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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. military’

William Hartung, Mission (Im)possible — and You’re Paying for It

Posted by M. C. on February 4, 2022

When all else fails, the Pentagon’s fallback argument for the F-35 is the number of jobs it will create in states or districts of key members of Congress. As it happens, virtually any other investment of public funds would build back better with more jobs than F-35s would. Treating weapons systems as jobs programs, however, has long helped pump up Pentagon spending way beyond what’s needed to provide an adequate defense of the United States and its allies.

As it happens, though, there are just a few teeny, weeny glitches with it. For one thing, it reportedly can’t reliably either launch or retrieve the planes that make it an aircraft carrier. And for good measure, according to Bloomberg News, it can’t defend itself effectively from incoming missiles either. 

https://tomdispatch.com/what-a-waste/

Whatever the U.S. military may be considered, it isn’t usually thought of as a scam operation. Maybe it’s time to change that way of thinking, though. After all, we’re talking about a crew with a larger “defense” budget than the next 11 countries combined (and no, that’s not a misprint). Mind you, I’m not even focusing here on how a military funded, supplied, and armed like no other on this planet has proven incapable of winning a war in this century, no matter the money and effort put out. No, what’s on my mind is its weaponry in which American taxpayers have invested so many endless billions of dollars.

For example, take the latest, most up-to-date, most expensive aircraft carrier in history, the USS Gerald Ford. (Yes, it’s named after the president everyone’s forgotten, the one who took over the White House when Richard Nixon fled town in disgrace.)  Hey, what a bargain it was when Huntington Ingalls Industries delivered that vessel to the Navy for a mere (and no this isn’t a misprint either) $13 billion — $20 billion, if you’re including the aircraft it carries. And it only represents the first of a four-ship, $57-billion program.  You might imagine that, with $13 billion invested in a single ship, you’d be getting the sort of vessel that would do Star Trek proud, a futuristic creation for at least the 21st, if not the 22nd century of war.

As it happens, though, there are just a few teeny, weeny glitches with it. For one thing, it reportedly can’t reliably either launch or retrieve the planes that make it an aircraft carrier. And for good measure, according to Bloomberg News, it can’t defend itself effectively from incoming missiles either.  After “cannibalizing” parts from another aircraft carrier under construction, it is, however, finally being deployed, only four years late.

Honestly, it would be easy enough to think that I was writing a ridiculous parody here, but no such luck. And, remarkably enough, as TomDispatch regular and Pentagon expert William Hartung points out today, that ship is anything but alone in the U.S. arsenal. Just see his comments below on the F-35 jet fighter for another obvious example. In fact, as you read Hartung, ask yourself whether this boondoggle — and just about the only thing that Congress can agree on with remarkable unanimity — turns out to be a “defense” version of Watergate. So, where’s Gerald R. Ford when we really need him? Tom

What a Waste!

$778 Billion for the Pentagon and Still Counting

By William Hartung

2021 was another banner year for the military-industrial complex, as Congress signed off on a near-record $778 billion in spending for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy. That was $25 billion more than the Pentagon had even asked for.

It can’t be emphasized enough just how many taxpayer dollars are now being showered on the Pentagon. That department’s astronomical budget adds up, for instance, to more than four times the cost of the most recent version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which sparked such horrified opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other alleged fiscal conservatives. Naturally, they didn’t blink when it came to lavishing ever more taxpayer dollars on the military-industrial complex.

Opposing Build Back Better while throwing so much more money at the Pentagon marks the ultimate in budgetary and national-security hypocrisy. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that, if current trends continue, the Pentagon could receive a monumental $7.3 trillion-plus over the next decade, more than was spent during the peak decade of the Afghan and Iraq wars, when there were up to 190,000 American troops in those two countries alone. Sadly, but all too predictably, President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and contractors from Afghanistan hasn’t generated even the slightest peace dividend. Instead, any savings from that war are already being plowed into programs to counter China, official Washington’s budget-justifying threat of choice (even if outshone for the moment by the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine). And all of this despite the fact that the United States already spends three times as much as China on its military.

The Pentagon budget is not only gargantuan, but replete with waste — from vast overcharges for spare parts to weapons that don’t work at unaffordable prices to forever wars with immense human and economic consequences. Simply put, the current level of Pentagon spending is both unnecessary and irrational.

Price Gouging on Spare Parts

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How Awesome Is “Awesome”? – TomDispatch.com

Posted by M. C. on December 22, 2021

https://tomdispatch.com/how-awesome-is-awesome/

By Andrew Bacevich

Professional sports is a cutthroat business. Succeed and the people running the show reap rich rewards. Fail to meet expectations and you get handed your walking papers. American-style war in the twenty-first century is quite a different matter.

Of course, war is not a game. The stakes on the battlefield are infinitely higher than on the playing field. When wars go wrong, “We’ll show ’em next year — just you wait!” is seldom a satisfactory response.

At least, it shouldn’t be. Yet somehow, the American people, our political establishment, and our military have all fallen into the habit of shrugging off or simply ignoring disappointing outcomes. A few years ago, a serving army officer of unusual courage published an essay — in Armed Forces Journal no less — in which he charged that “a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

The charge stung because it was irrefutably true then and it remains so today.

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Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, After the Apocalypse:  America’s Role in a World Transformed, has just been published.

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Just What Is the Hidden Agenda Behind the U.S. Military Order for Anti-Aging Pills? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 12, 2021

When the military says this pill is intended to “enhance the mission readiness of our forces,” one wonders if this is just another carrot globalists are offering to those who comply with their onerous demands. If you are a good boy and girl you will get the anti-ageing pill.  If you don’t comply with the new social order, you won’t get the anti-ageing pill.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/07/no_author/just-what-is-the-hidden-agenda-behind-u-s-military-order-for-anti-aging-pills/

By Bill Sardi with Matthew Sardi

The average length of service for enlisted personnel in the US military is just under 15 years.  The average age of enlistment in the US army is ~ age 21 and the average age of US army enlisted men and women is ~age 27.  Only ~9% of army personnel are over age 40.  These troops have barely begun to age biologically.  So, what’s the impetus to introduce an anti-aging pill in today’s military?

The US  Military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) intends to test an experimental pill as “smart weaponry” to enhance performance in the battlefield. News headlines portray this as a nutraceutical that will stave off the effects of ageing on older soldiers.

“It has the capacity, if successful, to actually prevent ageing and hasten recovery from injury as well as enhance mental function,” say news reports.

A spokesperson for SOCOM said “this is about improving the mission willingness of our troops.”

Is an anti-aging pill going to be a carrot to get young Americans to enlist in the military?  A modern fighting force will likely be removed from the battlefield while AI confronts an enemy.  There would be more emphasis on mental acuity than physical endurance.  An anti-aging pill would offer both.

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President Trump Labels Generals as Pawns of the Military-Industrial Complex | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 20, 2020

For instance, when George Marshall oversaw the deployment of 8.3 million GIs across four continents in World War II, he did so with the assistance of only three other four-star generals. In retirement, Marshall refused to sit on any corporate boards, and passed on multiple lucrative book deals, lest he give the impression that he was profiting from his military record. As he told one publisher, “he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post.”

Contrast that to the bloated, top-heavy military establishment of today, where an unprecedented forty-one four-star generals oversee only 1.3 million men and women-at-arms.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/president-trump-labels-generals-as-pawns-of-the-military-industrial-complex/

by

Once again, the whispers of phantoms masquerading as administration officials have attempted to put Donald Trump on the defensive only two months before the fall election. And in typical fashion, the roused president has gone on an immediate rhetorical offensive.

Trump has doubled down on his affirmations towards the U.S. military and the American soldier, while simultaneously confronting the class of generals who command them. “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me—the soldiers are,” Trump said at a Labor Day press conference. “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

This is a dramatic shift in perspective from the man who spent the first two years of his presidency surrounding himself with top brass like Michael Flynn, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and James Mattis (along with almost being beguiled into nominating David Petraeus as Secretary of State). Perhaps Trump learned the hard way that the generals of the forever wars don’t measure up to the twentieth-century soldiers he adulated growing up.

For instance, when George Marshall oversaw the deployment of 8.3 million GIs across four continents in World War II, he did so with the assistance of only three other four-star generals. In retirement, Marshall refused to sit on any corporate boards, and passed on multiple lucrative book deals, lest he give the impression that he was profiting from his military record. As he told one publisher, “he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post.”

Contrast that to the bloated, top-heavy military establishment of today, where an unprecedented forty-one four-star generals oversee only 1.3 million men and women-at-arms. These men, selected and groomed because of their safe habits, spend years patting themselves on the back for managing wars-not-won, awaiting the day they can cash in. According to an analysis by The Boston Globe, in the mid-1990s nearly 50% of three- and four-star generals went on to work as consultants or executives for the arms industry. In 2006, at the height of the Iraq War, that number swelled to over 80% of retirees.

The examples are as endless as America’s foreign occupations: former Director of Naval Intelligence Jack Dorsett joined the board of Northrop-Grumman; he was later followed by former Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh; meanwhile, former Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright went to Raytheon; former Chairs of the Joint Chiefs—the highest ranking position in the military—William J. Crowe, John Shalikashvili,, Richard Myers, and Joseph Dunford went on to work for General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, and Lockheed-Martin, respectively.

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, in between his forced retirement from the Marine Corps and appointment as Secretary of Defense, joined the board of General Dynamics where he was paid over a million dollars in salary and benefits. Returning to public life, Mattis then spent two years cajoling President Trump into keeping the U.S. military engaged in places as disparate as Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa. “Sir, we’re doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square,” Mattis told his commander-in-chief. Left unsaid was that a strategic withdrawal would also lead to a precipitous decline in Mattis’ future stock options, which he regained after he rejoined General Dynamics following his December 2018 resignation.

That resignation might have been premature, however. It was only a matter of weeks before Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, the impetus for Mattis’ departure, was reversed. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers continue to illegally occupy the north-east of the country. That’s in addition to the thousands of Americans still kicking dust in Iraq and Afghanistan, contrary to the president’s “America First” pledge.

And Trump is as guilty as any of his subordinates when it comes to coddling the military-industrial complex, gushing over billion dollar arms deals and their manufactured jobs numbers. It remains to be seen whether his latest announcement of a partial withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the month will turn out as phony as the others.

Whether meaningful or empty, Donald Trump’s words remain a significant departure from the norm. He is one of the first prominent figures in living memory—and certainly the first president, ever—to connect the controlling influence of the military-industrial complex to the actions and advice of U.S. generals. For this he has been compared to the man who first coined the term, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, although even Ike never impugned the motivations of his fellow four-stars.

Trump’s language more closely resembles that of Major General Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death was the most decorated marine in U.S. history. “The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms,” Butler wrote in his 1935 book War is a Racket.

To eliminate this corrupting influence, Butler advocated an egalitarian price control to prevent the arms industry—and their pet generals—from profiting off the blood of American boys. “Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.”

Today that would be the equivalent of $1,733 a month, the same as a first year private in the army. It’s a far cry from the $96 million the CEOs of the Pentagon’s top five contractors—all listed above—were collectively paid in 2016.

Let’s call it a starting point.

This article was originally featured at The American Conservative

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Tomgram: Mandy Smithberger, Bailing Out the War State | TomDispatch

Posted by M. C. on May 5, 2020

In fact, continuing to prioritize the U.S. military will only further weaken the country’s public health system. As a start, simply to call up doctors and nurses in the military reserves, as even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has pointed out, would hurt the broader civilian response to the pandemic. After all, in their civilian lives many of them now work at domestic hospitals and medical centers deluged by Covid-19 patients.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176696/tomgram%3A_mandy_smithberger%2C_bailing_out_the_war_state/#more

Posted by Mandy Smithberger

In this century, the war-fighting performance of the U.S. military has proven woeful indeed and both the Pentagon high command and key Trump administration officials have evidently been incapable of drawing obvious conclusions from that fact. Or think of it another way: even the president who can’t tell Lysol from a helpful prescription drug has noticed that something is truly wrong with America’s war in Afghanistan. This should have long been obvious. After all, almost 19 years after the U.S. invaded that country on a mission to destroy the Taliban, as well as al-Qaeda, and “liberate” Afghans, thousands of American troops, advisers, and contractors (though officially being drawn down) remain there, along with striking amounts of U.S. air power. And, of course, Washington is still embroiled in a conflict with the Taliban, which now controls ever more of the Afghan countryside, as well as other insurgent groups, including a spinoff of the Islamic State. (Meanwhile, spin-offs from the original al-Qaeda operate across significant parts of the Greater Middle East and Africa.)

Now, add into that equation the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s clear that the coronavirus is spreading from Iran into poverty-stricken Afghanistan via hundreds of thousands of Afghans heading home from that country into crowded cities lacking the most basic health care or even hot water and soap for hand-washing. In other words, as I’ve written elsewhere, the U.S. military is now certain to find itself embroiled in pandemic wars that could make events on the Covid-19-ridden aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt look like next to nothing. Stranger yet, the “very stable genius” who often seems to grasp so little has, NBC News reports, grasped this and has been pushing his national security team daily “to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan amid concerns about a major coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country.” By now, you probably have some sense of what it might be like to have Donald Trump push you daily.

Yet hand it to the Pentagon and crew: they haven’t agreed to his request. Instead, his “military advisers” have reportedly pointed out to him, in true Trumpian fashion (via an analogy from hell), that “if the U.S. pulls troops out of Afghanistan because of the coronavirus, by that standard the Pentagon would also have to withdraw from places like Italy.” Gasp!

Now, don’t misunderstand me: this country’s top military figures and national-security types may be hopeless when it comes to waging war successfully in the twenty-first century, but they’re by no means hopeless. They couldn’t be more skilled or more successful when it comes to getting themselves and the rest of the military-industrial complex funded at levels that are historically mind-boggling. As TomDispatch regular and director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight Mandy Smithberger points out so strikingly today, their skill in making use of this pandemic moment to ensure that funding flows ever more quickly and copiously into the complex is beyond compare. If America’s forever wars were funding ones, the winners would be instantly obvious. Tom

Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers
Hasn’t the Military-Industrial Complex Taken Enough of Our Money?
By Mandy Smithberger

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

It’s important to grasp just how staggeringly well the defense industry has done in these last nearly 19 years since 9/11. Its companies (filled with ex-military and defense officials) have received trillions of dollars in government contracts, which they’ve largely used to feather their own nests. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the chief executive officers of the top five military-industrial contractors received nearly $90 million in compensation in 2017. An investigation that same year by the Providence Journal discovered that, from 2005 to the first half of 2017, the top five defense contractors spent more than $114 billion repurchasing their own company stocks and so boosting their value at the expense of new investment.

To put this in perspective in the midst of a pandemic, the co-directors of the Costs of War Project at Brown University recently pointed out that allocations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for 2020 amounted to less than 1% of what the U.S. government has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 9/11. While just about every imaginable government agency and industry has been impacted by the still-spreading coronavirus, the role of the defense industry and the military in responding to it has, in truth, been limited indeed. The highly publicized use of military hospital ships in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, not only had relatively little impact on the crises in those cities but came to serve as a symbol of just how dysfunctional the military response has truly been.

 

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Microsoft Workers Protest War Profiteering – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Posted by M. C. on March 15, 2019

Wonders never cease. I wonder how these people made past screening.

Will they get fired? They are already disappeared from MSM, in fact they never made it that far.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/03/13/microsoft-workers-protest-war-profiteering/

Paul Craig Roberts

Be Interesting to see if they all are fired

A global coalition of employees of the Microsoft Corporation is demanding that a contract for work with the U.S. Army be dropped.

Some employees —I don’t know the percentage—have sent an open letter to both the CEO and the president/chief legal officer of Microsoft stating alarm that “Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the U.S. Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”

The employees say that Microsoft has previously licensed technology to the US military, but until a recent contract Microsoft has not crossed the line into weapons development. “With this contract, it does. The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.”

The employees tell the company that ‘intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology” and that they “do not want to become war profiteers.”  The employees demand that the IVAS contract be canceled, that Microsoft cease developing weapons technologies and appoint an external ethics review board to ensure Microsoft does not “empower the U.S. Army’s ability to cause harm and violence.”…

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War_Is_a_Racket_(cover)

 

 

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Yet Another Senseless Mass Killing: Women and Children Among 25 Dead

Posted by M. C. on March 4, 2018

http://theantimedia.org/mass-killing-25-dead/

Written by

This week, 25 people were slaughtered in yet another mass killing, and half of those deaths were women and children.

 But you won’t see these murders broadcast relentlessly on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, nor discussed at length in social media threads. That’s because the U.S. military committed them in their crusade against the Islamic State’s “last enclave on the Euphrates in Syria,” Reuters reported Monday.

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