12 December 2008

Outlook Bleak For Defense Spending on Personnel

The influential left-of-center brain matter tank, Center for American Progress, has released a comprehensive report of prioritization for defense spending. COIN guru, Abu Muqawama, has praised the report citing its focus on prioritizing irregular warfare, while focusing on cuts for conventional-style spending (e.g. no mo' F-22s). Of course, the pdf has some obvious political bias thrown in there [pg 13 of PDF]:

The reduction in causalities from the Iraq war, the election of Barack Obama, who has pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq, as well as rising unemployment among today’s youth are key reasons enlistment is becoming more appealing to youth.
I didn't know the nation's elite were lining up at the recruiter's door on Nov. 5th, but whatever. The report is actually pretty decent, since it gets into specifics of what and how much certain acquisitions should be cut, based on the current state of international affairs. Considering you'd expect progressive think tanks to be dredging up hippie slogans about "Make Love, Not Bombs" and putting the brass on trial for war crimes, it's pretty sharp. There's also a fun little interactive feature where you can "design your own defense budget", in which I ran in the $2 Trillion range ala Dr. Evil. Guess I'm not going to be SECDEF anytime soon.

But, despite the sleek PDF, the cuts in defense to balance out the bailout bombs we're throwing at unprofitable corporations are most likely going to come from personnel costs in the DoD. Too many Senators and Congressmen have their grubby mitts in the defense contractor pie, and the only people that you can piss off without affecting the inevitable next election is one of the smallest voting blocs: citizens in uniform. Back in May, I argued that military people were gonna be screwed whoever the next President was due to a rising deficit and competition for government resources, and you people were about to ship me off to the funny farm for being crazy. But, Madman Murtha (D-Pa.), Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, is already got his ideas on "trimming the fat" during these lean times. From Gov Exec (h/t TSO):
Murtha said the Army and Marine Corps spent about $2 billion on enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses since 2007 -- incentives lawmakers and service officials deemed necessary to help meet recruiting and retention goals. But Murtha said bonuses were one area that could produce savings as forces are drawn down in Iraq. "If we draw down, we ought to be able to get rid of the bonuses," he said.
Who needs to retain quality soldiers when you have multi-billion dollar gizmos to play with, right? We've already tried the Rumsfeld model of diminishing the size of the military but spending oodles on gadgets and DC-area bureaucracy...which failed in Iraq. Why is Murtha going down the same path? Fellow troublemaker, Jonn Lilyea, has more analysis of this flamboyant mentality.

The "Support the Troops" line isn't going to work anymore to ensure that veterans and military personnel get adequate VA care and pay. New and improved methods of outreach and political maneuvering will be required. Start sharpening your machetes, it's gonna be an ugly fight.


Sholom said...

I don't particularly care for their approach to defense, and I think they place too much trust in gizmos as a whole.

From my own experience in the military, I know that soldiers are quite capable of improvising when necessary.

My recommendations: Increase the size of the force. Reduce the dependence on gadgets. Increase the size of the force. Reduce the teeth-to-tail ratio. Increase the size of the force. Allow for plenty of training at the squad and platoon levels. Increase the size of the force.