under the hiring freeze announced Monday by President Donald Trump. “There’s no preference if there’s no job,” said Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for personnel in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Veterans make up about 30 percent of the more than 2.8 million employees in the federal workforce — many of them at the Defense Department. Vets have traditionally received preferences in testing and hiring and also in retention during reductions of the workforce, according to the White House Office of Personnel Management.  Read more . . .

Department of Veterans Affairs

ISIS Drone Capability May Constitute New Threat
In a new threat to the West, the Islamic State on Tuesday debuted on social media a commercially available drone dropping small bombs with pinpoint accuracy onto Iraqi targets in and around Mosul. The new capability raises the specter that the Islamic State one day could attack urban areas from the air, not just on the ground. The U.S. military is alarmed by the terrorist army’s quick technological advances and is evaluating more than 20 systems to detect and destroy its drone air force. Other systems already have been rushed to the war. The attacks were depicted in a lengthy Islamic State propaganda video showing its terrorists in intense street battles to hold the city of Mosul. Included is aerial footage of a Chinese Skywalker X8 drone, which is available on Amazon, striking clusters of Iraqi soldiers, tanks and buildings.  Read more . . .

Link Found between PTSD and Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
Increasing evidence shows a bidirectional relationship between psychological stress and physical disease, as underscored in studies linking posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to cancer as well as acute cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to two articles published in the Lancet. In the first study, researchers outline the evidence supporting the role of PTSD as a potentially causative factor as well as a consequential factor in cardiovascular disease.  Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops

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SFTT News: Week Ending December 9, 2016

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Congress Approves 2.1% Pay Increase for Military in 2017
The U.S. Senate on Thursday joined the House of Representatives in approving a 2.1 percent pay raise next year for troops. The upper chamber passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which included the pay increase, by a vote of 92-7. The House last week approved the legislation by a veto-proof majority of 375-34. The bill now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.  The $619 billion authorization act includes $611 billion for programs overseen by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, including $524 billion for base defense spending, $68 billion for war funding and almost $20 billion for other national security programs.  Read more . . .

special forces

U.S. Military on Brink of Collapse?
Forget about the longtime standard of a military capable of fighting two major wars simultaneously, which the United States abandoned four years ago. The current military would have trouble fighting one major conflict. That is the assessment of some prominent defense experts, who contend the military has degraded to dangerous levels after eight years under President Obama. “We have lost our edge,” said Daniel Goure, senior vice president of the Lexington Institute. “We are no longer technologically superior in a whole list of areas … This is a military that is on the brink of collapse.”  Read more . .

Pentagon “Buries” $125 Billion in Bureaucratic Waste
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.  Read more . . .

Tai Chi Could Help Veterans with PTSD
Around 7 to 8 percent of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime, and the condition is even more common among veterans, affecting around 23 percent of those involved in recent conflicts. According to a new study, the ancient Chinese exercise Tai Chi could help veterans manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress.  Read more . . .

Ben Weller - Reuters

Free Guide Dogs for Veterans Available in Florida
Suzy Wilburn’s voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes when we asked her what her specially trained guide dog Carson means to her. Wilburn says, “I’m allowed to live again. I’m allowed to be in my community and be part of my community and I’m not sitting at home. He saved my marriage. He saved my life.” Wilburn’s dog was trained at Southeastern Guide Dogs which is located in Palmetto where she also works. Spokeswoman Ruth Lando says they provide all of their dogs and services free of charge and receive no government funding.  Read more . .

Equine Therapy for Veterans with PTSD
Those who serve in our military deserve our support, particularly those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to a Rand Corp. studyreleased in 2008, 20 percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, but 50 percent of them do not seek treatment because of the stigma associated with mental illnesses. They often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Families are destroyed and communities lose those who could have made valuable contributions. What is more tragic is through 2014 each day some 20 veterans committed suicide.   Read more . . .

Grant to Address Hyperarousal in Treating PTSD
Mathew and research colleagues at Baylor recently received a grant that will provide more than $1.35 million from the National Institute of Mental Health over two years to study and develop a drug that might mitigate hyperarousal in patients with PTSD. At present, there are two Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat PTSD, the antidepressants Zoloft and Paxil (generics: sertraline and paroxetine). Though clinicians say these medications can be helpful, neither of the drugs was specifically designed to treat PTSD. “There’s a big dearth of effective drug treatments, and that’s what the focus of our research is,” Mathew says. “Psychotherapies help a lot of people, but still many will have residual symptoms or incomplete resolution.”  Read more . . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops

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SFTT News: Week of Sep 16, 2016

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Killer Robots Will Not Be Drafted According to Secretary of Defense
Carter, who this week made a trip to the tech cities of San Francisco and Austin, has been an advocate of high-tech weapon systems as a way to counter the growing military threat posed by Russia and China. These include cyber and smart weapon systems that use artificial intelligence. “Whenever it comes to the application of force, there will never be true autonomy, because there’ll be human beings (to make decisions),” the DoD Secretary told reporters traveling with him during the trip.  Read more . . .

Military Robots

Military Hospitals Take Back Unused Drugs
Military families, troops and retirees now can return unused medication to pharmacies at military treatment facilities as part of a new drug take-back effort. Those items are then mailed to a contracted collection site and destroyed, usually by burning, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Military family advocates say the change gives military users an easy way to get rid of unwanted medication or controlled substances so that they can’t be abused or potentially harm the environment.  Read more . . .

Presidential Veto on Military Spending Bill?
As President Obama is threatening to veto a bill to increase military spending, his top military chiefs told Congress the president has never personally discussed the matter with them. The military service chiefs, whose primary job is to oversee the training and equipping of the America’s armed forces, uniformly described a looming crisis in combat readiness over the next five years, if mandatory spending caps known as sequestration remain in place, in testimony Thursday. When questioned by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the four-star officers who head the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all replied that they had no personal conversations with the president about the problems they described in great detail to the Senate Armed Services Committee keeping front line forces ready for war.  Read more . . .

Obesity Problem in the U.S. Military
For the first time in years, the Pentagon has disclosed data indicating the number of troops its deems overweight, raising big questions about the health, fitness and readiness of today’s force. About 7.8 percent of the military — roughly one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass-index greater than 25. This rate has crept upward since 2001, when it was just 1.6 percent, or one in 60, according to Defense Department data obtained by Military Times. And it’s highest among women, blacks, Hispanics and older service members.  Read more . . .

Military Obesity

9/11 Terrorism Impacts Mental Illness Far Beyond U.S. Borders
Acts of terrorism have a much wider psychological impact than typically assumed, reaching across borders and spreading fear among populations thousands of miles removed from the actual targets. This is the conclusion of a recent population-wide study from Denmark, which demonstrates a “significant and immediate” spike in the diagnosis of trauma and stressor related disorders (e.g. adjustment disorders or posttraumatic stress disorder) in Denmark in the weeks and months after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, even though the Nordic country was not directly impacted by the attacks.  Read more . .

China in a Bind Over North Korea
China is in a bind over what to do about North Korea’s stepped-up nuclear and missile tests, even though it is annoyed with its ally and has started talks with other U.N. Security Council members on a new sanctions resolution against Pyongyang. China shares a long land border with North Korea and is seen as the only country with real power to bring about change in the isolated and belligerent nation. However, Beijing fears strengthening sanctions could lead to collapse in North Korea, and it also believes the United States and its ally South Korea share responsibility for growing tensions in the region.  Read more . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops

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Medical Benefits More Costly for Active and Retired Military

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“Leave no man behind,”  is certainly a long-standing military phrase that captures the essence of the pride and valor of men and women serving in our armed forces. The origins of this phrase are not known, but  is used by the US Army Rangers, the USMC and special forces units around the world.

Regardless of its origins, the message is clear:  Our military takes care of their own and does not leave their wounded and brave heroes behind when they have sacrificed so much to defend our liberties. Clearly, political and military leaders in DC don’t operate with the same code of ethics and integrity.  Specifically, the Pentagon is proposing significant changes TRICARE, the military health-care program, to meet budget reduction targets.

As reported by USA Today earlier this month, “the Pentagon is proposing substantial increases in health care premiums for working-age military retirees. For some retirees, the premiums for TRICARE, would nearly quadruple from $520 per year to $2,480 in 2017.

“Veterans’ advocates denounced the proposed increases. Retired vice admiral Norb Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, called it a ‘a significant breach of faith with those who have already completed arduous careers of 20-30 or more years in uniform.'”

Quite understandably, the proposed increases in medical insurance premiums has provoked a firestorm in DC.  Reports the Washington Free Beacon,  “’We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,’ Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. ‘We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.'”

While there are many sacred cows that may need to be sacrificed to bring our federal budget deficit under control,  axing medical insurance premiums and medical care for our veterans and active military personnel is not one of them.  If we as a nation can’t care for our brave heroes, then we shouldn’t be placing them in harm’s way in the first place.

Former Secretary of State and Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, Colin Powell said that, “War should be the politics of last resort.  And when we go to war, we should have purpose that our people understand and support.   Perhaps, General Powell should have added “and that we as a Nation have a clear responsibility to care for those we send to war.”

I am quite sure that General Powell would have assumed that to be the case, but it would appear that “sense of responsibility” seems to have been replaced by “sense of entitlement” among the current breed of Beltway bandits.

 

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The US Military Budget Debate

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The US military budget is roughly $700 billion  a year and defense leaders are being asked to cut costs of this sizable and growing budget.    According to a recent article published by NPR, the defense budget represents approximately 50% of total discretionary federal spending.   While the Department of Defense has committed to cut $450 billion in spending over the next ten years, the sad reality is that overall military spending is likely to remain at very high levels when measured as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”).

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has suggested that any further cuts would most certainly undermine our defense capabilities, but would they?  Several months ago, SFTT contributor Jim Magee offered his suggestions to cut several useless programs and bureaucratic fluff from our military budget and indicated that there were plenty of other programs that deserved the axe.

When it comes to a debate about our serious cuts if it were to compromise our military security.    When considering the large numbers involved, how is one to know if we are more or less secure by adding $100 billion or cutting $100 billion from current levels of spending.     Do more expenditures mean improved security?  It is impossible to answer that question without knowing where the incremental expenditures will be made, but most Congressional leaders are not prepared to be on the side of a debate to demand a more efficient accounting of military expenditures when the safety of the US is at stake.

For this reason, the proponents of increased military spending will always win the debate even if there is credible evidence that our military procurement system is broken.   How do we know?   Well, no less of an authority as the Department of Defense Chief of Acquisition says so.

While one doesn’t want to minimize the challenges ahead, particularly the escalating medical costs of treating our war veterans for PTSD and other medical ailments, Congress and our military leaders must make some tough and realistic decisions without raising the specter of compromising US security.  Do I think this will occur?  Of course not.

 

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Military Budget Cuts: Does it make sense?

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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates unveiled a new plan which calls for significant cuts in our military budget.   In a Washington Post article published today, Secretary Gates and the administration agreed to of less than 2.7% based on the 2012 military budget of $553 billion.

This represents a major victory for the Pentagon, military contractors, lobbyists and armaments manufacturers.  While the traditional beltway insiders continue to benefit from the Pentagon’s largess, the ultimate sacrifice will be paid for the the men and women in uniform who will experience a cut of 6% in active duty personnel  (reduction of 27,000 in the Army and 20,000 Marines) plus increased contributions for medical insurance (Tricare) for service members.

If Congress buys into this tepid plan to curb military spending then I doubt that little will be accomplished with other areas of our Federal, State and Local governments to cut spending.   In all fairness to the Obama administration, they were reportedly seeking spending cuts of $150 billion and settled for $78 billion following a strong sell by the Pentagon.

If this was a “real” business where each dollar had to be justified by “results,” the leaders managing this budget process would have put out to pasture long ago.  In this merry-go-round of spending tax dollars unwisely, the military – like many other federal entities – doesn’t want to bite the bullet and do the right thing for our taxpayers and its service members.

If I interpret this budget correctly, Secretary Gates is arguing that it costs US taxpayers $553 billion a year to provide our country with the military security it needs.   But – and this is an important BUT – “If you want us to engage in combat, it will cost you more!” Ummm . . . That’s interesting.

While I am not a military budget expert, something doesn’t add up.    The proposed cuts simply look like window-dressing when a full-scale evaluation is required of how our military is positioned (both here and abroad).  Who is the enemy (both now and in the future)?  Do we have the “right” mix of human and physical resources to deal with those threats?  Simply waiting for the troops to come home from Afghanistan in 2014 to make budget isn’t budgeting, it’s simply bean-counting.

Secretary Gates, let’s cut the fat out of our budget and deal with the out-dated structures, procurement processes, military alliances and Cold War holdovers that severely hamper our ability to field a properly equipped and effective military force to deal with real threats.   Let’s leave “Nation Building” to the Peace Corps, the United Nations and the responsible citizens of a country who truly aspire to Nationhood.

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Military News Highlights: January 7, 2011

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Gates Recommends Dempsey as Next Army Chief of Staff

Secretary of Defense Gates has recommended General Martin E. Dempsey to be the next Chief of Staff of the Army.

An armor officer General Dempsey previously served as commander of the 1st Armored Division in OIF, Commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, acting commander of U.S. Central Command, and is currently serving as Commander, Training and Doctrine Command.

Highlights from the Gates-Mullens DoD efficiencies briefing

In summary, the scorecard for cuts and spending announced by Secretary Gates:

  • A five year plan to achieve approximately $154 billion in overhead savings over a 5-year period.
  • The USMC Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle gets axed.
  • The F-35B (STOVL) is placed on a two-year probation.
  • $70 billion on procurement including:  Reapers; satellite launchers; F-15 radars; M1/M2/Stryker/Amtrac upgrades; tactical communications equipment; increased funding for mental health treatment; one new DDG and Littoral Combat Ship.
  • Cutting the end-strength of the Army by 27,000 and the Marines by 20,000 scheduled by 2015.
  • Increasing the Tricare premium for working age retirees

No mention or discussion of upgrading or funding individual force protection or small arms. And a plan to reduce boots when the happy talk continues to peddle COIN as the end-all-doctrinal-solution for the wars and conflicts the US will be involved in for another generation.  The math does not add up.  And get this, if say, a service-member retires after 20 years of perpetual deployments and combat, he/she can expect to pay a higher premium for Tricare health insurance; lip service.

NATO forces ahead of schedule: Petraeus

General Happy Talk continues to espouse progress.  No mention that NATO requires a quick infusion of 1,400 additional US Marines.  No mention of the throw-away money (+$10 Billion) being spent on Afghan security forces.  No mention of coordinated efforts and operations of the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Hekmatyer group, and AQ.  No mention of the record smashing civilian casualty rates.  No mention of the record smashing US/NATO casualty rates.  Just “We are heading in the exactly right direction.”

Air Force tweaks new fitness policy

Just pointing this out…

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