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Posts Tagged ‘F-22’

The Deepest Cuts

I wrote not too long ago about how ridiculous it is Obama has essentially quadrupled deficit spending, and created an astronomically expensive new entitlement, while demanding deep cuts from the military.  This is undobutedly the fruit of his early 1980s, Nuclear Freeze, anti-military worldview.

I personally think the Pentagon could save a lot of money by scaling back America’s commitments around the globe quite radically, adjusting its retirement system, and changing its procurement process.  But the bigger solution must come from narrowing the mission:  we should retain power projection ability, but one focused on territorial defense, as opposed to defending amorphous “interests.”  With a few exceptions–sea lanes, nuclear proliferation, terrorist training camps–we can mostly ignore the globe’s parochial hotspots, which have little to do with us and the outcome of which will barely affect us.  It seems to me the US gets relatively little in the way of return from having forces in places like Germany, Guam or South Korea.  Let’s keep a few logistics bases, a decent number of carriers and prepositioned gear, and mostly let the world go to hell.

That said, we still need functional aircraft, tanks, or our great wealth will make us the subject to bullying and shakedowns by more militarily powerful countries.  It turns out our planes are getting very old (see below)

And yet we’ve largely scuttled the F-22, the F-35 strike fighter is on the chopping block, and the Marines this week lost their Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The latter is a particularly bad cut–unless some off-the-shelf choice is quickly chosen to replace it–as the current amphibious vehicle is super-old, slow, poorly armored, and cannot realistically last another 20 or 30 years.  Of course, the EFV’s development was super-expensive, problem-plagued, and typical (I’m sad to say) of major USMC weapons-development programs, such as the costly Osprey.

 

The Legacy Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Destroyed in Iraq

You have to know a wee bit about military gear (and how old much of it is) to know what replacements are reasonable and what are not.  You also have to have a strategic vision not to allow the Pentagon to metastasize into developing capability for fighting ten wars, simultaneously, all with gold-plated leadership, retirements, and contractors.  Obama seems to have neither the necessary knowledge, nor vision, to intelligently tackle Pentagon reform, and Gates appears to be simply following the boss’s latest 90 degree turn. Both are seeking to cut crucial programs, while continuing the role of the US as global cop.

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I would not be so offended if Obama or any other politician said:  we’ve spent too much money on too many things for too long; we must economize, and the Defense Department too must learn to be more efficient with public funds.  But Obama, instead, has said we must spend far and wide on everything from sidewalk improvements and  “green jobs” to home mortgages and banks, because government spending is needed to lift us out of an economic crisis.  But the one area that must embrace austerity and cut its budget is the Department of Defense, which is charged with fighting two wars and keeping us safe from any emerging threats

The whole thing suggests partisan spite, a holdover from Obama’s 1980s liberalism and its contempt for Reagan’s rebuilding of the military after the painful, post-Vietnam degradation of its capabilities.  This spending has proven to be a huge bargain, leading to the end of the Soviet Union, the nearly bloodless victory in the First Gulf War, and our ability today to project unmatched conventional power in defense of our nation and its interests around the globe.  Those interceptor vests, Abrams tanks, Apache helicopters, and stealth fighters weren’t cheap, but neither should be American lives. 

It may well be debatable whether the F-22 is absolutely necessary given the state of conventional threats.  But if we’re going to be spending gazillions of dollars on everything and nothing in a Pelosi-drafted Stimulus Bill, while also surging our forces in Afghanistan, would it be too much to ask that they be given the best, most life saving weapons whether improved MRAPs, body armor, rifles, and transport helicopters like the Osprey. Is it so extravagent to update our helicopters every 40 years so that pilots don’t fly unsafe aircraft older than they are! The Pentagon must do better with the money it has and have a strategic reality check on the threats ahead.  Rumsfeld, to his credit, did away with the Crusader Artillery program and encoruaged all branches to be more expeditionary.  But to cut its budget in a time of profligacy on general principle reeks of spite and Obama’s (and his socialist father’s) college kid dreams of sticking it tot he military-industrial complex.  After all, unlike midnight basketball and housing bailouts, national defense is a constitutionally mandated federal government responsibility.

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