"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hill: Lawmakers say base closures DOA

The question of whether the Secretary of Defense Panetta is using the threat of a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in order to cut the force is rearing its ugly head in this article.  Looks like Panetta is not serious about another round of base closings even though it is suggested in the budget because no numbers have been tied to the process of the BRAC.
Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said that by not attaching a dollar figure to the BRAC round, it appeared unlikely that the Pentagon was that serious about pushing for it. 

As Panetta announced the cuts Thursday, he said the Pentagon “did not want to tie any savings to it because, very frankly, we need the Congress to authorize it.” 
“If we had put numbers in there and then Congress didn’t do it, it would have undermined our whole budget,” Panetta said. 
Is Panetta an honest broker for the Department of Defense?  No is the answer by many people I have talked with who are associated with the DoD.  He is a political animal and will do what is best for the Democrat Party and his boss, Obama.  The cuts in force structure play right to the liberal base of the Democrat Party.

Today we have National Guard and Reserves on almost full time active duty with deployments in and out of the Middle East like they are regular Army.  That is not their mission but the regular military has already sustained so many cuts that they cannot fight a war like in Afghanistan without the reserves and Guard.  How many states have had Guard deployed in the Middle East who return from deployment and six months later are getting set to deploy again?  How many deployments have our regular Army had in and out of the Middle East?  Some are up to six or seven deployments.

The handling of Afghanistan is getting worse not better as more deaths are happening to the military deployed in country.  If we are not in this war to win, then get out.  Sick and tired of a group of politicians and some political generals who refuse to listen to those on the ground who have to do the fighting.  The powers at be sit in their glass houses patting themselves on the back while our military are serving numerous deployments under adverse conditions with one hand tied behind their back due to the Obama Rules of Engagement (ROE).   General Petraeus vowed to "clarify" not change the  ROEs when he was appointed to head the Afghanistan operation before being moved to the CIA and Panetta to Secretary of Defense.  Note it was "clarify" not "change" which means he caved to the Obama faction.

We met a soldier at the Insight Bowl who was home between deployments and would be headed back to Afghanistan as part of his multiple deployments.  His wife had testified before Congress on how the families are being affected and the high incidence of suicide following the deployments.  Under this Administration the families are being left out of the equation.  It is one thing to be an active duty wife with the support around from the base your husband is assigned, but it is another whole story if your spouse is in the reserve or guard and has another job they have to leave to go on active duty.  The Reserve and National Guard were there to supplement not become active duty more than they are not.

The DoD saves money because the Reserves and Guard do not have benefits of the regular service unless they have been activated and are on active duty.  That leaves many families without a true support system.  Does Panetta want more of this with the plan to reduce the active duty force structure?

There is no doubt there is a huge waste of tax dollars in the DoD.  Look no further than the major aerospace companies to find the waste and then in the halls of Congress.  The cuts have to be done with always the thought in mind of what is best for our troops.  McCain put a hold on the new tanker for years which has led to a potential disaster which has not happened due to Boeing and Tinker AFB ensuring that our tanker fleet stays in the air and is well maintained.  That tanker is now more expensive and has created more money being poured into maintaining an aging tanker fleet then should have happened.  In the end it is going to cost the Air Force much more money thanks to one Senator who has it out for the Air Force.

That is a small example but one that is repeated over and over again.  When Congress should take action with the DoD budget, they usually don't but then interfere with contracting and operations when they shouldn't.

Congress needs to get back to being the representatives of the people not special interest.  That would go along way to turning this country around.  Being beholden for campaign contributions to large corporations like Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, Wall Street, unions, or special interest groups has given us members of Congress who put the wishes of their donors first instead of what is good for the Country as a whole.  It is on both sides of the aisle.  No way so much money should be spent on campaigns.

It is time to look at the DoD budget through common sense glasses not the rose colored ones that DoD is always right or the black ones that DoD is always wrong and we can save a ton of money for social engineering programs.  Honesty by the DoD and members of Congress would be a good first step.

Lawmakers say base closures DOA
By Jeremy Herb - 01/30/12 07:51 PM ET 
Lawmakers from both parties are signaling they will do everything in their power to stop the Obama administration from launching another round of military base closures in the United States. 
The plan, included in the Pentagon blueprint for cutting $487 billion that was released last week, calls for another round of the Base Realignment and Closures Commission (BRAC), an independent, all-or-nothing approach to closing military bases that was last used in 2005.
The opposition to another BRAC was swift, as lawmakers from Alaska to Maine voiced opposition.  
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) put out a joint statement calling the new BRAC round “dead on arrival.” 
Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) staff convened a meeting last Thursday on BRAC with aides from seven Northeastern congressional offices, according to congressional sources. 
And the Alaska delegation joined with their governor to pre-emptively denounce any move to close the state’s bases. 
“I’ll be using my position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to demonstrate the enormous strategic value of Alaska’s military bases, and oppose any misguided attempt to close them,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). 
Lawmakers opposing BRAC have pointed to the 2005 round as an example that base closings don’t demonstrate a clear savings and can cost a lot up front.  
But there’s a regional component at play as well. 
The BRAC proposal highlights the underlying tension between Congress and the Pentagon over the $487 in budget cuts, as a reduction of manpower, bases or weapons contracts means job losses in someone’s congressional district or state. 
“Any member of Congress that has military bases in his district, he or she needs to be extremely conscious and aware of the discussion and the debates that are forthcoming,” Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) told The Hill. “You want to make sure that you can be part of the debate if you see a cut coming that you think is not in the national security interest in this country.” 
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) suggested there were plenty of overseas bases to close before getting to domestic ones, a sentiment multiple senators echoed after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the cuts. 
It’s not just the base closings that have the attention of Congress. The plan also calls for a reduction of 100,000 troops and cuts to weapons programs. 
Some critics of the cuts have said their concerns are tied to national security and maintaining the strength of the U.S. military. The most strident critics have warned of a hollowed-out force. 
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said that Virginia, along with California, Texas and Florida, would likely be hit the hardest by the cuts to the Pentagon, as they are the biggest military states.
In Virginia, the new strategy could lead to a carrier and ships leaving Virginia’s shores, Forbes said. 
He emphasized that he’s concerned about the national-security implications of the military cuts first, and the regional concern is tied to that.
“The reason I’m concerned about regional impact is sometimes I don’t think we do a very good analysis,” Forbes said. “We say we’re doing something for economic reasons, but we don’t realize the huge economic impact it’s having and the problem the impact is creating.” 
Anticipating the reaction in Congress, Panetta said the effect of the new Pentagon budget, which would cut $259 billion in the next five years, would be felt from coast to coast. 
“Make no mistake: The savings that we are proposing will impact on all 50 states and many districts, congressional districts, across America,” Panetta said.  
A former congressman, Panetta said he had been through BRAC before. “I know its weaknesses and its failings,” he said. “But I have to tell you — there is no more effective process to make it happen than using the BRAC process.” 
As Congress debates both the Pentagon cuts and the potential BRAC round, some lawmakers and analysts said they didn’t expect regional arguments to have much weight, because they would be coming from every part of the country. 
“There may be some folks who go at it purely on a regional basis, but I think those arguments are going to fall pretty flat,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told The Hill. “If you can couch them in terms of what’s best for defending the country, then the regional stuff will take care of itself.”   
Excerpt:  Read More at The Hill

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