Archive for defense

A word about benefits and costs in the Military

Posted in army life, army training, HOOAH!, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26, November 2013 by chockblock

Gee seems personnel costs aren’t eating the DOD alive. That the DOD’s senior leadership was lying and cost are up elswhere in larger ammounts than ”’personnel”’!.

Okay, lemmie ‘splain:

In the 90’s, weapons tech was teh smexy, but the budget was low. Pay, the housing allowance and other bennies ”barely” kept up with inflation. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines were on food stamps. Units were cut right and left (look at a map of pre-1989 West Germany, 1995 Germany and now). Many qualified troops left as flying hours were cut, 2 aircraft were cannibalized to keep one flying and the whole being military on food stamps thing.

Slick Willie agreed to the Future Combat System, JSF and a few other weapons programs, that were delayed. He punted and was more interested in oval sex in the oral office.

So 9/11 happened, BAH and pay were on the upswing. While recruitment was up before OIF, ~2004 the numbers went down. I was there, headlines like “empty seats at Benning” were in the Army times. Then some brain dead git addicted to power point came up with the “moral waiver”. Promotion points dipped and many idiots got in. So to preserve the proggies and hardware (and fat contracts) This Aint Hell gives us the money quote:

“Congress is deeply resistant to cutting pay and benefits. So the Pentagon leadership’s rhetorical focus on soaring personnel costs may help reduce pressure on the broader military budget.

“If you focus on the least doable thing, what you gain is leverage to bring the whole budget up,” Adams said. “By pointing to the hardest thing to change, they hope that the whole budget will continue to be high.”
Stars & Stripes: Report: Pentagon emphasizing personnel, but budget costs up across the board”

Well, not only is it the “hardest thing to change”, it impacts fewer voters, because cutting actual defense spending impacts contracting and manufacturing jobs and entire local economies. Whereas, cutting the number and pay of troops affects far fewer people – people who wouldn’t ordinarily vote for the current administration and it’s less likely to have any real impact on elections.
— Jonn Lilyea slams the DoD

Yup, because having good troops leave because they can’t feed their families, pilots leave because of poor maintenance and low flying hours and a garrison military nitpicking every little behavior worked so well in the Clinton Era.

If the Bush era was one of fat waste and flushing money down the toilet, the Clinto era was one of dry rot. It was Clinton’s DOD that came up with contractors and no-bid contacts to DynCorp, KBR et al. Bush just went over the top. Far from saving money, the new soldiers of fortune cost much, much more:

“We know that sergeants in the military generally cost the Government between $50,000 to $70,000 per year. We also know that a comparable position at Blackwater costs the Federal Government over $400,000, six times as much.”

The left wants to go back to a draft so they can take money from readiness, going back to the era of a small army/navy swelling with draftees. We have members of Congress saying that we need to “slash” future bennies.


What is needed is to fire the contractors, replace them with Reservists/National Guard, enlarge the Guard and Reserve and slash the DoD Civlians, O-5 and up, E-7 and up armchair warriors who’ve never deployed. End the draft.

When an Active duty US Vice Adm. Bill Moran has to “dispell rumors”, things are bad (go click on that link).

The 90’s sucked. As troops leave for better pay elsewhere, the military rots from within. I suspect that’s what some want, but do we really want a return to the 30’s Army?


Military pay and benefits

Posted in army life, HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 3, February 2013 by chockblock

One again there are calls to “reform” military pay. I’ve said on this blog before that our service members don’t get paid enough. No we’re not europe; defense spending is not breaking the bank it’s actually smaller now. But many still attack our bennies.

Some bloggers, like In from the Cold, have struck back.

We have a powerful ally:

Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), deputy director, MOAA Government Relations
“Statements that rising personnel costs are “unaffordable”…“out of control”…”unsustainable”… and “will impact readiness” are geared to make headlines, alarm the reader, and (not infrequently) generate support for pursuing additional studies.

“If personnel costs continue growing at that rate and the overall defense budget remains flat with inflation,” CSBA authors hyperbolized, “military personnel costs will consume the entire defense budget by 2039.”

Elsewhere, they acknowledged that will never happen. But the quote was seized and repeated by reporters, pundits, bureaucrats and other “analysts.” E.g., James Kitfield did so in the July 2012 National Journal.

Is there any chance personnel costs will consume the entire defense budget by 2039? Of course not.

Before examining the personnel share, let’s first consider that the defense budget has consumed a progressively smaller share of federal outlays over the last 50 years”

The Military Officer’s Association of America is made up of people who’ve fought America’s wars. Company level commanders who’ve had to deal with military families. The Association of the United States Army echoes the call to help soldiers get better pay.

There are many leftist dirtbags who insist that the military revert to the Regan/Carter era of pay.

Pay freezes and benefit cuts would cause the Army to bleed numbers. Soldiers on food stamps, NCO’s and officers leaving, morale nosediving and enlistment down. The left wants that, I don’t.

How about we cut the think tanks and the pay of Congressmen who say stupid things instead?

The cost of Defense

Posted in HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11, November 2012 by chockblock

I admit that I am a Cold War baby. I was born in the 70’s, my father worked as a defense contractor. He met my mother when he was in the Air Force.

But what has the military done for the rest of us?

  • The very existence of this Wiki was made possible via the US Department of Defense wanting to create a way for people to gain access to powerful research computers they were geographically separated from—for both purely scientific/academic and military projects. Incidentally, it also protected the flow of information between military installations from attacks (up to and including nuclear weapons). This is what became the Internet. (The World Wide Web and the hypertext system, while still vital, was a civilian thing)
  • Your sat-nav. NAVSTAR GPS, developed for the US military and made available for public use after the KAL 007 shoot-down.
  • Supersonic flight—first done by the US Air Force.
  • The Moon Landings—military-trained pilots. Of the 12 men to walk on the Moon, only one (Harrison Schmidt) had never been a member of the US Armed Forces. Of the remaining 11, only the first (Neil Armstrong) was directly employed by NASA: Armstrong was a retired Navy test pilot, while the remaining 10 were still active-duty Air Force and Navy pilots (4 Air Force, 6 Navy).
  • US Space Exploration in general—the Titan space launchers were originally for Superior Firepower.
  • Antibiotics. In order to keep troops healthy, the US Military developed a way to mass produce penicillin in World War II to ensure every soldier would have access to some.
  • Nylon—originally created for parachutes. Or rather, originally created for women’s stockings, which used the silk needed for parachutes at the beginning of World War II; old stockings were turned into parachutes. And then they ran out of old silk stockings and started making the parachutes out of old nylon stockings and whatever other nylon they could get their hands on. Women held stocking drives to support the war effort.
  • Duct tape—originally created as a waterproof packing tape for supply crates being carried ashore in amphibious landings. In the military duct tape is colored olive drab instead of silver, and nicknamed “mile a minute tape” or “ninety mile an hour tape.”
  • In response to large natural disasters around the world, when the US sends aid, the first responders are usually the military, who have the logistical capacity to quickly move a lot of supplies and medical personnel, often to territory that doesn’t lend itself easily to conventional civilian transportation due to limitations of local infrastructure (pre-existing limitations or those caused by the disasters themselves). Entire naval battle groups have been rerouted to provide aid, occasionally even as the disaster is in progress.
    On the internet an anecdote exists of a supposed conference listing some of the capabilities of aircraft carriers in disaster situations, including on-board hospitals, cafeterias designed to feed thousands and the ability to both provide electricity to shore based facilities, and provide a landing point for rescue aircraft.
  • One of the benefits of joining the US military since WWII is having your college paid for by the Montgomery GI bill. One can also get a scholarship by joining the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps, essentially a college level cadet program that leads into a military career as an officer). In addition, each service offers the ability to gain college credit, and in some cases having a degree is a requirement for promotion even for the enlisted. In America joining the military to get an education is a fairly common motivation, helping to make the military an institution of society in many parts of the US.
  • — TVTropes: “Yanks With Tanks”

“There is no National Defense Service Medal for veterans of the Cold War. What were America’s GIs up to? They went on alert when Egypt claimed the Suez Canal in 1956. They manned missile silos in North Dakota and piloted B-52s aimed at Soviet targets. They crewed nuclear-armed submarines and drove tanks in the Fulda Gap between West and East Germany. Some of what they did is still secret.”
–“A Cold Shoulder for Cold-War Vets“, By BARRY NEWMAN, (via XBradTC)

So out come these idiots from George Mason University:

In 2010, the United States government spent more on national defense ($738.8 billion) than it did
at the height of the Cold War spending in 1986 ($572 billion), when the U.S. was competing in
an arms race against the then superpower U.S.S.R.

Once the U.S. embarked upon the path of permanent war, starting with World War II, the result was a permanent war economy. The permanent war economy continuously draws resources into the military sector at the expense of the private economy, even in times of peace. We explore the overlooked costs of this process. The permanent war economy does not just transfer resources from the private economy, but also distorts and undermines the market process which is ultimately responsible for improvements in standards of living.

What? What technology has been suppressed? What has been held back?

Let’s look at the budget:

Yea, less than a quarter even if you add in the “generous” pensions vets get from the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs. Here, here, here and here I destroy the left’s favorite arguments about the military:

  1. We don’t need a draft.
  2. Pay is not generous.
  3. The military is smaller today that it was during the cold war.
  4. There is no need to “reform” pay.

What we have here is a failure to adjust for inflation. “1986 ($572 billion)” becomes 1,2 trillion in 2012. 2010’s $738.8 billion becomes $349.9 billion in 1986 dollars. The military is smaller and cheaper than during the cold war.

I suspect that the left hates the military and some want to side with our enemies. The only country that had a military-industrial complex that broke it was the former USSR. A command economy sucks because it has to choose guns over butter. Like North Korea:

North Korea at night.

North Korea fights global warming!

The “report” from Thomas K. Duncan and Christopher J. Coyne i long on sweeping lefty generalizations and short of specifics(And if TvTropes can call out their bullcrap…). The “military-industrial” complex was a term Eisenhower(R) used to refer to Kennedy(D) and his fear that Kennedy would spend more on defense. Then Vietnam happened under LBJ, man walked on the moon and the DoD had huge growth. I’m stationed on an air base expanded and built upon during the Kennedy era.

I sense bad things for those of us in the service, since this is catnip to the left.

About that Pacific Re-alignment…

Posted in ADA, army life, army training, guns, politcs, rankers, tech pron, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 16, August 2012 by chockblock

As seen on DEW Line: Chinese and Russian aircraft.

So the DoD wants to shift to the Pacific. Here’s the reason why they should be worried. The Russian plane has a radar that poses a deadly threat to fourth generation aircraft. The Chinese are putting a real fighter on board the carrier most lefties think is just for show. So a real fighter with their new navy.

And this is why the Pacific is becoming a dangerous place.

BTW: lost in the disappointment in the “Arab Spring” and it’s failure in Egypt:

“CAIRO – Egypt’s Islamist president ordered his defense minister and chief of staff to retire on Sunday and canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers”

Egypt’s president cancels amendments that gave military power, names vice president: Associated Press.

Patriot Missile Operators:

Egyptian Air Defense Command:

MIM-104(PAC-3) missile: 4 Batteries (4 Stationary (towed) units per Battery, 16 missiles per unit plus 2 reloads each)

Israeli Air Force (GEM+)

This won’t end well….

Pay, benifits and civilian control

Posted in HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29, July 2012 by chockblock

Rosa Brooks opines in Foreign Policy magazine:

“Some readers are taking me to task for impugning the military with the word socialism. I should be clear: though I may be one of the last three people in America who feels this way, I don’t use “socialism” as a dirty word, at least if what we mean by “socialism” is having a society that takes decent care of its people. “

“But this can’t fully account for the disproportionate benefits we bestow on the military. Plenty of other Americans serve the nation in vital ways — consider public school teachers and nurses — and plenty of other Americans, from fishers to fire-fighters, have dangerous jobs. We don’t seem inclined to fling free health care and housing in the direction of teachers or fire-fighters, though. “
“Welfare State, Meet America’s socialist military.”

“This argument has a strong emotional pull, but in the end, it’s more about sentiment than reason. After all, members of today’s military are volunteers, not conscripts (and contrary to popular belief, they do not hail mostly from the least-advantaged segments of society). Just like civilian pilots, loggers, fishers, miners, and farmers (who face roughly comparable occupational fatality rates) — or for that matter, just like the journalists and humanitarian aid workers who operate in conflict zones and unstable societies — military personnel get paid to take certain risks in order to provide an important benefit for the rest of society. “
“Generals Are from Mars, Their Bosses Are from Venus”

“In my last column, I wrote about the civilian-military gap, and asked whether the most common laments about it make sense when examined closely. We tend to think that the military is “special” in some way, and fundamentally different from other occupations. I asked whether that belief in military “differentness” is justified, and suggested that in many respects, the military isn’t as different as we assume”
–“The moral cost of the civilian-military gap

I applaud Ms. Brooks for debunking the idea that the military is some kind of alien thing outside of the civilian world. The problem, if there is one, in military-civilian relations is that civilians have chosen to be disconnected. As one lefty noted, baby boomers only became interested in US military and foreign policy when they were on the verge of being drafted. Technology and history marched on. We don’t need a draft.

What is needed is a volunteer military with benefits that keep servicemembers in the service. Many on the left and those deficit hawks on the right bitch and whine about the pays and allowances we get but most never served.

Things to remember about servicemembers:

  1. Even officers are forgoing more lucrative careers to be in the military. Yes I know the economy is in the tank. However doctors pilots, lawyers and such can make more money in private practice and not have layers of paper pushers breathing down their neck.
  2. Unlike student loans, the GI Bill is good for America. It puts willing and able young people in the service, doesn’t burden them with debt and is the right thing to do. Payment for services rendered on behalf of everyone.
  3. The local economy can vary, even within the same state. So a housing allowance or
    cost of living adjustment helps service members stay focused on the mission. Get out of shape or fail to qualify on your weapon? You get booted from the service. Screw up too bad and you can be barred from re-joining. Teachers and police officers just get fired. That leads me to my next point:
  4. Service members are asked to be physically fit, qualify on their weapons AND be proficient at their jobs. In the military, you can be punished with jail if you are terrible at your job.
  5. Lose your job? In the military, they have to re-train you or let you go with a severance check. In this economy you just lose your job.
  6. Businesses can fold, city and states can layoff workers but the military is vital to the nation.

What most pundits and Congress critters forget is that cuts to bennies and pay put soldiers on food stamps. Why should they stay in the service if the pay is crap? The bennies are there because more is asked from soldiers than airline pilots, truck drivers or other civilian workers. When KBR and Haliburton tried to recruit truck drivers for Iraq, they ended up paying salaries north of $200K for one year. Many drives quit rather than face insurgent guns and IED’s. Meanwhile most 88M’s (army truck drivers) got paid much less, even if you put in overseas and hostile fire pay. Yet they still did the job.

Europe went bankrupt when it tried to pay everyone lavish bennies. California, Detroit and other “blue states” fell prey to that blue model. And as a percentage of the budget, the military barely gets above 20%. Sure military bennies are “lavish” if you don’t toss in the harsh military justice and getting shot at. Many recruits quit basic training because it dawns on them that they could get shot at.

If there is a “gap” between the cake-eaters and those in green is because of the freedom we as a society enjoy. If Ms. Brooks and others want to laud the military, that’s fine. Don’t cut those bennies and the pay we’ve earned.


Posted in politcs, rankers, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , on 12, November 2011 by chockblock

Another Mainstream Media “opinion” piece about the military, it’s Time magazine with the mud now:

The U.S. military and American society are drifting apart. It’s tough inside the civilian world to discern the drift. But troops in all the military services sense it, smell it — and talk about it. So do their superiors. We have a professional military of volunteers that has been stoically at war for more than a decade. But as the wars have droned on, the troops waging them are increasingly an Army apart.

“There’s no challenge for the 99% of the American people who are not involved in the military,” says Army veteran Ron Capps, who served as an intelligence analyst in Afghanistan. “They don’t lose when soldiers die overseas, they’re not being forced to pay, for the wars, and there’s no sense among the vast population of what we’re engaged in.”

Part of the problem – surprise! – is Pentagon penny-pinching. Trying to save money, the Defense Department has been shutting bases down across much of the nation for the past generation, and concentrating them in military-friendly southern states. “Where [troops come from] gets more and more away from the general population,” ex-Guard chief Blum said. “What they do behind those gates is pretty much, `Who cares?’ to the general population, unless they make their living off of what goes on in there.”
An Army Apart: The Widening Military-Civilian Gap
by Mark Thompson,

About that penny pinching: during the Cold War the MSM accused all the services of wasting money. From $500 hammers and $700 toilet seats to weapons systems that “didn’t work”, the Pentagon was awash in fraud and abuse. The truth was more nuanced. There was fraud and wasteful spending, but when Desert Storm kicked off, those weapon systems did pretty good. Yes, even the Bradley.

Some bean counter in the Pentagon came up with the idea (due to Congressional and MSM pressure) to hire contractors. This was brewing long before George W. Bush came into office. COTS (commercial off the self) products were introduced because the media ridiculed military specs. After 9/11, any product that performs to “mil-spec” is highly valued now. While COTS has saved money in generators and supply, it wasn’t a cure all. The contractors gobbled up the money they were supposed to save. For garrison duties, yes having contractors do the plumbing, maintenance and other garrison duties freed up soldiers for war. (Fun Fact: on military bases, the Post Exchange, movie theater and daycare centers used to be staffed by soldiers, with an officer over them, since the early 90’s they are staffed by civilians).

As for wages and health care: “$57,400, and the annual total personnel-related cost per troop, including health care, is more than twice that: $121,600, according to a recent accounting by the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.”

Wow, where do I get that money? There were soldiers on food stamps in the 70’s and 80’s. Wanna go back to that Mr. Thompson? The health bennies and the morale welfare and recreation are payments for services rendered. Those contractors you love to hate came about BECAUSE most soldiers get 100k+ medical conditions over the course of 20 years in service.

Soldering is hard, hard work. Many soldiers have bad backs, bad knees. Contractors get paid according to the contact. Alas, health and hazards of a warzone make costs go up.

Technology marched on from the reference frames of most movies and tv shows. We don’t need to stack soldiers on the battle field anymore. We fight maneuver warfare, not positional (or attrition) warfare. When Centcom issued a press release that US forces were conducting “Air Assault” operations in Afghanistan, the left went nuts. They assumed it meant widespread bombing or some nonsense like that. Air Assault means that soldiers climb out of a helicopter and repel down a rope to enter a building (while getting shot at btw). So much for the “media” that is supposed to keep the public informed.

Mr. Thompson, the media hates the military. Your fellow journalists try and paint the military as scum. We’re poor, uneducated “children” who don’t have a choice (or are sadists who enjoy killing). That’s YOUR profession’s take on us.

I’ve met soldiers from poor backgrounds, some with families that are genuine old money and most who are average Americans. Generation X and the millennials have opted to drop out of world events. They don’t follow the news, don’t care and would rather play xbox and eat junk food than eat healthy and exercise. Most Americans that are the prime recruiting age are just too fat to join. There are many with criminal records. The military’s mission is to win wars, not rehab society’s rejects. That never worked.

It’s the “retired” and “former” service members who seem most “distressed”. Never the rank and file, never active duty at current posts. Fancy that. Their pensions won’t get cut. They won’t have to serve with drugged out and criminal draftees. They won’t get stuck with a slipshod military their vision will create.

The information about how the real military works is available on the web and at CONUS posts. Most posts are now open, you don’t need a pass to get in Mr. Thompson. I suggest you talk to those on active duty who volunteer, who live on and in the local economy. For us there is no drift.

I expect such ramblings from a blog but not Time magazine. Guess print really is dead.

It’s still our Army

Posted in HOOAH!, politcs, rankers, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11, November 2011 by chockblock

The amount of epic fail in the following is not recommended for anyone with a medical condition:

We the People’ need to understand: it’s not longer our army; it hasn’t been for years; it’s theirs and they intend to keep it. The American military belongs to Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates. Civilian leaders will continue to employ the military as they see fit. If Americans do not like the way the army is used, they should reclaim it, resuscitating the tradition of the citizen-soldier and reasserting the connection between citizenship and military service. … [A]s long at the tradition of the citizen-soldier remains moribund, reversing the militarization of U.S. foreign policy will be a pipe dream.

Andrew Bacevich, quoted by Thomas E. Ricks on his blog.

There’s no telling whether this kind of movement will gather steam, but based on the lukewarm reception to President Obama’s proposed new taxes on the wealthiest Americans, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. But would asking Americans to sacrifice more, in the ways they can, bring them closer to the military? Could anything do that in our disconnected cyber-age?
“‘It’s no longer our army. It hasn’t been for years.’”: By Philip Ewing ,

No one forces people to join the military. The whole point of the all volunteer force was to avoid the mass mobilization of WWII. Technology marches on. A Cold War Era Nike missile battery required a tremendous investment. The PATRIOT missile system is not only mobile, but has a smaller size and footprint.

We don’t need huge numbers of troops. Most service members are in the support areas than in combat. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan pushed them to the limelight. It takes about 7 soldiers to support one infantry soldier (an 11B). Thats cooks, MP’s, legal, chaplin, medics, mechanics (we’re a mechanized army) and signal. That’s not including the other services.

The Army (and our sister services) face substance abuse problems. All married/divorced services members have to care for families. I don’t care if the “average American” can’t relate. He/she just needs to say “thank you for your service” and let me be on my way.

We try to recruit in high schools, Code Pink and other leftist wackos keep trying to block it. The media doesn’t help. The news media HATES the military.

That people even show up to the recruiting station at all is a miracle. In basic, my platoon lost 6 people. One woman was a basket case. Another was an idiot who should never have been let it. One guy assaulted a female recruit and got sent to jail then kicked out. Two were PT test failures and the last one broke his foot. The company lost 10 people, three to unreported criminal records. Those three were kicked out on false enlistment. In AIT I saw several recruits take drugs/show up drunk and get kicked out. And we were Air Defense.

Things got worse as the DOD granted waives for felonies and other issues. Overweight and dirtbag “soldiers” were kept in to keep numbers up until the Brigade S-1 and the Brigade commander couldn’t stand it anymore. Now the waivers have been stopped and commanders Army-wide have been told to kick out soldiers who can’t pass the standards. My current unit lost five people for drug and discipline problems.

The military’s statistics are better than the general population. We want to be in the service. Forget the wealthy, the “average American” has plenty of opportunity to join the military. 1.5 to 2 year terms of service are available, a 19 year old can do that standing on his head.

It’s the hard work and the discipline that turn off most people. You can’t wear what you want, work the hours you want or slack off. The Army just tightened it’s tattoo policy. Our sister services are down-sizing, cutting into that < 1% in the military.

As for why force is used, "smart diplomacy" is just a fancy word for more talking. Diplomacy has to be backed up with military force. Previous presidents used force for anything. How did we get the Panama canal? By splitting off part of Columbia with the help of the US Navy. The Spanish American War, the Indian Wars, the Cold War, Manifest Destiny. led by civilians, planned by civilians.

We have other concerns. The military is fine, the founding fathers got that one right. We don't need a draft. We need voters who pay attention, and a media who is willing to cover the real news.