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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:25 PM
Original message
Gates' Plan To Fix the Pentagon
I have a vision that competent leaders can decouple military acquisitions from "whatever the military contractors want". Apparently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been steering Pentagon planning away from the ridiculous overly-complicated weapons that were really designed for an arms race with the Soviets.

I put in the best excerpt I could from the middle of the article. I recommend clicking on the url from

by Fred Kaplan /

It is unusual for an incoming Cabinet officer to spell out a precise agenda or to define the standards by which his performance should be judged before the president has even been sworn in. But that's exactly what now-and-future Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just done with an article in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs.
The article's main point is that, given limited resources, the military services need to shift their priorities away from "baroque" high-tech weapons designed for threats of the distant future (or left over from Cold War premises) and toward low-cost weapons that are effective for the wars we're fighting now and will likely fight in the foreseeable future.

Gates allows that there has to be a balance between these two goals, but he notes that there is currently no constituency in the Pentagon or elsewhere for the latter types of weapons. He recalls that it was necessary to go outside the bureaucratic process to build and quickly deploy the MRAP armored troop-carrying vehiclewhich provided much greater protection against roadside bombs in Iraqor to make more efficient use of camera-carrying drones, like the Predator, for locating insurgents. (He doesn't note that he was the one who rammed these programs through the resistant Army and Air Force bureaucracies.)

More broadly, he writes that there are limits to U.S. military power and that the Pentagon should devote more resources and attentionand promote more of its officersto train, advise, and equip the security forces of allies rather than doing the bulk of the fighting ourselves.

In short, Gates calls for a dramatic change in the Pentagon's "rewards structure""the signals sent by what gets funded, who gets promoted and how personnel are trained."

So, what changes should Gates make two months from now, in the FY 2010 defense budget, that would indicate, to the services, the Congress, and the public, that he is doing what he has said the next secretary should do?

Cancel or sharply cut the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter planes. A year ago, Gates caused a ruckus by halting the F-22 program at its current level of 187 planes, half as many as the Air Force wanted. He should stick to that decision. He may get the support of his new Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, whose background isn't in fighter planes but in airlift: i.e., in planes that transport ground troops and their weapons to the battlefield.

Practically speaking, the Army, Air Force, and Navy have to get a roughly equal share of the budget, otherwise all hell will break loose. So cut some of the Navy's budget, too (in his article, Gates says that the Navy's fleet, even in its reduced state, is larger than that of the 13 next-largest navies combined, and 11 of those are allies). Get the Air Force into other missions besides air-to-air combat (for which there presently is no threat): Build more C-17 cargo planes (Schwartz's specialty); start developing a new bomber (for dropping loads of "smart bombs" very accurately); bring back the A-10 attack plane.

Start an Army and Marine advisory corps to train soldiers to assist foreign armies. A few years ago, Lt. Col. John Nagl, one of the Army's most creative officers, was put in charge of a unit to do just that, but Nagl recently quit the military, in part because the brass wasn't taking his unit or the mission seriously. Gates was distressed when Nagl left. In a few speeches (and in the Foreign Affairs article), he has spoken admiringly of "some dissident colonels" asking the right questions; Nagl is one of the colonels he had in mind. So give Nagl a job in the Pentagon to organize an advisory corps on a grand level.

Get Congress to suspend the peacetime promotion system ...


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maxsolomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. my plan is way simpler
cut the budget by 2/3, demolish 3 of the 5 rings of the building, & grow crops in the resulting space.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. The best way to accomplish that
is to put those fat fuckers on a DIET.

I'm talking about a 10% decrease each year until the budget is at least cut in half. Even that would be much more than any other country spends on its military in terms of GDP.

I'm talking about redefining our military as a defense force, not an imperial force protecting multinational corporations around the world.

I'm talking about common sense.
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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Congressman Barney Frank is advocating 25% cuts in military spending
He is talking about more than just ending the costs from the war in Iraq. There is a path to start reducing military spending, we just have to get the ideas out there and start lobbying for it. I am more excited about this than any other issue.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. At least 50% would be better.
But 25% would be a fine move in the right direction.
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GentryDixon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. I was a Budget Officer for a Department of Defense Installation.
The politics are hard to buck. We were forced to spend money on "whatever" in insure we received at least that much the following fiscal year. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to you.

Directly after 911 we received $11M for "Homeland Security". We reported daily how it was being spent. As we got closer to year end (30 Sep) we were threatened by our higher Headquarters of having the funds taken away and given to a sister Installation if we didn't get it spent. Needless to say we spent it. But I can tell you some, but of coarse not all, was frivolous spending, i.e., exercise equipment for fire fighters and security guards. It made me sick to see the expenditures.

And then there were the support contractors for the Installation. Cost plus contracts are not uncommon for government. We bought turkeys for Thanksgiving & Christmas and ball caps with the name of the contractors. And these contractors are not near the magnitude of Halliburton, KBR, etc. The contract workers were not necessarily paid more, but the admin costs were where the company made it's profit.

I finally had enough of dealing with the Army Budget Office, higher Headquarters and politics in general and retired early, with a substantial reduction in pay, in 2004.

Good luck trying to scrub the Pentagon Budget! It won't happen in my lifetime.
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MasonJar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 07:57 PM
Response to Original message
6. Defense budget is overwhelming the agenda; cut it to the bones.
Give better equipment and medical care to the military personnel. Give benefits to soldiers that enable them to learn and succeed, in and out of the military.
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Politicalboi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
7. Ask Rumsfailed
Where the 2.3 Trillion dollars went? I'm sure by now Donny must be almost done with that audit. :sarcasm:
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