Opinion

The wrong mission

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John Guardiano
Freelance Writer
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      John Guardiano

      John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, <a href="http://rescon1.com/"> ResCon1.com</a>, and on Twitter: @Rescon1</a>.

The Washington cognoscenti love Leon Panetta, the man Obama just nominated to be the new secretary of defense, and it is not hard to understand why: Panetta is one of them, an establishment figure who faithfully reflects the conventional wisdom; a loyal party apparatchik who will do his president’s bidding; and, most importantly, a man fully prepared to make Obama’s vision of a dramatically downsized U.S. military a reality.

Thus the encomiums that are now being thrown Panetta’s way. He is, we are told, a “wise man,” a “pragmatist,” and a “capable and strong leader.” That’s Washington-speak for: “He shares our (liberal) worldview and our prejudices and thus won’t rock the boat.”

In other words, Panetta will do what he’s expected to do. And what the Washington cognoscenti expect of their man Panetta is that he’ll follow Bob Gates’ lead and continue to turn the screws on the Pentagon.

He’ll continue to cut the defense budget, especially spending on weapons systems and other core military functions. However, spending on Pentagon social-welfare (pay, benefits, healthcare, family assistance programs, etc.) won’t be touched or reformed, because these are considered holy and untouchable — even though these are the most expensive and fastest-growing items in the defense budget and the areas most in need of reform.

In short, Obama selected Panetta as defense secretary because he knows that Panetta, even more so than Gates, is a good company man. And, as Obama announced in his April 13, 2011 declaration of political war on the Republican Party, he is determined to preserve the ossified bureaucratic-entitlement state and will consider cutting only one government agency: the Department of Defense.

Obama is committed to cutting an astounding $400 billion in current and future defense spending. This after having cut the defense budget by that same amount already during his first two years in office. Hence the cancellation of the Transformational Satellite Program (TSP) and eight new Army combat vehicle types (Future Combat Systems or FCS), all of which are integral to modernizing U.S. military capabilities for 21st-century irregular warfare.

Unfortunately, the cancelation of key modernization programs like TSP and FCS tells only half the story. There also is the elimination of crucially needed modernization programs that the military services never even initiate or propose because they know that such initiatives are nonstarters in Obama’s downsized Pentagon.

The Army, for instance, is in serious need of a new armed reconnaissance helicopter to replace its 1969-vintage OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. But instead of securing a new aircraft, the Army has committed itself to further upgrades on an increasingly antiquated airframe.

Ironically, this is being done in the name of “cost-savings.” But as analyst Richard Cleary observes:

Absent significant capital input, the production base is simply too small for a new line of next-generation helicopters. Thus, decisions intended to save money in the short-term will, unfortunately, require greater investment for future systems.

Moreover, Cleary notes, it’s not just the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, but rather the Army’s entire helicopter fleet that is in urgent need of modernization, thanks to its extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • kingfish

    Defense spending is totally out of control, with unheard-of sums being “wasted” day in and day out. Hundreds of thousands of “mercenaries”, a budget which totals more than ALL OTHER COUNTRIES COMBINED, with a known agenda of taking over every country in the world and their resources (I wouldn’t call THAT “DEMOCRACY”), a “habit” of “LOSING” millions of dollars (over $4 trillion just prior to 911, another $800 (million or billion?) last year with absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY and no prosecution or even follow-up, two decade-long wars with NO STRATEGY whatsoever for either winning or getting out (and several OTHER wars started), and trillions in BLACK BUDGET PROJECTS with technology 10,000 or more years into the future which the military and its contractors REFUSE TO RELEASE TO THE PUBLIC WHICH WOULD MAKE US OIL INDEPENDENT.

    The military is now “owned” by the corporate and elite globalists like Rockefeller and Rothschilds, and there is no more pretense of answering to the TAXPAYERS WHO PAY FOR IT. The Pentagon deliberately poisons the troops with MANDATORY anthrax shots causing Gulf War Syndrome, MANDATORY H1N1 shots weakening immune systems, and DEPLETED URANIUM in bullets, weapons, tanks, atmosphere, and everywhere else. THIS IS UNCONSCIENABLE, ALIEN BEHAVIOR meant to insure the troops die off without long retirements.

    So…NO MORE MONEY. THEIR BUDGET SHOULD BE CUT BY 50% AND ALL OF THOSE 1,000 FOREIGN BASES CLOSED AND THE TROOPS BROUGHT HOME.

  • Drahcir

    Now with Obaama’s man incharge of defense spending, we can look forward to one conclusion.China wants our oil,gas, and coal.Be ready America, China’s on their way!

  • polistra

    Guardiano is rearranging antiquated airframes on the Titanic.
    We need to ask a vastly more basic question: Why are we “defending” the interests of a hundred different countries but NOT defending America?

    The purpose of having a military in this country is to defend this country, not all the OTHER countries.

    And the one time our military was really needed, namely 9/11/2001, it was nowhere to be found. All those trillions spent on Modern Airframes and NORAD and whatnot, completely failed. Nothing happened. The attack succeeded, and we still haven’t answered the attack.

    Since the military failed to perform its assigned function the only time we needed it, let’s just get rid of it. We can’t be any worse off, and we’ll have more money to spend on useful things.

  • JoeJ

    End this madness – bring our troops home – NOW!

    These wars for Zionism are not in our interest.

  • flips

    Mr. Guardiano is not serious about cutting our budget deficit.