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September 29, 2011

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Bill--it is an interesting question as to where we are going with the Defense budgets. As an Academy graduate, a former systems analyst,an intelligence/strategic analyst during the cold war and the only person to work for both the Air Force and Navy Directors of the STRAT-X study that set the long term strategy for the US in the 50's I have had some interesing looks into the role defense plays in America and the world. And, how the politics between the branches of the Military and the government agencies including the White House work. And, I appreciate that several of our classmates and your readers have had similar and more unique experiences. Long ago military planners warned of the world we now experience: Heavy dependence on foreign oil, a world of terrorists,unsettled competition in the Middle East, a united economic system in Europe, a severe imbalance in trade/payments with the 3rd world and a world dependent on the US for peace. Intelligent people throughout these past 50 years have acknowledged that the huge spending on defense by both the US and the USSR was foolish but diplomacy never brought the two of us to understand the economic reality and finally the USSR failed. The US muddles on developing systems to fight every scenario one can imagine. To our credit we have met every threat that came along. However, nothing demonstrated the over reach of the US military more dramatically than the first Gulf War and the first night when we actually overwhelmed Iraq forces in the first 8 hours with zero casualties. The performance of GPS and laser guided weapons flying through windows on TV with CNN watching them land was the culmination of 40 years of spending Trillions of dollars on Defense (instead of education and infrastructure). We currently fight an enemy armed with plastic explosives, box cutters and rifles whi understand economic warfare and they force us to spend billions in doing so. More importantly we are spending trillions of dollars economically to prevent them from getting to us once again--on security. We use a multi million dollar drone to take out one person at a time. Now having read this you will be ready to mistake me for a liberal,dove. Not at all. But, I did watch in the 70's as we took every precaution we could to develop weapons to stop a nuclear war from occuring out of fear. Today we seem to think the only way nuclear war could occur is if the terrorists get a weapon and figure out a way to deliver it. Or if Iran gets one and attacks Isreal or Isreal preempts Iran. And that brings into question whether (despite the calculations of the budgeteers in trying to get us to a smaller deficit) any President can get us out of the wars we are in whether we fight with Army or drones/special forces. The cost of these wars will not go to zero. And there are still the other wars to be fought and paid for. As the defense needs have shifted to this new world we have no alternative but to look at the need to shift away from thousands of nuclear catapults and toward high performance nuclear/nonnuclear weapon systems. We may not be able to dramatically cut the defense budget but we should be able to keep it from growing if we get a president and Secretary that actually work at it and can handle the politics of Congressional committees. So, Bill, this is a long winded way to say I agree with you that there is a way to work at this problem and perhaps some of our friends from school can weigh in with their ideas.

Dick G--couldn't agree more. Why are the Administration and Congress so afraid of just letting managers manage to budget cuts? All of us who have been in government know of the policy of spend your money at the end of the budget cycle every year no matter what you spend it on.Just don't give it back. If the budget were cut 2% a year for 5 years in real dollars managers would begin to get rid of the waste. Waste, fraud, featherbedding and duplication of effort is a way of life in government and money is power. In the military every service competes for money and commands and this causes duplication of systems and programs. The same is true throughout government. Since this is the way of life in governemnt there are no real ethical barriers to "sole source" contracts to hide year end money or featherbed for a future post retirement job. There are many other ways to accomplish similar results in competative contracts. This is kind of a "reverse" lobbying for the individual or Agency.

Harrycat: Obama is reaping the rewards of all the money that GWB invested in intelligence after 9-11. We obviously have beefed up electronic surveillance and hired people who know foreign languages to listen in. We have recruited agents on the ground in the Muslim nations to target individuals for the drones to strike. We have moved bases of drones into many nearby areas to follow sustected targets and be on site to kill them. It is to his credit that he is ignoring his base and continuing the policies of GWB.

It is to his detriment that he is so fixated on government intervention in the economic system of the United States and pushing through his programs rather than support business. Yesterday the Head of the Fed in Texas pointed out once again that the nation's large banks have little interest in lending to small businesses and leave it to community and regional banks. He acknowldged as well that small businesses use their Credit cards to supplement their LOC's when banks won't lend. He also credited the small businesses of the US for virtually all of the growth in jobs. And, yet, small businesses are the target of the administration's regulatory policies and ignored in terms of capital availability and discriminated against in competition with Union companies. Small business owners are also the PRIMARY target of the Obama plan to raise taxes as the range of income from $200k to $1m includes the income of many small businesses.

Fluffed off is your view of my statement, Harrycat. I do not condone the booing or dishonoring of anyone who honorably serves this country. I could care less if a person is gay or not if they conduct themselves appropriately. That should be clear enough for you to understand. Both parties as well as independents have people who are not apprecated or representative the other members of the group. I will not hold you accountable for the idiots stopping commerce in NY city. But, I doubt many are Republicans.

THE BUDGET 'SCRUM';I FOR ONE WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME PUBLICITY GIVEN TO THE #1 PREVENTER ON TAX/REVENUE ENHANCEMENT COMPROMISE :WASTE,FRAUD, & DUPLICATE PROGRAMMING. SEN TOM COBURN CITED 100 BILLION IN SUCH CUTS AND WAS SHOWN THE DOOR. THIS IS GOT TO STOP. I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE ON THIS. EVERY HIGH INCOME PERSON INTERVIEWED ON THE SUBJECT ALL CITE THE SAME IDEA. "STOP THROWING MY MONEY AWAY AND THEN TALK TO ME ABOUT TAKING MORE OF IT."

Bill M. - I guess I need to repeat. I would have been a Rep if the party resembled that of Eisenhower (and many others). If not agreeing with you makes me a leftie, then so be it.

Also, Obama (of course) did not invent drones, but he surely has used them more effectively the W did.

Also, note from last week: I noted that, when at a public event Reps booed a gay serviceman, that I thought that was a very bad example. You fluffed it off that both parties have their quacks. The really important element is that none of the candidates on the stage said "word one" about the disrespect shown to one of our protectors. Is that OK with you?

Harrycat--Do you think Obama invented drones? Or that the war in Libya was a sympathetic jesture that moved at the speed of light? And that he is responsible for the lightening like pace of withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan? His record with Iran after drawing the line in the sand in December of 2009 has been comforting. And, his partnership with Isreal is declining as well. As for the border security we have seen 30 Million immigrants cross into the US and produce huge demands on our schools, social systems and take our blue collar jobs over the past 30 years and neither party has solved the problem. I'm glad to see you liberals trying to find something the President has done well. Ironic isn't it that you have to look to his extension of the Bush doctrine for examples. As the market tanks once again today. i beleive there is plenty of waste in the military budget to do some cutting but that is no different than the other government agencies. They are all ineffficient and prone to waste and feather bedding. But most of all the entitlement programs threaten the future but they can be adjusted with a little bipartisan adjustments. What the country needs most is an economy that is released to perform. Less regulation, an energy policy reversal, an adjustment to Obamacare to lower costs, a workout program for real estate to get the market moving once again and allow people who are underwater to be able to refinance if they can make the payments. Only a strong economy will give us a chance to balance the economy. I love your pot stirring but I'd rather see you come up with something more credible than slamming repubs all the time. You act as if the country can continue on the path of living off our debt and our children's future.

Given the Rep nature of this blog I need to point out that in the last decade plus the Dem has done a better job of "defending our borders". Bush starts two wars gets no progress in either. Obama is determined to end both wars as soon as reasonably possible and has used minimum force (drones for example) to great effect.

The Rep reaction to adversity has been to lash out with a show of military strength. It should be clear that in our new world we must operate with restraint. Just because we can demolish any adversary doesn't mean that we should. I hope we have learned that. Crushing our enemies does not produce what we really want. I am assuming that what we want is a just and lasting peace. Those who have wanted world dominion rather than national security have constantly gotten us into real trouble.

On line and off line I've received a number of challenges about this post. This is not an advocacy for cutting national defense, or improper treatment of the men and women who have devoted their lives to protecting us. It is an alert to the fact that the country's economics will require tough choices and a hope that the folks making defense budget decisions will be wise and properly oriented. This assumes a Republican administration in 2013.

'The Debt Commission' is resolved to cutting approx. 15% out of the Budget. Those risking their lives in the Defense of the Country will have to absorb it. It then follows; those refusing to defend our borders will have to absorb proportionally much higher reductions.

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