But it is so true
But it is so true
December 27, 2011
Wake Up: America Can’t Afford Its Military
By Doug Macgregor
Through the last year the defense industries and their supporters in Congress worked overtime to ensure the federal government kept the armed forces in a perpetual procurement cycle. Inside the Pentagon, the generals and admirals who lead the defense bureaucracies worked to minimize procurement costs. This was not altruistic behavior. It’s the only way to protect the armed forces’ outdated force structures from more debilitating cuts; cuts that threaten the single service way of warfare along with the bloated overhead of flag officer headquarters.
Meanwhile, public pronouncements from the office of the Secretary of Defense on cost savings initiatives or about imminent strategic disaster if defense spending is reduced fell flat. In fact, everything in 2011 related to defense, from the controversial F-35 program to the multi-billion dollar contracting fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan, looked like window dressing designed to buy more time for an anachronistic, insolvent defense establishment.
It’s no secret what’s required in 2012 and beyond: an efficient and effective organization of military power for the optimum utilization of increasingly constrained resources. More specifically, a serious audit of the U.S. Department of Defense, along with a national reset where the roles of politicians, bureaucrats and four stars are recast as servants, not masters, of the national interest. Unfortunately, inside the Beltway where accountability is a dirty word, political and military leaders are free to conflate their personal and bureaucratic interests with the national interest.
As a result, there is still no willingness to comprehend or, at least, admit the truth: America’s current national security posture is fiscally unsustainable. Today, the United States’ national debt is so large it will swallow almost any legislation the President and Congress agree to pass. It is only a question of time before the U.S. government is compelled to make drastic cuts in federal spending.
Despite this reality, like the politicians in both parties, the four Chiefs of Service are desperate to save the military status quo from significant reductions in defense spending, a policy stance that could easily lead to a serious degradation of American military power after the 2012 election. In the midst of America’s fiscal crisis, Congress is equally inept. The best Congress could do in this legislative season to was announce its intention to add yet another four-star (this time from the National Guard) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff; an action comparable to adding a fifth wheel to a car that’s already got four flats.
Instead of adding more generals to an already top-heavy force, America’s ignominious withdrawal from Iraq should help sober up politicians of all stripes and parties. It should impart the timeless strategic lesson that the use of American military power, even against weak opponents with no navy, no army, no air force and no air defenses — can have costly, unintended strategic consequences. Today, Iran, not the United States, is the dominant power inside Iraq and Americans are beginning to understand why.
Iranian interests prevailed in Baghdad because Tehran’s agents of influence wore an indigenous face while America’s agents wore foreign uniforms and carried guns. Regardless of whatever the US decides to do, Iran will remain the dominant actor in Iraq so long as it maintains even the thinnest veil of concealment behind the façade of the Maliki government and its successors.
While these unassailable facts are ignored inside the Beltway, “Main Street” is figuring things out. According to a recent CBS poll 77 percent of the American electorate approves of President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. Two in three Americans say the Iraq war was not worth the cost, and only 15% of Americans support military intervention to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
More important, nearly one-half of American voters now think the United States can make major cuts in defense spending without placing the country in danger. They see no risk in cutting way back on what America spends to defend other countries. The old notion that the United States should maintain expensive military bases in foreign countries, just to ensure troublesome foreigners do not get “out of hand,” is rapidly losing support.
Conventional wisdom says American society’s broader consciousness is shaped by the forces of hype and publicity, and national defense is often subject to it, but the recent polling data suggest a different explanation. Americans are focused on economics, not national defense. Perhaps, the American electorate perceives the Federal Reserve is running out of ammunition to restart America’s stalled recovery?
Perhaps, Americans are concerned the collapse of the Eurozone will eventually lead to a serious financial crisis in the United States, wiping out the savings of many millions of Americans? Or, perhaps Americans are worried the sudden termination of “free services” in America’s largest cities would lead to a surge in poverty and violence, putting American society on a collision course with itself. It’s hard to tell.
What we can say is that Americans are signing up for President Eisenhower’s philosophy in the aftermath of the Korean War. He insisted the nation deserved both “solvency and security” in national defense. Like Eisenhower, Americans seem to understand the nation’s vital strategic interests are only secure when the United States’ scientific-industrial base is productive and our society prospers. Predictably, there is also a growing recognition that the million dollars a year it costs to keep one American soldier or Marine on station in Afghanistan makes no sense when, for a fraction of the cost, the U.S. Army and other federal agencies could easily protect America’s borders from the wave of criminality, terrorism and illegal immigration washing in from Mexico and Latin America.
Looking forward into 2012, American voters seem to understand what many of the men running for President do not: Given America’s fragile economic health, 2012 is no time for uninformed decisions regarding the use of force. The deficit Americans worry most about is not fiscal; it’s a national deficit of integrity and reason.
Col (ret) Douglas Macgregor, a member of AOL Defense’s Board of Contributors, is a decorated Army veteran and author of important books on military reform and strategy including, Breaking the Phalanx (Praeger, 1997), and Transformation under Fire (Praeger, 2003). He is executive vice president at Burke-Macgregor Group, LLC, in Reston, Va.
Posted in Adaptability | Tagged Breaking the Phalanx, Doug MacGregor, procurement cycle, public pronouncements, states national debt, Transformation under Fire, united states national debt | 2 Comments »
This is the best summary of one of the missions I was doing this year. I had the honor to work with a lot of great people, including the author of this article in Military Review, LTC Scott Halter. Scott’s article sums up best what we recommended to the Secretary of the Army and the personnel system on where the personnel system should go in the 21st Century.
I will begin posting Chuck’s stuff here as well, it is that good.
My apologies to the readership I had for so long. I took off a while for several reasons, work related, I was, and remain very busy, personnal reasons, my wife was ill, and I had a lot to take care of at home.
I am going to start a series of columns directed at our nation, and its leadership crisis. I continue to support Ron Paul.
As for “racism” committed some 20 years ago, I checked the references to that article. Even CNN never said he actually wrote the articles (actually about four lines of one article) himself. He never defended their content (said they were taken out of context – a standard excuse I realize) and it is not unlikely he did not read them prior to publication. He was in Congress and still practicing medicine at the time and yes he was negligent and should have caught it but didn’t. At the time the LA riots had just occurred. The rioters had behaved pretty badly, among other things dragging innocent people from their cars and beating them to death, and feelings were running high. If this is Dr. Paul at his worst then he is a saint by Washington DC standards.
As for Dr. Paul’s social policies, some of you may recall his opposition to the Federal War on Drugs, whose consequences fall disproportionately heavily on black people. There is also the disproportionately large black prison population, which would be much reduced by Dr. Paul’s plan to pardon all non-violent drug offenders. If this is racism maybe we need more of it. I don’t see Barak Obama stepping up to the plate on this issue.
Besides, if we don’t like Dr. Paul who will we support instead? How about the “peace laureate” Barak “Bush on steroids” Obama? Then there’s Mitt “Bush on even more steroids” Romney or how about four years of that freedom loving, constitution supporting marriage expert Newt Ginrich? If the Republicans have a brokered convention, maybe we could slip in John “bomb ’em back to the stone age” McCain or Lindsay “send ’em all to Guantanamo” Graham.
The passage of that infamous NDAA, should have removed any doubt that we should support the only candidate who is even promising to reverse it. If you can be executed, tortured or imprisoned for life without charges on somebody’s whim what difference do economics make? Without basic liberties what do we really have left? Where are out true priorities?
C-SPAN tells me that Book TV will air the Spinney/Sprey/Christie Mott House show this Saturday evening at 9:00 and again on Sunday at 9:30. See http://www.booktv.org/Program/12319/The+Pentagon+Labyrinth+10+Short+Essays+to+Help+You+Through+It.aspx
These events help the book “sales” immensely. Please feel free to e-mail the schedule/link to any e-mail lists, which I will do later tis week.
Winslow T. Wheeler
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information
You can download for free at cdi.org
A Review of The Pentagon Labyrinth
Electric Politics, March 6, 2011 12:33 PM
* Werther is the pen name of a Northern Virginia-based defense analyst.
In a recent radio interview, the British historian Timothy Garton Ash stated that his overall impression of the United States was one of dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit, such as in the Silicon Valley. But Washington, D.C., he said, reminded him of Moscow in the former Soviet Union.
In the context of the interview, he probably intended that as a criticism of the U.S. capital as being stagnant, status quo, and wedded to obsolete theories. But in a more pointed way he may not have consciously meant, it is equally true that Washington is remarkably like late-Brezhnev era Moscow in the sense of being very visibly the capital of a garrison state. With its billboard adverts for fighter aircraft in local Metro stations, radio spots recruiting for “the National Clandestine Service,” its ubiquitous Jersey Wall checkpoints, and its electronic freeway signs admonishing motorists to report suspicious activity (whatever that may be), the District of Columbia quite accurately simulates the paranoid atmosphere of a cold war era capital of Eastern Europe, say, East Berlin or Bucharest, albeit at two orders of magnitude greater cost.