In spite of their pretending to be at odds over the fate of civilization, the US senate and house agree always on one thing: the department of defense needs more money.
As I mentioned elsewhere, the pentagon can’t tell where and how it spends the money it’s given [stderr] yet it always miraculously knows that it needs more. Congress plays along: “Oh, you can’t audit your books? Here’s an extra $1 billion to spend on the audit.” (later) “Dearie me! That didn’t work? Do you think you could do an audit for $2 billion?” Sometimes it makes me think that Stalin and Mao had the right idea for sorting that kind of nonsense out: start shooting people from the top, down, until you find someone who can get the job done. It reduces head-count and therefore, budget.
The F-35 program has hidden massive cost overruns by using the “pay more, get less” trick [stderr] where you get congress to give you money for 25 aircraft, then come back and say “that turned out to be only enough money for 15 aircraft, sorry.” You can understand what’s going on if you stay focused on the per-aircraft cost, which is why they avoid quoting program costs in that way. I remember once reading some pentagon official saying, in effect, that quoting per-aircraft costs is “confusing” which raises the question, “do you know what the word ‘confusing’ means?”
While the Trumpists have been hopping up and down about the great new aircraft carriers that will someday carry bigly many aircraft, maybe even F-35s someday, the navy is doing its own version of “pay more, get less.” [the hill]
The U.S. Navy is considering accelerating ship retirements and cutbacks to construction, a move that could curtail the Navy’s plans for a larger fleet, according to The Associated Press.
Under the initial proposal, the size of the Navy’s fleet would shrink from 293 to 287 ships, despite the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act setting an official goal of 355 ships, according to the AP. Budget talks are ongoing, but the Navy is seeking to cut costs to free up funds for other priorities, according to a defense official familiar with the memo.
Congress: “Go forth and buy 12 new ‘super carriers’ and get them working and put airplanes on them and all the things, then sail them about.”
Navy: “Right, we are going to buy 10 new ‘super carriers’ and they will be awesome.”
Congress: “At $13 billion per ship, does that mean you will not need $26 billion of the money we appropriated for you? Will you be returning it?”
Navy: “We have discovered that, for national security, we should not have corrupt contractors and Chinese intelligence providing our officers with bribes,[rolling stone] so we are going to use the $13 billion to set up a preemptive bribe pool from which we will keep our officers from accepting outside bribes.”
Congress: “Oh, you’re going to spend it on hookers and blow? The usual.”
Navy: “Yes, but defense-proactively.”
One proposed cut would reduce the number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers slated for construction from 12 to 7, which would free up about $9.4 billion in the Navy’s shipbuilding budget.
Another would speed up the decommissioning of Ticonderoga-class cruisers, retaining nine over the next five years rather than 13, according to the wire service, citing the official.
It doesn’t “free up” money. It’s money that was allocated for a purpose, however nebulous that purpose may have been. What it’s doing is putting it back on the table where it can be stolen.
The proposed cuts would also curtail the Navy’s anti-aircraft capabilities amid increased missile threats, according to defense analyst Norman Friedman. “If you were serious about facing down the Chinese, you’d probably want more of that than less,” he [naval analyst Jay Korman of Avascent Group] said.
To be fair, the money is probably not on the table where it can be stolen. It has been pre-stolen and this represents an attempt to re-steal the pre-stolen money. And Congress, who have their eyes on the table, aren’t going to let the money they stole go a’walking:
Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) spoke out on the proposal, which would affect Maine’s Bath Iron Works, one of two shipyards where the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are produced, calling it “an abrupt reversal of the Navy’s plan to increase the size of the fleet” and noting that Congress has final say on defense funding.
At least stealing is still non-partisan.
Whenever the pentagon says it doesn’t have a measly couple million dollars to take care of its trans- service members, remember that it is casually prepared to “lose” billions of dollars on procurements. At this point, I’m so cynical about defense spending that I feel sure that if congress allocated money specifically for medical care for service members, there’d be some pentagon bean-counter saying “We know you allocated $500 million for medical care for trans- service members, which is enough to fund a care program for the next 5 years, but we were thinking of using the $500 million to fund the program for 2 years and spend the rest on hookers and blow.” Paging Doctor Stalin to the white courtesy phone.
Commentariat member ‘Badland’ – I got your email and replied, but your gateway appears to think I am a spammer. I tried sending a message via gmail; you may want to check your spam box.