Military reviewing strategy in light of tightening budgets
March 18th, 2013
03:19 PM ET

Military reviewing strategy in light of tightening budgets

By Mike Mount

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of how steep military cuts that took effect this month might impact the Pentagon's overall strategy for deploying its resources globally.

Hagel instructed Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to lead a group of civilian and military officials in conducing the review.

Last year, the Pentagon issued new guidelines on its future strategy. The blueprint called for shifting most of its emphasis toward the Asia-Pacific region while still keeping an eye on hot spots in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The two-month review will help define major strategy decisions over the next 10 years, according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman George Little.

It will look at assumptions that guided the initial strategy shift and will build a framework that Hagel can turn to for making the next round of budget decisions.

The Pentagon is expected to absorb roughly half of $85 billion in government-wide spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year that took effect on March 1.

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  2. Skorpio

    The cheapest and most effective way to eliminate terrorists and Islamic clerics is to pay bounties to Muslim women including giving them exit visas. Osama Bin Laden Laden was captured because he was betrayed by his concubines.

    March 21, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
  3. Skorpio

    The cheapest and most effective way to eliminate terrorists and Islamic clerics is to pay bounties to Muslim women including exit visas. Osama Bin Laden Laden was captured because he was betrayed by his concubines.

    March 21, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
  4. dave

    Not surprizingly, the Rebuplican party that has for decades claimed to be the party that best supports the military & national defense, has screwed us.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  5. massoud

    I suggest that the Pentagon starts their spending review by looking into the over budget colossal failure the F35. It is way behind schedule and its production costs are rising by the day.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  6. William Demuth

    The Military Industrial Complex run wild.

    The harsh truth is we fought two wars (one we didn't need to fight), and spent upwards of a trillion dollars, and somehow managed to lose them both.

    If Afghanistan had half a dozen suns rise on the morning of September 12, not only might we have spared a great deal of suffering by our military, we might also have saved enough to have rebuilt every school in this nation.

    We tried to buy loyalty and freindship by "building up" our enemies.

    This is a policy of fools and traitors.

    March 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Wasn't the military that cost us to "lose" those wars. In reality they were not really wars because wars are where two nations fight with uniform armies. We were fighting rebels and acting more as police men then soldiers. Only way to win that war would have been to kill every single Afghan and every single Iraq. If there dead, they don't suicide bomb you. We are not going to do that for ethical reasons.

      March 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Reply
      • William Demuth

        That is why we lost and will always lose.

        Ethical war? The concept itself is absurd.

        We had infinite options, but few of them made money, so we slugged it out in the sand so a few could get rich.

        A simple genome specific pathogen targeting Poppies would have collapsed the Afghan economy AND killed off a lot of junkies.

        Instead we have another generation of amputees and another two notches in the "loss" column.

        If we wanted to lose, there were cheaper ways to do it.

        March 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Mark

      Russia and China weren't going to allow the US to nuke a nation right in their backyards without responding anymore than we would allow someone to nuke Mexico. They would have to suffer through radiation, fallout, and a flood of starving refugees.

      March 20, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
  7. allenwoll

    The U S needs to pull in its horns to our shores : Abandon all overseas bases not on U S soil. . Mind our own business, but be obviously equipped to deal decisively with any treachery. . Do away with ALL private military contractors for goods and/or services : Build your own. . In short, take the MONEY out of defense, as well as the WAR out of defense.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • Kestrel

      You do realize that was the exact political strategy (termed isolationism) that brought us to World War II, allowed an evil leader to commit genocide on several groups of people unopposed for years, and (when we finally realized we couldn't just sit on the sidelines) cost somewhere just shy of a half million US service member's lives. Good call, let's do that again.

      March 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
    • Gemeniguy

      Won't work. No way you'd get an ENTJ personality specialized defense industry design engineer to work for a union based on seniority instead of what you can actually produce. This individual would howl with laughter if you even suggested it. From a more pragmatic standpoint, you couldn't even come close to paying this person what they're worth.

      March 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
      • Gemeniguy

        I do need to clarify something here. I am in no way disparaging DOD government employees, whether they work for a union or not. But their job is to be managers of contracts, not design engineers. And they do an outstanding job at what they do, at least the ones I've seen. They are professional, personable and do their job, i.e., ensure the Ameican taxpayer is getting what they are paying for from a defense contractor. In the end, both them and the defense contractors work as team players, each doing their part to ensure the job is done.

        March 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  8. Tom

    Why is the U.S. funding higher education for its "Benedict Arnold ally" Pakistan when the Pentagon is cutting tuition assistance for American troops?

    March 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply
    • tim bragg

      also why is america giving away $200 billion to other countries, and cutting services in this country

      March 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  9. Michael

    Instead of Congress deciding on what DoD is going to acquire udring the next budget cycle, why not give DoD a block grant of X number of dollars (regardless the number of digits) and let the services decide what they need? Whenever Congress gets involved in the details, jobs are given to districts based on party lines and number of votes, not the needs of the services.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  10. fuzzback

    It's a safe bet these defense contractors spend a LOT on their own private army – an army of LOBBYISTS –

    March 19, 2013 at 11:40 am | Reply
  11. Bob Ramos

    Why not (1) have a BRAC commission limitted to all of our overseas (about 1000) bases, (2) cancel the F-35 jet program (after $400 billion, it is still not operational) and (3) cancel the Navy's Litoral ship program. If the Navy needs a ship with a shallow draft, just revive the old PT ship program. But none of this will be done because of political reasons.

    March 19, 2013 at 4:47 am | Reply
    • Carlson

      How right you are, Bob! These right-wing politicians need to be voted out of office and replaced with those who'll do what's best for this country. Unfortunately, there aren't too many of them left since the M.I.C. bought off the majority of them! We'll continue to have troops in Germany, J apan and South Korea as a direct result of this nonsense!

      March 19, 2013 at 7:49 am | Reply
      • steve rosenberger

        can you please tell us what " doing what is best for the country " consists of ? Please be specific

        March 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Alan S

        To Steve Rosenberger: Very good question. It's easy to say "cut Pentagon waste" until such time as you are required to detail exactly what you'll cut. I remember the mockery of Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense program. The critics laughed and hooted, and loudly condemned the expense. Now, with a nuclear-armed, ballistic missile-developing North Korea explicitly threatening a nuclear first strike on the U.S., missile defense looks like a real good investment. What we called waste in 1988 seems profoundly valuable 25 years later.

        Similar to politicians saying they'll raise taxes by "cutting loopholes". Loopholes like what? Like deductions for education, or for home mortgages? Or something else?

        March 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • StanCalif

        To Alan S:
        North Korea is a puppet state of China! China provides all the materials and technology to this backward and failed country. Now we are about to commit a billion dollars to defend the US from NK threats. Better solution:
        Tell China that we will not allow anymore of their container ships to dock in the US until they get NK to behave! This will get their attention! No new billion dollar defenses necessary!

        March 20, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Gemeniguy

      I'm a retired defense industry engineer with over 30 years. Here's what people who have never worked in the defense industry do not understand. Defense systems are conceptualized and developed for a specific legitimate mission at the time development begins. It can take 10 years or more to develop a major defense system. The problem arises when you are part way through development, having already spent millions of dollars, and the mission for which the system was originally intended is no longer needed. I've seen this happen time and again. So what do you do when this happens after you've already spent millions of dollars. Do you quit development, have nothing, and waste all the money you've already spent or do you continue development, have something, and waste money on something you now don't need? Well, I've seen it happen both ways. One example is the F-22 Fighter which I personally worked on. The F-22 Fighter's intended mission was to have American air-to-air superiority on the Russian front during the height of the Cold War. But half-way through development the big bad Russians went away because the Cold War ended. So now you don't need the F-22. What do you do? Quit or keep going? In this case, they kept going. But with the Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer, Comanche Helicopter, Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and a host of others programs I worked on were canceled. Why these programs were canceled and the F-22 was not, I don't know.

      March 19, 2013 at 11:21 am | Reply
      • The REAL Truth...

        This is no different than any other project... same applies with Construction and Technology.
        The difference is scope... the customer OFTEN changes their mind. The question becomes WHY do we need net-new fighters, ships, etc. Why not re-vamp/upgrade an existing model?
        To be fair, it DOES create a whole host of jobs.. but its a classic example of corporate welfare – on the tax payer dime.

        March 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • Gemeniguy

        In the last few years a trend we noticed is in Request-For-Proposals (RFP's). The Customer puts out an RFP for a rapid turn-around, we bust our butts to make the deadline, then the Customer puts the proposal on hold because they are not sure they have the right performance specification. I've seen a 60-day turn-around RFP drag on for two years before the Customer called it in. We've also seen a switch to predominately fixed-priced contracts which you can lose you're shirt on due to unrealistic expectations. Many of these we've simply no-bid. The flip-side to developing a defense system for which the mission becomes obsolete is to not have the system when needed. Can't say too much for obvious reasons, but I've worked on two different defensive countermeasures systems headed for Iraq and Afghanistan. Many American military personnel were dying due to lack of protection these systems would provide. We had to rush the design and development on these systems beyond what we normally would because the lesser of the evils was to deploy a system not fully tested because there was nothing to lose. Fortunately, we received feedback from the field that these systems worked well. But countermeasures is always a cat and mouse game. You develop a countermeasure to an enemy threat but once the enemy catches on they develop a way to overcome the countermeasure. Then you go back to the drawing board to counter the new threat. I can personally attest to that during the height of the Cold War defense contractors were given almost a blank check. I can assure you that this is not the case today, at least for the company I worked for. I've worked for large companies and small companies and can tell you that small companies tend to be more efficient and less wasteful. Large companies have too much of a bureauracy that tends to be wasteful by nature.

        March 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • me

        really you worked on the original "Y-22" concept..really?????....okay not, if you were actually involved with anything to do with the "Y-22" testing anfd qualification, you would actually be stating the true mission of that bird, which is classified even today. Cute bravada but has nothing to do with the real world.

        March 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Gemeniguy

        really you worked on the original "Y-22" concept..really?????....
        Was part of the Sanders Associates/General Electric team that worked the proposal for the YF-22 Electronics Countermeasures System concept, which our team won. Sorry, but to this day can't even tell my wife what's in there but I can tell you it's some pretty gee-whiz stuff. Later worked for Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (LMTAS) in Fort Worth, TX during the design and development of the F-22. Before I left, there was a push on to adapt the aircraft to air-to-ground, aka build a platform for the Joint Direct Attract Munitions (JDAM). Don't know what happened to the F-22 as I Ieft after. Left LMTAS to work for General Dynamics Armament and Tactical Systems, for which as a subcontractor to LMTAS I worked on the ammunition handling system for the F-22. So I've had more than one slice of the pie on the F-22. As far as a mission beyond air-to-air, I can't say. Maybe I didn't have a need to know.

        March 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  12. JG

    As a previous Air Force member, I could personally cut many wasted millions from the budget in minutes. From wasted man-weeks (well beyond hours) on b.s. awards, to squadron/group/wing end of year funds that we HAD to spend on giant TV's in every office that pumped Fox news 24/7, to the completely broken contracting that exists where we have to make open bids... but only two or three massive companies are allowed to bid. And don't get me started on what we pay unionized civilians to do that any airman could do for less pay, and more quickly instead of going back to their dorms mid day to play x-box. Our military financial system is so broken, but there are some places to start. AND yes I suggested many of these as an officer while I was in the military and for the most part was told, "yup you're right, now go spend tax payer money like you're told."

    March 19, 2013 at 1:42 am | Reply
    • FedCiv

      Yeah Right,

      "Don't get me started on what we pay unionized civilians to do that any airman could do for less pay"

      Like be an college educated engineer or technician....? I've seen too many so called "technicians" from all branches that don't know an ohm from a hole in the ground, you might want to start training these guys to do a little more than "play x-box all day". But of course from your position you have absolutely NO IDEA what a civilian federal empolyee actually does for the armed forces do you? Brass has a bad habit of keeping completely oblivious of anything going on around them but pretend to be experts in everything when the only expertise you have is brown nosing the next guy up the chain for your next promotion... What we do is keep your kids safe by providing the skills and equipment needed for them to execute their duties and come back in one piece you ungrateful d*ck. AND we do it wayyyyy cheaper than the defense contractors who always sell the DOD cheap crap that never works as spec'd, way over budget and way late. Techs in the armed forces don't fix anything, they are module swappers and that is about it. Ask them to really fix something and 9 times out of 10 they are completely clueless and don't even care to learn!

      March 19, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
      • FedCiv

        The only thing I need to add is that the good armed forces techs, that do take the time to learn, that are actually skilled and have a passion for the technology and working towards the good of their fellow soldiers are always welcome as federal civiilian techs or engineers if they want to get the degree and put up with low pay and B.S. like "time in grade" like the rest of us.

        Speaking of TIG, that crap should be repealed! iI the federal service, if you are on a ladder, like most of us are, your job performance does not matter, you can kill yourself every day like I do to do a good job and go above and beyond, do continuing education through top schools and it means nothing... Yet those who sit around all day doing nothing get the same yearly promotion that I do... Give the dead beats some incentive for christ sake! Thats the only problem with the union, they protect TIG.

        March 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • JG

        You missed the point. Those are obviously NOT jobs that ANY airman could do. We have civilian janitors that work two hours, get paid for eight and are only "allowed" to clean the things specifically listed in their contracts, which are written by those "clueless brass" way up the chain. And civilian gate guards.... really?

        The majority of the people that worked for me were civilian, and what MOST of them added by just being in one place for so long was invaluable. I never said, nor would say, that civilians aren't useful and needed. However, there are so many non-technical jobs we pay them for that don't need to be done by them.
        Also TIG – agree with you completely. Also, it should be easier to fire the civilians that are useless so we can get people in who actually care. Getting rid of TIG incentive over performance incentive I think would help with that issue as well.

        March 19, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • JG

        Oh, and defense contractors, agreed – another great way to save some money. Open those jobs up. Even if it costs the same for the tax payer, we'd be likely to get a better product.

        March 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • FedCiv

        Sorry for the d*ck remark, that was majorly out of bounds and i am truly sorry. I get you now, and you're right, there are plenty of jobs the guys in uniform could step up and do, and i wouldn't mind giving them a little bonus or incentive to do it even when its above and beyond. ijust a touchy subject when everyone in the world seems down on federal civilian employees when they don't have a clue as to what all of us do, they just tend to think we are all defense contractors or union deadbeats or bean counters. There are plenty of deadbeats just like anywhere else, private sector included, but those of us that do have good intentions suffer due to the actions of others out of our control. I could come up with millions of ways to save money as well, but there isn't much that can be done from my level. I'd love to see TIG go away and those that milk it get marched right out the gate. Its really lame giving someone a promotion just for hanging around. It doesn't mean they actually perform or know anything. In my field continuing education is the only way to stay on top and a lot of people don't bother because "why should they if they are going to get a raise every year anyway"? It's stupid.

        March 19, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • JG

        No worries. I should have been more clear. And I'd be frustrated if I were you too. Civilians are getting over cutback right now and it's not all based on job performance. We're losing some great folks.

        I think if it were easier to get rid of bad union employees, then a lot of the stigma associated with them as a whole would improve. The amount of time and effort I had to put into getting rid of an unarguably awful employee was ridiculous and equally wasteful of taxpayer money. (I'll save you the horror story) Plus something dragged out so long gains attention, and makes all the rest of the people working there look worse.

        So yes, I feel your frustration. Big change was above my grade too, but I knew I wasn't career military, so I felt free to be the squeaky wheel, much to leadership's occasional annoyance. To be fair, it was above most my bosses' paygrades too. This kind of change in this level of bureaucracy almost has to come from the top down.

        March 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • me

        Finally someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

        March 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  13. Ind.

    Obama and the democrats wanted the military cuts, Why do they not want them now? Because republicans are letting Obama's sequester happen?

    March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Reply
    • The REAL Truth...

      NO, no , no... The sequester is an indiscriminate cut.. across the board. HAD you read some of the above commentary you would realize that most of those cuts are going to hit the CIVILIAN employees in the military, not the REAL military. Those civilians are most likely NOT in the 1% and as a result, these cuts will impact the middle-class and the economic impact to towns and business surrounding those bases.

      March 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Reply
      • homer234

        As a Federal Employee, I am very disappointed at the top brass and those suit-wearing lame-brains in DC. 20% paycut is very appauling. The logical (and I use that term loosely around the DoD) procedure to take to reduce military costs is to review for and eliminate redeundancy, unnecessary programs, equipment (ships, planes, tanks, etc etc etc) BEFORE hurting your people! The reduction of people part would follow accordingly with sensibility and grace. Too many people and their careers and their families are being very hurt by this SEQUESTER that the politicians so falsely used as bait to lure each other to 'give in' to the otheres' point of view. And they had 18 MONTHS to seriously consider the negativity with it all, plus they could have made their own paychecks at risk if they had voted on that during the 12 months ELECTION YEAR to show how serious they were at sloving the money problems thet THEY created .... that THEY KNEW was the only window of opportunity to include themselves to take a pay hit like the rest of us. But no, our illustrious officials who can't even balance a budget get to keep their PERMANENT jobs and GUARATNEED retirement $. At this point I can't support either party, since they both created this debacle.

        March 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  14. T

    .........Before SEQUESTER...........The USA spends on Defense what the ....NEXT 16 COUNTRES COMBINED...........SPEND on Defense...................We spend .........10 TIMES what the # 2 China spends.............WHY.......while our infrastructure is failing, we cant feed our poor, we cant keep our bridges standing........BUT...... we help build in Afganistan.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • About the China Thing

      For the record, we pay more for Defense in the United States in part because we don't live in a low wage country. In China, workers have to put in the 60+ hour weeks for very minimal pay to crank out products on an assembly line. In North Korea, they can compel you to work by threatening to shoot your family. Since we have a smaller population than rivals like China, India, and much of the Muslim world, we expect superior technology to act as a force multiplier to make our troops far more powerful than lower technology hordes from our potential opponents. Whenever the U.S. has been militarily weak or wavered in its support of allies, adversaries have taken advantage and often initiated conflicts. Hence the adage "Peace through Strength." If finances cause us to gut the military, you can bet that North Korea might try to take on South Korea, China might try to annex Taiwan, and various middle eastern adversaries will test our country's resolve. All of which will make the world a more dangerous place.

      March 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  15. Tembisa

    Reblogged this on World Chaos.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  16. Joe

    Why not give military members the option to be released with no strings?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    • Guest

      The problem is structural flaws in military contracting and procurement. Letting a few troops out would not solve the issue. Look at cost overruns for the F-35 for an example.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Reply
    • jon

      Boot camp costs about 30 grand per soldier......

      March 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Reply

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