I wonder if any cuts will ever be proposed for the military that won't be met with arguments of them placing our soldiers in danger and/or weakening our "Military Preparedness" or something along those lines.
Both positions are nonsense and reflect either a total ignorance of the military or a political position based strictly on votes and monetary influence from various connected industries.
Right now, for example, there are plans to build and purchase eight new nuclear submarines, at a cost of $350 BILLION EACH! Yes, each! Now, eliminating just one of those would obviously go a long ways toward reducing the military budget.
Each branch of service has a weapons "wish list" each and every year. There is little if any cooperation between the branches of service on any of those purchases, from helicopters to handguns. In fact, if the branches of service were just limited to weapons related to their main function, many, many billions of dollars could be saved.
Why do we have Marine and Army pilots? Isn't that the job of the Air Force? The Marines have insisted on developing a Vertical Take Off fighter and transport plane, even though both are very difficult to fly, have been replete with cost overruns, and the transport in particular is a sitting duck on takeoff, far easier to shoot down than even helicopters, with a larger loss of life. You want to bet those planes are built in some Congressman's district, or built by a company that has contributed large piles of money to various Congressional campaigns?
We maintain a nuclear arsenal big enough to destroy every inch of this planet, yet we still continue to build and/or maintain more warheads. Speaking of warheads and missiles, we're currently in the middle of developing a "Missile Shield" that not only has demonstrated very little success, but is basically unneeded in today's political climate. War has changed, and changed dramatically. The Missile Defense system originally proposed with great diplomatic stupidity by the Bush administration, and of course fought for ever since by the military hierarchy, will not work. Billions have already been spent on development.
Base closings are another way to save money, but not if it's in MY DISTRICT say all those with power! Why in the world would the Niagara Falls airbase be turned into a Drone Site, an entirely different mission? Easy answer - money!
How about just a few cuts to various programs? The Marines and Air Force have versions of the Osprey, a Vertical Take Off airplane, at a cost of over $53 billion. Basically, they do what a helicopter does. Yes, a few differences, but don't you think maybe we could cut that program just a tad?
The Pratt and Whitney F135 engine is for the Marine variant of the F-35 jet. It is not feasible to use in high-speed high-altitude aircraft, so obviously it's very limited in scope. Cost? $63.8 billion! What do you think, maybe just a few less?
The Navy is using, and has been using, DDG-51 Guided Missile Destroyers since the 1980s, a program costing $87.3 billion. The newer version, the DDG-51s will cost $2.4 billion each. Hmmm maybe we could build a few less of those, or just stay with the ones we have for a while longer?
Right now the government is beginning to test a Ballistic Missile Defense System that will require laser technology that doesn't exist, as well as space based devices and other things we are decades away from having. Yet the cost of that system right now is pegged at $126.2 billion! Read that number again, slowly. Heck, write it out for more impact, $126,200,000,000!
No missile defense system has yet to work as advertised, and have all been guilty of gigantic cost overruns. Right now, the justification is to combat a missile threat from North Korea. North Korea has about two missiles, and we could take out their entire nuclear capability with the ordinance of just one nuclear submarine. So, what do you think, could we spare just a few dollars from this particular program?
The armed forces are fighting for a program for jet planes, the F-35, which has three variants, one for the Air Force, Marines and Navy. The cost of that program has reached $331.9 billion! The jets they are replacing are already better than the jets used by any other country. Why do Marines have to have their own jets? The Navy, with Aircraft Carriers, I understand. These jets, by the way, have been subjected to cost overruns from original estimates that have more than doubled the cost of each air craft.
Looking at the above, without even mentioning the waste of the average branch of service, the unbelievable bureaucracy involved with each, the overabundance of Generals and other high ranking officers, a 10 percent cut to each program would total over $56 billion. That's just 10 percent! Obviously, much more than that could be saved if certain programs were just dropped entirely.
Remember now, not one of these programs is protecting even one soldier, ending or cutting them won't place anyone on danger, not one bullet, not one rifle, not one protective vest will be lost. The cry of a weakened military, already bigger and more technical than any other, is just nonsense. What is at play is pork barrel spending in well-placed elected officials' districts. Yes, there are blue collar jobs involved. But think about the money we'd have for roads and bridges and school buildings and other things if the military industrial complex wasn't bleeding the country dry, and they are.
Most people like to think our military leadership is above politics. The fact of the matter is, most of our military leadership is totally about politics, that's how they get promoted and assigned. There is a revolving door between retired officers and various military suppliers and their lobbyists. There is as big a connection between the suppliers of those systems and campaign donations to those who support them.
Before you join those lamenting the weakening of our military by those trying to insist on some cuts in its funding, do a little research. What I've written here is literally the tip of a very, very large iceberg.
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org