Not Replacing 1970’s Military Equipment
by reader Ilsm
Misspent Tax Dollars for Profits, Not Replacing 1970’s Military Equipment
US outlays for military programs are wasted through mismanagement and neglect: these must not be spared in spending cuts. 20% of US government outlays are for the Defense Department. Something that needs to be to considered while reading the report is that the sum of Research and Procurement appropriations in DoD 2011 proposed budget is $214B ($189B baseline with an additional $25B for overseas contingencies).
According to GAO 09-326SP Assessment of Selected Weapons Programs (8mb pdf!), the largest weapon projects, the “portfolio” of 96 major programs with commitments for spending on revised acquisition “baselines” has grown to $1.6T, averaging a 19% increase since each program started, with 42% (40 programs) of the reviewed programs rising in cost more than 25% since inception. At 25% increase the Sec Def is required to justify to congress why the department will continue with the program.
There not only is room to cut, there is screaming need to cut. It will take 8 to 10 years’ at current 2011 budget levels to work through these commitments assuming cost increases stop, schedules are met, technical performance is delivered, and the US doesn’t “go broke” trying. The $1.6T is the tip of the DoD acquisition iceberg, for these are the largest systems mismanaged at reviews by the highest level, an Undersecretary of Defense led panel. There are a lot of other urgent requirements against the research and investment budgets, which were not reviewed in this assessment.
There will be a huge logistics burden for these systems. Acquisition costs are a fraction of DoD’s total weapon system commitments, each system requires two to three times acquisition costs over the planned 20 year life to train and maintain “capability” for fictitious wars and entanglements. This bow wave of future logistics for the major programs is $3 to 5 Trillion in support costs spread over 20 years. (Operations and Maintenance 2011 with OCO $317B, about $200B base budget)
Cutting most of this $7T unfunded liability will encourage national security, and reduce deficits. What good is it to be “bankrupted” for the wrong weapons, whose untested specifications are watered down to limit the obscene cost overruns, years after promised?
These commitments scream to be reviewed and many cancelled. They represent gross mismanagement, waste, nothing but dividends to companies who profit.
GAO released 10-388SP in March 2010, however it does not have “rolled up data” due to “lack of complete Selected Acquisition Report data for 2009”.
Footnote: GAO Acquisition Cost: All cost information is presented in fiscal year 2009 dollars using Office of the Secretary of Defense approved deflators to eliminate the effects of inflation. We have depicted only the program’s main elements of acquisition cost—research and development and procurement. GAO 09-326SP, App I, Pg. 168 (175/190 .pdf)
Ilsm–What are these weapons systems exactly? Now, I don’t expect a detailed list because I suspect it’s impossible to make one, there is so much of this stuff out there. But, I was wondering how much of it is actually used for something other than training. Are there systems in use in Afghanistan and Iraq which should be discontinued or for which other better substitutes are available now? Your subject area is something I know little about. But, it’s clear we here do need to get down to studying this subject thoroughly. I await your response. Nancy Ortiz
Germany will reduce the Bundeswehr from 250,000 to 163,000 by 2014. China’s annual military budget is ~$.07T growing by ~$.007T pre year while the US 2011 DoD budget is .578T.
Few to none of these very big systems are particular to Iraq and Afghanistan, they are mostly for cold war missions and WWII type tactics in far off parts of the world maintaining the ‘noble lies’ of US empire. FY 2011 proposed budget has about $25B in procurment for urgent needs usually not well defined nor tested for “overseas contingency operations”. They can be cut, but are all well on the way to having political constituencies from the jobs created. It is a huge jobs program as Robert Reich stated about a wek ago.
Cliqck the link above and see the table of contents for the complete list. This $1.6T set of commitments is a spending “bow wave” that includes 96 systems.
F-35 Lightning is one, the first trillion dollar program, in terms of life cycle costs.
F-22 is still being counted as it never was done R&D and investing.
The report includes each system with a few pages of commentary.
It does not include hundred of similarly overrunning but less immense “acquisitions” which do not meet the cost commitment defintion of “major defense program.
Thes downpayments must be cut $ as the logistics support costs are several times the acquisition bow-wave.
Ilsm–Sec. Gates was just saying he wanted to eliminate some big proposed weapons buys. Are any of the above systems you cite among those he wants to cut?
Also, Gates was flogging the idea of small regional insurgencies and similar conflicts with much weaker enemies being the type of war the US will likely wage in the near and mid-term. He was speaking to an audience of Marines, I think.
For this smaller scale warfare, is there any sort of weapons system planned or discussed that would be better for smaller wars than existing equipment like helicopters? They seem to be very limited in mountainous or desert terrain. Anyone actually thinking of building equipment for these conditions? Nancy O.
Ilsm–Just thinking in my uninformed way, I concluded that the Marines are the force most likely to be used in such limited regional conflicts. This is not to say that the Army wouldn’t also be useful, especially in specialized units. But, it strikes me that forces like the Army are better for occupations. More or less on the Roman model in which the army when not fighting built roads, fortifications, bridges, and aquaducts, among other things–Corps of Engineers stuff. All this suggests that the reason to have a large standing military is to conduct colonial wars. It either works for that or it doesn’t really mean anything. One way or the other, a massive war with an adversary like China would look like something no one can imagine now. All this money is being thrown away for nothing if it came to some cataclysmic conflict like that. NO
Anyone still padding this thread should read this.
My enlightenment followed Col Bacevich’s as an Air Force employee and partime officer, seeing the discrepancy between what was needed and the shoddy solutions procured.
Like Col Bacevich I had an encounter with the hollowness of the Warsaw Pact, a bit earlier and different context. And began to question the ‘threat assessments’ as making our solutions wasteful.
The Marines were the force of choice in the quiet, empire run by US banks and fruit importers in Latin America between the world wars. Today neither the Marine Corps nor the Army are as “light” as those. The Marines are built round Amphib Ready Groups, sets of expensive ships to deliver a reinforce marine battalion. Very heavy formations indeed, which leave their ships behind to go to Afghanistan and play at what turned Gen. Smedley Butler into a pacificist.
The US should never do occupations, the cold war ended those forward deployments were not occupations, after the first few years of restoring civil governance. From 1948 on the occupations were cold war forward deployments, blocking or trip wire formations against communism’s spread.
It is an error to credit civil stability in Japan after 1947 or Germany after 1948 to US occupation, but that convenient , “noble lie” helped rationalize our recent occupations in the Muslim world. Nation building is not an optimal use of a multi trillion dollar war machine.
The US empire is getting to look like a Pax Americana, however, it was standing armies in Rome which destroyed the republic.
War with China is a mistake, the conditions that Douglas MacArthur warned against are not touched by the trillions of dollars of war profits accumulated. War in Asia is people’s war and all the technology does nothing aside from massive nuclear holocaust.
Empire is nothing for “common defense” especially as the US sinks to a third world country with a huge, senseless war machine.
To be paid with the living standards of our grandchildren………………….