Pork Processing Plant

In April, 2009, President Obama’s Defense Secretary, Robert M. Gates, drafted the proposed 2010 Defense Budget. It was definitely both a wartime budget and one that placed an emphasis on projecting and supporting troops in foreign theaters and fighting the asymmetrical wars that the US is currently engaged in prosecuting. Since it took both the changing face of warfare and America’s current financial situation into account, it was both painful to some and highly pragmatic.

Then it was submitted to Congress…

us capitol building
The US Capitol: Largest Pork Processing Plant In America

Senators, in a frankly treasonous orgy of earmarks, diverted $2.6 billion in funds from the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill into various various pet projects. Most of the monies diverted were stolen from the US military’s Operation and Maintenance accounts (O&M).

The O&M accounts are not for projects or new technologies; those are the accounts that pay for for: troop training, repairs, spares & supplies for vehicles, weapons, ammunition, ships and planes, food and fuel – the day-to-day operating expenses that are needed to maintain the operational efficiency and survivability of our servicemen and women.

From the Washington Times:

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

While earmarks are hardly new in Washington, “in 30 years on Capitol Hill, I never saw Congress mangle the defense budget as badly as this year,” said Winslow Wheeler, a former Senate staffer who worked on defense funding and oversight for both Republicans and Democrats. He is now a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information, an independent research organization.

Shaun Waterman
The Washington Times

Mr. Winslow Wheeler, Senior Fellow at the Center for Defense Information, described the US Senate’s ransacking of Defense Appropriations bill as amounting to “rancid gluttony.”  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) called the looting, “a disgrace.” I call it what it is truly is – Treason.

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A War Budget?

Secretary of Defense Robert M. GatesAs I have alluded to before – here and here – President Obama, despite his ongoing rhetoric of appeasement, is not a true “Dove.” He, when it comes down to actions as opposed to “nuanced” speeches provided by his teleprompter,  has some strong “Hawkish” tendencies.

The upcoming Pentagon budget as proposed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is strong evidence of that. The proposed 2010 defense budget is actually – despite the complaints of many of my fellow Conservatives – one that  focuses on offensive capabilities as opposed to defensive or deterrent capabilities.

2010 looks like it could be a whole new ball game when it comes to military spending and therefor how the US Military will be used. The focus is shifting from static deterrence and defensive capability to the ability to bring steel to target rapidly and effectively anywhere in the world.

As I told the Congress in January, our struggles to put the defense bureaucracies on a war footing these past few years have revealed underlying flaws in the priorities, cultural preferences, and reward structures of America’s defense establishment – a set of institutions largely arranged to prepare for conflicts against other modern armies, navies, and air forces. Programs to directly support, protect, and care for the man or woman at the front have been developed ad hoc and funded outside the base budget. Put simply, until recently there has not been an institutional home in the Defense Department for today’s warfighter. Our contemporary wartime needs must receive steady long-term funding and a bureaucratic constituency similar to conventional modernization programs. I intend to use the FY10 budget to begin this process.

— Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates
Defense Budget Recommendation Statement, April 6, 2009

At first read, it does sound pretty grim – especially to those people who have always been civilians. Under Gates’ proposal, the US Navy will have its new aircraft carrier program significantly slowed, and its Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer (DDG 1000) effort scuttled. The US Air Force will see the curtailment of production of ihe F-22 Raptor after only 187 planes – slightly less than 50% of what the USAF desired. The Missile Defense Agency’s interceptor portfolio will be reoriented around the threat from rogue states. Finally, the US Army will see its “Future Combat Systems” program gutted.

This is what has my compatriots upset, the destruction or deferral of our military’s progress and future. I don’t really blame them. They don’t – perhaps can’t – understand the changing face of war.

So a number of high-dollar programs are being slowed, deferred, or destroyed. While that’s not good, it is pragmatic, especially since these programs were heavily biased towards defensive capabilities and towards conflicts vs. another military superpower with similar technological capabilities.

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