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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 03:50 PM
Original message
Outlook for Defense spending is grim
Outlook for Defense spending is grim
By Katherine McIntire Peters kpeters@govexec.com February 13, 2009

Rising unemployment and the worsening economic situation mean the Defense Department budget likely will hold steady at least through 2010, despite calls to reduce military spending and redirect funds to other national needs, budget experts said this week.

The Obama administration is not expected to submit a detailed 2010 Defense budget request to Congress until April, although it is expected to announce its overall funding request for the department by the end of February. Generally, the White House submits its annual budget to Congress in late January or early February.

"This isn't unusual with a new administration," said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "What's unusual is we're in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

The Pentagon's total spending for fiscal 2009 is expected to be about $648.3 billion, including $135.6 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Congress has not yet approved.

Krepinevich predicted the Obama administration will ask for $535 billion to $540 billion for Defense in fiscal 2010, not including any supplemental funding. Assuming the administration is shifting some war funding to the Pentagon's base budget, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed, those levels would not represent a major shift relative to the Bush administration, Krepinevich said.

http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=42051&d...
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Earth_First Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Reduce Defense spending by 10% n/t
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Hawkeye-X Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. More. 90% and they're still in business.
The 90% can be redirected to important needs like infrastructure, job growth, and kickstarting the economy.

How many trillions of wasted dollars are we spending on defense? Hell, if we cut 90%, we'd still be #1 on defense spending.

Hawkeye-X
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fuggbush21 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #10
47. I'd suggest you do a little research on what your talking about.
This current fiscal years defense budget isn't even as much money as the stimulus bill. 515 Billion. A full 25% of the budget is spent on ensuring the well being of military personnel. Ensuring they have houses, food, pay, health care, ensuring that their families are taken care of when the service members are deployed.

Another 30% of that is ensuring they have the proper equipment to do their missions. Making sure that the jets fly, that their tanks work, that we have body armor, that we have proper medical supplies.

Only 15% of the militaries budget goes into research and developement, but unless you'd like our troops to go back to WW2 techonology when we didn't even have flak vests to help keep us alive then that stuff is necessary.

With your 90% budget cut, thats what we would see dissapear. You'd see probably close to a million service members become unemployed. You'd see our entire Air Force fleet mothballed, with us digging around Arizona looking for F-86's that might still be able to fly. You'd see our Soldiers fighting wars without body armor. You'd see our casualty rates sky rocketting because we couldn't recruit new doctors, or supply them what they needed to save our injured service members, or even train our soldiers on basic first aid.

Then the reprecussions in the civilian world. Did you know that one of the major tools used in locating tumors in breast cancer was developed by Navy Research? That never would have happened without the money funded, and countless women may have died because of it. Space exploration never would have happened. Computers as we know them today wouldn't exist. Lasers wouldn't be about. So much of your everyday life is a result of military research that would never have occured without that money.

So before you start going after something you don't really comprehend, do a little research. If we want to cut government wasteful spending then there are other ways to do it. Military spending is not a waste.
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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #47
53. "Military spending is not a waste."
What planet are you on?

Seriously, that is a jaw-dropping statement. The military is by far and away the biggest waste of money in the nation. We spend more than any country on earth on our military by a staggering figure. It's why we have a subpar education system and "can't afford" healthcare and our infrastructure is crumbling.

Also, equipping the military sufficiently to defend the country is fine and noble, but we all know our military is put on unjustified "offense" (against poor brown people) rather than "defense" about, oh, 95 percent of the time.
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fuggbush21 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #53
56. reference my post further down.
and see how many millions of Americans employment are directly tied to military spending.

Whats your answer to losing more then 3 million jobs because you want to cut military spending?
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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #56
63. Slashing the military and redirecting the money could create millions of jobs elsewhere.
That money could be put towards infrastructure, for example. There would be the need for many, many construction jobs, etc. Shore up the schools -- lots of jobs needed there. And on and on.
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fuggbush21 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #63
67. Right...
So you want to take something thats already proven to employ MILLIONS of Americans, provided housing, and health insurance for those people, helped to keep thousands of mom and pop small businesses open, and then hand it back to Congress, and you fully expect them to do as good a job with it as it's already doing?

If you believe that, then I've got some beach front property in Arizona to sell you.
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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #67
78. The military is the most wasteful, inefficient institution in the nation.
Billions and billions go down the hole, unaccounted for. We need that money for useful purposes, not to enrich the executives of Lockheed Martin and Halliburton.

As the other poster said, ploughshares rather than sword. We already have enough weapons systems to obliterate everyone on the planet many times over.
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #56
71. Answer: Ploughshares.
Edited on Wed Feb-18-09 01:42 PM by Ignis
But you're not really looking for an answer, are you? :eyes:
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #47
74. With 7 posts, I suggest you try for a bit of common courtesy.
coming in new to ANY internet forum and denigrating the "natives" isn't really cool, yanno.

And for YOUR education, you might want to watch this very short video...

http://www.truemajority.org/oreos/
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Sarah Ibarruri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hold steady while people go hungry? WTF? Why isn't this being reduced? nt
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LakeSamish706 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
3. One problem is that it's been an Offense Budget in the last 8 years....
Edited on Tue Feb-17-09 03:54 PM by LakeSamish706
It needs to get back to a Defense Budget! If it were a Defense Budget, it probably would not be hard to cut the fat out of it.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
4. The War Department Budget should be cut by 50%
Just to start.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:01 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Who would employ all those people thrown out onto the street? NT
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. By this reasoning, the US should go to war somewhere! JOBS!!!1111
Please.

:eyes:
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Earth_First Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Alot of "military" jobs are now done by civilians. n/t
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Yes, they are. And they are part of DOD "personnel costs" too.
They have a civil service pay schedule, and they get a retirement. They are part of the equation, and they are subject to firing/layoff too.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Please. Answer the question. Being a smartass isn't helpful or mature.
It also demonstrates that you're all bellow, and no thought.

You want a fifty percent cut in the Defense budget.

Back up your desire, and tell me what you'd do with all of those people who get RIF papers. Don't "roll eyes" and make snide comments with Freeperish typing when I ask a valid fucking question.

Or stow it.

Please.

:eyes:
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. Offer current unneeded employees buyout packages to take early retirement
Other industries have been doing it for years with varied success.

Don
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #19
26. We did that in the nineties. The Cheney Plan. RIF.
Those people took a smaller retirement package as they were cut in a TERA (Temporary Early Retirement Authority) which was authorized by Congress.

However, if we're to cut down to fifty percent, as the poster proposes, the amounts (which are based on a salary percentage, multiplied by years of service) of early retirement cash won't keep a person or their family in respectable nick or even in a home. Throwing out half the defense establishment, military and civilian, would produce a ton of homelessness. We don't have half a workforce, military or civilian, within five years of retirement. Even if you're going to offer younger personnel a lump sum, what happens when the lump sum runs out, and they can't find work? And if they voluntarily take a cash settlement concurrent with an offer to leave, they haven't been fired, thus they are ineligible for unemployment insurance.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
20. It's well documented that military spending has a poor return
compared to, say, infrastructure spending. Money spent to blow shit up
(or even just make devices to blow shit up) is money that is lost to the
economy and doesn't improve our overall societal capital in any way.

And if that money were retargeted, you'd be able to find a job outside
of the defense industry.

Tesha

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GA_ArmyVet Donating Member (304 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. It depends on what in the military is cut.
The Equipment purchase keeps many civilians employed and communities alive with m(b)illions being spent in the communities. Unfortunately, Equipment is the easiest part to ramp up quickly. Training personnel takes longer, and establishing the needed cohesion in units is what make our soldiers the best at the business. So if you want to try to boost economy or just prevent worsening, then equipment expenditures is where it needs to be spent. However with that, a reduction in trainings funds, or personnel can lead to another " hollow" force such as we had after WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, and in each subsequent conflict we (the US) lost thousands of soldier due to poor leadership, lack of training, and the inability to work in a Combined Forces atmosphere.

I am not saying you are wrong in your thinking, just want to point out potential consequences of each action.
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olegramps Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #23
41. Having the best army and arms has not led to successful wars.
We definitely have the best military that money can buy, but this has not assured our success in armed conflicts. This includes the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars to date. In spite of our massive military might, even against Iraq which had only a rag-tag army, no navy or air force and having spent ourselves into the poor house we have not prevailed.

I severed in the Army in Korea so don't mark me down as some anti-military radical. However, I am not a supporter of the all volunteer army regardless of its effectiveness. I am of the opinion that it can take on a mentality analogous to the police in being a closed society. It is my opinion for what its worth that mandatory service had many benefits. During the Bush administration I saw general after general giving briefing on how successful our efforts were going. It became a regular dog and pony show just like during Vietnam with the endless body counts without any real success to relate.

I can only hope that Obama uses caution in Afghanistan in that it doesn't suck us into another hopeless situation. There is no military solution to had in Afghanistan, just as our military had to conclude in regard to Iraq.

I thank you for your service, but I believe that keeping American strong is not served by useless wars that actually destroy our military and sacrifice our youth. We have to face the fact that we can not continue to spend as much on military hardware than the rest of the world combined without severe consequences since the bulk of this money is borrowed.
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GA_ArmyVet Donating Member (304 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #41
83. True enough
Edited on Wed Feb-18-09 05:37 PM by GA_ArmyVet
but we dint lose battles or near as many lives..Winning a war is more than battles..it takes a combination of things including the will of the people of the country. I am not arguing that we should continue the wars we are in, or even that we should be there in the first place. I was simply stating the choices that I saw and the possible consequence of each choice, not advocating either position.

That not withstanding... I would still rather be able to win the battles and perhaps deter most sane people from attacking us to begin with at least until the world comes to its senses and ends war altogether.

I agree with you about most of your post.

One of the problems in trying to win a war is the way we have fought those wars you mentioned. From a purely military and theoretical point of view, in order to win a war you must enter into total unrestricted warfare, you have to remove the will of the enemy (civilians, military and government) to continue to fight and force them to sue for peace. Sherman knew this in the Civil War. Grant cut him loose to do it. His method while effective was brutal, and would probably be considered a war crime in modern times. In the recent wars we have been in, Korea and forward, there was no clear cut threat to the US people, and therefore the country was not fighting for its survival, in order to maintain a modicum of public support, restricted warfare becomes the order of the day against an enemy who is fighting unrestricted warfare. They know that with each US death, public support is eroded bit by bit, while their own support increases add that to the fact that able to hide in places which we can not or will not attack.

I know it sounds cruel to say, but at times I wonder if "civilized" warfare under the Geneva Conventions has caused more suffering by prolonging war and making it morally acceptable. I wonder if it were allowed to be as grotesque, cruel and brutal as possible if people and governments would actually hesitate to go to war. ( probably not, but I can hope)

As I said before, I was looking at this from an objective standpoint not just our current war(s). I do believe having a strong military does indeed deter potential threats to our survival and keeps us from having to fight that conflict since no one in their right mind would consider that attack knowing it would mean their destruction.

All that being said, I don't believe total war is the answer in a war of choice.

I do agree with you that a draft or mandatory service would make force the country to become more aware and perhaps more judicious in the use of our military might. (as an added bonus, you will meet some really good people from all over the country)

Sorry for the long post, but I am a history major and I tend to lecture before I can catch myself.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #20
27. I didn't ask about the "poor return" of military spending. My question was very specific.
You think, in markets where unemployment is approaching ten percent, like California, that half of the servicemembers, and the civilian workers, who come out of that state will be able to find jobs?

I submit you are being excessively optimistic.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #27
38. The government can found a CONSTRUCTION worker just as easily as it can fund a DESTRUCTION worker.
And, after all, that's what military spending ultimately
accomplishes: destruction or at least the threat of
destruction.

Let's re-deploy many of the destruction workers into
more-productive fields!

Tesha

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #38
55. Well, what I haven't "found" is an answer to my simple question.
Are you trying, in clumsy fashion, to suggest that an intelligence officer or a disbursing clerk suddenly transition to construction work? Without any experience or demonstrated capability in that field? The only people who would make an easy fit in that area are Seabees and Army Corps of Engineers personnel--that's only a small percentage of the total forces.

Or are you saying that they are just screwed; that you wouldn't provide any employment support for them?

I've yet to hear from any of the defense cutters what they'd do, realistically, with the troops. Suggesting that military combat and support personnel all go to manual labor jobs is an uninformed solution, to put it kindly.

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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #55
59. You haven't "found" an answer because you don't like the answer I'm giving you.
So let me be blunt:

I'd run the exact same sort of massive labor meat clever through
our military operations that private enterprise has run through our
corporations and companies. And yes, I'd target everyone from
grunt through intelligence officer through Pentagon liason officer
to Lockheed. And I'd slash nearly all of the weapons procurement
programs that are developing "new generation" weapons to replace
quite-serviceable existing weapons, so no F-22, no new refueling
tankers, none of that welfare for contractors.

And then I'd re-deploy all those idled hands doing about the same
work as they were doing, but towards civilian ends. Building high-
speed train tracks and new-generation train sets. Building advanced
carbon-composite wind turbines. Inventing and building new batteries.
Weatherizing public buildings.

The list goes on and on, but is never accomplished because, *EVERY
YEAR*, the offense budget takes ~700 *BILLION* dollars out of the
economy and shits a great deal of it away.

I'd stop that.

Tesha

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #59
76. How will you "re-deploy" them, though? You're not answering the question.
Do you think the IBEW and other unions are going to sit idly by while you take the food from their plates and hand it to some government functionary overseeing a bunch of out-of-work soldiers, to do work, badly and clumsily, that the unions can do at far greater efficiency? Do you think that Congress is going to ignore the union lobbyists who are filling their coffers and vote yes on your plan? See, nothing happens without Congress--they MAKE law, the President only signs it into being.

You need to be realistic, and you're not being that. Let me try to shape your ideas, then. In order for your plan to work, these projects will have to be put out for bid. Perhaps you could specify in the bid that "x" percentage of the workforce on this project be former military. That might work. It might not, too. Depends on the lobbyists, the publicity around the bill, public opinion, etc.

The FDR WPA paradigm, with "government inspectors" and "overseers," isn't what is going to happen if money is spent in this fashion you propose. Civilians who were formerly military won't be "re-deployed"--they'll be HIRED. Public-Private Partnerships will be what happens. And it will be Congress who grinds the sausage and comes up with the way it's implemented. The ugly truth is that the "overseers" of these projects will be mega-firms like Halliburton. Why? Because they know how to play the game. No shooting the messenger.

You get mad at the "Offense Budget" but you fail to note that it's CONGRESS who lards that DOD budget with pork to benefit their OWN districts. They pad the thing in order to throw money to their own constituencies. That whole pork process will continue, even if they're making weatherstripping in Congressman Porko's district, instead of F-22 landing gear. And the private corporations doing the contracting and subcontracting will have greasy fingers and full bellies. It's how the system is set up. That part has to be addressed as well, if you really want to eliminate waste.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #76
84. Why not enroll all my re-deployed workers in the relevant unions?
Why not directly employ the workers by government agencies rather
than just handing the money over to corporations?

Really, you don't want this to work so you can't see it working. But
if we took military planners with their high skills of planning, organizing,
and executing, and set them to doing things that were actually useful and
productive, we might actually get some cool things done.

Tesha

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #84
86. You'd have to talk to the union bosses about that. They probably wouldn't
be too thrilled about a critical mass of people being forced to do work they've never been trained to do (or starve), have no aptitude for, that is completely out of their skillset. Too many newbies in an outfit can upset the applecart, and vote in new leadership. Union leadership won't go for that. They also won't go for "the government" telling them that they have to take on people who don't have the professional qualifications to join their union.

"Who" is going to run this, too? Big Brother? Who picks this person who hires these "government" people to hire these displaced military people? Hell, why not just toss posse comitatus out the window, and run the place like a dictatorship, with military personnel, still in uniform, running around doing all this scut work, serving as serfs, sent here and there to do their master's bidding? Why even take them out of uniform? In for a penny, in for a pound....we'll look just like TURKEY in no time! See, Turkey is a democracy...except when the general in charge decides that the government is getting too flaky, and too distant from the ideals of Ataturk. When that happens, you wake up in the morning and a smiling general is on the TV telling you that he's taken over, for a short period, "for your own good." And of course, when things normalize (i.e. when someone less flaky is elected) then the general will return the government to the people.

I think you're not understanding the perils of "Big Government." The GOP talk a good game, but they kept adding shit on to the government, from Department of Jesus to Department of Duct Tape--the ones who shrink it down, make it run efficiently, strip it of pork and crap, who balance the budget and pay the bills, are the Democrats. Bill Clinton streamlined and shrunk the government better than anyone in the post WW2 era. It was a finely tuned machine when he was in charge. We had a thing called a SURPLUS when he left.

I am not inclined to let "the government" do for us what we can do for ourselves. There's nothing wrong with targeted assistance, and there's certainly nothing wrong with basic rules and regs, written by Congress to make sure things are done right, and a little oversight in terms of audits, inspections, what have you, as well, but when you have "The Government" as the employer of every other person in the country, drumming up make work projects, that starts to smell a little too USSR-ish to me. And we saw how well they worked out.

In any event, it's all an academic exercise. President Obama isn't going to shrink the DOD down by half. He's going to send a lot of personnel to Afghanistan, and build a bunch of FOBs manned by a combination of Afghan military and NATO military (mostly Americans) personnel.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #86
87. So your job is safe.
> In any event, it's all an academic exercise. President Obama isn't going to shrink the
> DOD down by half. He's going to send a lot of personnel to Afghanistan, and build
> a bunch of FOBs manned by a combination of Afghan military and NATO military
> (mostly Americans) personnel.

So your job is safe. Our economy, though...

Tesha

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #87
89. My job? I'm old. I'm retired. My "job" is worrying about all the unemployed people in my
large extended family, and trying to do what I can for them.

If it got to the point where I get called back to ACDU, at this stage, it's World War Three happening.

I was worried under BushCo, but the concern is fading under this administration. I'd be useful in Iran, but it's unlikely we'd go there.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. People have tried to explain this to you, yet you persist
:shrug:

Economically, military spending is dead zone spending. It's nonproductive.

But you already know this.

:eyes: :eyes: :eyes:

I didn't even mention that American Imperialism is just plain wrong.

What is 'Freeperish typing?'

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. You didn't answer the question. Don't tell me what "people" have or haven't done.
Answer the direct, very simple question I asked. Without shrugs or repetitive eye rolls.

And without reference to grand ideas about imperialism.


Freeperish typing, as if you didn't know, is the use of the number one in place of an exclamation point. But you knew that, too.
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #24
54. Why not employ them in public works projects? Like restarting the WPA, the PWA, or the CCC again.
Edited on Wed Feb-18-09 12:16 PM by Selatius
Those programs put millions of unemployed workers back to work during the height of the Great Depression when unemployment was spiking above 25%.

Besides, as another poster pointed out, the GI Bill is there for retraining costs for the private sector.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #54
57. Doing what? You're going to put people who used their brains in their jobs
to work doing manual labor on make-work projects? I rather think the UNIONS that do those jobs for a living would take issue with your plan to shove them off the gravy train. They wouldn't put up with it, either--it's a pipe dream. If there's any big public works projects to be done, the International Brotherhood of Electricians, Pipe Fitters, etc., etc., will be first in line--not unemployed soldiers. And those guys have lobbyists to make sure it goes down that way. The military doesn't.

If you're actually thinking President Obama is going to go to that sort of FDR thing, where the government is overseeing big projects and playing Benevolent Big Brother, employment will likely have to hit twenty five percent before he even thinks about it. The paradigm now is to throw money at the private sector. And I don't think he's demobbing the Army in any event--he's sending them to Afghanistan, where they'll populate soon-to-be-built FOBs.

The GI bill, even with the recent fixes that improved it, won't pay for all your college expenses. And how are people expected to feed their families while they're going to school?

Service personnel are people, too. They have homes, spouses, kids. They aren't borg to be sent off into the woods to cut down trees and live in a bunkhouse, or work on a chain gang fixing roads.
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #57
61. Rebuilding our infrastructure, for instance? We got a lot of ruined infrastructure post-Bush.
Service personnel are people too, as you said. If the government is going to put unemployed people back to work rebuilding infrastructure and building a green economy, then it shouldn't matter if they were left unemployed by GM or the Pentagon. They both need food on the table and money for bills. I get that.

The problem is military spending, if allowed to grow out of control, can strangle an economy. The Soviet experience has shown the world what happens when too much resources go to the military: Economic stagnation.

If the goal is to cut defense spending by 50%, for instance, then I think the best approach would be through simple attrition over the course of years. Take in fewer personnel than personnel who are leaving through retirement or the end of their service commitment, but the point of national defense should and always be about defense only, not about jobs. You shouldn't spend on war just for war's sake; that's the road to insanity. I'll leave it to Eisenhower's words here:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?"

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, "The Chance for Peace"
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #61
69. I agree with Eisenhower.
I always have. He had his priorities right.

In that commentary, he railed against the military, industrial, CONGRESSIONAL complex. He lined out the word "Congressional" before he gave that speech because he didn't want to piss those clowns off on his way out the door. But it was in and on his mind. There's way too much pork in every DOD budget, that's just the sad truth, and it gets worse every year.

I don't see "the government" overseeing these "Let's Employ the Troops" projects, though. That's just not the paradigm. They'll hire private organizations, construction firms, electrical outfits, (sadly, many of them will look like Halliburton, odds are good, because they're skilled in bidding for this kind of stuff) and THEY will hire the people needed to do the work. If the UNION rules, it'll be union people who are hired first, unless the company gets a bonus for hiring a demobbed servicemember.

A drawdown has to be slow, though, and it has to coincide with a rising, not falling, economy. Throwing soldiers on the street without any decent safety net is just wrong. It also is an invitation to disaster. People do turn to crime, sometimes violent crime, when they have nothing--not everyone can be relied upon to resign themselves to homelessness and go sleep on a grate, quietly, docilely, in a filthy sleeping bag, and panhandle for booze during the day.

In a rising economy, they can adjust and reintegrate. In a contracting economy, they're fucked.
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #54
88. Are those the kind of jobs that will last 30 -40 years.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #12
40. The GI Bill is available to them for retraining.
Worked for me when I got out with no guaranteed job waiting for me.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #40
58. You didn't have children, I take it.
Many service personnel have families nowadays. It's not like the Vietnam era, when most servicemembers were single. What do you feed the kids? Where do they live?

And as I've said elsewhere, the GI Bill, even with the recent improvements, won't pay for everything. These people will still need jobs.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #58
60. How does that make them any different from other laid off workers?
At least they will receive benefits for hospitalization, education, and financing for houses.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #60
65. No they won't. When you're out, you're out--unless you qualify for retirement.
We aren't talking about military retirees, here, though. Retirement-eligible personnel constitute a small fraction of the total force.

A soldier leaving the military doesn't get benefits after his or her terminal leave runs out, usually less than sixty days after they leave their final duty station. If they have paid IN to the GI Bill, they can take advantage of it--but many haven't done this, because they're young and dumb and they want that cash during their first year in service, instead of thinking about their futures. Even if they go to college, that still doesn't feed their family, OR provide them with medical/dental insurance, or a place for the spouse and kids to live. And you can't get a GI Bill home loan if you don't QUALIFY for it. You need something called an INCOME to make that happen.

The misconceptions about what the military does, and does not provide people when they transition to civilian life on this forum are astounding.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #65
66. I sure as hell didn't retire from the military and I collected on all those.
College, spent time in a VA hospital, and got a VA loan on the first house I bought.

But, again, even if they didn't collect from the VA, how does that entitle them to any more than any other laid off employee?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #66
73. If you were disabled, that's a different issue. Not every transitioning solider is disabled.
In fact, the vast majority are not, and when they're out, they're out--no medical, no dental, and no "disability check" every month.

You got your VA benefits from the Veteran's Administration, not from your branch of service. It's a distinction and a difference.

Military veterans, IMO, are "entitled" to transition assistance. And they're doubly "entitled" when the government breaks the contract that the servicemember has signed with them, "for the convenience of the government."

Most civilian employees don't sign contracts that indenture them to a company for a fixed time. Military personnel do.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #73
77. I was not disabled.
As I recall, I got a few hundred a month for college, I spent 2 weeks in a VA hospital at no cost (and lousy conditions), and I got a GI loan for my first house.

They did inform me that the hearing in my right ear was damaged but offered me no disability of any kind.

I did however leave with a bad attitude about anything military and an inclination to pacifism.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #77
80. If you were in a VA hospital after you got out, it's because they needed to fix something before you
could be "effectively" discharged. When the military gives you your outprocessing physical, they are supposed to fix everything before they release you from active duty. On odd occasions, particularly when they are operating under Congressionally mandated force constraints, they will let people out even if everything isn't quite right, and give them a chit to have a specific thing or two, or three, fixed at a VA facility--this is NOT usual, though. It's an exception. They only do it when they can't afford to carry a lot of people who aren't productive, for example, in wartime.

The few hundred a month for college was based on the old (Vietnam era) GI Bill, the one that was in place before VEAP, and before the Mongomery GI Bill, and before this latest version.

If you wanted the disability payment for the ear, they never "offer" it. You have to apply to the VA for it. You can do that online, now.

The GI BILL loan for the house wasn't a gift, it's a universal benefit. You had to qualify for it, though. The advantage to those loans is that they don't require the large down-payments that civilian loans demand. You still had to demonstrate an ability to pay, though.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #80
82. They never offered to fix it and I wouldn't have hung around anyway.
Edited on Wed Feb-18-09 02:59 PM by Tierra_y_Libertad
Which was just fine with me. A few months after I got out, they quit asking for volunteers to extend and started telling the poor sods that they were extended.

I got out in '65, as far as I know, there was no such thing as "Vietnam Era Vets" in '65 and the GI Bill paid for my college. The hospitalization wasn't service connected and I had to come up with the usual requirements for a VA loan.

I confess to not being familiar with the benefits as they are now. But, I will say, that however many I've received, it wasn't worth the 4 years I wasted. But, I was the dumb 17 year old who volunteered to do really stupid things for really stupid people.

The "You'll be sorryyy" I heard when I got off the PC at MCRD was an example of truer words never spoken.

Edited to say: I do vaguely recall signing a waiver about the ear. Hell, I would have signed anything other than re-enlistment or extension papers.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #82
85. You are classified as a Vietnam Era vet if you left service in 65.
It's simply a categorization tool used by DOD to identify veterans who served at a specific period.

They use the term to distinguish between people like you, who served during Vietnam, and people who were WW2 era, Korean War era, and AVF (all volunteer force) personnel, who came in after they stopped using the draft.

The ear thing you signed may simply have been an "I've been told, I know about this" acknowledgement. You'd want that piece of paper if you decided to try for a disability compensation.
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fuggbush21 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #7
50. The Department of Defense
employs 2.8 million service personnel. The US Defense industry employs millions more. The top 4 tech industries in the US have 50% of their output going to the DoD. Millions of jobs would be lost from non defense related companies because of the loss of business sustained by the US military. Look at places like Sumter, South Carolina. Clovis, New Mexico. Leavenworth, Kansas. And tons of other small towns that EXIST simply because of the military bases there.

Major defense budget cuts will have reprecussions across the entire US Economy.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #7
70. historically, wars do grow countries out of hard economic times.
but then- historically countries haven't been armed to the teeth with nukes, either.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. The places that the money will be directed to that are not dead-end no-return wastes
of what money we have.

So-called "defense spending" is mostly corporate welfare, and we're talking about huge corporations. Military spending itself is a dead end, it provides no return and, except for the actual salaries paid to employees, creates no churn in the larger economy. Large corporations are not beneficial to expanded employment as they have reached the point in their life-cycle where they are primarily concerned with shedding as many jobs as possible and expanding through consolidation. So, "defense spending" is a double loss.

Small business is where money expands, grows, and provides the economic multiplier, or churn. Small business is where we find competition, innovation, and economic vitality, in short, it is small business that takes risks and creates change.


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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #6
29. To answer that I would say:
If we shifted those dollars to other areas of government spending we could create as many if not more jobs there.

And if we spent more on R&D for peaceful uses (through tax breaks, grants, etc) to other companies and offered tax incentives to hire displaced people from the defense industry, we could gain jobs.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 11:04 PM
Response to Reply #29
34. But would those people recently out of uniform be the ones hired, or would
the jobs be thrown out "on the market" and everyone and anyone allowed to compete for them? After all, if you're voiding their contracts "for the convenience of the government," aren't they deserving of "first crack" at these positions?

Post military unemployment is a serious problem, all of the transitional job fairs notwithstanding. The numbers are way worse than the civilian sector. It doesn't help the displaced military members, who held up their end of the bargain, if all of the "new" jobs are going to civilians.

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
5. Just so everyone "gets" this--the easiest place to cut defense spending is PERSONNEL COSTS
That means RIF. It can mean civilian personnel layoffs, force reshaping, more gutting and cutting (that would be Navy first, Air Force second, given the wars we're fighting) and it would throw more people out into the unemployment pool.

When DOD is told to cut, that's how they do it. The shore installations start doing with less. They'll even close entrance gates at large bases permanently in order to fire guards (and they're using civilian guards, not servicemembers, a lot of 'em).

Maybe the usual paradigm will be broken, and they'll just pick a bullshit pork program and do a nice hefty vertical slice....but they tend to prefer to pick around the edges, trimming here, cutting there.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. You're right, but in the end DoD is military and will carry out it's orders.
So, once again we are looking at having the will to do what is needed.

New nuclear delivery systems - a complete waste

All of the super-cool new fighters and attack craft - no reason on earth to develop these now as there is nothing on earth that can compete with what we have, so just who are we preparing to defend against?

Even more bigger badder warships - Again, we already have more and better than anybody else, so what is the purpose?

These are just two examples, the list is nearly endless and in almost every case there is no reason for expending the mega-bucks required.

We already have the best and much of it is aging, so where is it written that we can't build more of what we have to fill that need?


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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. I'm thinking aircraft, too, for a big chunk.
Drones are getting bigger, badder and better and are doing a lot of work that used to require a large plane, a lot of fuel and a pilot and sometimes a crew. They can probably also save some money on pilot accessions, too.

The ships, though, that are already in the pipeline, that's hard to put on hold (not impossible, but hard--the pipeline is something like a decade, almost). You also have a "shipyard ripple" and pipefitters and assorted people get thrown out of work when you do that--DOD gets the savings, but it doesn't help the economy overall.

But having been through this myself, the first cut they generally make is shore station/installation personnel. They tell you to cut billets by "x" percent, and you run around finding full time jobs that can be "collateralized" or "nice to have" programs that can be eliminated. Everyone gets to feel the pain...! Then, they tell you to take a few slices off your infrastructure budget, and if you can't solve that problem by turning off lights and turning down the heat, you have to let a few local workers go and maybe cancel a few more programs! It's sometimes a tough exercise.

Another place where they cut is FUEL costs....ships end up stuck in port, and aircraft don't fly in training exercises as much, because fuel is rationed for a quarter or two. That can get pretty onerous when they cut deep...
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. The administration can, and IMO should, direct the cuts to avoid just what you are talking about.
Left to their own devices, they always do just as you say, saving the sources of graft and corruption that the big contracts represent from the axe.

The ships are in the pipeline, but the end of the pipeline can be moved in many cases. Again we see that the best way to fix the military problems are to exercise the civilian authority that we hold over them. Let the Generals and Admirals quit, or simply replace them, in the end Obama is the C in C and has full authority to do what is required.

We are in the shit and it's going to get real deep real fast, it is past time to take the actions that are required.


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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #17
28. Unfortunately, I think the old paradigm will prevail.
We haven't changed SECDEFS...yet, anyway. President Obama has held Gates over by popular demand. I wonder who he'll pick to replace him when the time comes.

Look for USN and USAF to be pared to the bone, and the Army and USMC to "hang in there." The deployments to Afghanistan that are coming up suggest that any personnel cuts with those services will be far in the rear. And of course, Blackwater, er...Xe (WTF was that name change all about, aside from the fact that Blackwater is a synonym for "Hated?") is a way to hide and in fact, shift, defense-related responsibilities by putting their funding stream in STATE (because of all the Distinguished Visitor protection that they do) rather than Defense. It's tricky, but it's been done in the past.

I don't know what the answer is, but I sure as hell have lots of questions.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #28
32. I'm not sure if it's a bright side, but I think many, many people are going to join us in our
questions over the next year or less.

I've never been this depressed about our nation's prospects before in my life. It's like we're a 5 year old kid standing in the middle of the floor with our fingers in our ears and eyes clenched shut refusing to look at the blazing sofa in the living room.

I thought/hoped that, when Krugman won the Nobel, his warnings would finally get through, but as each event unfolds and our "leaders" keep arguing over seating arrangements while we draw nearer to the precipice, I'm getting really frightened and that is not me at all.


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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. I can relate. Every time I turn around, another relative is out of work.
Good thing we have a very big house. We may have to open up a few disused bedrooms if this shit keeps on.
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GentryDixon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:35 PM
Response to Original message
13. I worked for the Department of Defense.
I was a Budget Officer for a Research & Development Installation. I can tell you there was a great deal of excess in the budgets. I have been retired for about 5 years, so I cannot speak with certainty, but based on history, I would say there is most likely a good deal which could be trimmed.

We received $11M for Homeland Security after 911. We jumped through hoops to spend it before year end. The creative accounting linking to "security" was quite remarkable. An example is the exercise equipment we purchased for the Security Guards and Fire Fighters. We had to have approval for all purchases, so it was approved by our higher headquarters, but it still bothered me tremendously.

An example which always bothered me was the Turkeys and ball caps we purchased for our contractors. The in-house employees received nothing at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the contracts were written to allow this type of purchase for the contractor. I can only imagine the perks a contract like Halliburton or KBR enjoys.

I finally took and early, reduced retirement after putting up with as much as I could stand.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #13
30. Were you part of that audit about ten years back?
The one where they couldn't find the "trillions?"

That was a real clusterfuck. It was simply appalling.

You, of course, know as well as I do, though, that the nature of the military establishment is to spend, spend, spend. You have to get rid of the cash in your budget, QUICK--before "they" take it back! The end of FY spending sprees, why, some of them have been quite...legendary.

Perhaps it might not be a bad idea to reward leaders for cost-cutting, the way we used to (and do nowadays) reward leaders for a high retention rate. Those are the ones to promote, not the hand over fisters.

Halliburton, KBR, and "Xe" (Blackwater)? They likely get booze, beer and steaks--not just turkeys...the turkeys!
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GentryDixon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 07:48 AM
Response to Reply #30
35.  I don't remember an audit looking for trillions.
That sounds more like the Air Force to me. They were the ones with all the money.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #35
45. No. It was a DOD-wide audit, that happened in 2000. See attached.
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GentryDixon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #45
49. I remember this.
This is a much higher level than I was involved, other than providing feeder information to my high headquarters.

They have been trying to get DoD to go to one accounting system for as long as I can remember. The consolidation under Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) was supposed to help with the reporting of expenditures to Congress. I don't know how that is going these days, as I have been retired for almost 5 years. I do know we had a duplication of effort between the Host whom I worked for, and the support agency DFAS in the Resource Management area. That never made a great deal of sense to me, but our headquarters did not want to give up their Resource Management positions to DFAS.

I am glad I am not jumping through those hoops any longer.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #49
51. I was high enough up in the food chain to hear the shit hitting the fan!
There was a lot of crabbing about that--talk about wet hens! In restrospect, it was somewhat amusing, the anger, the drama, the outrage...but at the time, it was Duck and Cover, Katy Bar the Door. Life was unpleasant. There were some pissed off people stomping around the Pentagon and the Hill, angered that they were expected to know/comment/be able to correct this mess. The concern, though, at the end of the day, was more for the "bad press" than the search for all that missing cash. There was a half-hearted effort at reconciliation, there were a few more instructions and notices written to wag fingers, but I don't think they're substantially better off now than they were a decade ago.

Of course, I've been out the door for a bit, now, so I've no idea what they're up to these days--I don't think about it too much, but every now and again, a synapse gets fired off!
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
14. How can this be? I distinctly remember candidate Obama saying that he wanted to increase
military spending. And I was very upset about it. But he DID say that.

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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 05:01 PM
Response to Original message
18. Oh for f*cks sake. It isn't defense ...it's offense.
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Winterblues Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
22. If we really want to DEFEND Americans then we need to spend most
of our resources on Cancer Research and Diabetes research and Aids and MS and well the list goes on and on. Americans are far more likely to fall prey to a horrible disease than to terrorist or attacks from a foreign nation. If we truly want to Defend America then we must put a majority of our resources into Health Care and R&D for cures and support. Spending billions upon billions on bullets and bombs only makes us more vulnerable, not less.
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
25. Why should a defence reduction be considered "grim"?
Things are "grim" all over.

Why should the world's most bloated, pork-ridden, entitlement-driven, wasteful and non-productive sector be exempted?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. Well, look at the source--it's "grim" from the govexec perspective. NT
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 08:21 AM
Response to Original message
36. One point I would like to make regarding force reduction
There are a bunch of posts in this thread claiming we should reduce the military by 50 percent, by 90 percent, by a bunch.

Listen to teacher. He has been through this before.

After the Berlin Wall fell, George the Smarter decided to reduce the force by a third. It was called the Peace Dividend. They first put up a notice, "anyone who wants to go home, can. No problems. No worries. Just say 'I quit' and we'll process your paperwork." The military hired sociologists who said this wouldn't be very popular because the economy was bad then and the troops who quit wouldn't be able to find jobs. The military should have just asked some sergeants, who would have told them it would be very popular since sociologists who aren't in the military don't realize just how bad a lot of soldiers hate the military. As it turned out, the sergeants were smarter than the sociologists--they had to end the program after two months because it was very popular. (Seventy percent of the MPs in Berlin signed up, for instance.) They then came up with separation bonuses--Voluntary Separation Incentive and Selective Separation Bonus.

What they DIDN'T do was create retraining programs for these guys. There are a lot of military jobs that do not translate to the civilian world whatsoever. MPs have no problem getting jobs--any police department in America will take a good MP. Mechanics can get jobs. Cooks can get jobs. Most Combat Arms soldiers except for engineers and aviation, and a LOT of combat support soldiers, cannot get jobs--"blowing shit up" and "killing people" are not marketable skills. And just try getting a job if you've been an intelligence collector for 10 years. And don't believe that shit about soldiers being able to get off-duty education--if the commander supports it at all (they all SAY they do, but you can tell which ones don't) you can generally get a "business" degree or some sort of liberal arts degree...which looks great in a promotion packet but doesn't do much for you off-duty. At this point let's all strike up a chorus of "What Do You Do With a BA in English?"

If you are going to reduce military spending significantly, you simply must spend the time and the money to retrain all the people who don't have immediately translatable MOS, AFSC or ratings. Immediately translatable means there is a job that does whatever it is you did in the military. There is NO such thing as an infantryman in the civilian world. The only artillerymen in the civilian world shell avalanches, and you can't do that in the summer.

If you want to see the results of NOT training people like I'm telling you needs to be done, go to any GI town and visit the big box stores. They're full of old soldiers.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 08:34 AM
Response to Reply #36
37. Just curious, do you know what the Constitution says about maintaining a standing army?
I think a fifty percent reduction in spending would not hurt our Defense one iota. 90% of Defense spending goes to advanced weapons systems and not the troops themselves anyway.
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #37
43. If you cut defense spending 90 percent, the troops WILL take a huge hit
Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and L3 Communications (just to name three contractors that have offices on the street I live on--it's 20 minutes from my house to Fort Bragg at rush hour) all have lobbyists. Soldiers do not.

I know what the Constitution says about maintaining a standing army; I also know it would have been written differently if the British would have had cargo planes that can cross the Atlantic in 8 hours.

Here's what I'm saying: When you join the Army, you sign a piece of paper that says you're willing to die for your country. Morally, we can't take those people and tell 'em, "oops, we can't afford you anymore. Try not to let the door hit you in the ass."
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #43
52. Very well put. And right on target, too. nt
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 09:26 AM
Response to Reply #36
39. I went to college on the GI bill for retraining. I believe it's still available.
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #39
44. It is...
of course, having the GI Bill available presumes you don't have three kids and a wife you have to work a full-time job to feed, right now.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #44
46. It's still a better deal than other people get when laid off.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #46
62. Other people don't get shot at as a consequence of their job. And other people don't "pay in" to
receive the benefit.

Most people don't realize that the GI Bill isn't free--money is deducted from the military member's check during the first year of service--a hundred bucks a month, it used to be.

Some employers actually do provide college education. I have a friend who got a graduate degree from his employer, a hospital. There are civilian employers who subsidize college education, particularly if it improves the employee's skillset.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #62
68. I never got shot at and I collected for doing absolutely nothing beneficial to anyone.
Although, they asked me to extend my enlistment to go and kill yellow people in Vietnam who would probably have shot at me.

Nor do I recall any deductions from my princely wage of $78 a month.

But, I was lucky because I could use my military skills when mixing cement and digging trenches as a civilian. And, all that cool marching came in handy when I was a mail-carrier. Note: Veterans get a preference when they test for the Postal Service. 5 pts for any vet - 10 pts for combat vets.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #68
72. You were lucky but your experience isn't the paradigm. Nor is mine. Certainly not nowadays.
Servicemembers nowadays aren't getting paid seventy eight bucks a month. Your experience is about as relevant as mine was when I first entered service, and about as relevant as the experience of a Civil War soldier, for that matter. However, I stayed in the service for several decades, and I saw the changes and how they affected people. I saw a couple of "force shaping" drills (drawdowns) and they were badly managed and unpleasant. I never got bitten in any of them, and was happy to be able leave under my OWN steam, but the whole process is difficult if it isn't well managed. It's a recipe for disaster in a contracting economy, too. Even now, I'm not up to speed with the latest info like someone on ACDU is--I do read up if I see an interesting article on the subject, though, because the military was my organization for so many years.

There's not much call for cement mixers and ditch diggers wandering in off the street these days. The unions want to see your card before they'll let you mix cement, and ditch diggers are going at bargain rates in front of the Home Depot. Most of them are lucky to get work a few days a week. Times are tough.

The GI BILL deduction did happen (see Montgomery GI Bill), though Congress passed a new version (the post 911 GI Bill) that applies to servicemembers who were on ACDU after a certain date, which is more generous, but it still isn't enough to raise a family on, and you don't get a full housing benefit (which is a BAH payment at the E-5 level--not enough to cover all costs in any event) that would do anything more than maybe cover most dorm costs for a single kid. A single parent is screwed, because you can only get that benefit if you're going to school full time. Part-time doesn't cut it for the BAH payment. And if you're going to school full time, it's not enough money to live on. Catch-22, unless you have a parent or spouse who is employed and is willing to subsidize you.

I am aware of the "Veteran's Preference" at the post office, but it's not quite how you put it--you have to score at least 70 on the test, and you only get five extra points for being in the military--combat, or not, and, if you're smart anyway, you can't score more than 100 (e.g., if you get a 96, they don't say your score is 101). And the ten points isn't for combat--it's for DISABLED vets, or veterans who have a Purple Heart. No disability/PH, no extra five points. If you were lucky in combat, and didn't get hit or hurt, you don't get the bennie. I have an in-law (three PH, two SS, one bronze) who worked there for awhile.

In any event, there are limited numbers of jobs in the post office, and nowadays, they're in the position of raising stamp prices, laying off and automating and cutting hours and closing facilities, not expanding. That's not a viable solution for half of the military forces.

It's a tough situation for military personnel when they transition in good times. It's harder still in a bad economy.


POST OFFICE: http://www.gopostaljobs.com/veterans.shtml
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #72
75. You're right, disabled vets not combat vets.
In any case, I see no difference between the plight of vets and, say, laid off bank tellers or carpenters.

The military contributes zip to the economy except in it's hand in glove working with the "Defense" industry. It produces nothing, contributes nothing, and is a massive drain on the economy. Hell, considering it's main purpose is to "defend" American capitalism from various bogeymen, it's been a flop even at that..save the subjugation of mighty Grenada.

The military budget needs to be cut, and then, cut some more.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #36
79. Good post. Now for the big question, retrain to do what?
What little demand there is for all those science and math degree holders we're all supposed to get already get hundreds of applications for every position they open up.

We just keep dancing around the issue over and over. Unless the government makes immediate and dramatic changes in it's policies, we're going down hard and fast.

IMO, the first best choice is massive direct funding of small businesses and start-ups. Less viable, but still effective, is direct government employment.

We have to move now and we have to make it big, far bigger than this so-called stimulus.


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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 02:50 PM
Response to Reply #79
81. I'm going to start another thread in just a few minutes...
about an idea I have that MAY keep a few jobs in this country.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-19-09 01:02 AM
Response to Reply #81
90. Did you post it yet? I haven't found it. n/t
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-19-09 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #90
91. I got pulled away, sorry...
it's about environmental impact statements.
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RUMMYisFROSTED Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
42. $650,000,000,000.00
China $65B
Russia $50B
France $45B
UK $43B

Rest of world, minus US $500B

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.h...
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TWiley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 10:43 AM
Response to Original message
48. The military is a huge burden on the nation and the world.
They actually produce little tangible good for the nation.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:45 PM
Response to Original message
64. Time to cut the military
Really, a fifty percent cut for now would do wonders. And I seriously doubt that we would have to cut many, if any soldiers, given that the bulk of our military expenses are invested in things, objects and waste. Furthermore, we could save money by actually insourcing all those jobs that have been outsourced to Blackwater (now XE), Haliburton, et. al. Things like cooking meals, sweeping the floors, what was normally though of as grunt work that is now outsourced for exorbitant prices. Cut the wasteful weapons systems(are we really still funding the Ospry after all the people it's killed). Make these sorts of cuts and we would free a large chunk of money for other purposes.
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