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Posts Tagged ‘DOD’

Defund the Pentagon – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on August 13, 2020

Economist Robert Higgs has showed that “the total amount of all defense-related spending greatly exceeds the amount budgeted for the Department of Defense.” He calculated — ten years ago — that real defense spending was more than a trillion dollars a year. It is certainly not a penny less now.”


Many liberals and progressives in the Democratic Party have been loudly calling for the defunding of police departments around the country after the tragic death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. While defunding the police — not to be confused with disbanding the police — means different things to different people, most advocates propose redirecting a portion of city and county police budgets to social programs, mental health intervention, combating homelessness, and affordable housing programs.

Conservatives and Republicans have generally pushed back against calls to defund the police. They typically maintain that the level of police misconduct is overstated, that police departments just need to be reformed, and that violent crime and property crime will increase if police department budgets are cut. In response to some major cities calling for defunding the police, Donald Trump simply said, “We won’t be defunding our police. We won’t be dismantling our police. We won’t be disbanding our police. We won’t be ending our police force.” Certainly the president knows that funding levels for police departments are decided on the local level without any input whatsoever from the federal government?

There is, however, one area of government spending that liberals, conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans are united on that they don’t want defunded. Even though it is one of the largest expenditures of the federal government and is unnecessary and destructive in so many ways, these groups from across the political spectrum don’t want to defund the military in any way. And of course, Trump has pushed for higher military budgets ever since he was elected.

The Democratic-controlled House (H.R.6395) and the Republican-controlled Senate (S.4049) each just passed their own version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020–Sept. 30, 2021). The bipartisan votes in the House and Senate were 295 to 125, and 86 to 14.

According to the Congressional Research Service’s publication Defense Primer: Navigating the NDAA, “Unlike an appropriations bill, the NDAA does not provide budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD). Instead, the NDAA establishes or continues defense programs, policies, projects, or activities at DOD and other federal agencies, and provides guidance on how the appropriated funds are to be used in carrying out those authorized activities.” Budget authority is provided in subsequent appropriations legislation.

The House and Senate bills authorize FY2021 appropriations and set forth “policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, including military personnel strengths.”

Specifically, both bills authorize appropriations to the DOD for:

• Procurement, including aircraft, weapons and tracked combat vehicles, shipbuilding and conversion, and missiles
• Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation
• Operation and Maintenance
• Working Capital Funds
• Chemical Agents and Munitions Destruction
• Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities
• The Defense Inspector General
• The Defense Health Program
• The Armed Forces Retirement Home
• Overseas Contingency Operations;
• The Space Force
• Military Construction

Both bills also authorize personnel strengths for active duty and reserve forces and set forth policies regarding:

• Military personnel
• Acquisition policy and management
• International programs
• National Guard and Reserve Forces facilities
• Compensation and other personnel benefits
• Health care
• DOD organization and management
• Civilian personnel matters
• Matters relating to foreign nations
• Strategic programs, cyber, and intelligence matters

The bills also authorize appropriations for base realignment and closure activities and maritime matters, and authorize appropriations and set forth policies for Department of Energy national security programs, including the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

Both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA would fund defense for fiscal year 2021 at the obscene amount of $740.5 billion.

Politico recently ran two opinion pieces on defunding the Pentagon: the conservative case and the liberal case.

The conservative case was made by Andrew Lautz of the National Taxpayers Union and Jonathan Bydlak of the R Street Institute’s Fiscal and Budget Policy Project:

With resources more limited than ever, areas of the budget that were off-limits for years should now be more closely scrutinized. At the top of that list should be the single largest part of the federal discretionary budget, an entire category of spending that has long been off the table: the Pentagon.

Republicans in Congress need to start tackling the Pentagon budget just as boldly as they do other areas of discretionary spending. Doing so would put our nation on a better fiscal path and create opportunities for unlikely political alliances. Conservative figures like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) for years advocated restraint at the Pentagon; two of the most recent efforts to restrain the Pentagon’s budget in the coming year come from staunchly progressive members of Congress: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

The liberal case for defunding the Pentagon was made by Senator Sanders. Addressing directly the NDAA, he said,

Under this legislation, over half of our discretionary budget would go to the Department of Defense at a time when tens of millions of Americans are food insecure and over a half-million Americans are sleeping out on the street.

Moreover, this extraordinary level of military spending comes at a time when the Department of Defense is the only agency of our federal government that has not been able to pass an independent audit, when defense contractors are making enormous profits while paying their CEOs outrageous compensation packages, and when the so-called War on Terror will cost some $6 trillion.

If the horrific pandemic we are now experiencing has taught us anything it is that national security means a lot more than building bombs, missiles, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction. National security also means doing everything we can to improve the lives of tens of millions of people living in desperation who have been abandoned by our government decade after decade.

Sanders introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would “reduce the military budget by 10 percent and use that $74 billion in savings to invest in communities that have been ravaged by extreme poverty, mass incarceration, decades of neglect, and the Covid-19 pandemic.” It didn’t pass.

Conservatives at the Heritage Foundation — who seem to have never seen a defense budget that was high enough — took notice of the Politico articles. Writing in “What the ‘Defunding the Pentagon’ Articles Don’t Tell You,” Thomas Spoehr, who “serves as director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense where he is responsible for supervising research on matters involving U.S. national defense,” says that “both pieces lack some information that would contribute to a richer, more informed discussion of this critically important topic.” His article’s three key takeaways are:

1. National defense now consumes the smallest portion of the U.S. federal budget in a hundred years — 15% — and continues to shrink.
2. Our defense responsibilities include security commitments to NATO, Japan, South Korea, international sea lanes, and other areas.
3. If the nation is going to effectively counter China, Russia, and others, continued military rebuilding following years of budget cuts is necessary.

It is no surprise that “prior to joining Heritage, Spoehr served for more than 36 years in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General.”

Spoehr’s first point is a typical conservative smokescreen to justify higher defense budgets. By talking about the defense budget in terms of a percentage of something (GDP, the total federal budget, prior years, et cetera) instead of absolute numbers, conservatives can deflect attention from the obscene level of defense spending. And even worse, defense spending is actually much higher than the budgeted amount. Economist Robert Higgs has showed that “the total amount of all defense-related spending greatly exceeds the amount budgeted for the Department of Defense.” He calculated — ten years ago — that real defense spending was more than a trillion dollars a year. It is certainly not a penny less now.

Spoehr’s second point is certainly true. The concern that he never raises is “Why?” Why should the U.S. Department of Defense, funded by U.S. taxpayers, and charged with defending the United States, have “security commitments to NATO, Japan, South Korea, international sea lanes, and other areas”?

Spoehr’s third point assumes that the United States needs to counter “China, Russia, and others.” That is only because U.S. foreign policy is reckless, belligerent, and meddling instead of being a Jeffersonian foreign policy of neutrality, nonintervention, peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none. And it is simply not true that there have been years of defense budget cuts. All one has to do is look up the figures. Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending rose from $470.55 billion in 2001 to the obscene level of $849.87 billion in 2010. It declined in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014; basically stayed level in 2015, 2016, and 2017; and then rose in 2018 and 2019.

Because the Department of Defense functions as the Department of Offense, it is the Pentagon that needs to be defunded.

Laurence M. Vance is a columnist and policy advisor for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger, and book reviewer at He is the author of Gun Control and the Second Amendment, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and War, Empire and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society. Visit his website: Send him e-mail.

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DOD tester’s report: F-35 is still a lemon | Ars Technica

Posted by M. C. on February 3, 2020

The latest report on the progress of the US Defense Department’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is due out soon from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s director for operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), Robert Behler.

Last year’s report was full of bad news. And based on Bloomberg Government’s Tony Capaccio’s early access to the new report, we know much of that bad news is still bad news. In fact, the only real good news is that there are no new major flaws in the $428 billion aircraft program reported by Behler’s team.

But the bad is still bad. For starters, the Air Force version of the F-35 can’t hit what it shoots its gun at.

There are a total of 13 Category 1 “must fix” issues still unresolved with the F-35 that stand between the program and final production. And even as the long list of less critical problems is addressed, new ones keep popping up. “Although the program office is working to fix deficiencies,” Behler wrote in the report viewed by Bloomberg, “new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number.” And “many significant” issues remain to be addressed, he noted.

The report does not include data from the current round of combat testing, so even more problems may soon be added to the list.

ALIS doesn’t live here anymore

One of the major sources of problems with the F-35 program is the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS)—the software that drives maintenance and logistics for each F-35 aircraft. ALIS is supposed to intelligently drive the flow of maintenance parts, guide support crews in scheduling maintenance, and ensure the right parts get stuck in the right places. Aircraft health and maintenance action information is sent by the ALIS software in each aircraft out to the entire distributed logistical support network.

But ALIS has had some problems—including the fact that the software was not complete when Lockheed Martin began shipping aircraft, and each group of the 490 aircraft already delivered arrived with one of six different versions of the software. All of them will require extensive software retrofits when the seventh is complete, along with the other 510 or so that are expected to have been delivered worldwide by that point.

There are still 873 specific problems in ALIS and other F-35 software (down from 917 in 2018). In fact, the DOD has announced it will replace ALIS outright, eventually.

And those have been a contributor to the F-35 fleet’s poor reliability. According to OT&E, the overall fleet of F-35s fell far short of being 80-percent “mission capable”—meaning that they could be used in at least one type of combat mission. The Navy’s F-35C fleet “suffered from a particularly poor” mission-capable rate, the OT&E team stated.

In addition to just functional software problems, the OT&E office also reported that cybersecurity issues that had been identified in previous reports on the F-35 program had still not been resolved.

Do you even shoot, bro

While the Navy and Marine Corps versions of the F-35 may have more availability problems than the relatively less-complex Air Force F-35A, they can do at least one thing better: hit what they’re shooting at.

The F-35B and F-35C have externally mounted guns, while the Air Force’s 25-millimeter cannon is mounted internally. Problems with the alignment of the gun’s mount, and the fact that the mount occasionally cracks after the gun has fired, have made the accuracy of the gun “unacceptable,” according to test officials, and have made the Air Force restrict use of the gun. While the F-35 program office has worked on improvements of the gun mount for the F-35A, these have not yet been tested.

But none of this is really slowing down acquisition of the F-35—now the most expensive DOD weapons program in history. Considering that the F-35 was originally supposed to be the “low” in the “high-low mix“—with the F-22 being the more capable aircraft—the huge cost overruns and flaws make the F-35 look increasingly like the world’s most expensive lemon.


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DOD Blatantly Admits on Twitter it Works With Hollywood to Sell You War Propaganda | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on March 9, 2018

The farmers at the pentagram have been planting for a long time.

CBS’ 60 minutes…don’t get me started!

By John Vibes

While this is a fact that has been documented for many years, it is still largely overlooked by mainstream media sources, who insist that this idea is nothing more than a conspiracy theory. In the post, it was plainly admitted that the agency “works with Hollywood to ensure the military is portrayed correctly in films.”… Read the rest of this entry »

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