HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » unhappycamper » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next »


Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

Journal Archives

Lockheed Martin's Herculean Efforts to Profit From Defense Spending


C-130 Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, and Tennessee Air National Guard taxi out for a mission during an eight-ship sortie at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on June 5, 2012.

Lockheed Martin's Herculean Efforts to Profit From Defense Spending
Sunday, 10 March 2013 11:58 By Jeremiah Goulka, Tom Dispatch | Op-Ed


Here's where the story starts to get interesting. After 25 years, the Pentagon decided that it was well stocked with C-130s, so President Jimmy Carter’s administration stopped asking Congress for more of them.

Lockheed was in trouble. A few years earlier, the Air Force had started looking into replacing the Hercules with a new medium-sized transport plane that could handle really short runways, and Lockheed wasn't selected as one of the finalists. Facing bankruptcy due to cost overruns and cancellations of programs, the company squeezed Uncle Sam for a bailout of around $1 billion in loan guarantees and other relief (which was unusual back then, as William Hartung points out his magisterial Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex).

Then a scandal exploded when it was revealed that Lockheed had proceeded to spend some $22 million of those funds in bribes to foreign officials to persuade them to buy its aircraft. This helped prompt Congress to pass the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

So what did Lockheed do about the fate of the C-130? It bypassed the Pentagon and went straight to Congress. Using a procedure known as a congressional "add-on" -- that is, an earmark -- Lockheed was able to sell the military another fleet of C-130s that it didn’t want.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 11, 2013, 07:17 AM (0 replies)

Karzai accuses Taliban of Serving US Interests, Slams (Non-Existent) US-Taliban Talks


Karzai accuses Taliban of Serving US Interests, Slams (Non-Existent) US-Taliban Talks
Posted on 03/11/2013 by Juan

Once again, the erratic president of Afghanistan, had US officials shaking their heads in disbelief after he gave a speech while Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is in Kabul in which he blamed the interactions of the US and the Taliban for his country’s security problems.

Karzai was visibly angry about the Taliban bombing at the Ministry of Defense on Hagel’s arrival. In his Pashtu speech he said that the Taliban carried it out “in the service of America.” What he appears to have meant by that weird accusation is that the Taliban are eager to prevent a US withdrawal in 2014 and are attempting to draw the US into a greater entanglement in the country as a pretext for painting the Kabul government as lackeys of the Americans who need to be overthrown.

He also implied that the US is hoping for pretexts to extend its military presence in the country. US generals denied that they wanted to be there any longer than was necessary to leave the country in a stable condition. The US has ceased active, unilateral combat missions in country, and is scheduled largely to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Karzai also complained about US negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, which he said had started back up. This assertion is untrue, according to both the US and the Taliban. Karzai has for some time exhibited paranoid conspiracy theories. He once told bewildered visiting Congressmen that he had a choice of joining the Taliban or siding with the US and that sometimes he regrets his decision for the latter.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 11, 2013, 06:28 AM (0 replies)

Air Force erases drone strike data in Afghanistan war report just one day after Rand Paul's filibust


Air Force erases drone strike data in Afghanistan war report just one day after Rand Paul's filibuster
By Leslie Larson
PUBLISHED: 19:46 EST, 9 March 2013 | UPDATED: 20:08 EST, 9 March 2013

The Air Force has erased data on drone strikes in Afghanistan from their most recent report that was released just one day after Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster on Wednesday.

Since last October, Air Force Central Command had provided statistics on the number of weapons released from Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

As the debate on drone use heats up in the heartland, the Air Force report released on March 7 failed to list airstrikes from drones and many believe it's no coincidence given the Obama administration's embarrassment after Sen. Paul took the president to task for the U.S. government's use of drones in U.S. airspace.

Sins of omission: As of Jan. 31, the Air Force report included drone strike data (bottom right) but the most recent update released on March 7 left a giant blankspace where the data should be listed

In the heartland: This MQ-9 Predator B unmanned surveillance aircraft, in Sierra Vista, Ariz., is used to patrol the southern U.S. border


Though they have been used over the last decade, only this October the Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) decided to include data on strikes from RPAs in their monthly reports on air power statistics.

In 2009, 257 drone strikes were conducted in Afghanistan. That number climbed slightly to 277 in 2010 and there was a small bump up in 2011 to 294, though the data can change due to recalculation.

Drone warfare: The military relies heavily on RPAs to launch airstrikes in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

Remote operated: An airman operates a sensor control station for a MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission. Reapers can fly for as long as 14 hours fully loaded with laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 10:32 AM (2 replies)

$875M computer center coming to Fort Meade


$875M computer center coming to Fort Meade
Posted Yesterday | By SARA BLUMBERG


With a completion date set for 2015, the National Security Agency is close to starting construction on a new High Performance Computing Center, set to be built on the former golf course at Fort Meade.

With a price tag of nearly $875 million, the center will be the most expensive construction project yet on the Odenton installation. And the money will come. The project is being funded through the National Defense Authorization Act, which means it won’t be impacted by automatic budget cuts affecting some other operations at Fort Meade.

More than half of the allotted money will go into the building itself, ensuring that the information stored there will remain secure, according to details of the project in the Military Construction Project Data report for fiscal 2012. Just the perimeter controls — fences, gates and other exterior security measures — will cost around $21.7 million. Other security features will include:
* Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection systems.
* Intrusion detection systems.
* Video surveillance.
* Card access control.
* A visitor control center.
* A cargo vehicle inspection facility.


Susserman predicted the center would be used for data mining and sorting through large amounts of information with algorithms in search of anything interesting or suspicious.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 10:19 AM (2 replies)

No Program Left Behind - A Quick Look At The JSF


Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 09:03 AM (1 replies)

Exclusive: Retrofits to add $1.7 billion to cost of F-35 - GAO report


Exclusive: Retrofits to add $1.7 billion to cost of F-35 - GAO report
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
Published March 09, 2013

WASHINGTON – Retrofits of F-35 fighter planes to fix problems found in flight testing will likely top $1.7 billion, a U.S. government watchdog said in the draft of a new report about the Pentagon's Joint Strike Fighter program.

Extensive restructuring efforts and progress on technical issues have put the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 program on a more solid footing, but the plane's long-term affordability remains a big concern, the Government Accountability Office said in the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

It said the F-35 program, which has been subject to massive delays and cost overruns and now has a price tag close to $400 billion, met most of its management objectives in 2012. But it still faced big costs because of earlier decisions to start building planes before development and testing were further along. A final report is due out next week.

The F-35 is an advanced "fifth generation" fighter meant to serve the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines for decades to come. But the program's soaring costs and technical complications have now put it in a critical position, where any new setbacks or cuts in orders from the U.S. military and its allies would drive the cost-per-plane up still further.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 08:47 AM (0 replies)

F-35’s ability to evade budget cuts illustrates challenge of paring defense spending


The $243 million dollar F-35

F-35’s ability to evade budget cuts illustrates challenge of paring defense spending
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Published: March 9

At EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — With an ear-ringing roar, the matte-gray fighter jet streaked down Runway 12 and sliced into a cloudless afternoon sky over the Florida Panhandle. To those watching on the ground, the sleek, bat-winged fuselage soon shrank into a speck, and then nothing at all, as Marine Capt. Brendan Walsh arced northward in America’s newest warplane, the F-35 Lightning II.


But its greatest strength has nothing to do with those attributes. The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin, the giant contractor hired to design and build the plane, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, have constructed what amounts to a budgetary force field around the nearly $400 billion program.

Although it is the costliest weapons system in U.S. history and the single most expensive item in the 2013 Pentagon budget, it will face only a glancing blow from the sequester this year. And as the White House and Congress contemplate future budgets, those pushing for additional cuts may find it difficult to trim more than a fraction of the Pentagon’s proposed fleet, even though the program is years behind schedule and 70 percent over its initial price tag.


The reasons for the F-35’s relative immunity are a stark illustration of why it is so difficult to cut the country’s defense spending. Lockheed Martin has spread the work across 45 states — critics call it “political engineering” — which in turn has generated broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Any reduction in the planned U.S. purchase risks antagonizing the eight other nations that have committed to buying the aircraft by increasing their per-plane costs. And senior military leaders warn that the stealthy, technologically sophisticated F-35 is essential to confront Iran, China and other potential adversaries that may employ advanced anti-aircraft defenses.

unhappycamper comment:
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 08:42 AM (1 replies)

(TX) Sales tax exemption for disabled vets would impact cities


Sales tax exemption for disabled vets would impact cities
Dave Miller | Herald staff writer
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:30 am

A bill to exempt 100 percent disabled Texas veterans and surviving spouses from paying sales tax may be well-intentioned, but its effects could be disastrous for some military communities — including Killeen and Copperas Cove.

The bill, HB 1162, was introduced in the Texas Legislature last month by Rep. Ed Thompson, a Republican from Brazoria. The measure, which is in committee, was patterned after an Oklahoma law enacted in 2005 that exempts 100 percent disabled veterans and their un-remarried, surviving spouses from paying sales tax. However, unlike the Oklahoma law, which caps the exemption at $25,000 annually, Thompson’s bill contains no limit.

Tuesday night, the Copperas Cove City Council passed a resolution opposing the pending legislation, largely on the basis of its potential financial impact on the city.

The city’s budget director told the council that the legislation could reduce Cove’s sales tax revenue by about $100,000 annually, noting that was a conservative estimate. This would be in addition to the existing state-mandated property tax exemption received by 100 percent disabled veterans, which decreases the city’s revenue by $370,000 each year — more than 2.5 percent of the municipal budget.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 08:09 AM (0 replies)

America Is Plagued by Zombie “Experts” Who Are Invariably Wrong on Foreign Affairs


Why can't foreign policy experts look defeat in the face and recognize it for what it is?

America Is Plagued by Zombie “Experts” Who Are Invariably Wrong on Foreign Affairs
By Tom Engelhardt
March 9, 2013

We don’t get it. We really don’t. We may not, in military terms, know how to win any more, but as a society we don’t get losing either. We don’t recognize it, even when it’s staring us in the face, when nothing—and I mean nothing—works out as planned. Take the upcoming 10th anniversary of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq as Exhibit A. You could describe what happened in that country as an unmitigated disaster—from the moment, in April 2003, U.S. troops first entered a Baghdad in flames and being looted (“stuff happens”) and were assigned to guard only the Interior Ministry (i.e. the secret police) and the Oil Ministry (well, you know what that is) to the moment in December 2011 when the last American combat unit slipped out of that land in the dead of the night (after lying to Iraqi colleagues about what they were doing).

As it happened, the country that we were going to garrison for a lifetime (to the thankful cheers of its inhabitants) while we imposed a Pax Americana on the rest of the region didn’t want us. The government we essentially installed chose Iran as an ally and business partner. The permanent bases we built to the tune of billions of dollars are now largely looted ghost towns. The reconstruction of the country that we promoted proved worse than farcical. And an outfit proudly carrying the al-Qaeda brand name, which did not exist in Iraq before our invasion, is now thriving in a still destabilized country. Consider that just the start of a much longer list.

For Americans, however, a single issue overwhelms all of the above, one so monumental that we can’t keep our minds off it or on much of anything else when it comes to Iraq. I’m talking, of course, about “the surge,” those five brigades of extra combat troops that, in 2006, a desperate president decided to send into an occupied country collapsing in a maelstrom of insurgency and sectarian civil war. Admittedly, General David Petraeus, who led that surge, would later experience a farcical disaster of his own and is in retirement after going “all in” with his biographer. Still, as we learned in the Senate hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Pentagon chief, the question—the litmus test when it comes to Iraq—remains: Was the surge strategy he implemented a remarkable success or just a simple, straightforward success in essentially buying off the Sunni opposition and, for a period, giving the country a veneer of relative—extremely relative—calm? Was it responsible for allowing us to leave behind a shattered Iraq (and all of Washington’s shattered imperial dreams) with, as President Obama put it, our “heads held high”? Oh, and lest you think that only right-wing Republicans and the rest of the crew that once cheered us into Iraq and refused to face what was happening while we were there find the surge the ultimate measure of our stay, check out Tom Powers’s recent admiring portrait of the surge general in the New York Review of Books.

Here’s at least one explanation for our inability to look defeat in the face and recognize it for what it is: like the proverbial horseman who prefers not to change mounts in midstream, we have an aversion to changing experts in mid-disaster, even when those experts have batting averages for pure wrongness that should stagger the imagination. In fact, you could say that the more deeply, incontrovertibly, disastrously wrong you were about Iraq, the more likely the media was in the years after, on one disaster “anniversary” after another, to call on you for your opinion. At the fifth anniversary of the invasion, for example, the New York Times rounded up a range of "experts on military and foreign affairs" to look back. Six of them had been intimately involved in the catastrophe either as drumbeaters for the invasion, instigators of it, or facilitators of the occupation that followed. Somehow, that paper could not dig up a single expert who had actually opposed the invasion.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Mar 10, 2013, 07:24 AM (3 replies)

Beechcraft Protests Light Air Support Award; Kansas Lawmakers On Warpath


Beechcraft Protests Light Air Support Award; Kansas Lawmakers On Warpath
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: March 8, 2013

WASHINGTON: Wichita Congressman Mike Pompeo and Kansas senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran have written the Pentagon to protest Wichita-based Beechcraft's loss of the bitterly contested Light Air Support contract, Rep. Pompeo told AOL Defense this afternoon. Beechcraft, which had offered its AT-6 Texan II aircraft, announced plans earlier today to file a formal protest against the award to Sierra Nevada Corp., which offered the Brazilian-designed Embraer Super Tucano. Depending on how you count, this marks the second or third time the military has tried to buy Super Tucanos only to run afoul of Beechcraft and its backers.

"Had Beechcraft not been best value, I don't think you would hear a peep from anyone in the Kansas delegation," Pompeo said, minutes before the letter went out to newly-installed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. "[But] they chose the less qualified, more expensive aircraft," he said -- and, the Kansan claimed, the Air Force's own assessment backs him up.

"More expensive" is clearly true. The Air Force announced that Sierra Nevada would provide 20 aircraft plus spare parts, training, and other support for $427 million. Beechcraft's bid for its AT-6 Texan II was about 30 percent less, $297 million.


Of course, there is the definite possibility that the Air Force screwed up the contest. That's what the Air Force's own "command directed investigation" (CDI), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and a federal judge all found about the previous attempt to award the contract to the Super Tucano, in December 2011. "The court finds that ample evidence was before the Air Force to support its concern that the procurement was likely tainted by bias," the judge wrote in November 2012, "bias in favor of SNC [Sierra Nevada Corp.]." So the Air Force tore up the 2012 award and started over -- only to re-award the contract to Sierra Nevada last week.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Mar 9, 2013, 10:17 AM (2 replies)
Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next »