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by
Rick Moran

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March 3, 2013 - 7:44 am

Soldiers are not above politics and the dire warnings we’ve been hearing for months about sequester “gutting” the military may have been more scare tactic than reality.

Boston Globe:

The warnings only grew more dire as the deadline approached. Automatic cuts to national defense, Pentagon leaders insisted, would be a “disaster,” amounting to “assisted suicide” and “a major step toward creation of an unready, hollow military force.”

But now that the cuts known as sequestration have been triggered, an unlikely meeting of the minds is taking place among some liberals, libertarians, and Tea Party conservatives: They say the US defense budget, which is larger than that of the next nine largest militaries combined, can and should be cut significantly — and that doing so will not harm national security.

“It is not like we have Soviet tank divisions at the German border poised to launch a sneak ­attack,” said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an independent research group in Alexandria, Va. “It is not a question of readiness. It is a question of readiness to do what? The ­defense budget is twice what it was before Sept. 11th and we have half as many enemies. A lot of this is theater. Let them sequester and they will see that nothing happens.”

That, of course, is not the message coming from the commander in chief, most of the top brass, and members of Congress, many of whom are concerned about job losses or smaller profit margins for defense contractors in their states.

Last week during a swing through Newport News, Va., where many of the Navy’s warships are built, President Obama said the cuts “will weaken our military readiness.”

In testimony before a House panel, the chiefs of the military branches sounded similar alarms about the combination of the sequester cuts and the failure of Congress so far to pass a complete budget for this year.

“We will curtail training for 80 percent of our ground forces,” the Army’s chief of staff, General Raymond Odierno, predicted.

“By the beginning of next year, more than 50 percent of my tactical units will be below acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat,” added the Marine Corps commandant, General James Amos.

The Air Force chief of staff, General Mark Welsh, noted that with reduced training two-thirds of combat units will “drop below acceptable readiness levels, by our definitions, by mid-May.

“Most will be completely non-mission-capable as a unit by July,” Welsh said.

When defense budgets need to be scaled back, the cut of choice is in readiness. You can’t cut soldier’s pay or pension and health care benefits (an effort may be made to change pension rules next year, but no significant cut is anticipated). And you can only stretch out the number of years so much to bring a new weapons system online.

But according to the Congressional Research Service, the military has more flexibility in “across the board” cuts than they seem to indicate:

The report concluded, for example, that despite the across-the-board nature of the cuts the Pentagon “would have discretion to allocate funding” to higher priority areas and take steps that “could limit reductions to the services’ readiness-related” programs.

Others agreed that the rhetoric from top military officials about the threat to the nation’s combat edge is exaggerated.

Like their civilian counterparts who warn of dire consequences if the sequester occurs, the generals appear to have little appetite to think seriously about priorities and, within the constraints mandated by the cuts, work to lessen the impact of the cuts in those areas considered vital to our security.

Senator Rand Paul said it best:

“It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred,” he said. “And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.”

Indeed, Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, made the same point many conservatives are making about the sharp increase in domestic spending under President Obama: “The reality is we can do this level of cuts. If we can’t defend the country on half a trillion dollars [a year] then we are doing something wrong.” The cuts bring us back to 2007 levels of defense spending — a period where we were engaged in two wars.

The sequester appears to have triggered a healthy debate about how much is too much government spending, and directs uncomfortable questions at agency heads and department secretaries who appear to need massive increases in spending every year to do their jobs.

If the sequester does nothing else than make the federal government’s hundreds of agencies and departments think seriously about priorities — including the Pentagon — it will have performed an invaluable service to the republic.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (6)
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This article, like so many others I've seen, hangs it's hat on that favorite liberal peg, "we spend more than the next eight counties put together". What does that really mean? A month or so ago, I saw an article about Russia launching the first of a new class of ballistic missle subs. Price? If I recall correctly, something like $973mil. If we launched one tommorrow, would it be less than $3bn? We pay something like $6k for an M-4 carbine, and tens of millions for each new fighter.

My point is that the cost of our defense cannot readily be compared to the defense costs of other nations. The Chinese have replaced their entire air force at least once since we first put the F16 and F18 in the air. Those constitute the bulk of our air power yet, but the Chinese are rapidly putting F22 clones in the air. We discontinued the F22 at about 120 aircraft, even though the F35 was at least three, now well over three, years out- and still not ready for deployment. The Chinese tell us how much they spend on defense, we say how much we spend. First, do we think we get as much per dollar spent, and, second, can we believe their numbers? Same goes for the Russians, Iran, and all potential enemies.

Part of every defense budget has for years been raided for other purposes. Breast cancer research and other medical research that belongs in NIH budgets amoung them. Good 'ol boy pork in various flavors, to include frequent uniform changes that keep those mills humming.

Now it makes sense that a big part of national security is to produce your own weapons, and not just weapons, but all the essentials of military supply. If you can't produce your own weapons, ammunition, transport, even uniforms, boots, etc., you're susceptible to outside manipulation- or even betrayal- by your suppliers. Truly, national defense is an area where "Buy American" makes sense.

It's disadvantages? Politics, of course, whose district is it made in? Where do the parts come from? How's it shipped? Where's it stationed? And, of course, why, if that stuff is going to our boys, well the folks making it ought to be paid top dollar. And that manufacturer's got to get a decent profit, and that community needs a new library, and...

My point is not that our defense industries and their workers should not be well paid, but "made in America", even done fairly and honestly, is not "made inexpensively". There is no way the cost of our defense, made and manned in the US, can be compared to the cost of the defense of other countries, made in their homelands, under their economic systems, and with their bookkeeping. The closest comparison- even a fair comparison- would be Europe, but with the possible exception of the UK and Sweden, Europe stopped paying much for defense in 1989.

You simply cannot compare our defense costs to other countries. In the end, the only intelligent way to decide on a defense budget is to decide on what your mission is, and then to find the lowest cost way to supply that. The Obama administration doesn't understand the concept of mission planning, actually it doen't begin to understand the military, and wants to approach defense costs from the "here's your allowance, do what you can with it and be thankful,' approach. Such an approach will weaken our country.

Of course we will always have the TSA, with 7000 M4's ( at a cost of $) to back DOD up. What could possibly go wrong?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Defense? What defense? We don't need much to defend ourselves against the shitty little Jewish State, our SecDef's biggest enemy.

Our govt. rigged the killing drones against gun carrying Americans who may or may not have committed crimes. We are the Administration's worst enemies. I say, gut the so-called Defense Dept., quadruple the size of Big Sis's Homeland so she could do a better job defending the Administration against us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"and directs uncomfortable questions at agency heads and department secretaries who appear to need massive increases in spending every year to do their jobs."

Because of the way most federal salary schemes work, a manager needs a 2-3% increase in his salary budget every year just to maintain his staffing level. The theory used to be that the "fully accomplished" or journeyman level wage was the middle step in a five to seven annual steps scheme. Between collective bargaining and general giveaways, the starting step is now commonly the market wage and it goes up every year from that. In any event even with a "wage freeze" the employees will get their so-called merit steps every year unless they're at the top of the scale. If they're at the top of the scale and their boss likes them (or is afraid of them) they can get reclassified from Widgetmaker I to Widgetmaker II and get around the freeze that way. Lots of governmental work units' budgets are nearly 100% wages and benefits. This is especially true of infrastructure agencies that handle finances, audits, HR/LR, procurement, budgeting, risk management etc. In these infrastructure agencies even a flat budget will result in a job going unfilled for some period or someone being laid off for lack of funds. In my experience accross the board decrements are poor policy because managers will take accross the board decrements in the parts of the agency less visible to the public and those are the vital internal control and accountability functions. While such cuts may superficially save money, they make a government much more susceptible to fraud, waste, and abuse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“By the beginning of next year, more than 50 percent of my tactical units will be below acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat,” added the Marine Corps commandant, General James Amos.

This fellow does not deserve to lead. Why would anyone organize into more units than there are resources to support? It is truly amazing that our military accomplishes anything with the like of Amos in charge.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whoooa! Do you even know anything about the structure and mission responsibilities of the Marine Corps? Their structure and core mission responsibilities are 'signficantly' different from the rest of the services! Amos has had the brass to stand up and demand the Marine Corps use be returned to its corp mission and responsibilities.

One should probably know a little about the Marine Corps and the Commandants charge of responsibilites befor sling crap at them!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You have entirely missed the point. Those are the units already in existence - he abruptly now cannot fully support them. Shall he disband that half and discharge a hundred thousand Marines willy-nilly?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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