Perspective on Defense Spending

Someone told me the other day that defense spending has skyrocketed in the past decade, so the sequestration’s cut of $50 billion per year over the next 10 years would merely return us to the spending levels of very recent history.

While trying to verify this claim online, I came across this interesting article by Fox News which briefly compares America’s pend…

  1. KC Mulville

    How much of that is spent on missiles or jet fighters, versus medical or retirement coverage for soldiers?

    Note: I have no problem taking care of our soldiers. But one suggestion behind the statistics is that we’re spending so much more than other countries on weaponry, even though we already overwhelm the rest of the world in weaponry. 

    Also, speaking from my own bailiwick, much of the defense spending is targeted to information systems (computers, networks, satellites, etc.) that are naturally more expensive, and so the fact that we spend so much more than others is hardly a sign that we’re over-spending. We have to protect a vast information network that, let’s face it, isn’t something Belgium has to worry about.

  2. D.C. McAllister
    C

    I’m concerned about exactly what they are cutting. Indiscriminate across-the-board cuts will harm the military. Some argue that the missile defense budget is inadequate already and further reductions that Obama has proposed could put our homeland in jeopardy.

    Redundancies need to be targeted, but the government is rarely adept at cutting its own waste.

  3. Schrodinger

    This type of problem worries me:

    Navy to delay overhaul of USS Lincoln

    “Today’s announcement that the Navy will not begin the RCOH of the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) is yet another example of how these reckless and irresponsible defense cuts in Washington will have a long-term impact on the Navy’s ability to perform its missions. Not only will the Lincoln be delayed in returning to the fleet, but this decision will also affect the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) defueling, the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) RCOH, and future carrier readiness. This administration has cut our budgets to the bone and this announcement underscores that when we come to a bump in the road, like this current budget delay, or encounter a crisis on another part of the globe, our military now lacks the reserve capacity to meet our National Security requirements.”

    The news comes the same week the Secretary of Defense delayed the deployment of Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), which was scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8.

    http://www.wavy.com/dpp/military/navy-to-delay-overhaul-of-uss-abraham-lincoln

  4. Schrodinger

    Which also leads to this:

    The Pentagon is cutting its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf region from two carriers to one, the Defense Department said Wednesday, in a move that represents one of the most significant effects of budget cuts on the U.S. military presence overseas. The decision comes as Washington struggles to find a way to avoid sharp automatic spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs next month.

    Plans for the USS Harry S Truman to deploy to the Gulf later this week have been canceled. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, brought home from the Gulf in December for the resurfacing of its flight deck and other maintenance, will return later this month and stay until about summer. The USS John C. Stennis will leave the Gulf and return home after the Eisenhower arrives.

  5. Schrodinger

    And this:

    The U.S. Navy Has Only One Supercarrier Battle Group At Sea

    cvn.jpg

    Now, where are the U.S. Navy’s supercarrier battle groups?

    As of January 2, 2013, gonavy.jp – a source, with StratFor, which we rely on here, was showing no U.S. supercarrier battle groups in or near the Mediterranean. Last year, with the retirement of “the Big E”, the USS Enterprise, the U.S. supercarrier force shrank to ten battle groups. According to the same source, four of America’s ten remaining supercarriers are actually in various types of extended rehabitation, upgrading and maintenance, so they’re not available for sea duty.

    One carrier battle groups is currently on station in the Arabian Sea. According to gonavy.jp, that supercarrier, the USS John C. Stennis, appears to be the only one presently at sea. The USS George Washington is home-ported in Yokohama, Japan.

    One supercarrier battle group on station in the Arabian Sea, another docked in Yokohama. The other eight U.S. supercarrier battle groups are either off-line (four) or dockside in the U.S. (four).

     

  6. Roberto

    It is worth keeping in mind that the number given for China is almost certainly complete fiction. A great deal of their spending is obfuscated, particularly their military spending. 

    That said the cuts need to begin, this is being said as someone who’s paycheck comes out of the DoD budget. Massive budget cuts are needed and the DoD is hardly so efficient that it cannot use a trimming. The cuts will almost certainly be poorly implemented but Dr. Krauthammer is correct on this point,a better deal is simply not in the cards. 

  7. Foxfier

    It’s never apples to apples; when my ship was  doing disaster relief, it was still “military spending.”  

    When I pay our insurance and the DOD pays their part, that’s “military spending.”  (Husband is on active duty from a DOD job.)

    The Vietnam vet family member who just got on military disability and is being treated for PTSD (it does actually seem to have helped him a lot, although I’m not sure if it’s the treatment or reduction in pot smoking or the kids being out of the house) is “military spending.”

    When politicians decide to do a photo op with the troops, a “fact-finding mission” or Obama goes on vacation on AF one, those operating costs are “military spending.”

    Those guys you see on facebook, with springs instead of legs?  Keeping them alive is military spending, as is helping them get back into society. And we do a lot more of the stuff that puts people at risk of that kind of injury.

    Besides being military for Europe, enabling them to go all welfare state; think they’ll take up the slack with this economy?  (Now_there’s_an idea for targeted cuts…Europe’s apron strings.)

  8. Lord Humungus
    Aaron Miller: Someone told me the other day that defense spending has skyrocketed in the past decade….

    We have been a nation at war (or wars) for the past 12 years or so. Of course spending is higher.

  9. Dave Carter
    C

    From Investor’s Business Daily:

    The commander in chief who once pined for a world without nuclear weapons has decided a world without an American deterrent is a good start, seeking to cut the U.S. arsenal by 80%.

    In a world where rogue states with unstable leadership are either in possession of or pursuing nuclear weapons, and with Russia rearming and China emerging as a world military and nuclear superpower, President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to consider cutting U.S. strategic nuclear forces to as few as 300 deployed warheads — below the number believed to be in China’s arsenal and far fewer than current Russian strategic weapon stocks.

    Cutting waste is one thing, reducing the “tooth to tail” ratio is generally good.  But he seems to be going after the “tooth” part with unusual zeal.  

  10. Aaron Miller
    Central Scrutinizer

    Aaron Miller: Someone told me the other day that defense spending has skyrocketed in the past decade….

    We have been a nation at war (or wars) for the past 12 years or so. Of course spending is higher.

    So why not wind down while withdrawing from Afghanistan? Why must reductions in defense spending be so sensational?

    As I have said many times on Ricochet, our country is the most influential in the world, so we also have the most enemies and most national interests in need of protecting. We need a stronger and more versatile military than any other nation, so leading in defense spending by sheer numbers is acceptable.

    But you know how Democrats always pretend general budget cuts require laying off firefighters and policemen first or ending medical assistance for senior citizens first? That is exactly what is happening now with the recall of that aircraft carrier and many of these other arousing changes.

    Denise McAllister: …. government is rarely adept at cutting its own waste.

    Exactly. The amount being cut from the defense budget isn’t the problem. The problem is where those cuts are being made.

    Transfer all UN funding to the DoD. What savings!

  11. Lord Humungus
    Aaron Miller

    Central Scrutinizer

    Aaron Miller: Someone told me the other day that defense spending has skyrocketed in the past decade….

    We have been a nation at war (or wars) for the past 12 years or so. Of course spending is higher.

    So why not wind down while withdrawing from Afghanistan? Why must reductions in defense spending be so sensational?

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Actually, it costs a lot of money to come home, but, yes, DoD war spending can be expected to decrease in time as personnel and equipment come home and as stockpiles are replenished and refurbished. There is plenty of room for cuts at DoD (assuming a commensurate reduction in mission), but sequestration is not a good way to go about it (particularly that reduction in mission part).

  12. John Hanson

    One of my concerns is that a comparison of XXX dollars for China to YYY dollars for the US, ignores the vast difference between the salary of  a member individual  in Chin and in the US, and then this continues across all fixed costs in the countries as well.  The only way to compare realistically would be to establish a capability scale, where the dollars buy units of capability, then compare the result in the capability scale, since direct comparasions across Chinese and US currencies cannot be made (One can convert one currency to the other, but the result canno0t be compared in terms of capability due to the vast differences in what a given amount of capital will buy in the two economies..

    Based on this, I am always afraid that their much lower budget is really increasing their capability much faster than our spending is maintaining/improving ours.   I know from my dynamic modeling work in system engineering that establishing such a capability scale is the hard part of doing effective dynamic modeling, and the results are very heavily dependent on ones assumptions.

    Is someone aware of such a scale effort publicly available?

  13. Chris Campion

    There’s a reason why our spending is so many times other countries’ spending, combined – it’s because we’re defending them.  Much of Europe’s “progressivism” has been paid for out of US DoD spending – meaning France wasn’t exactly covering its own defense concerns out of its own spending, it was relying on US spending on defense to make sure a Soviet Union didn’t decide that a little more than Eastern Europe would be to their liking.

    It’s pretty clear that Barry doesn’t want America to project power anymore.  That means reductions in nuclear weapons and in carrier battle groups.  In other words, he wants to ditch a policy that has more or less been in place since WW2, which is the ability (or close to it) to fight two major wars on two different sides of the planet at the same time.

    It can readily be argued that we haven’t actually done this, and/or that it’s unnecessary.  But I would argue if all the other gov’t spending is stimulative, as we’re told, why would you want to cut stimulus spending in the DoD?

  14. Chris Campion

    (cont):  They really are talking out of a 3rd mouth at this point.  I’m guessing drone programs won’t be cut, since Barry likes those.  Tanks, maybe, he’s not so much in favor of.  Jet-things, well, didn’t Bush fly those, so they must be bad.  Let’s just give those away to “largely secular” humanists who happen to run Egypt now.

    Barry upped the spending in the first term.  He’s going to continue this in the second, but for the extra flava he’s searching for, he’ll grind DoD spending down and simply transfer those dollars to domestic spending, call it whatever he wants, then kick back for a late 9 holes somewhere on someone else’s dime, and have them worry about the math.

    It’s good to be the Emperor of Nowhere.

  15. Roberto
    John Hanson: One of my concerns is that a comparison of XXX dollars for China to YYY dollars for the US, ignores the vast difference between the salary of  a member individual  in Chin and in the US, and then this continues across all fixed costs in the countries as well.  

    It is even more misleading than that. Consider: the United States is a Pacific and Atlantic power, the budget you see reflects a global commitment and ability to respond to events anywhere on Earth. For other nations that is simply not the case but it is also not a concern.

    A nation such as China can spend a fraction of what we do and still achieve all its strategic objectives within their sphere of concern, after all no one in Afghanistan is spending the costs of even a single cruise missile but they do not have to in order to tie us down for years. 

  16. flownover

    A couple of disparate points that create a possible conclusion.

    - We have a president that thinks he and the Atty General can conduct the war with drones from Washington.

    -A Navy with more admirals than ships

    -A president willing to appoint a total doofus to SecDef,and one who sleeps with the enemy if we agree the enemy is Hamas, among others

    -An assembly of military men who are trained to kill not administer or manage systems otherwise creates massive waste if there are smart people looking to skin them ( and us). i have personal experience here, it’s bad.

    So are you willing to risk the sequester ? Let’s start with the EPA forcing to Navy to buy fake biofuel at $12 /gallon.

  17. Chris Campion
    flownover: A couple of disparate points that create a possible conclusion.

    So are you willing to risk the sequester ? Let’s start with the EPA forcing to Navy to buy fake biofuel at $12 /gallon. · 0 minutes ago

    In the EPA’s defense, though, they’re complete idiots.  We need to take into account that they’re morons.  So to expect good things from them might require a fundamental transformation of what we have classically regarded as an agency that protects the environment.

    It might just be that instead of turning swords into additional EPA regulators, we might want to build ourselves more swords out of the wasted bloat of an unelected bureaucracy that takes freedom away with penstrokes.

  18. Aaron Miller

    Sequestration was a dumb idea from the start, obviously. The pivotal question is whether or not its effect on defense spending is acceptable under the circumstances we have been given.

  19. Lord Humungus
    Aaron Miller: Sequestration was a dumb idea from the start, obviously. The pivotal question is whether or not its effect on defense spending is acceptable under the circumstances we have been given. · 0 minutes ago

    Of course it’s not acceptable; it is survivable though. It is also not going to happen (IMHO). Too many furloughs of federal union employees would result. No politician, especially Mr. President wants that. It’s just the latest episode of “Incompetent Government Theater.” Sponsored by Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and Sturm Ruger.

  20. Lord Humungus

    Here’s a little human perspective on this whole affair. See post #4. I have family serving on the Truman; the CO announced Wednesday that the deployment is cancelled due to budget cuts; they were scheduled to depart Friday. Now, when they depart for a 9 month tour, these people do things: give up their apartments; store the car and cancel the insurance; travel home to say goodbye; cancel the cell phone; etc. etc. etc.

    Chaos. All avoidable. All for nothing. Your tax dollars at work.

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