Seventy-six years ago, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Back then our military was ill-prepared and, with the surprise attack, the situation looked even worse. 

Today, only three of the Army’s 58 combat brigades are considered ready for combat. The Navy’s fleet is the smallest it’s been for nearly 100 years. Eighty percent of Marine aviation units don’t have the minimum number of aircraft for basic operations. In 1991, the Air Force had 8,600 aircraft. Today, it has only 5,500; the average age of these aircraft is 27 years while fewer than half are prepared to take on and defeat adversaries. During the recent joint exercises with South Korea there were supposed to be two B-1 bombers participating, but one of them didn’t make it because of technical problems. 

As a 20-year retired Navy veteran I am very concerned; all of us should be. We need to rebuild our military, not sometime in the future but now! In the meantime, Congress continues to pass short-term continuing resolutions to fund our government. It’s impossible to plan for major investments in our military and its preparedness in such an environment. Congress needs to get its act together and do its job.

Bill Sargent

Galveston

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(54) comments

Mark Stevens

Thanks for a good and timely article. Not only must ships and aircraft be funded, but Congress needs to quit penny pinching when it comes to personnel. The recent string of collisions in the Pacific seems to be due in significant part to chronic overwork and crew fatigue, i.e., sleep deprivation. Their work is dangerous enough!!

Cary Semar

In view of the state of military readiness, it may not be an ideal time for massive tax cuts.

Carlos Ponce

"In view of the state of military readiness, it may not be an ideal time for massive tax cuts." Cary Semar
The same dilemma Reagan had in the 1980s. Reagan wanted to rebuild the military but Tip O'Neill wanted to increase Congressional pocketbooks and feed entitlement spending. This led to a government shutdown then to a deficit increase.
If the tax cuts have the desired effect, revenue will go up especially corporate tax cuts. Problem is, will Congress quit looking at your paycheck to pay for pet non-Constitutional projects? The possibility of overspending will still be there.
Military spending should take precedence since there are provisions for it in the Constitution: "provide for the common defense". Every time I hear of a deaths resulting from faulty equipment I think of my nephew Jacob who is a US Marine.
Can we have tax cuts and increase military spending? Yes. Despite claims by Liberal pundits this tax proposal is not "trickle down, nor "supply side economics". But it will have to do for now. The proposal is a result of "compromise" between Trump and the "swamp dwellers" - many of whom call themselves Republican.

Cary Semar

That is wishful thinking. Obviously a tax rate of zero produces no revenue and a tax rate of 100% produces no revenue. Somewhere in between is a maximum, but we do not know what that number is. If we are above that number now, a reduction will produce the desired result, but if we are below it, the effect will be the opposite.

Attempts to predict the maximum using mathematical models have produced estimates that range from 33% to 65%, but the uncertainties are great.

Corporate tax rates have come down from 50% in 1952 to 35% today. More likely we are at or below the optimum than at or above it.

Supply Side economics is the theory that reduced tax rates can produce greater revenue when tax rates are too high. "Trickle down" is merely a pejorative term for Supply Side economics.

Carlos Ponce

"Somewhere in between is a maximum, but we do not know what that number is"
Check out the Laffer curve.

Cary Semar

Carlos, I did read up on Arthur Laffer's theory. His original hypothetical curve placed the optimum at 50%, but that is just a illustrative guess. He did not claim that was the actual maximum. Simplified models like that can yield insight, but they are unreliable for making predictions.

Carlos Ponce

His "original" curve has been revised with more data.

Dwight Burns

Well said.

Diane Turski

We spend more on and have a larger military than many other nations combined! Stop fear mongering!

Carlos Ponce

Diane, such was the thinking in the United States in the late 1930s. Peace was desired back then too. Military spending was cut as a Depression remedy. The result was a surprise attack from Japan and a declaration of war against the United States from NAZI Germany. Pray for peace but as Ronald Reagan once said "Peace through Strength." That led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and their hold over Soviet Bloc countries. Rebuilding our military led to freedom for those peoples and East Germany. Money well spent.

Jim Forsythe

Following the Attack, United States President Franklin D Roosevelt asked congress for permission to declare war on Japan. Congress declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. On December 11, 1941, Nazi Germany and Italy declared War on the United States. The United States was then at war with all three members of the Axis Powers and had officially entered World War II.

Was Pearl Harbor caused by spending cuts?
Hoover increased federal spending from $3.1 billion in 1929 to $4.7 billion in 1932, resulting in a budget deficit of $2.7 billion. (Budget figures come from the White House’s website.) That spending increase did nothing to prevent America from descending into the Great Depression. 
government spending rose under Roosevelt from 4,598 million (around $4.6 billion) in 1933, the year he took office, to 8,228 million (about $8.3 billion) in 1936, before temporarily falling slightly to 7,580 million (around $7.6 billion) in 1937. He ran a budget deficit every single year of his administration (it was $2,193 million in 1937), and spending was much higher in 1937

Oil has been part of the reason's of many a war, and WW11 was one of them.
Japan  bombed Pearl Harbor after the US cut of 90% of their oil supply in protest of their misconduct in Manchuria (burying the chinese alive, for example). 

"Few people realize that it was oil -- the shortage of oil -- that precipitated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Tensions between the United States and Japan were rising throughout that fateful year. Having initiated a war with China (America's ally) and occupied Indochina, Japan's totalitarian government was intent on imposing its will on all of the people of East Asia.
In the summer of 1941, before leaving for Placentia Bay, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ordered a freeze on Japanese assets. That measure required the Japanese to seek and obtain licenses to export and pay for each shipment of goods from the United States, including oil."

Doyle Beard

Remember Pearl Harbor as you commented about earlier in the week. Now you want to say people who want a well armed military are fear mongering. Give me a break. Read George Washington's take on a strong military as a beginning.

Jim Forsythe

When was the last time the military budget was proposed with a budget decrease? If the funding trend continues, the budget for 2019, will be $855 billion. Is there a point when we can not afford the cost? The the lack of maintenance is caused by the increased cost to run the military, leaving less to spend . Would you be willing to increase your taxes by $1000 to help with the cost of the military?

Is it a lack of funding, or is it some other reason for the lack of funds? The retirement and medical costs will keep increasing to a point, that we may not be able to afford to keep funding at the level we do now! We need to address it now!
"The Defense Department knows it needs to become more efficient. It now spends a third of its budget on personnel and maintenance. That will rise to 100 percent by 2024, thanks to retirement and medical costs. That leaves no funds for procurement, research and development, construction or housing. These necessary support programs now take up more than a third of DoD's budget. (Source: "Pay Will Swallow DoD Budget by 2024," Center for Strategy and Budgetary Assessments, April 8, 2013.)"

The U.S. military budget is $824.6 billion. That's the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 which covers the period October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Military spending is the second largest federal government expenditure after Social Security at $1 trillion.  U.S. military spending is larger than the next nine countries combined. 

There are four components. First is the $574.5 billion base budget for the Department of Defense.
Second is the Overseas Contingency Operations for DoD to fight the Islamic State group ($64.6 billion).
Third is the total of other agencies that protect our nation. These expenses are $173.5 billion. They include the Department of Veterans Affairs ($78.9 billion), the State Department ($27.1 billion), Homeland Security ($44.1 billion), FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice ($9.5 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy ($13.9 billion).
The last component is $12 billion in OCO funds for the State Department and Homeland Security to fight ISIS. (Source: "FY 2018 Budget," OMB, May 23, 2017. "2018 Budget, Table 2," OMB, March 16, 2017. "Mid-Session Review Fiscal Year 2017, Table S-10."

U.S. military spending is its largest expenditure after Social Security benefits. It's greater than those of the next 10 largest government expenditures combined. It's four times more than China's military budget of $216 billion. It's almost 10 times bigger than Russia's budget of just $84.5 billion. It's difficult to reduce the budget deficit, and the almost $20 trillion debt, without cutting defense spending.

Carlos Ponce

"When was the last time the military budget was proposed with a budget decrease?
During the Obama administration.
"There are two main reasons for the spending drop. The first is the Obama administration’s decision to start removing U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The second has to do with a process known as sequestration".
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2015/dec/14/politifact-sheet-our-guide-to-military-spending-/
Trump has been trying to save money by renegotiation military construction contracts. Also even though the media lambasted Trump over his stance on "transgendered" troops, that procedure to change gender and maintain with treatments is quite expensive.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/huckabee-sanders-allowing-transgender-people-in-the-military-is-expensive-and-disruptive/2017/07/26/9c19cb54-7233-11e7-8c17-533c52b2f014_video.html

Gary Miller

Jim. There is a way. Freeze spending on welfare and bigger tax cuts. Eliminating theft and fraud in welfare budgets would pay for increased benefits even with a spending freeze. Bigger tax cuts would increase funding for more jobs = more tax reveniews.

Emile Pope

What about ending government subsidies to corporations? That costs a lot more than welfare.

Carlos Ponce

That sounds good, Emile. Run with it.

Doyle Beard

Emile just in case you are not aware corporations provide jobs that put people to work and adds to the economy. Once that is subtracted from the equasion tell me which does more. I am sure you will find your statement to be untrue.

Emile Pope

Garbage. So these multi billion dollar corporations need government subsidies to survive? To hire workers? More ridiculous theory that giving to the wealthy is economically viable.

Carlos Ponce

Emile, you're beginning to fill out your responses. Good for you! I still disagree with most of what you post but at least you are explaining yourself instead of just posting the word "garbage". Now that wasn't hard, was it?

Steve Fouga

I agree we need to rebuild our military. We could pay for that by fighting fewer and shorter wars.

Mark Aaron

If we had a smaller military maybe we wouldn't be so quick to start wars.

Carlos Ponce

If we had a small military other countries would take advantage of us. Remember Pearl Harbor.

Jim Forsythe

If you are suggesting that the military was understaffed before Pearl Harbor,  that was not the case.
"On 8 September 1939, President Roosevelt declared a limited national emergency, raising the strength of the Regular Army to 227,000. Then, with the growing war in Europe, the US Government approved the Selective Service Act in September 1940. This authorized the Army’s strength to be increased to 1.4 million men—500,000 Regulars, 270,000 Guardsmen, and 630,000 Selectees."

Technology, has reduced the need for troops. The future is not hand to hand combat. If we attack North Korea , the need for ground troops will not be the same, as in the past.
"The evolution of guided, precision munitions and the rapid technological advancements in surveillance and targeting systems, however, have made comparing combat power more difficult. What was largely a platform v. platform model has shifted somewhat to a munitions v. target model.
The proliferation of precise weaponry increasingly means that each round, bomb, rocket, missile, and even individual bullet (in some instances) can hit its intended target, thus decreasing the number of munitions needed to prosecute an operation. It also means that the lethality of an operating environment increases significantly for the people and platforms involved. We are now at the point where one must consider how many “smart munitions” the enemy has when thinking about how many platforms and people are needed to win a combat engagement instead of focusing primarily on how many ships or airplanes the enemy can bring to bear against one’s own force.
In one sense, increased precision and the technological advances now being incorporated into U.S. weapons, platforms, and operating concepts make it possible to do far more with fewer assets than ever before. Platform signature reduction (stealth) makes it harder for the enemy to find and target them, while the increased precision of weapons makes it possible for fewer platforms to hit many more targets. Additionally, the ability of the U.S. Joint Force to harness computers, modern telecommunications, space-based platforms—such as for surveillance, communications, positioning-navigation-timing (PNT) support from GPS satellites—and networked operations potentially means that smaller forces can have far greater effect in battle than at any other time in history. But these same advances also enable enemy forces, and certain military functions—such as seizing, holding, and occupying territory—may require a certain number of soldiers no matter how state-of-the-art their equipment may be.
With smaller forces, each individual element of the force represents a greater "

Drones are cheaper  , without putting a pilot in harms way. The number of drones will increase, and the need for pilots will decrease.
"According to recent reports, the Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. The fiscal year 2016 budget included $2.9 billion for drone research, development, and procurement. This figure represents the known costs; it does not include funding that may be classified. The CIA has about 30 Predator and Reaper drones, which are operated by Air Force pilots from a U.S. military base in an unnamed U.S. state. The Department of Homeland Security has at least ten unarmed Predator drones, costing approximately $62 million a year. The cost per flight hour varies by type of drone. Predator and Reaper drones cost about $2,500-3,500 per flight hour; larger armed systems such as the military’s Global Hawk cost about 10 times as much: approximately $30,000 per flight hour."

Carlos Ponce

"If you are suggesting that the military was understaffed before Pearl Harbor, that was not the case."
Are you suggesting that the war effort, converting factories into military manufacturing plants was not necessary? That's a stretch. Think of all the tanks, jeeps, planes, bombs, ammunition, etc that had to be built due to the war effort starting in December 1941. Not understaffed? Are you suggesting increasing the number drafted was not necessary? History suggests otherwise. How soon we forget the sacrifices made by the men and women that went overseas and those on the home front who endured rationing of everyday goods.
Technology does not replace those operating the drones, ships, etc. intoday's world. We don't want to lose our best and brightest in war but then again we want our best and brightest operating the tech in today's warfare. Some will be in harm's way.
Do you really want wars operated by computers and technology excluding the human factor?

Jim Forsythe

You may want to go back to the day's without computers as part of the military, but I do not.

The reason we have precise weaponry, is because of computers. Drones are operated from the USA
Smart Bomb's, rocket's, missile's have humans on ships or bases operating them. Guidance systems are operated from space that tell the hardware on the earth the coordinates. We have other capabilities in space, that we have not used yet.
Some of the equipment we have today will not be needed, when drones and computers start to dominate the battle field.

What human factor do you want to preserve?.
If we reduce or eliminate deaths or injury's, we would not need as many people as replacements , or support staff. 
The best way to do this , is eliminate the need to place our people in harms way!

This is just a few of the high teck computer driven equipment we have now. The near future will be unbelievable, compared to what we have today. Some of the equipment can be modified for a limited use of humans, or in some cases, no human's.

1 PCU Ford will join the fleet in 2016. It will be the largest and most expensive warship to ever float and features a number of technological improvements over its predecessors. Electromagnetic catapults allow it to more quickly launch aircraft and it has better generators for powering sensors, weapons, and other necessary systems

2 Nett Warrior, a tablet-based computer system to allow soldiers to keep track of one another on the battlefield, will be getting an app that will allow soldiers to more quickly and accurately call for artillery strikes.

3 Black Hornet drones will reach Army units 
These mini-drones weigh about 18 grams but pack both standard and thermal cameras for reconnoitering enemy positions

4 The submarine fleet will welcome two new Virginia-class fast attack subs, the USS Colorado (SSN 788) and the USS Washington (SSN 787). While new Virginia-class subs typically feature the latest and greatest tech in submarine warfare, everything from improved sensors to better acoustic camouflage, the specifics are classified for obvious reasons.

5 The Army’s newest night-vision goggles will be fielded to soldiers in 2016. They provide improved thermal detection over a wider area and will be able to communicate with future weapon sights so soldiers can always see the impact point of their weapon, even when firing from the hip or through smoke.

6  A variety of high powered sonic weapons (SW) exist spanning the infrasonic, ultrasonic, and audible ranges. Because they are weapons which direct sound onto a target, and sound is energy, they can be considered directed-energy weapons.
These weapons produce both psychological and physical effects. They include highly directional devices which can transmit painful audible sound into an individual’s ear at great distances and infrasonic generators which can shoot acoustic projectiles hundreds of meters causing a blunt impact upon a target.

Steve Fouga

I'd like to see it smaller and modernized. Phase out the last generation of weapon systems, and replace with a newer generation. Reduce headcount. As always, try to increase tooth-to-tail. My impression is that non-combat-coded personnel and equipment is high.

Carlos Ponce

"...modernized. Phase out the last generation of weapon systems, and replace with a newer generation." That will cost money. But enemies will use guerilla tactics and street warfare necessitating "ground" troops.

Jim Forsythe

Drone tanks and jeeps do not require persona on the ground. 
Robots will replace ground troops.

Steve Fouga

Carlos, you've prompted a rant. Of course it will cost money. Do it anyway, slowly.

Sure, ground troops will still be needed, but maybe not as many. Guerilla tactics and street warfare can be countered with "modern," connected, and possibly fewer ground troops, working with airborne, seaborne, and even space-based assets. You'd be surprised what airplanes and satellites can sniff out and focus the troops' attention on.

We need enough conventional capability to fight and decisively defeat the combination of Russia and China, on two fronts, with the help of allies. Obviously this will take ground troops. I'm confident we are up to this task. Russia and China's air forces and navies would be gone in a few days, if the war were fought right now. But in a few years, who knows?

We need enough nuclear capability to defeat Russia, China, and North Korea concurrently, with some warheads left over to decisively defeat any post-Armageddon challengers. I'm confident we have this, but it should be gradually modernized.

We need a counter-cyber capability enabling us to shut down the electronics-controlled infrastructure of Russia, China, and North Korea -- basically returning them to a pre-information-era economy and military capability with a few keystrokes. The "modern" equivalent of the nuclear football. Big bucks should be focused here. As many bucks as it takes.

We also need rules-of-engagement defining how a president, a DoD, a combatant commander, and so on, are to respond to varying levels of engagement by foreign actors. Of course we already have this, but is it up-to-date? For example, if I were Commander-in-Chief, I would love be able to declare that a cyber attack on the U.S. power grid, financial institutions, flood-control infrastructure, air-traffic-control infrastructure, and yes, election infrastructure and processes, would be countered with a kinetic attack on foreign assets. You ruin an election, we take out Murmansk. You shut down a power grid, we take out Vladivostok. There has to be a penalty, that's my view. Okay, if we can do it with economic sanctions, that's even better. My point is, it needs to be spelled out and made clear to the rest of the world.

Fewer wars, fewer people, better equipment, higher technology. Cheaper now and in the long run.

Carlos Ponce

"Drone tanks and jeeps do not require persona on the ground.
Robots will replace ground troops."
Who operates, maintains these drones, robots? Do you really want them self actualized, operating within a specific set of pre-programmed instructions without a human factor when actually in use? That would lead to complications, unnecessary destruction and death. And what happens when Euro-trained terrorists take one, overwrite its programming and reprogram it to kill our allies or us? If they can hack into our computers they can hack into a drone or robot.

Jim Forsythe

Who operates, maintains these drones, robots? Maintance is done away from the fighting. Operating the drones, robots, is done  remotely. Why would we want our troops, to be exposed to the possibly of more burns, loss of limbs or death than necessary ?

" And what happens when Euro-trained terrorists take one, overwrite its programming and reprogram it to kill our allies or us?" If they can hack into our computers they can hack into a drone or robot."
With the right Encryption, and the military has the right Encryption, this will not happen.

In my house, I have a washing machine that can commutate over the phone to diagnose what is wrong with it.
We have 18 wheeler's that can self drive, and have no one in the cab.
Refinery's are being ran off site. In some cases the control room, is not in the same country.
Doctors are operating with remote robots.
In the near future transportation will change.
A Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and/or freight transportation, first used to describe an open-source vactrain design released by a joint team from Tesla and SpaceX. Drawing heavily from Robert Goddard's vactrain, a hyperloop comprises a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at high speed while being very efficient, with a average speed of around 600 mph
You may not want change, but it can not be stopped.

Fighting wars has already changed. The following is what they are telling us. What else are they working on?
Robot warriors are now.
April 8, 2015
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday outlined the Pentagon’s plans for an advanced war-fighting strategy involving robot weapons and remote-controlled warfare.
In a speech to the Army War College Strategy Conference, Mr. Work said the “third offset strategy” will rely heavily on autonomous systems that will allow machines and U.S. technological superiority to win wars.
The strategy follows two earlier “offsets” — the use of asymmetric means to counter enemy advantages. During the Cold War, strategic deterrence and tactical nuclear arms were used to offset the Soviet Union’s ground force numerical advantages. In the 1970s, precision-guided conventional weapons were deployed to offset the quantitative shortcomings of foreign conventional forces.
Mr. Work said precision-guided warfare is reaching the end of its shelf life as foreign states have developed countermeasures.
The third offset will be designed to defeat states like China, which is developing niche, offset weapons such as anti-ship ballistic missiles and anti-satellite arms.
“The real essence of the third offset strategy is to find multiple different attacks against opponents across all domains so they can’t adapt, or they adjust to just one, and they died before they can adapt again,” he said.

USA ,is not the only one using this technology. We have to stay ahead of the curve. 
2015
Iran has placed an “explosive emphasis” in putting military surveillance and attack drones into the sky, including “suicide” aircraft that increase risks for Israel and for U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf, according to a new U.S. Army analysis.
The Iranian army is spearheading the drive for a fleet of explosive-mounted killer drones. It tested them in December against ship targets near the Strait of Hormuz, the chokepoint for maritime traffic in and out of the Gulf.
The implication is clear: The hard-line Shiite-dominated regime has long threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 20 percent of the world’s oil is transported daily. The live-fire test/exercise shows that kamikaze drones are in the Iranian war plan.


Carlos Ponce

"Maintance is done away from the fighting. Operating the drones, robots, is done remotely." To be effective, maintenance and operation may be hundreds of miles away but no obstacle to those who would retaliate.

Carlos Ponce

Jim, Steve it looks like we're agreeing more than disagreeing. The difference is in thinking more tech requires less manpower or people power if you prefer. It will require more "geeks" than "grunts" which that would require a higher pay for military personnel since that type of person could make more money in the private sector. As far as numbers it could require possibly more. As a Marine, my nephew is engaged in instrument calibration. Currently there is too much work for them. Recruiting and retaining the right personnel is costly but necessary in the 21st Century military. Again I repeat, military spending , which is Constitutional should take priority in any Federal budget.

Jim Forsythe

This is why IT, is one of the fastest growing fields for jobs .
"Operating the drones, robots, is done remotely"  US control center for remote control drones, (located in the USA) carry out deadly missions thousands of miles away from the fighting. Maintenance can be done away from the front in most cases. Drone tow trucks, can bring them back to a secured place. Drone planes can then transport to repair shops.

The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by on board controls.
Control systems for UAVs are often different than manned craft. For remote human control, a camera and video link almost always replace the cockpit windows; radio-transmitted digital commands replace physical cockpit controls. Autopilot software is used on both manned and unmanned aircraft. 
ICAO classifies unmanned aircraft as either remotely piloted aircraft or fully autonomous. Actual UAVs may offer intermediate degrees of autonomy. E.g., a vehicle that is remotely piloted in most contexts may have an autonomous return-to-base operation.
Basic autonomy comes from proprioceptive sensors. Advanced autonomy calls for situational awareness, knowledge about the environment surrounding the aircraft from exterioceptive sensors: sensor fusion integrates information from multiple sensors

Animal imitation – Ethology
Flapping-wing ornithopters, imitating birds or insects, are a research field in microUAVs. Their inherent stealth recommends them for spy missions.
The Nano Hummingbird is commercially available, while sub-1g microUAVs inspired by flies, albeit using a power tether, can "land" on vertical surfaces.
Other projects include unmanned "beetles" and other insects.
Research is exploring miniature optic-flow sensors, called ocellis, mimicking the compound insect eyes formed from multiple facets, which can transmit data to neuromorphic chips able to treat optic flow as well as light intensity discrepancies.

Jim Forsythe


When I was doing safety training these numbers on the cost of being  injured, was about the same. 
Beside the cost, the number of people that have problems for the  rest of their lives is less.

This is one of the reasons that our budget for the military is so big.
For every one of the 866,181 soldiers officially counted injured casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government is expected to spend some $2 million in long-term medical cost. 
The total of $1.7 trillion is based on a widely cited March 2013 paper by Linda Bilmes at Harvard’s Kennedy School. It includes $800 billion already spent on injured veterans along with the cost of long-term care for an additional 50,000 current casualties counted by the Pentagon. 


Steve Fouga

Carlos, I agree we are mostly agreeing. My guess is that you and I agree on 90% of everything. That 90% doesn't appear in this forum, or doesn't pique our interest when it does.

My point is based on a philosophy that has driven U.S. military planning since at least the end of the Vietnam era, if not before. Simply put, we rely more on technological superiority than numerical. We are at least attempting to put fewer people into combat. Your comment about this bringing about a change in job codes is correct. Unmanned or highly automated systems still need to be operated and maintained, but it will be by different people, or the same people trained to do different things. My opinion, based on some actual knowledge and not just speculation, is that this will be cheaper in the long run. I think it will result in lower headcount, fewer injuries, and fewer deaths, all of which are very expensive to the taxpayer. We shall see.

To REALLY lower "defense" spending, we need to fight fewer wars, or fight them smaller.

Jim Forsythe

Some of these points you may agree with. Each point suggest a way to reduce cost. 
Any recommendation's for you, a none starter?  I'm not sure about number 8.

1) The military is top-heavy with officers and generals compared to enlisted men,
2)  If every missile and bomb hits its target—unlike in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam—why do we need so many planes, tanks, and warships? Drones now can replace many pilots. In the Korean War it took 4 months of trying to bomb the Yalu River bridge by which most Chinese supplies arrived.
3) Combine military medical services. Each of the armed forces has its own medical corps. An excessive number of Army colonels are doctors
4) Former Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England urged cutting 100,000 civilian employees from the Defense Department when it had 700,000 employees, the same number as during World War 2. Now the number has grown to 800,000.
5) Tricare costs the Pentagon budget over $50 billion per year to provide almost free healthcare to all military retirees and their families for life, even if they are working in other jobs with health insurance.
6) Senator Coburn complained that the military schools were costing $50,000 per student. He urged reforms such as using more local civilian schools near military bases.
7) The military maintains some 4,000 bases inside the U.S. and 1,000 overseas with personnel in 140 nations; many installations have fewer than 100 troops.
8) The military is paid vastly more than civilians. Officers and enlisted men earn an average cash income some 80 percent higher than civilians with similar skills and education. Their pension and medical benefits put them far beyond what any worker in the private sector earns
9) Retirement ages were set well over a hundred years ago when life spans were under 60 years. Surely noncombat personnel could retire with pensions after, say, 25 years instead of 20
10) Retired generals and admirals should be prohibited for five years from working for the military-industrial complex so that they will use their skills elsewhere to help the civilian economy.Remember the CNN and Fox News generals promoting more war who were outed by the New York Times for profiting from Pentagon suppliers
11) It’s not just Pentagon waste. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have virtual blank checks without oversight
12) It cost half a million in Iraq and nearly a million dollars in Afghanistan to maintain each soldier per year. Obviously fewer foreign interventions would save hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars.
13) Weaponry is the greatest money sink of all. Weapons are designed to be built in key congressional districts, not to be the most efficient or cost effective
14)  defense manufacturing cut out much middle management and start using labor to maximum efficiency.
15) America maintains duplicate forces: two armies (i.e., Army and Marine Corps.) and four air forces (the Air Force, Marine Corps aviation, Naval Air Forces, and the CIA’s fleet of aircraft and drones


+

Steve Fouga

Jim, I agree with most of these points, with a few reservations. Some of them, like excessive colonels in the medical ranks, I was completely unaware of, but found interesting. I also agree with your questioning of number 8. My experience with the DoD/military is that industry personnel equivalent to officer ranks or DoD management ranks have higher salaries than their government counterparts. I have little experience with enlisted ranks.

I strongly disagree that weaponry is the biggest money sink. BY FAR the biggest money sink is warfighting and its aftermath. Wars, as we currently fight them, are extremely manpower-intensive, with concomitant salaries, deployment costs, pensions, medical costs, death benefits, etc. Weapons are purchased once. If not used in a war, and often even if they are, they last for many years. If used in a war, they age out much faster than if not.

The point about each bomb, shell, and bullet being more accurate is true, and it's at the heart of why we should, and do, rely more on advanced technology rather than numbers. Despite being at war for the longest stint in our history, we use far fewer aircraft and ships to prosecute it than we did in WWII, for example.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ Remember Pearl Harbor.]

What Jim said.

Dwight Burns

Thank God we don't fight wars the way we did in years past. Today's military needs individuals who are more geek than 'Hulk'.

Ron Shelby

War today will be, and is, nothing like war a 100 years ago. Manpower needs will be much less as technology replaces them. Bill Sargent is an example of someone who's been left behind with attitudes from the wrong era. He's a Dinosaur. The exact reason he doesn't belong in congress.

Emile Pope

We have the best military in the world. And we spend far more on it than we should. Never enough money for social programs or education but always enough for tax cuts for the wealthy and the military...sickening...

Carlos Ponce

"Never enough money for social programs or education..." Nice thoughts but extra-Constitutional. The defense of this country is in the Constitution.

Emile Pope

"Promote the general welfare"

Carlos Ponce

The general welfare clause does not apply to "social programs and education". Examine the number of FDR New Deal programs struck down bt the Supreme Court James Madison who drafted the Constitution said the clause authorized Congress to spend money, but only to carry out the powers and duties specifically enumerated in the subsequent clauses of Article I, Section 8, and elsewhere in the Constitution.
"In United States v. Butler, (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a federal agricultural spending program because a specific congressional power over agricultural production appeared nowhere in the Constitution. According to the Court in Butler, the spending program invaded a right reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment. The Court decided that Butler was consistent with Madison's philosophy of limited federal government.
Schecter Poultry Corp. Vs The United States , the Supreme Court declared the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, a main component of President Roosevelt's New Deal, unconstitutional.
Since the Constitution makes no mention of education, the 10th Amendment applies giving states and the people control over education.

Emile Pope

Hogwash. To find anecdotal cases doesn't make the clause invalid.

Carlos Ponce

So Supreme Court Cases are now anecdotal? You're funny, Emile![beam]

Emile Pope

About as funny as trying to nullify a clause in the Constitution without proof...

Carlos Ponce

Too bad you are not as scholar otherwise you would know the real meaning behind the phrase "provide for the common welfare".

Jean Casanave

@Emile, most people don't recognize this, as the government has grown beyond belief in the last 100 or so years, but the Federal role has 3 primary purposes. 1. National Security, 2. Regulate commerce and industry between states and other countries and 3. Coin currency. I also believe their function is to secure individual liberty but that was laid out in the bill of rights section of the constitution.
If the Feds stuck with the program, we wouldn't be intertwined in all the social programs and entitlements that we are today. That should be dealt with at the state level but the states, over time have relinquished their sovereignty for federal grants and favors. Hard to imagine any reversal of bad decisions with the climate of today.
@Carlos, why do you capitalize "liberal"? Just curious.

Steve Fouga

Jean asks: "Carlos, why do you capitalize "liberal"? Just curious."

I think he does it out of respect, but I'll wait for his answer. [cool]

Carlos Ponce

Why do I capitalize Liberal? There is a difference between the word "liberal" and those who identify their political beliefs as "Liberal".

Steve Fouga

Ah. Ever the teacher. Good for you, Carlos. One of our noblest professions, and maybe our most important. My daughter is considering it, and I'm encouraging her.

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