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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  1. Pat Strange  January 9, 2011

    It does make sense if you don’t consider the rise of Chinese military power on every front, especially navel.

  2. SSG Lem Genovese / VN & Desert Storm Vet retired Army  January 14, 2011

    Excellent article. The DoD procurement system is LONG overdue for a major overhaul. No bid contractors, bad accounting practices, cost over-runs, delivery delays, fraud, negligence and my personal favorite – WAY too many admirals and generals whose slots need to be eliminated due to

    their being outdated, unnecessary and staff costs for maintaining them.

    Think of the millions we could save if every unnecessary general & admiral that is over 55, non-deployable and non-essential is retired and their staffs dismantled.

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