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Experts: GOPers Who Say the Pentagon Needs More Money for ISIS are Full of It

In an article published in The Hill this week, military experts blast Republicans for saying that because of ISIS the Pentagon should get more money.

No BS“The technical term for that is bullsh*t,” said Stan Collender, executive vice president at Qorvis MSLGROUP according to The Hill. “They’re just using it as an excuse to raise the defense cap,” Collender said. “The truth is that long before ISIS, the defense community was lobbying to get rid of sequestration so they’re just taking advantage of what was presented to them, to spin the situation.”

When it comes to the Pentagon. Republicans tend to throw their “fiscal restraint” out the door.

In fact, the so-called sequester “cuts” Republicans are complaining about are actually a decreased rate of increased spending for the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s budget isn’t being cut, it’s going up – just not as fast as they would like.

So these GOPers are just crying wolf so they can get more money to their favorite wasteful programs.

Military experts are also calling out Republicans’ and the Pentagon’s cries to add more money to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) war budget slush fund.

The White House has requested $56.8 billion dollars for the slush fund next year to pay for the closing of the war in Afghanistan. But with that conflict ending at the end of this year, $58.6 billion is an awful lot of money for a war that will have ended.

For years, Congress and the Pentagon have been using the slush fund to pay for things not at all related to the war. And now we hear rumors that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel plans to submit a larger war budget slush fund request to Congress in the coming weeks.

The article also quotes Lindsay Koshgarian, research director at the National Priorities Project, which tracks federal spending, calling arguments that sequestration could threaten the ISIS fight “perplexing.” She said if U.S. operations remain the same, the war could only cost $3 billion per year — a small slice of the OCO.

Koshgarian noted that the Pentagon also requested a chunk of the [slush] fund to pay for F-35 jets, among other things. “That’s only the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There’s a huge pot of untapped funds there that the Pentagon has at their disposal.”

Indeed, there is plenty of money at the Pentagon. So much, in fact, that the Pentagon wastes tens of billions (or more) every year and nobody even notices.

As calls to give the Pentagon more money get louder over the coming weeks and months, we need be questioning not only if these funds are necessary (they’re not), but also what they will cost us.

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Secretary Hagel Lays Out His Vision for a Sequestered Pentagon

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Cheer up

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Hagel outlined the results from the Strategic Choices Management Review, and called for time to manage cuts. The Review drew up three options to guide budget decisions by Congress and the President, and build a framework for the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review that will set forth strategic defense priorities.   On top of budget cuts of $487 billion over 10 years set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Review considered President Obama’s backloaded cuts of an additional $150 billion; the full sequester level cuts of an additional $500 billion; and an in-between scenario of backloaded cuts of an additional $250 billion.  Secretary Hagel was adamant that the full sequester level cuts, which total $1 trillion, would negatively impact military readiness, and cut into the military’s global scope, more so if the cuts weren’t backloaded.

No matter if sequestration is resolved, the Secretary has committed to reduce overhead costs at Headquarters by 20% and to reduce civilian and military personnel numbers by the same amount.  Along with consolidating report generation, this should save $40 billion over the next decade.   This is far lower than the combined $210 billion in back office savings proposed by Sec. Gates and Panetta.

With compensation set to consume 80% of the Defense budget by 2023, the Secretary is pushing Congress for a lower rate of growth, assuming they approve of course. The Pentagon wants to limit pay increases to 1%, raise TRICARE fees, utilize private insurance, and lower housing subsidies.  Taken together these reforms would save $50 billion over the next decade.  If the full sequester level budget cuts go on, the Secretary threatened another $100 billion in savings through ending popular programs like civilian pensions, subsidies for defense commissaries, and restrictions to unemployment benefits.

The Secretary offered the largest possible cuts from reducing force structure or scaling-back “modernization” plans. Sensibly, the Review concluded that cuts will not apply equally to each Service, but will be based on actual security needs.  Ground forces and tactical air forces were singled out for areas that could be strategically reduced.  Ground forces could be drawn down to between 380,000 and 450,000; the Air Force could be reduced by up to five air squadrons; and the Navy could loose up to three carrier groups.  However, the Secretary insists that largest reductions in force structure driven by full sequester level cuts will break the military’s global capabilities in order to protect investments in “modernization”.  Priority investments includes a who’s who of overpriced and bloated weapons systems like submarine cruise-missile upgrades and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Secretary considered sparing force structure to cut procurement a “decade long modernization holiday”, however America already holds a supreme technological advantage in weapons systems like the F-16 and F-18, while replacements are under-performing, over-budget, and offer no greater tactical advantage over any potential adversaries in the next decade, unless the Soviet Union were to resurrect itself in that time.

What the Secretary didn’t mention was that the Pentagon will still get  $5 trillion in funding over the decade he is talking about, even after full sequester level cuts, leaving us well above the Cold War average.  With funding for basic social services like food stamps on the line, it’s time to have a frank discussion about what our military should be prepared to do, and as we’ve noted many times before, the Pentagon acquisition process is ripe for cuts in wasteful and mismanaged programs like the F-35, Littoral Combat Ship, and missile defense.