The patriotic conservative hawks who are terrified by the deterioration of our military are absolutely right – our military is in crisis. But lifting the sequester caps and pumping more money into the Pentagon isn't going to solve the problem. First, we need a president who actually cares about defending this country. Second, we need to change the Defense Department from a feeding trough for government workers and contractors into a lean, mean, warfighting machine.
We can solve the first problem in November 2016 by electing a president who cares about this country's defense. Barack Obama doesn't, and Hillary Clinton won't. They never have, and their posturing as friends of the troops and a supporters of a strong defense is a lie like everything else they say.
There’s no point in even trying to rebuild our forces until we get a president who actually understands the nature of our enemies and sides with America and our allies against them. You need to understand – liberals do not want America to be a superpower. They want us neutered. The decline of our military isn’t an accident; it’s a goal.
How are we going to get a revitalized military out of a President and ex-Secretary of State who won’t take the mullahs in Tehran at their word about strapping a nuke onto the top of an ICBM and popping it off over the East Coast to usher in the return of the Mahdi?
America is on immeasurably weaker strategic ground than when President Bush left office. That's not an opinion. That's an empirical fact. Iran is about to bake a hot rock, Putin is laughing at us, and all the while President Feckless is bragging about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. With Obama, it’s not “Mission Accomplished.” It’s “Accomplishments Undone.” But hey, Burma is slightly less totalitarian, so there's that.
Obama is never going to change course, nor will Hillary. So our Navy has shrived to half the size it should be. Our Air Force is barely flying, and our Army is dwindling. We used to be manned to fight two wars and now we can’t even beat a bunch of glorified banditos driving their Toyota pick-ups between slave auctions.
And forget the new weapon systems we actually need, like the next generation Ohio-class subs that Hugh Hewitt always talks about. That will never – I repeat, never – come to pass until we have a conservative president again. Liberals’ number one priority isn’t defending this country; it’s passing out free stuff to lay-about losers in exchange for them putting down their Obamaphones and voting once every two years.
The sequester slashed the military budget, but those cuts came in exchange for cuts to discretionary spending. That’s a rare win for our side. But the only imaginable compromise that will raise defense spending means lifting the discretionary spending caps too. Anyone have any faith that the GOP can talk Obama into agreeing to a better deal? We can’t throw away the one bit of fiscal sanity we’ve won. It would just put us back onto the downward debt spiral we were on before.
How about the GOP be the party of a strong defense through intervention, not the party that merely enables the addict?
Any new money we spend now will just disappear down the Pentagon rathole. Until the defense establishment is utterly and completely remade, there’s no point in spending more. It won’t go to build muscle; it’ll go to build fat. The fact is that this crisis isn't simply one of resources – it's one of culture. The Defense Department has a culture that not merely tolerates but rewards waste, parochialism, and greed. The problem with the Defense Department isn't that it doesn't have over $600 billion. The problem is it has nearly $500 billion and so much of it is wasted.
I’ll believe there’s a budget crisis when the DoD cuts the number of generals and admirals in half and limits their entourages to two buck sergeants and a new lieutenant. You can't tell me it's a crisis when there's a diversity flunky in every battalion. Don’t tell me it's a crisis when the DoD can’t slash its civilian force by a third. Don’t try and tell me we need all these employees and contractors – if we need them, then we are doing too damn much of the wrong things.
Here’s a true bureaucracy story. General Petreaus, struggling to save Iraq, personally called a colonel and asked him to come out of retirement because Petreaus needed him in Baghdad. Now, in a sensible Army, a car would have shown up in the colonel’s driveway an hour later to take him to his flight. But this is the real Army. A four star general in contact with the enemy said he needed an individual, and the request – since when do four stars “request” anything? – took months to wend its way through the Pentagon and be approved. Months. How about we fire every civilian who touched that request and transfer every officer who had to sign off on it to a combat unit? If you have the resources to support that kind of lard, you don’t need any more money.
When the military starts making tough calls, I’ll believe it’s a crisis. But today the military is acting like a bureaucracy in camouflage, playing the old game of making painful cuts that get attention (like Army divisions and Navy carriers) rather than cutting the real flab in the bloated employee rosters and in the ineffective and corrupt acquisition system.
Let's start with the A-10, the cheapest and most effective ground support aircraft in the Air Force arsenal, and one perfect for the strategic threats we’re fighting today. Naturally, the Air Force wants to get rid of it in exchange for a zillion dollar winged lemon that can't do what was promised. We can't have fighter planes that cost $1 billion each. That simply won't work.
In fact, we shouldn't have fighter planes anymore period. Manned aircraft are yesterday's technology. I know the zoomies like their flight suits and the babes dig them, but that era’s over. How about we save $1 trillion by skipping a new generation of last century’s technology and go straight to what the future holds – robotic aircraft and space combat systems?
We need a military that understands and prioritizes according to a strategy, not according to fads. If the Army can afford to hire civilians to wrangle turtles at the National Training Center, then it's got too damn much money. Hey, I like turtles. Turtles are cool. But you know what I like better? Young American warriors not getting killed because their training budgets got slashed so no general has to explain to Nancy Pelosi why the Army is insufficiently tortoise-friendly.
I love the military. I gave 27 years of my life to it, and I am certainly not the only vet who worries about its moral and strategic direction. From the refusal to prosecute Bergdahl to the plethora of corruption scandals, as well as the poor leadership at the top, the military needs reform from A-to-Z. If I thought that $600 billion would get spent on making America a superpower once again, I'd be all for it. But right now, with this president and this military culture, we might as well toss a $2 million gold-plated hand grenade on top of that pile of cash.
Look, as a War College graduate, I get how American industrial/logistical power is what has traditionally crushed our enemies. Grant bled the South to death in the Civil War, and the Nazis simply couldn't withstand the never-ending flow of men and materials from the New World. During Desert Storm, I drove past a barren patch of desert one day and came back and saw VII Corps had practically moved a city there overnight. VII Corps annihilated Saddam’s Republican Guard in 100 hours.
Yes, sometimes you win wars by spending money. That's not a bad thing, but you don't win wars by wasting money in peace time. Until things change, count this hawk out.