Might some pork wrapped in the flag get fried?
Pentagon urges Obama to scrap some Pentagon programs
Near where I live, high school students in a Portland Oregon suburb, West Linn, convinced their local city council Nov 10 to pass a resolution calling on the US Federal Government to establish a Cabinet-level Department of Peace (Rep. Kucinich’s HR 808), which probably is something citizens everywhere could do. Another sensible push for peace -- and for fiscal responsibility -- came from “within the Beltway”. We trim this 2008 article published Nov 11.
By Bryan Bender, The Boston GlobeA senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings, is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department's current budget is "not sustainable" and that he must scale back or eliminate some of the military's most prized weapons programs.
The briefings were prepared by the Defense Business Board, an internal management oversight body. It contends that the nation's recent financial crisis makes it imperative that the Pentagon and Congress slash some of the nation's most costly and troubled weapons to ensure they can finance the military's most pressing priorities.
Those include rebuilding ground forces battered by multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan and expanding the ranks to wage the war on terrorism.
"Business as usual is no longer an option," according to one of the briefings prepared for the presidential transition by the Board, which includes about 20 private-sector executives appointed by the secretary of defense. "The current and future fiscal environments facing the department demand bold action."
The briefings do not specify which programs should be cut, but defense analysts say that prime targets would probably include the new F-35 fighter jet, a series of navy ship programs, and a massive army project to build a new generation of ground combat vehicles, all of which have been skyrocketing in cost and suffering long development delays.
Pentagon insiders and defense budget specialists say the Pentagon has been on a largely unchecked spending spree since 2001 that will prove politically difficult to curtail but nevertheless must be reined in.
The latest Pentagon budget, for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, is an estimated $512 billion, not including more than $800 billion in additional war spending that has been allotted since 2001. But a series of forces are now at play that make such large expenditures untenable, according to the Defense Business Board.
Since the end of World War II, there have been four periods of significant increases in US military spending; all were followed by significant decreases in funding from Congress.
Added pressure on the Pentagon budget comes from what the briefing calls "fiscal constraint in a tough economy" that is saddled with rising deficits and growing support for increased government spending in other areas.
Exacerbating the problem are the rising costs of military personnel, their health care, and overhead. The documents estimate that more than half the annual defense budget now goes to "people costs," including $60 billion a year for the health care of service members and retirees. They will almost certainly grow, even with a reduction in U.S. troops in Iraq, given that the Pentagon has said it would increase ground forces by more than 70,000 troops over the next few years.
That leaves dozens of weapons systems and other equipment under development as prime areas for savings. A recent analysis by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, assessed the Pentagon's 95 largest weapons programs and found that as of March 2008 they had collectively increased in cost by nearly $300 billion over initial estimates.
Over the next five years, the Defense Department "expects to invest more than $357 billion on major defense acquisition programs. Much of this investment will be used to address cost overruns rooted in poor planning, execution, and oversight."
All the branches of the military are in a similar situation.
The army plans to invest an estimated $160 billion in the coming years on a set of new combat vehicles collectively known as the Future Combat System which still has not shown it can work.
The navy's six most recent ship designs have cost $2.4 billion over original estimates and their delivery has also been delayed, on average, by 97 months.
The air force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- the most costly aircraft procurement effort in history -- "faces considerable risks stemming from its decision to reduce test assets and the flight-test program to pay for development and manufacturing cost increases.”
The forces for weapons programs are so powerful that they will make terminating the excess difficult.
SLICC Deal for Pentagon Brass
Would weaponeers do it if they weren’t getting paid?
Mythical missile shield shielded from budget constraints
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