Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will on the Lost Decade

Through the last decade - a decade of "fat" - we took a High Risk-High Reward strategy.

If you want the high reward, you need to understand that you might just wind up with the results of the high risk if you are not smart, careful, and have a good self-regulating system in place. We talk about LCS, DDG-1000, LPD-17 here a lot ... George Will discusses it in a broader context.

First the macro,
... since fiscal 2001, what is called the military's "baseline budget" has increased 80 percent, to $534 billion. That number is, however, much less than what is actually being spent, and not just because it doesn't include much of the spending on the two wars.

The Obama administration wants to cut $78 billion over five years, in addition to cuts already planned.
What did we buy with the Navy's share of that?
The average age of America's amphibious assault vehicles is 38 years, more than that of strategic bombers (34 years) but less than that of tanker aircraft (46 years).
Dull, but important. The curse of the unsexy.

It didn't happen by accident. There are reasons why in the last half-decade especially, we have lost so much of our credibility in front of our paymasters; Congress.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), writing to Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said that "the Pentagon is one of the few agencies in the federal government that cannot produce auditable financial statements in accordance with the law." So "I will continue to push for a budget freeze of all base budget non-military personnel accounts at the Defense Department until it complies with the law regarding auditable financial statements."

To govern is to choose, always on the basis of imperfect information. If, however, the strong language of Forbes and Coburn is apposite, Congress cannot make adequately informed choices about the uniquely important matters that come to McKeon's committee. This fact will fuel the fires of controversy that will rage within the ranks of Republicans as they come to terms with the fact that current defense spending cannot be defended until it is understood.

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