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Odysseus
07-02-2012, 03:29 PM
This is bad. Very, very bad.
Congress to Defense Industry: We Can't Save You
(http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=823)




Defense hawks on Capitol Hill have tried for months to pressure congressional leaders to call off the dreaded deficit-reduction (http://www.conservativeunderground.com/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=821)law that mandates automatic budget cuts of $1.2 trillion — half for defense — over the next decade. Pro-defense Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee held hearings, hosted town hall meetings and posted videos on YouTube (http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/defense-drumbeat-blog?ContentRecord_id=f80f2662-30ab-4333-a906-222b2314517e).

Nothing has worked, conceded a panel of lawmakers speaking to industry executives and investors June 21 at the Bloomberg Government Defense Conference, in Washington, D.C.

The political factions are so far apart that the chances of averting the so-called budget sequester before year’s end are slim to none, said Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

“We're not talking,” Moran said. “There isn’t a deal in hand.”

House Republicans have ruled out raising tax revenues to partially offset the cuts. And Democrats have drawn a hard line against protecting the defense budget at the expense of social services or food stamps.

It’s time to face the reality that the political process has reached a dead end, said Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee.

Politicians’ tired buzzwords such as “let’s be bipartisan … let’s put everything on the table” are pointless, said Forbes. “Regardless of what you put on the table, right now we don’t have a table.”

The defense industry — which has lobbied intensively against the cuts, arguing that they will trigger massive layoffs and weaken the U.S. economy (http://www.conservativeunderground.com/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=819)— is going to have to be even more aggressive, said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., chief deputy whip and member of the Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Committee’s national security subcommittee.

Budget problems that should be solvable are now caught in a pitched ideological battle, and even the threat of losing defense industry jobs is not enough to end the standoff in Washington, Welch said.

Defense companies need to fight harder, he said. “The defense community has more credibility” than other sectors, Welch told the Bloomberg conference. “You’re in all of our districts, [you provide] real jobs, people want to support a strong defense posture. You guys have to go big, go bold. That’s my view.”

As if the news for defense contractors weren’t bad enough, panelists noted, efforts to ward off defense cuts also face a steep public relations battle as Americans become increasingly disengaged from the budget debate.

“When you talk to the public, there’s a glaze that comes across people's eyes when you use the word sequestration, so we stopped using it,” said Forbes. But it is not clear that even the more people-friendly term, massive defense cuts, gets the message across, he said. “This is a political crisis.”

Although sequestration would amount to about a 10 percent reduction from the defense budget next year, the pain would be borne disproportionately by Pentagon contractors because President Obama already directed that all personnel accounts be exempt from the automatic cuts. Congress also has moved to shelter war funds from sequester. The upshot is that the portion of the budget that is not being protected — mainly procurement of new equipment, research and development — will see a 15 percent cut, said Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Weapon modernization and combat readiness are not high priorities, he lamented. “We’re on track to spend more on veterans than on active military in the next few years.”

Zakheim echoed other panelists’ pessimistic outlook. “I don’t think this Congress can cut a deal,” he said. “If it could it would have done it by now.”

Defense industry can’t even count on the support of defense hawks such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who opposes the automatic cuts but continues to call for the termination of big-ticket military programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the USS Ford aircraft carrier and the Littoral Combat Ship.

These three programs alone are tens of billions of dollars over budget, McCain groused. “The American people should be far more angry than they are.” The biggest problem for Pentagon today is not budget cuts but the acquisition system, McCain said. “Once a program reaches a certain point and has enough constituencies around the country you cant’ stop it. Some of these programs need to be stopped.”


The culture is riven with corruption, said McCain. “We have a revolving door between Pentagon and industry. … There is an environment where overruns are not a major concern.”

McCain has joined Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to draft bipartisan legislation that would compel the Obama administration to articulate in detail in the coming weeks the impact of sequestration cuts, both for defense and non-defense programs.

In their fight against sequestration, defense industry leaders have pointed out that the more troublesome issue for contractors are not budget cuts per se, but that fact that the Pentagon is not planning for the reductions and has not provided any clues on what programs might be targeted once the ax falls.

“There is no guidance,” said Brett B. Lambert, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy.

He recognized that, amid the uncertainty, “people gravitate to the most negative behaviors.”

Lambert’s comments suggested that the Pentagon is not overly alarmed by the prospect of suppliers going out of business or choosing to exit the defense market as a result of the spending cutbacks.

“[Companies] are part of an economic structure,” Lambert said. “My fiduciary responsibility is to the taxpayer and the war fighter. Theirs is to the shareholder.” Lambert’s office is studying potential “points of failure” in the supplier chain, but only will act to protect a vendor if the product it provides is absolutely essential and cannot be obtained elsewhere.

After 10 years of rapid spending growth and with wars winding down, the industry has to shrink, said Gordon Adams, a former White House budget official and currently professor of international relations at American University.

A fear-mongering campaign about loss of jobs is purely political theater, he said. “We are in a defense builddown.” Sequester is poor fiscal policy, but “it’s not the end of the world.”

Lambert, in an attempt to lighten the somber mood in the audience, compared the budget crisis to Thelma and Louise. “It’s a great movie. But it ends poorly.”





Posted at 4:49 PM by Sandra Erwin

Rockntractor
07-02-2012, 03:42 PM
I think I'll learn chinese.

Sent from my ADR6325 using Tapatalk 2

txradioguy
07-02-2012, 03:44 PM
And Democrats have drawn a hard line against protecting the defense budget at the expense of social services or food stamps.

Yes because saving a growing group of mindless sheeple dependent on the Fed for EVERYTHING in their sorry existence is more important to these clowns than the defense of this nation and actually supporting people who contribute a useful skill to the citizens.

Just a reminder...the percentage of the GDP taken up by defense even with two wars - 4.7%

Percentage of the GDP taken up by entitlement spending - 15.6% and growing.

You tell me which needs to be cut.

Chuck58
07-02-2012, 03:50 PM
I think I'll learn chinese.

Sent from my ADR6325 using Tapatalk 2

Chinese? What if The Bahamas or the Caymans decide they want Florida?

Odysseus
07-02-2012, 03:57 PM
New slogan for the Democrats: Trillions for entitlements, not one cent for defense!


Chinese? What if The Bahamas or the Caymans decide they want Florida?

The Caymans can just buy it. Florida real estate prices have been in the toilet since the housing bubble broke.

DumbAss Tanker
07-02-2012, 04:58 PM
As much as I think McCain is a Camelot-era wack-job on his foreign policy positions, eager to fling us headlong into foisting democracy on people in countries that don't actually want it but just want to kill their rivals for power with as much outside assistance as they can get (Which is already why those 'expenditures on veterans' are going to be so high in the out-years), I have to agree with a lot of what he said on the defense industry and its inbreeding with the Pentagon, one hand is constantly washing the other. It's really a three-way, though, because Congress is just as mixed up in it as the industry and the military leadership.

Wibbins
07-02-2012, 06:41 PM
Hmm let me see: Defense, mandatory in the Constitution
Welfare checks, not mandatory

Rockntractor
07-02-2012, 06:51 PM
Hmm let me see: Defense, mandatory in the Constitution
Welfare checks, not mandatory

The constitution is sooooo last week!

Gina
07-02-2012, 07:55 PM
http://youtu.be/gEmJ-VWPDM4

Wei Wu Wei
07-03-2012, 09:49 PM
I thought government spending couldn't create jobs?

m00
07-03-2012, 11:59 PM
I thought government spending couldn't create jobs?

It can create jobs. It just can't create net jobs. Presumably if we had a $0 defense budget and we lowered taxes by that amount, we'd have more jobs because the private sector could better spend that money to produce capital... until we stopped being able to protect shipping lanes. So there would be more jobs, yes, but we'd just be screwed because we wouldn't have a military. Also want to point out military personnel don't exactly make bank here. Defense contractors on the other hand, do. There's a lot of waste, but that's kind of my point... there would be, the contracts are managed by the government.

Odysseus
07-04-2012, 12:18 AM
I thought government spending couldn't create jobs?

It doesn't. It transfers wealth. The jobs in defense are made at the cost of jobs in the private sector, but they are a necessity, because without them, there would be no private sector, or anything else.


It can create jobs. It just can't create net jobs. Presumably if we had a $0 defense budget and we lowered taxes by that amount, we'd have more jobs because the private sector could better spend that money to produce capital... until we stopped being able to protect shipping lanes. So there would be more jobs, yes, but we'd just be screwed because we wouldn't have a military. Also want to point out military personnel don't exactly make bank here. Defense contractors on the other hand, do. There's a lot of waste, but that's kind of my point... there would be, the contracts are managed by the government.

Exactly.

Plus, the defense industries are a unique case, in that defense is one of the few areas in government spending where there is competition. The contractors compete to provide military stocks, and the militaries of the world compete with each other. War is the ultimate competition.

m00
07-04-2012, 12:41 AM
It doesn't. It transfers wealth. The jobs in defense are made at the cost of jobs in the private sector, but they are a necessity, because without them, there would be no private sector, or anything else.



Exactly.

Plus, the defense industries are a unique case, in that defense is one of the few areas in government spending where there is competition. The contractors compete to provide military stocks, and the militaries of the world compete with each other. War is the ultimate competition.

Here is what I don't get. I have close family that does defense contract work. So I hear the "horror stories" in broad terms about making a vehicle for 10 years that has changing requirements every time a new general gets promoted. If liberals (and conservatives) were serious, why not promise to grossly streamline contract management to eliminate this sort of thing from happening? We could easily shave 10%-20% off the budget just by being slightly more efficient (or slightly less dumb). Why not evaluate the missions the armed forces are tasked with in a very public fashion, and have adult conversations about the ones that don't make sense anymore and the ones that do? I'm just using logic here, so maybe I'm wrong (and feel free to correct my ody) but for example I would be very surprised if we still needed 11 carrier battle groups. Obviously there are some things we need more of, such as drones and cyber-warfare tools. So I'm not pretending to be a military strategist here, but it feels like the nature of warfare has changed but the nature of our defense spending hasn't.

Sorry if this post offends anyone that knows better than I.

Odysseus
07-04-2012, 01:34 AM
Here is what I don't get. I have close family that does defense contract work. So I hear the "horror stories" in broad terms about making a vehicle for 10 years that has changing requirements every time a new general gets promoted. If liberals (and conservatives) were serious, why not promise to grossly streamline contract management to eliminate this sort of thing from happening? We could easily shave 10%-20% off the budget just by being slightly more efficient (or slightly less dumb). Why not evaluate the missions the armed forces are tasked with in a very public fashion, and have adult conversations about the ones that don't make sense anymore and the ones that do? I'm just using logic here, so maybe I'm wrong (and feel free to correct my ody) but for example I would be very surprised if we still needed 11 carrier battle groups. Obviously there are some things we need more of, such as drones and cyber-warfare tools. So I'm not pretending to be a military strategist here, but it feels like the nature of warfare has changed but the nature of our defense spending hasn't.

Sorry if this post offends anyone that knows better than I.

Believe it or not, the process has been streamlined, but it's still a nightmare. Requirements start at the strategic level, when congress tells us what the size of the force will be, and the DOD executive branch puts out the first in a series of documents providing the priorities for the force. Congress controls the purse, and the executive defines the mission. For example, we are told that we will have x number of Brigade Combat Teams in the Army, but we then have to determine what their composition will be and look at the support requirements for those BCTs. How many maneuver battalions per brigade, and how many companies per battalion? How many personnel in a platoon, and how many per vehicle? What kind of support will that unit need? How many trucks per battalion, and so forth. So, before we can even begin to look at procurement, we have to look at structure, then refine it. That process alone takes a year, and it only covers the staff work to identify the basic requiremenThis is why the budget process is done on a five-year cycle. There are things that could be done better, but many of them cannot.

Here's an example of something that used to be taken as an example of waste, the $300 hammers. What the media never told you was that those hammers were made to repair the interiors of fuel tanks on naval vessels, which can never be completely cleared of the fumes from the fuel. The hammers had to be made from copper so that they would not spark and cause explosions, and they were pretty large sledgehammers, not little claw hammers like you'd buy at Home Depot. They also had other metallurgical properties in order to ensure the safety of the crews. The $1000 toilet seats were actually toilets in aircraft. They were pressurized, just like the ones that you use on commercial airliners. Doesn't seem like such a boondoggle, now, does it?

m00
07-04-2012, 02:13 AM
Believe it or not, the process has been streamlined, but it's still a nightmare. Requirements start at the strategic level, when congress tells us what the size of the force will be, and the DOD executive branch puts out the first in a series of documents providing the priorities for the force. Congress controls the purse, and the executive defines the mission. For example, we are told that we will have x number of Brigade Combat Teams in the Army, but we then have to determine what their composition will be and look at the support requirements for those BCTs. How many maneuver battalions per brigade, and how many companies per battalion? How many personnel in a platoon, and how many per vehicle? What kind of support will that unit need? How many trucks per battalion, and so forth. So, before we can even begin to look at procurement, we have to look at structure, then refine it. That process alone takes a year, and it only covers the staff work to identify the basic requiremenThis is why the budget process is done on a five-year cycle. There are things that could be done better, but many of them cannot.


I wrote a rather lengthy reply based on my experiences in private industry, but it's really apples to grapefruit so I scrapped that halfway through.

I guess what I don't get is that with something like defense, there are missions that you just need. And they cost what they cost. Lame example because I'm not in the military, but I assume we just can't scrap the mission of the guys that maintain our minuteman missiles and peacekeepers (even if we wanted to) without paying probably more to disarm, and decommission them, and fill in the bunkers with concrete or whatever they do there.

So without knowing what's needed, how can Congress even begin to construct a sensible budget? Maybe that's why we have the "Senate Committee for blah blah Defense blah blah." I assume (and again, I don't know) that the Joint Chiefs probably submit their budget, and then there is some horse trading, like: "oh do you really need 20 new sharks-with-lazers-that-hate-muslims or can you get away with 10?" and then the JC are like: "oh, we need 20 SWLTHMs but we could cut back on our A10 Warthogs" and then they cobble together some compromise that goes into a hearing somewhere, and then it eventually reaches the floor. But at this point isn't it less about the mission, and more about Senator So-And-So agreeing to the budget because he represents a coastal state, and there's the provision in the spending bill that the sharks will be trained on the beaches in his district, and then if the military builds a new base there with a state-of-the-art Aquatic Laser Research Lab that will bring in a 1000 new jobs?


Here's an example of something that used to be taken as an example of waste, the $300 hammers. What the media never told you was that those hammers were made to repair the interiors of fuel tanks on naval vessels, which can never be completely cleared of the fumes from the fuel. The hammers had to be made from copper so that they would not spark and cause explosions, and they were pretty large sledgehammers, not little claw hammers like you'd buy at Home Depot. They also had other metallurgical properties in order to ensure the safety of the crews. The $1000 toilet seats were actually toilets in aircraft. They were pressurized, just like the ones that you use on commercial airliners. Doesn't seem like such a boondoggle, now, does it?

Yeah, I knew about the hammers but not about the toilet seats. :) I'm surprised the toilet seats didn't cost more! But I was referring more to vehicles that get worked on for 10 years and then get canned. And also, I did some government contract work in college (tech stuff, basically)... and I have to say, the union workers that supported us made out like bandits.

Odysseus
07-04-2012, 12:19 PM
I wrote a rather lengthy reply based on my experiences in private industry, but it's really apples to grapefruit so I scrapped that halfway through.

I guess what I don't get is that with something like defense, there are missions that you just need. And they cost what they cost. Lame example because I'm not in the military, but I assume we just can't scrap the mission of the guys that maintain our minuteman missiles and peacekeepers (even if we wanted to) without paying probably more to disarm, and decommission them, and fill in the bunkers with concrete or whatever they do there.

So without knowing what's needed, how can Congress even begin to construct a sensible budget? Maybe that's why we have the "Senate Committee for blah blah Defense blah blah." I assume (and again, I don't know) that the Joint Chiefs probably submit their budget, and then there is some horse trading, like: "oh do you really need 20 new sharks-with-lazers-that-hate-muslims or can you get away with 10?" and then the JC are like: "oh, we need 20 SWLTHMs but we could cut back on our A10 Warthogs" and then they cobble together some compromise that goes into a hearing somewhere, and then it eventually reaches the floor. But at this point isn't it less about the mission, and more about Senator So-And-So agreeing to the budget because he represents a coastal state, and there's the provision in the spending bill that the sharks will be trained on the beaches in his district, and then if the military builds a new base there with a state-of-the-art Aquatic Laser Research Lab that will bring in a 1000 new jobs?

This is where the Program Objective Memorandum comes into play. That's the DOD's input into the budget process. Basically, we do the analysis, and then give our request to congress, and it comes back in the form of the budget. To put it in the simplest terms, congress defines the maneuver elements, or the tip of the spear, and we analyze the support structure and tell them how much of a shaft we expect to get.


Yeah, I knew about the hammers but not about the toilet seats. :) I'm surprised the toilet seats didn't cost more! But I was referring more to vehicles that get worked on for 10 years and then get canned. And also, I did some government contract work in college (tech stuff, basically)... and I have to say, the union workers that supported us made out like bandits.

I actually wrote about this in ILE. The reason that we have a long procurement process in peacetime is because we are always trying to figure out what the next war will look like, and we are constantly using trial and error as we advance towards it. For example, the HMMWV program took about seven years from the initial concept to delivery, which is common in peacetime. The M1 took about the same, and the Bradley was legendary for the modifications and spec changes (although it wasn't as bad as what was shown in Pentagon Wars, the Bradley was always meant to be our answer to the Soviet BMP). However, when shooting starts, procurement time drops. During WWII, we developed the M3 Sherman within 18 months, and if you look at the fighter aircraft at the beginning of the war and the end, you can see that we went from biplanes to the edge of the jet age. The Cold War produced the same kind of competition in those areas where we expected to be fighting, such as missile technology (which was the impetus for the space program), computing, nuclear technology and a host of other areas. More recently, the introduction of the MRAPs in Iraq took less than two years, and in the interim, we fielded several new generations of vehicle armor for the HMMWVs. At the same time, almost every other piece of equipment saw major modifications. The M-16A1 was scrapped entirely, and the M-16A2 was removed from the active forces and replaced with the M-4, which included advanced optics and a number of other innovations. The body armor went through nine generations of changes to provide more protection at less weight.

As Churchill said about democracy, it's the worst possible system, except for all of the other alternatives.