Thursday, April 9

Gates' proposed budget

I am losing my touch. I didn't even think of posting on this topic until Paul prompted me. I did take some notes for a potential Ares post, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Overall, I love this budget. Someone needs to try to change Defense procurement, and I think Gates has taken a great shot at it. I assume he's on the same page with Obama and this is a coordinated effort.

It would be easy to play armchair Secretary and cherry-pick programs I like and don't like, but I don't think I'm going to do that. There's an overall plan, there's an attempt at change, there's plenty of pain; good stuff.

Talking of Ares (above), we had a lot of good coverage over there, in my opinion. Let's walk through a few of those posts:

The Army gets more personnel but Future Combat Systems gets slashed.

Littoral Combat Ship might be the biggest question mark in Gates' commitments. My buddy Galrahn at Information Dissemination sure thinks it is. My favorite idea is one I saw on Tom's weblog (that he got from somewhere else): but some of these ships that have ballooned to insane prices, operate them for awhile and re-sell them to allies who could use small ships like them. That way we recoup some money.

The Air Force continues to get beaten down, as Gates has had to do for most of his tenure. We remain committed to the potentially dodgy F-35, but this is a political reality we can't escape. Cross your fingers that this ends up being a decent plane. There's no point in hoping it will come in near budget or that we'll ever buy the numbers in the initial plan.

The Marines didn't lose the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, yet, and they also gain from the commitment to more combat troops.

Boeing was the biggest corporate loser. More on that below.

Gates - The Secretary Strikes Back

C-17 is dead for now. I don't like this: we need more airlift.

Missile defense survived basically intact.

Now to the aftermath:

Sen. Inhofe Goes Full Guns

Inhofe was the first crazy congressman out of the gate, on a YouTube video from Afghanistan, no less. He said Obama is disarming America during a time of war, which is baloney. Not surprisingly, the Non-Line of Sight Cannon was slated to be built in Inhofe's home state, Oklahoma.

Incidentally, I sat next to the senator on a plane once. He's not totally crazy, but I can't agree with this stand.

Gates Nugget on Foreign Fifth-Gen

Gates says his intel places a Russian fifth-gen fighter at 2016 and China's at 2020.

Comparing fifth-generation fighters has often seemed to me like the missile gap with the USSR: we underplay our resources and vastly overestimate theirs.

Not to mention there's no reasonable scenario of great power war in the forseeable future with Russia or China. Miniscule possibilities, yes, but how much money do we hedge against them when we have soldiers dying now in Afghanistan and getting stop-lossed, totally overusing and abusing our fighting force?

Gates: No More 'Guerilla Warfare' Inside the DC Beltway

I hope rather than believe this is true: that Gates is pulling the Pentagon together and the services won't be going behind his back to Congress to get what they want.

Gates, Obama, the Defense Budget and the Veto

This is one of my favorite pieces of analysis from my friend Michael Bruno: the smart money says Congress will pork up this eventual proposal and that Obama will have to veto it. I think there is little to no chance this budget or anything like it will get through Congress without a big fight. The jobs programs and special interests are just too firmly entrenched.

Here is the entire text of Gates' speech

Here's a part toward the end that I really agree with:
it is important to remember that every defense dollar spent to over-insure against a remote or diminishing risk – or, in effect, to “run up the score” in a capability where the United States is already dominant – is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in, and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk I will not take.
There are three parts to the Iron Triangle of the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about: DoD, Congress and industry.

Industry's primary job is to return money to their shareholders. In this case, it means fighting what Gates has said is best for the military if it's not best for that company and its shareholders. The rhetoric will be couched patriotically, like Inhofe's above, but it will still be propaganda.

In the same way, Congress' main job is to help their constituents. In this case, it means fighting what Gates has said is best for the military

We've left the days of what is good for GM (or Boeing, or Lockheed Martin, or Bath Iron Works) is good for America.

Minority special interests often get their way (the squeaky wheel gets the grease) unless the majority unites against them.

I'll be amazed if anything like this budget eventually passes through Congress, but I hope it does.

That's about it for what I thought. How about you?
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