The US Military Can Clearly Afford A Major Budget Cut


Photo: US Army

Sequester is coming, sequester is coming!

Everyone in Washington is running around crying sequester, when automatic defence cuts are supposed to kick in Jan 1, 2013, and cut hundreds of billions in defence spending, screaming: “Oh my! The sky will certainly fall!”I have four words for them: Relax: No, it won’t.

And as if to prove my point, the military is so flush The Army’s hiring $90,000 a year acupuncturists to treat its troops. Times clearly ain’t so tough.

Here’s the thing, the US defence budget has nearly doubled since 2000, from $350 billion to about $690 billion, and yet politicians are short on excuses for why we can’t trim a mere $50 billion annually.

Instead of anything concrete or specific, we hear obscure, borderline Orwellian, slogans like we have to “support our troops” or it will be “catastrophic to national security.”

Yet somehow, acupuncturists, battlefield trained acupuncturists, are essential to “national security.”

Slate reported this morning that the US Army is hiring acupuncturists for a pain clinic in Fort Sam Houston at a salary range of $68,000 to $89,000. The Air Force is also training it’s doctors in “battlefield acupuncture,” due in no small part to the efforts of one Col. Richard Niemtzow.

Niemtzow has “refined” the method of ear acupuncture to five points, all of which can be reached under a helmet.

Now certainly a guy as smart as Niemtzow knows that soldiers and their helmets are not fused together, so unless we plan on deploying acupuncturists to the front lines, his “refinement” of this method on the government dime has been a gigantic waste of time.

Slate’s report comes on the heels of an absolutely epic squeal-fest by Ohio lawmakers trying to save military programs that the Department of defence doesn’t even want.

These include upgrading the M-1 Abrams tank (the last time we had a serious tank battle was over 20 years ago) at a cost of hundreds of millions, but more notably the continuation of the Global Hawk drone program at a savings of $2.5 billion over 10 years, reports the Dayton Daily News.

Gen. Norton Schwartz (ret.), who was Air Force chief of staff until just Aug. 10 of this year, told Aviation Weekly that the outcomes didn’t match the cost of the Global Hawk program.

“The reality is that the Global Hawk system has proven not to be less expensive to operate than the U-2, and in many respects the Global Hawk Block 30 system is not as capable—from a sensor perspective—as is the U-2,” he told Aviation Weekly.

And it’s a 10 year old program. It started in 2001, and has been refined since, and still has not met expectations.

Ohio lawmakers lost their minds though when the idea of cutting the program came up. Lost their bipartisan minds, that is.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D.) and Senator Rob Portman (R.), of the Senate Appropriations Committee the Senate Armed Services Committee respectively, both sought to keep these programs despite the Pentagon advising against. The defence programs are connected to jobs in Ohio, and these senators want to keep federal money in their districts because it serves as a stimulative effect to the local economy.

Spreading out fabrication of military equipment across many states is a commonly used tactic of defence contractors. It keeps bipartisan support for old systems which should be cut. defence Secretary Leon Paneta says there are other national security risks to keeping these programs as well.

“If members try to restore their favourite programs without regard to an overall strategy, the cuts will have to come from areas that could impact overall readiness,” defence Secretary Leon Panetta said during a brief in May.

“Every dollar that is added will have to be offset by cuts in national security,” Panetta added. “And if for some reason they do not want to comply with the Budget Control Act, then they would certainly be adding to the deficit, which only puts our national security further at risk.”

So not only are we willing to field dated equipment with expensive cost and poor outcomes, but we’re willing to field expensive medical practices with no basis in fact.

That’s what politicians mean when they say “support our troops.”

Now: See My Trip Into A Gunfight In Afghanistan >

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