Cutting $60 Billion in Pentagon Waste: A Modest Beginning

March 8th, 2006 - by admin

The Center for Defense Information – 2006-03-08 01:12:55

(March 7, 2006) — CDI Senior Adviser Lawrence Korb has updated his “Korb Report” to address the 2007 defense budget request. He recommends reductions of $60 billion, including savings by –

• Reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to 1,000 warheads: -$14 billion;
• Eliminating ineffective and unworkable national missile defenses but continuing research: -$8 billion;
• Terminating over-weight, ultra high-cost, Cold War weapons systems irrelevant to 4th generation warfare, such as the F-22, Virginia Class Submarine, DD/X Destroyer, V-22 “Tilt Rotor,” and C-130J transport: -$28 billion;
• Reducing excess force structure – also irrelevant to 4th generation warfare – in the Navy and Air Force: -$5 billion;
• Reducing waste and pork: -$5 billion.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and many others will attempt to dismiss these recommendations and may even stoop to slandering the author as failing to support the troops in a time of war, but, in truth, terminating the money-heave into these sinkholes will make our forces stronger by ending the diversion of treasure into them and away from the soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women who are the core of our defenses.

Moreover, Korb’s recommendations will strike some as quite modest and forgiving for some additional defense programs that make us weaker, not stronger.

For example, Korb recommends saving only $5 billion from expenditures for “waste” and “pork.” For 2006, Taxpayers for Common Sense measured the cost of pork alone in the defense budget at over $11 billion.

In the face of purely cosmetic reforms and tongue-in-cheek promises to do something about it from senators declaring themselves “pork busters,” Congress is highly likely to lard this year’s defense bills with at least as much pork as last year. Korb’s $5 billion reduction could easily be doubled and still not address the issue of waste – with which the Pentagon is more than a little familiar.

Moreover, Korb generously argues that two highly controversial programs have constructive potential and should be preserved, if slowed down a little.

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is intended to give the Air Force, Navy, and Marines a low-cost fighter-bomber they surely need for their aging, shrinking inventories, but the JSF is already far down the well-warn road of increasing weight and cost and decreasing performance. Some generously assume the program will replicate the brilliant experience of the low-cost, high performance F-16, but there is already too much evidence – some of it from the same people who conceived the F-16 – that the JSF program is more an F-22 than it is an F-16.

Korb also shows a magnanimous spirit by describing the Army’s $160 billion Future Combat System (FCS) as showing promise to be “more deployable, lethal and survivable.” Others disagree. Among other things, FCS is based on the “interesting” notion that our intelligence and sensors will surely be so flawless that we will know where every single enemy anti-tank weapon is lurking on the twenty-first century battlefield and, thus, heavy armor for tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) can be a thing of the past.

As the Army scrambles in Iraq to up-armor hundreds of Humvees and to replace scores of Stryker and Bradley APCs and M-1 tanks destroyed by simple, even primitive, anti-armor mines and rockets – none of which our most advanced sensors could find – there must be an ever growing cohort of combat veterans who view the idea of less armor premised on flawless intelligence with more than just skepticism.

Readers can find the new 2006 Korb report by clicking here. People who are serious about making our defenses stronger, not just more expensive, will find many constructive recommendations, and perhaps even room for expansion.

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