Defense on a Dime

Defense on a Dime

Posted By B.J. Bethel On June 9, 2010 @ 12:01 am In FrontPage | 2 Comments

Printing money, spending heavily and buying debt may be the prevalent fiscal policy of the current administration (or the past few, to be fair), but it isn’t especially solvent. One need only look at the situation in Greece for evidence. But as American concerns grow over rising debt and deficits, the question becomes: what to tax and what to cut?

For 30 years, the United States has been figuratively drinking Starbucks and Chardonnay on credit. During the Regan years, we spent more than we had and grew the deficit. This made for historic economic growth, as well as victory in the Cold War, but it also spoiled a populace into thinking we could spend as much as we want, have an abundance of social programs on every conceivable level – as well as a first-rate military – without having to worry about public debt. Those days are over. It’s time to cut back, and judging by the reaction of lawmakers recently, the military is in the sights of more of those in Washington.

According to a recent reports, a group of four lawmakers – Ron Paul (R-Texas), Barney Frank (D-Mass), Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — called for deep reductions in defense spending. The call came on the heels of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who two weeks ago called for dramatic cuts in the military budget during a speech at the ever-appropriate Eisenhower Library in Kansas.

Some cuts have already come, the long-awaited F-22 Raptor fighter plane for instance, but more could be on the way. The question then becomes can the U.S. afford two wars, growing domestic obligations and remain a strong deterrent against our enemies?

Reagan’s booming economy drove the Russians to bankruptcy. It wasn’t tanks, but IOUs that the Soviets issued in place of bullets that cleared the way for victory in the Cold War. Twenty years later, the American military is fighting two fronts overseas, maintaining security for a good portion of the globe and doing so with a shrinking manufacturing base and economy to support it. In other words, we’re heading in the same direction that ended in disaster for Russia and the Eastern Bloc 20 years ago.

Security costs a lot, especially when one country is providing so much of it. But Washington is going to measure political costs before security costs. Government employees, bureaucrats, unions – all of whom are in bed with the Democratic Party – have been hostile to the any notion of slowing domestic spending. The slightest mention of the word “cut” sends mobs of angry SEIU protesters to rally at homes and parking garages.

Not that military spending shouldn’t come under scrutiny. Currently, military spending averages about $700 billion a year. To put it another way, it costs the same to protect your rights, life and livelihood as it does to bailout a few banks. But that cost is higher on average then it was during the Gulf War. As in all parts of government, there is never too little fat to trim.

With domestic spending exploding, and every incumbent under increased scrutiny, the politically safe option would be to cut the military, for soldiers don’t generally tear up your front yard, and generals don’t have sit-ins outside your office.

The question then becomes how much do you cut and what do you cut from. There is a troop surge currently underway in Afghanistan. There is a fledgling democracy and a quieting of the insurgency in Iraq. But, even as war Iraq grinds to an end, there is Iran and Pakistan to consider, as well as the deteriorating situation in Yemen. Frank has proposed bringing troops home from overseas bases and he has mentioned Okinawa by name, but is that a reasonable course of action with a hostile (and possibly nuclear-capable) North Korea slamming torpedoes into South Korean ships?

The administration, through Gates, is expected to battle Congress, which will likely fight to keep a new engine program alive for the F-35 fighter, as well as the C-17 cargo plane. This fight will take place in the summer months, between budget hawks and those wanting to keep jobs and programs alive in their districts afloat in the midst of a sagging economy. Whether those programs survive the near-term, the big question remains: how does America fund a world-based military in a rapidly-changing global economic environment?

Maybe it’s time to start sharing the load, but Europe is years away from doing so, even if it was politically willing to. While Greece has gone bankrupt because of early retirements and months of vacations, American’s debt has exploded because of “too-big-to-fail” corporations and financial institutions; guaranteed pensions; out of control entitlement programs and our role as world cop. The democratic socialists in Europe detest our military might, while they simultaneously cling to their compassionate approach to domestic spending. But, it’s far easier to run a nanny-state when the global hegemon is keeping thugs out of your backyard.

Gutting the military now wouldn’t be realistic on several levels, but the day is coming. It’s hard to imagine China continuing to buy our debt if we’re increasingly involved in its sphere, especially with North Korea and other terror-outlets in Southeast Asia. It’s also harder to justify military operations when Medicare is eating away 35-percent of the GDP. Though America is far from being an also-ran on the world scene, there isn’t another post-war economic boom on the horizon, maybe not even a run like the country enjoyed during the 80s and 90s. Harder times will make for harder decisions.

With such days on the horizon, let’s hope our military has the chance to accomplish all it can before the time comes when it will be able to do little more than defend America’s shores.

B.J. Bethel is a journalist living in Ohio. He has worked at various daily newspapers as a sports writer, news reporter and editor.

Military Medal for Courageous Restraint ie the Obama Coward award

Military Medal for Courageous Restraint

Posted May 12th, 2010 by USNavySeals

A feature on the Navy Times shares information regarding a proposal that is making the rounds in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

military medalsAnother medal may eventually be added to the array of medals that service members can earn while in combat – and it is a medal that may be earned for doing nothing. The proposal was reportedly put on the table by British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, commander for the Regional Command South of the ISAF, during a visit by Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Hall, the top U.S. enlisted member in Afghanistan.

This award is an effort towards the prevention of civilian casualties; the proposed award will be in commendation for what was termed as “courageous restraint,” where a service member chooses to hold their fire, even if they are at risk, in order to save civilian lives.

Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis shares: “Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. In some situations our forces face in Afghanistan, that restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.”

There are concerns, however, that having such an award may cause confusion among service members and embolden further the tactics of enemy combatants, who recognize that U.S. Troops are concerned about civilian casualties and already use them as shields or even turn them into targets, as shared by Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis.

Outrage: Obama Administration Targets Military for Pay Reductions

Outrage: Obama Administration Targets Military for Pay Reductions

May 11th, 2010

Newsmax

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIHz5tevLAw&feature=player_embedded

President Barack Obama — who came to power with the help of government employee unions across the nation and has lavished on them hundreds of billions in stimulus funds to keep them on federal, state and local payrolls with no strings attached — is moving to cut spending on salaries for military personnel.

This weekend The Washington Post headlined story, “Pentagon Asking Congress to Hold Back on Generous Increases in Troop Pay,” disclosed that the Obama administration is “pleading” with Congress to give military personnel a much smaller increase in pay than lawmakers have proposed.

The Pentagon contends that Congress simply has been too generous with troops during the past decade.

In fact, lawmakers have lavished so much money on troops, according to the Post, that service members are now better compensated than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.

For example, the military brass claims that an average sergeant in the Army with four years of service and one dependent would receive $52,589 in annual compensation, according to the paper. This figure includes basic pay, housing, and subsistence allowances, as well as tax benefits.

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Morning Bell: Maintaining Our Dominant Military

Morning Bell: Maintaining Our Dominant Military

Posted By Conn Carroll On April 16, 2010 @ 9:24 am In American Leadership, Protect America | No Comments

At the close of this week’s nuclear summit, President Barack Obama told [1] a press conference: “Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them.”

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded to these comments, calling President Obama’s remark a “direct contradiction to everything America believes in.” McCain went on to tell Fox News [1]:

That’s one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard a president of the United States make in modern times. We are the dominant superpower, and we’re the greatest force for good in the history of this country, and I thank God every day that we are a dominant superpower.

Sensing trouble, the White House quickly set out to spin the President’s words with deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes telling The Daily Caller [2]: “He was saying we are the global superpower. Like it or not that means that we are going to have to play a role.” But notice what word is conspicuously absent from Rhodes recasting of the President’s remarks … “military.”

Nobody doubts that President Obama wants the United States to play a leadership role on the world stage. You don’t get Nobel Peace Prizes for being an isolationist. But what is very much in doubt is President Obama’s commitment to maintaining our nation’s role as the world’s dominant military superpower.

Assuming we will remain a dominant military power under this President is a bad assumption. Since becoming Commander in Chief, President Obama has ended production of the Air Force’s top fighter, the F-22 [3]; canceled missile defense installations in central Europe [4]; cut [5] the Army’s Future Combat System [6]; made large cuts to the missile defense program [7]; and recently announced an almost 20% cut in the dedicated forces they could allocate to respond to a weapons of mass destruction attack on U.S. soil [8].

We are not burdened with military power—we have it for a reason. The Constitution calls for the federal government to “provide for the common defense.” The purpose of American power is to protect Americans – not act as the world’s policeman.

If the President does not want to get dragged into conflict he should not pursue policies that increase the likelihood of war. His New START agreement signed last week with Russia not only clearly links our missile defense shield with Russian missile reduction [9], but it also limits our own conventional weapons capabilities [10] as well. Obama’s New START will make the United States more vulnerable [11].

You can do something to help stop Obama’s anti-military agenda. Today at 10 AM  Heritage Action for America [12] will be hosting a live-chat to discuss the security implications of the New START and how you can prevent its ratification. Go to Heritage Action for America [12] for more information today.

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