Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Some uncomfortable facts about sequestration

Lets face it, its coming.  Congress has failed in its duty, according to Article I it is the congress not the President that is responsible for the power of the purse.  That the Congress has failed totally to pass a budget for years is at this point moot.  We are about to face some of the most ill considered cuts in the history of the Union.  At no point did anyone seriously talk about fixing the actual structural issues, no the budget cuts proposed didn't even touch those issues.  It was a dollars and cents cuts while, impressive on paper, when you actually look at what they will do in compared to the debt. . . hardly anything.  It will barely be a drop in the bucket compared to what we owe, which is why its so painful to think about. 

The idea was simple.  The Congress is divided.  There's a strong Conservative movement in the House, that the Senate with its more Liberal leaning would never allow to pass any serious reform.  Of course the President is kind of in the background on this part, because really when the super-committee was proposed the Legislature had to get its *ehem* House in order.  Much like so many times since the Cold War began, the Legislature looked to someone else to save them.  Some respected people who would "work together" and find savings that would make everybody happy, or at least that everyone could live with.  The consequences were to be if the whole thing failed, appalling to everyone.

To no one's real surprise the Super-Committee failed.  Now we have to face the realities of these cuts, which disproportionately come from the Military.  With all the waste in the GSA being uncovered almost every day, with the FDA making truly (excuse the pun) boneheaded moves to improve "health", and with the entitlement programs about to go completly bust anyway. . . it seems the Military was the one place we might have held off on cutting off at the knees. 

I didn't even mention the whole "we're still in the middle of a War" thing.  Lets look at the facts.  The Navy would be the smallest since pre-WWI.  You remember when the British Germans and French were the ones controlling the High Seas.  Given this day in age that would mean the Chinese, and piracy in the Littoral regions.  The Air Force will be the smallest in its history.  Now if you intend to keep the skies clear above the troops, keep them supplied, and get them out when their wounded, that is not a good thing.  The Army will be slashed to the point it was in 1940.  You know right before we got our asses kicked in Bataan?  The Marines. . . well they've always been the red-headed step children, but the near future you may see a Marine Corps that slowly strangles to death on budget cuts.

There are some that are already looking to spend the "war savings" on one thing or another, and everyone's forgotten that the Military is in desperate need of new equipment to replace the stuff we've been using and abusing.  The Army, has suffered the brunt of the ground combat for the past decade, and our vehicles show it.  The Hum-vees have been built rebuilt.  The Armored vehicles are blown to pieces, cannibalized, rebuilt then destroyed again, each time losing effectiveness.  Those MRAPs have no planned purpose once the war ends.  The Stryker which was supposed to bridge the gap between what we had in 1999 and what we were to have circa 2005-07, has become the destination.  The Bradley and Abrams tanks are almost 30 years old.  On top of all that, the soldiers are just plain tired.

The Navy has just as many problems.  The LCS ships which were supposed to somewhat fill the role of the Perry class Frigates going offline have been plagued by problems.  The Virginia Class submarine the latest and greatest, with all the bells and whistles has constantly been shedding its noise dampening coating a potentially fatal weakness, and they have been electrocuting their sailors.  That says nothing of the fact that when the Enterprise retires, there won't be a replacement (the USS Ford CVN-78) will not be ready for almost 2 years.  Did I mention that there is only one strike aircraft being used?  the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet variants while great suck gas like nobody's business, and F-18's actually make terrible tankers, which has reduced the Carrier Battle group strike range by almost 100 miles from when they were using the S-3 and A-6.   Oh don't forget that the Ticonderoga class Cruisers really have nothing to replace them. 

In the Air Force, the JSF was supposed to be a stop gap to make up for the F-22 cuts.  Now the JSF is getting cut.  The C-17 Globemasters which have been running non-stop are not going to be replaced.  A lot of air frames, are old, and their structures which have been strained by years of high stress (being a plane is not easy) some of the structural supports are breaking and these planes are simply falling out of the sky.  It would be hard to ask if there is worse news, and really I don't have the heart. 

The Marines. . . well the only bit of new tech they've gotten their hands on of any real note is the OV-22 Osprey.  Their new landing craft to replace their AAVs and other vehicles. . . cut.  It's not really worth mentioning at this point that they still have to maintain MEUs, which increasingly look to be forlorn hopes, rather than first waves.  To say that the new JSF will somehow give a boost to the MC warfighters is a bit too much to hope for. 

The wars will not stop.  They will not go away.  When the President is focusing on China, I begin to wonder "with what?"  If you forget the multi-million man PLA, and all the nifty new gear they're getting to include a plane to rival the F-22 (the last of which rolled off the assembly line months ago), it still leaves the fact that you would need to throw a majority of what's left of the military at the Chinese in any initial battles, and there is no certainty that will do anymore than slow them down.  And so here we sit again.  Bataan.  Casarine Pass.  Task Force Smith.  Chosin.  LZ Albany.  Operation Anaconda.  All operations that are, and should remain infamous.  Unprepared often ill trained, equipped, and improperly deployed troops paid a steep price in blood for "peace dividends".  Congress has failed to act in a manner for which they took an oath for.  They have betrayed the constitution with the super committee scheme, and it will be the Service Member who actually takes their Oaths seriously that will pay the price in blood.   

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