The United States annually spends in the neighborhood of $600 billion per year on its Department of Defense.
I’m going to toss out a serious question — are we getting our moneysworth?
Defense is one of those jobs that the Constitution has placed in the hands of the federal government, unlike so many other things that it has taken on (and now spends the majority of its budget on).
Yet, I look around and see a lot of troublespots in the world. And not just any ol’ troublespots, but troublespots that get Americans killed. I’m not really seeing our military doing much about that.
Now that’s not necessarily its fault. It follows orders and in the last few years, the fish has clearly rotted from the head. The Obama administration practices the “Lennonization” of politics; John Lennon, that is. “Give peace a chance” makes a great lyric chorused with a bunch of drugged-out hippies but it makes for lousy real-world policy.
In fact, the Obama administration has kicked into fourth gear what the Clinton administration really started (and the Bush administration failed to root-out and even tolerated), the transmogrification of the military into a giant social service organization.
Make no mistake, a large portion of our military can’t fight and won’t fight. Those soldiers and sailors (the Marines have been able to hold their line to some extent) are in the military not to serve America’s interests but for the benefits; to serve their personal interests. Health care, college money, etc. This ain’t your dad’s army.
Any army trotting out, even proud of, pictures of young women wearing ill-fitting helmets and unis, lugging rifles two-thirds as big as they are, is doomed if something big and scary goes “Boo!”
Ever see those pictures of the Hitler Youth during the battle for Berlin? You know it’s over then.
I live a stone’s throw from the Pentagon. I’m not that big yet I tower over almost every uniformed female I come across in the local stores and on the streets. At least half are not in any kind of shape.
I do occasionally come across a male shorter than myself but four out of five times this guy is lean and mean looking. I also figure he knows all sorts of martial arts and could fold me into an accordion in about five seconds. He is intimidating. The women, not so much. Part of an army’s strength is its reputation. Get my drift.
The D.C. Area has a lot of uniformed women. Women make up almost 20% of the military. Figure that’s about 20% of the military that cannot be deployed into a combat zone and expect it to rain death on the enemy. That “rain death on the enemy” thing is the army’s main job.
Or it was.
Not seemingly anymore.
Let’s get down to some specifics. Take ISIS for example. It’s a lightly-armed, poorly-trained, locally-despised, imperialistic low-level threat. The only reason it’s on a U.S. threat map is because it brazenly kidnaps and murders Americans along with destabilizing the Middle East (as if that’s the word for that historical mess).
So what to do? Our president and his advisers, who savaged George Bush, et al, over the “lengthy” Iraq war, have recently called the project to curtail ISIS a multigenerational project.
It’s like someone planning to remove a thorn from their foot over a period of months, while having a fully-trained doctor and medical office at hand. “Maybe it will just rot away,” they hopefully think. It’s foolishness, sheer ignorance. It could get the foot amputated.
We’re spending $600 billion dollars a year on a military that can’t swat a fly. Or I should say, won’t be used to swat a fly (because it’s being used to butter some bread).
The 101st Airborne alone has enough manpower and firepower to handle the job. Ask them, they’d be happy to demonstrate. Instead they sit around.
Partner them with our Special Operations teams, the one segment of the military that is earning its keep, and modern technology (drones, sensors) and eliminating ISIS would be more like shooting fish in a barrel.
Yes, some elements of ISIS have hidden amongst people but lately it is so confident that we’ll do nothing (why is that?), that it is taking up larger formations in open areas. Just the kind of open warfare we specialize in winning.
Desert nights are perfect for drones with infrared sensors to map out concentrations of soldiers that can be annihilated by “stand-off” weapons platforms such as AC-130 gunships.
So what are we doing? A lot of pin-prick bombing runs (mostly really dry runs) and trying to train a handful of misfits in Syria. We could help our only real allies in the area, the Kurds, but for some unstated reason, the Obama administration has taken a dislike to them. I think I can guess why that is…
As we’ve learned in the past, if you thrash one bully, most of the rest run away. You only have to do these things occasionally yet for some reason we don’t do them at all anymore. So the bullies multiply.
Now let’s take a look at another failure — Benghazi. I will focus on one element here, the failure to get any kind of air effort into the air in one night.
An Air Force general was asked why nothing was sent up that night of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans. Specific points to be addressed were why U.S. Air Force aircraft at Aviano, Italy, (near Venice) or the Naval Air Station at Sigonella (on Sicily) were not used. He said that it would have taken 20 hours to get anything from Aviano to Benghazi and that tankers from England would have to be prepped. He also implied that the only thing at Aviano were training aircraft — perhaps the 20 hours would be for converting them into ground attack aircraft?
Let’s do a little fact-checking.
Aviano is the home of the 331st Fighter Wing. It is not a training squadron but an air superiority and ground support group. That means its mission is combat. It flies F-16s. The F-16 is capable of ground attack, even if only using its cannon (though it can be armed with bombs and air-to-ground missiles). The F-16 has a range, with drop tanks, of 2,500 miles. It is roughly 1,000 miles from Aviano to Benghazi, therefore relieving the need of refueling tankers. If you think that would be cutting it close and not allowing any loiter time over Benghazi, Sigonella is only 500 miles away and it handles big aircraft so there’s no worries about support facilities for fighter aircraft returning through Sigonella. The F-16 is capable of Mach 2. At sea level it maintains a top speed of over 900 mph. F-16s deployed from Aviano could have been over Benghazi in an hour and a half. Does no one do scramble drills anymore? What are we spending $600 billion a year on?
The general also argued that they did not want to risk civilian casualties so a ground attack by aircraft was out of the question. Two thoughts on this. When American lives are at stake “civilian casualties” need to start taking a back seat to those considerations. Our enemies already know this weakness of ours and are using it to hamstring us. Plus, the cannon on the F-16 could be used and have kept civilian casualties to a lower number, if any at all.
Two, and most importantly, whether the aircraft could have attacked is not the key. The key is that U.S. aircraft buzzing the city tells the attackers that we know they are there and that help is on the way. Whether it really was or not the attackers wouldn’t know or wouldn’t want to risk.
Imagine you are a burglar breaking into someone’s house. You know you are on the clock, someone might be coming home, an alarm might be tripped. But you see a note telling the maid to take the week off because the owner has gone to Europe for two weeks; and not to activate the alarm because it’s kind of sensitive to the squirrels on the roof. Wouldn’t you hang around awhile or return to steal more knowing that no one is coming back for awhile?
That’s exactly what the Benghazi attackers did that night. They came back later and attacked the CIA Annex, convinced that they had not been detected or that the U.S. was doing nothing in response. I seriously doubt they would have went home and rearmed for an attack on the annex if U.S. aircraft had been buzzing the town, with an implied threat that other forces were on their way.
But they weren’t. And we have a general making excuses why they didn’t even try that night. Of course, he’s just following orders from his clown prince commander in chief.
We spent $600 billion on that.
Then there’s the curious case of the combat team in Croatia that night. It has been acknowledged that 40-man special forces combat team was training in Croatia and was awaiting/expecting/hoping for orders to redeploy to Benghazi. Those orders never came though orders to go back to their base in Germany did arrive. Distance to Benghazi, approximately 1,000 miles. Might as well have been a million miles for our $600 billion per year.
This, of course, does not address why, only a few days after the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had been attacked and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya was going to be out of his protective pocket for a couple of days, there were no evac plans that could be modified or any kind of response to, “Hey, what if some bad guys decide to celebrate the anniversary of 9/11 by attacking a U.S. installation or personnel somewhere in North Africa?”
Beyond that $600 billion I keep harping about, remember, the U.S. taxpayer pays a lot of people six-figure salaries at the upper levels of the U.S. government and this is what they came up with that night — nothing (other than four dead Americans). They didn’t even try to help. And other than Hillary Clinton, who’s angling for a promotion, those incompetent boobs are all still employed by the U.S. government.