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There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon 484

Posted by timothy
from the sacred-cows-make-great-brisket dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes that although we have been bombarded with tales of woe about the potentially devastating impacts of cutting the Pentagon budget 8% under the sequester, examples of egregious waste and misplaced spending priorities at the Pentagon abound. One need look no further than the department's largest weapons program, the F-35 combat aircraft, which has just been grounded again after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California. Even before it has moved into full-scale production, the plane has already increased in price by 75%, and it has so far failed to meet basic performance standards. By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken. And in an era in which aerial combat is of diminishing importance and upgraded versions of current generation U.S. aircraft can more than do the job, it is not at all clear that we need to purchase more than 2,400 of these planes. Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade."
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There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon

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  • I say cut the F-35 (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonwil (467024) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:32AM (#42988737)

    As an Aussie who saw the Howard government jump on board with Bush on this overpriced boondoggle (without even considering if other aircraft, American, European or otherwise were suitable for our needs at a cheaper price), cutting it completly and forcing Australia to evaluate ALL the options for aircraft suitable for our defense needs would be a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aurispector (530273)

      Although the F-35 is the poster child for poor procurement processes, the simple fact of the matter is that entitlement spending dwarfs defense spending.

      Finding waste in government spending is easy. It's present everywhere, all the time. For every egregious example of waste in military spending you are guaranteed to find a proportional amount in any other program.

      The only effective way to control it is through competition in a free market. The more a given market comes under government control, the less

      • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:02AM (#42988821) Homepage Journal

        The major entitlement spending is for Medicare and Social Security. People are entitled to Medicare and Social Security because they paid for them all their lives.

        Do you propose that the government not pay people the benefits they paid for as part of a contract?

        That would be like buying health insurance from a private company, and having them decide not to pay you when you get sick and need it, because that would be a good way for them to save money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The challenge you face with the insurance company analogy is the insurance company can go bankrupt. The Federal government just prints more money. We have to face reality, a vast majority of people get considerably more out of Social Security and Medicare then they put in.

          This is simply not sustainable. This includes my parents too.

          At this moment the we are borrowing .46 cents of every dollar we are spending. That is simply not sustainable. Hard choices are in our future and I think we should face reality n

          • by hrvatska (790627) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:11AM (#42989143)
            Some insurance companies can go bankrupt. Others, like AIG, apparently cannot. And probably, if any of the other large insurance companies that provide millions of seniors with retirement income through annuities was about to go bankrupt, the federal government and the Fed would likely figure out a way to keep it afloat and continue paying on its obligations. If you think Social Security has problems, it is nothing compared to the coming problems faced by China's pension system. It has worse demographics and the retirement age is much lower (55 for women, 60 for men) than in the U.S. And, it's not just China and the US. Japan, Europe in general, Brazil, and Russia face the same dilemma. I don't think every major country's currency is going to become worthless and I don't think they are going throw all their elderly out on the street, either. There are fixes for both Social Security and Medicare, but political gridlock in Washington prevents any meaningful change.
            • by dj245 (732906) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:48PM (#42990513) Homepage

              If you think Social Security has problems, it is nothing compared to the coming problems faced by China's pension system. It has worse demographics and the retirement age is much lower (55 for women, 60 for men) than in the U.S.

              China's economy might be built on a house of cards, mostly in the form of housing, buildings, and infrastructure. I am not worried about their retirement plan collapsing their economy though. The personal savings rate in China is above 50%. The US's is around 6.5%, which is higher than it has been in almost 20 years. And the US savings rate is defined as "% of disposable income"- not gross income or net income. I don't know how China's is defined exactly but it doesn't matter- People in China are generally preparing for retirement, problematic life events, etc.

              Plus their basic pension plan pays about $108 dollars a year per person.

              Even if there are 500 million people in China on the plan (a staggering number, but possibly possible), it costs "only" $54 billion a year. In contrast, the US spent $615 billion [wikipedia.org] in 2008 on SS and has about 20% of the population receiving such benefits. Even when you consider GDP differences (which are narrowing fast), this isn't an unreasonable burden on China.

            • Yea, I did some research on this and china and france's baby booms were bigger and went on longer than the U.S.

              You know... from 2001-2009, social security recipients increased from 28m to 33m.

              In 2010 to 2011 alone, the number increased from 33m to 38m.

              Now- that's WAY over the birth rates back in 1945-1950 would have predicted.

              I think when the supreme court eviscerated age discrimination protection, they set up a lot more people to be forced on social security before age 66/67.

              If you can't find a job due to

          • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:03PM (#42989797) Homepage Journal

            "a vast majority of people get considerably more out of Social Security and Medicare then they put in."

            Citations needed.

            I remember a few things from the news, down through the years. I remember congress dipping into Social Security for money. And again. And again.

            Social Security is something of a pyramid scheme, yes. It isn't truly sustainable. But, despite that, Social Security had surplus money, time and again. And, every time, Congress put their fingers into the surplus, and skimmed it off.

            Is it REALLY true, that the vast majority of Americans take out more than they pay in? Or, is it more likely that the vast majority of Americans don't LIVE long enough to collect what they have paid in? Maybe, just maybe, Social Security is going broke only because Congress can't control themselves, and they have spent our Social Security already!

            • by mikewas (119762)

              Yes, but the money contributed was invested, so it "grew".

              When you put money into a savings account or CD don't you expect to get more money back than you put in? You also have the same expectation for your IRA & 401K account, and for your retirement plan if you are fortunate enough to still have a traditional retirement plan where you work.

              It is the same with Social Security. Why is this such a difficult concept for people to understand about Social Security? The major difference is that it is run by t

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                It is the same with Social Security. Why is this such a difficult concept for people to understand about Social Security? The major difference is that it is run by the government, it is required to invest in government securities, and when it needs cash (to pay retirees) it cashes in those government securities.

                Read the fine print sometime. Those government securities they're required to "invest" in are ZERO-INTEREST intragovernmental T-Bills (essentially, IOU's).

                Note that even if they were interest-bear

          • So SS works just like an investment? You put in X and get X + Y back.
            Why should this be cut when the people had no choice but to invest, while the people loaning money to the government of their own free will are guaranteed to get their money back with interest.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And this is exactly what insurance companies do when a real catastrophe happens. Like Katrina.

          Insurances and healthcare should be public and paid by taxes because from a profit perspective they have much more profit when they don't do their job and this alone is an incentive for private companies to not do what they are paid for.

        • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:41AM (#42989011)
          I agree that Medicare should remain, but I disagree with the role of Social Security. SS is designed as a safety net, but in popular use, has been pushed into the role of a retirement income supplement.

          I would prefer it stay as a safety net (kick in when little money or value is left because you lived longer than you expected to, say, 10 years after retirement). Some system to reduce its cost. Though, even SS isn't so bad, since, in theory, it is already paid for.

          If we had bumped taxes and cut spending when the economy was good (pre2008, in which Bush did the opposite to boost his popularity) and then cut taxes and boosted spending when the collapse happened, we wouldn't be having these discussions.
          • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:19AM (#42989173) Homepage Journal

            I've seen economists say that you can't buy an annuity on the free market that would give you as good a return as Social Security.

            It's one of those things that the government can do more efficiently than private enterprise.

            • by mc6809e (214243) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:53AM (#42989383)

              I've seen economists say that you can't buy an annuity on the free market that would give you as good a return as Social Security.

              It's one of those things that the government can do more efficiently than private enterprise.

              It has nothing to do with government efficiency, except in the sense that the government can more efficiently put young workers in jail if they don't give up enough money so the government can continue to make social security payments to retirees.

              • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:24AM (#42989577) Homepage Journal

                The greatest falsehood of our political debate is that the government can't do things more efficiently than private enterprise.

                I've compared industries where the government was working side by side with private enterprises, and it was straightforward to compare the results. For example, in the electric industry, there are private, federal, state and locally-owned power generation plants. Everybody in the industry agrees on the standards to judge them -- basically the percentage of downtime and cost per kilowatt-hour. The federally-run power plants, like the Tennessee Valley Authority, were consistently at the top of the list. Some of the private plants were at the top, some of them were at the bottom. The government did a good job.

                If you don't believe the government can do anything efficiently, then go out and look at the data, and see if it supports your hypothesis. When I look at the data, it doesn't.

                • by houghi (78078)

                  The problem is that most of the data is not available till it is too late. Or worse, only the data for the government part is available.
                  So when we see X Gazillion is spend on a dead end project, people will shudder. You will seldom hear about this from private companies.

                  So comparing is very hard. Also people think they have more invested in it, because it is their money, while they do not care to pay for the failed investment with a company when buying their product with a slightly higher price.

                • by 1369IC (935113) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:46PM (#42990139)
                  I work for a DoD R&D organization, and this is very true. We create a lot and we do it well and relatively cheaply.
                • by khallow (566160) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:57PM (#42991329)

                  The greatest falsehood of our political debate is that the government can't do things more efficiently than private enterprise.

                  It'd help your argument, if the falsehood was actually false.

                  I've compared industries where the government was working side by side with private enterprises, and it was straightforward to compare the results. For example, in the electric industry, there are private, federal, state and locally-owned power generation plants. Everybody in the industry agrees on the standards to judge them -- basically the percentage of downtime and cost per kilowatt-hour. The federally-run power plants, like the Tennessee Valley Authority, were consistently at the top of the list. Some of the private plants were at the top, some of them were at the bottom. The government did a good job.

                  And if the TVA were playing on an even field [reason.com], it'd be at the bottom of those lists. If I didn't have to follow a bunch of costly federal laws and had some large, cozy monopoly markets, I bet I'd be at the top of that list as well.

                  If you don't believe the government can do anything efficiently, then go out and look at the data, and see if it supports your hypothesis. When I look at the data, it doesn't.

                  One merely needs to look at your example to see that you aren't looking.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Your supposition is flawed. It relies on the idea that government would actually have the ability to save money not needed to cover expenses. It does not except at certain state and local levels if those areas are specifically set up to do so. By law, congress has to spend every last dollar taken in. Now this spending can be on some new program, increases to existing programs, or servicing the debt but it completely lacks the ability to create a rainy day fund or anything of the sort which would have decrea

          • by goldstein (705041) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:09PM (#42989829)
            Pension plans offered by employers are disappearing or being scaled back. At the same time, the primary response of the financial industry is to devise ever more complex financial products that are designed to sound better than they are. We are not far from a situation where a prerequisite for retirement will be to win a lottery or be a financial planner - it is really naive to think that the average man in the street is able to adequately plan for his retirement without being backstopped by social security or something similar.
        • by JBMcB (73720)

          Do you propose that the government not pay people the benefits they paid for as part of a contract?

          There is no contract, there's just a law saying the government takes your money and will give it back later. That law can (and has) been changed.

          • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:48AM (#42989039) Homepage Journal

            So after the government has taken all this money, you would change the law to say that the government won't give it back to me?

            • by meta-monkey (321000) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:38AM (#42989283) Journal

              You seem to be under the misconception that when you paid SS taxes, those dollars were being set aside for you to be "returned" to you later. No, they were given to current retirees.

              A more accurate statement would be, "so after old people have taken all this money from me, you would change the law to say that I can't take money from workers when I'm old?"

              • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:02AM (#42989449) Homepage Journal

                Paul Krugman has explained this, which he calls one of the "cockroach ideas" that keeps coming back no matter how many times you flush them down the toilet:

                http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/about-the-social-security-trust-fund/ [nytimes.com]

                Social Security is a government program supported by a dedicated tax, like highway maintenance. Now you can say that assigning a particular tax to a particular program is merely a fiction, but in fact such assignments have both legal and political force. If Ronald Reagan had said, back in the 1980s, “Let’s increase a regressive tax that falls mainly on the working class, while cutting taxes that fall mainly on much richer people,” he would have faced a political firestorm. But because the increase in the regressive payroll tax was recommended by the Greenspan Commission to support Social Security, it was politically in a different box – you might even call it a lockbox – from Reagan’s tax cuts.

                The date at which the trust fund will run out, according to Social Security Administration projections, has receded steadily into the future: 10 years ago it was 2029, now it’s 2042.

                But the privatizers won’t take yes for an answer when it comes to the sustainability of Social Security. Their answer to the pretty good numbers is to say that the trust fund is meaningless, because it’s invested in U.S. government bonds.

                • by meta-monkey (321000) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:14PM (#42991077) Journal

                  But there is no trust fund, and the lockbox is full of IOUs. And it shouldn't be "I" Owe Yous, it's "You" Owe Yous.

                  We hear this crap about "America's promise to its seniors!" but I don't seem to recall making any promises. I'm in my early 30s, and I was in grade school, unable to vote when the boomers were spending all the money.

                  It's like they said, "Hmm, we've got this $200 here. Let's put that in the bank to save for later!" "Good idea, that's great. So, yup, got that saved. But ya know...I sure would like some of these social programs enacted. Let's write a check for $200 for that." "Great idea, great idea! And ya know, we sure could use some military spending. Gotta beat the Russians and all. Let's take out a loan against that $200 we saved." "Oh yes, of course! Capital idea there." An then now they're shocked, shocked I tell you, to come back to the bank to withdraw their $200, and it's not there! "But, but, but...we deposited $200! We want it back!" Well, yes, you did deposit $200. And then you spent it. And then you borrowed against it and spent that, too, and now there's nothing left.

                  The baby boomers have looted the empire.

                  Their parents built the greatest economic powerhouse the world has ever seen. They great up in the depression, then went off to fight a terrible war against tyranny and oppression. When they came home they fought to free their countrymen via the civil rights upheavals of the 1950s (that wasn't the boomers in their early teens marching in the streets). All the while they built the industrial base that dominated the global economy.

                  But if their parents were the Greatest Generation, the boomers were the Worst Generation. They were the ones voting, they were the ones in control of the government in the 80s and 90s. They made all the promises, spent all the money, racked up all the debt. Their parents built an industrial base, and when the boomers took over management, they shipped all the jobs to China. Now their kids (us) are left with coffee shop jobs to show for our four-year degrees.

                  They looted the empire their parents built and left a desiccated husk for their kids. Now they sit with their hands out, demanding their reward for a job well done.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:15AM (#42988885)

        the simple fact of the matter is that entitlement spending dwarfs defense spending.

        The problem is that defense spending has BECOME entitlement spending. It is welfare for the defense contractors, who have no incentive to remain within budget or timelines. We can cut defense spending without having to cut a single program in production or development: all we have to do is make sure that companies are held to the promises they make when the bid for a contract. And, if they intentionally underbid or underestimated the program well, then they need to eat the cost of that overrun, just like a company would in any other industry. This isn't cutting spending, it is simply cutting costs. We still get everything we need, we just don't pay out the ass for it.

        • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:53AM (#42989375)

          Also eliminating laws which require contracts to go to the lowest bidder. Removing discretion in procurement is as bad as having no oversight at all - it means the people making the decisions have no leeway when they see a bid they know can't quite work out, even if it would be very hard to prove why conclusively.

          There was an example of this a while ago, where a bid to provide ammunition to the US army was made fraudulently, was incredibly low, and wound up killing a bunch of people when the guy who put it in's factory that was repackaging old Chinese bullets to the US army blew up in the middle of the town, killing 30 or so workers.

          http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/firing-blanks-afghanistan [cato.org]

          • by chill (34294) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:12PM (#42991069) Journal

            Saying govt contacts must go to the lowest bidder is a myth. Every one I have dealt with has been "best value" and we have a certain amount of discretion.

            Evaluating bids is a two part process. The technical evaluation and the cost evaluation. The technical eval is more than just "does it meet the minimum specs". I've sat on Technical Evaluation Boards that awarded contracts to huge bidders because the quality was superior. The awards withstood protest.

      • Finding waste anywhere is easy. Its not unique to government
        There is no free market for the military. It makes no money. Unless you go back to the system of war and looting.

        • Isn't that exactly what the US has been doing, in a way?

          They just did in a way that the energy going out at one doesn't obviously look like it's fueling the money coming in at the other end.

      • by fafaforza (248976) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:22AM (#42988923)

        "Entitlement" is almost a four letter word, but you know what? I'd rather have US citizens be able to feed themselves, than our money going to toys that never get used. We will have training exercises and missions costing millions per minute, in flight refelling for God knows what reason when the US has bases and aircraft carriers everywhere. And all this in an age when 19 guys with box cutters struck a direct blow to us and we're relying more on RC planes to dish out our justice. Who are we going to fight with these planes?

        • by espiesp (1251084)

          I'd hate for this to sound like I believe in the trickle down effect... But, in large, defense spending is spent in the USA to US defense contractors who pay US citizens very well to do the very unnecessary shit they do. People so often say, "The Government wastes money on defense spending, why don't they just give it to me?" Well, if you worked for a defense contractor they WOULD BE!

          My point is, a lot of 'wasteful government spending' is just another form of Welfare for the United States. If you support we

          • by fafaforza (248976) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:05AM (#42989121)

            Yeah, state of the art military that doesn't do much of anything, and we're all driving on pot hole riddled roads, we have 40 kids to a classroom, our bridges are falling down, and there's never any money for anything in our budget. This is the thinking that keeps senators from cutting any spending. Because of the immediate negative effect on their constituents. That money could be used elsewhere, and people would retain employment.

          • by hjf (703092) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:43AM (#42989303) Homepage

            Defense spending is public spending in disguise.

            The US has been eating their own dog food (anti-communism) for the last 50 years. They have been SO brainwashed against communism that even thinking of building a power plant or public road is now seen as the big red menace.

            Spending in defense, on the other hand, is not only patriotic, it's also money that goes to private companies which is a very capitalistic way of spending your money. So technically they are being keynesian without being too communist.

            The problem is, people are used to that reasoning. And they think the government shouldn't "spend" money. Everything private is better and more efficient. The government is slow and wasteful.

            Yet, a private company doesn't have neither the interest or funds to take on a huge work like the US highway system. The US is what it is now because of the highways. A private company wouldn't have built a road to nowhere, but government does. Even if it seems like a bad idea, 20 years later it proved to be one of the best strategic moves ever. A private company would just build a straight line between NY and california because that would be the most profitable.

      • by D'Sphitz (699604) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:24AM (#42989589) Journal

        ...the simple fact of the matter is that entitlement spending dwarfs defense spending.

        The term "entitlement spending" is bullshit, intended to insinuate that it's referring to welfare and food stamps to get the foxnews dimwits all worked up into a froth when they hear how more money goes to dangerous minority drug addicts in the ghetto than we spend on defense. Of course, over half of that is social security, a tax that was forcibly taken from people's paychecks their whole lives, and now if they live to 100 they may get half of it back. That is not an entitlement, it's a really shitty savings plan that the people have already paid for, yet they go on and on about how social security is costing us too much and it's unsustainable. It's not costing anything because the people have already paid for it. That our inept government pissed it all away on wars and prisons doesn't change the fact that it's been paid for.

        Almost all the rest of the "entitlements" go to Medicare and Medicaid, because it's not very civilized to let our elderly and disabled citizens die in the streets. These entitlements allow people who have worked and paid taxes their whole lives to get healthcare and obtain their obscenely expensive medication that would otherwise bankrupt most people in months, because our marvelous health care system, the best in the world they say, would have them all die in the streets before dipping into obscene profits to care for aging and ailing seniors end of life care. Those must be the "death panels" I've heard about.

        The real "entitlements" as most people think of them, welfare, foodstamps, and throw in unemployment if you want, are a fraction of "entitlement spending", my brief research (a visit to google) says 8%, it took awhile to even find a chart that even specifically listed them rather than simply "other spending".

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      As an Aussie who saw the Howard government jump on board with Bush on this overpriced boondoggle (without even considering if other aircraft, American, European or otherwise were suitable for our needs at a cheaper price), cutting it completly and forcing Australia to evaluate ALL the options for aircraft suitable for our defense needs would be a good thing.

      That and other outdated equipment from U.S manufacturers and politicians interfering with Australian military equipment to bypass the standard procurement processes. Ships, tanks, the F-18, which is a fine aircraft, just tactically unsuitable to Australian conditions are amongst the blunders made.

      The F-35, also tactically unsuitable, was the latest in a long line of blunders.

  • No bias at all... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:36AM (#42988749)

    I especially love this statement: " By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken". The implication being even the military thinks it too much, which they don't. Such a statement implies something that doesnt exist, and conveniently ignores that the entire reason for developing a common platform for multiple roles is to save money. Yes, that one single platform is 1.4T. But the thinking was that 3 separate weapon systems to update all 3 branches at would cost even more. When properly executed this type of program does work; shared parts commonality is a real savings. When poorly executed you can end up with an unusable product (re: Naval version of the F-111 that was too heavy and unmaneuverable)

    Point is, yes, the man from the CIP, a group dedicated to the eradication of the world's militaries, but particularly the US military, thinks we should cut the military.
    Shocking. I love how people for various things never call their organization by their true intentions, but always give it something normal and official sounding, to create a built in bias towards thinking they are legit when they call for things.

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:44AM (#42988765)

      The Pentagon puts all of its eggs in one basket. It better be a spectacular basket. One of the best reasons for operating systems diversity is that you can likely only kill off one branch with an attack. Imagine being able to find a way into a US$1.4trillion fleet, and whack all of them.

      I'm not off-put by one turbine fan in one aircraft having problems; this has happened before in this fleet. Could have happened for many reasons. But I the US Military and its defense contractor network are vastly too cozy for my tastes. Add that to congresspeople trying to continue programs so that their districts have US military spending, and the whole process seems mightily corrupt.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Troyusrex (2446430)
      And the F-35 replaces the F-18, F-15, F-16, A-8, A-10 and the Harriers. The 3 versions they will have is a huge SAVINGS because it replaces so many other planes. Of course, the author also doesn't adjust for inflation which is a huge factor. I'm not saying that there isn't a lot to cut from the Pentagon, or even from the F-35 program, I'm just saying that the rational given here makes no sense at all.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, right now it replaces *nothing* because it *does not work*. Too many purposes for the same aircraft, too many bleeding edge technologies, and too many companies given local contracts to build components in different states and try to mesh them into one aircraft. The result is that it fails in testing, consistently. That means lots of research and development money, and *no working planes*.

        Toss the whole program and replace it with ground troop enlistment and equipment, and we wouldn't be short of ground

      • by arse maker (1058608) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:08AM (#42988851)

        The F-18 per unit cost is $29-57 million in 2006 dollars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F/A-18_Hornet)

        Which is a small fraction of the F-35 cost. So I dont see how they can be saving money.

        I dont really follow your logic. Replacing a plane is a total loss on the old plane. So you can't possibly save money.

        • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:16AM (#42989537) Journal

          It is not replacing just one plane though. It is replacing 5 or 6 planes- each with different roles. Now think of this, suppose it only replaces 3 types of aircraft currently in use. No more training on 2 other aircraft to certify pilots, no more separate spare parts, storage and logistics programs for 2 other aircraft. No more cross training and specialty training of mechanics and support personnel (these aren't like cars where the concept of changing a starter is transferable to models you had no training on. mistakes can cost lives and parking a broken down jet at 35000 feet in the air will always result in an insurance claim where a car breaking down on the highway is more of a safety hazard and inconvenience.)

          The cost of the plane alone is not the only savings.

          • Re:No bias at all... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Solandri (704621) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:23PM (#42990723)
            IMHO the F-35 will go down in history as an object lesson in specificity vs general purpose. They looked at all these different types of aircraft with different roles and different parts, and the huge expense that came with warehousing all those spare parts and training maintenance people who could fix one plane but not another. They thought they could cut costs by building one plane which could fill all those roles while using the same parts. In other words they went from a bunch of planes each build to a specific role, to one plane built to fill all those roles as a cost-cutting measure on the maintenance. But they're now discovering that when you try to assign so many different roles to the same airframe, it increases cost on the design side. And I predict it'll increase it more than they save on the maintenance side.
          • Re:No bias at all... (Score:4, Informative)

            by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:35PM (#42991205)

            Bullshit. My father was a VP at McDonnell Douglas. I spent more than half my life around the defense industry and it's all a political game. Little of it has to do with actually what we need to defend the country. The F-22 and F-35 are not about defense, they are about keeping the engineers and union factory workers at locheed busy.

            Read the after action reports of conflicts for the past 20 years. They all said pretty much the same thing: Need more A-10's and B-52's. Today the A-10's role is increasingly being done by Drones like the Reaper. The B-52s are still flying. While you typically need a few fighters for air superiority and defense, you need a few. Not a lot, a few. The last credible air threat was in 1991. And that threat lasted how many hours before any birds in the air were shot down and every airbase the enemy had destroyed?

            It's true the Air-Force needs new airframes. The F-15's and F-16's are getting too many hours on them. The question is why spend these huge amounts of money on the F-22 and F-35 when the era of the manned fighter is coming to an end. Sure there will need to be some manned fighters, but not as many. If we had been serious we would have launched a modernization program for the F-15 and purchased replacement airframes for those aging out. Sad thing is, Boeing did this anyway for the export market with the F-15S. And those planes are still cheaper than the F-22's and without the billions in overhead that the R&D cost.

      • Re:No bias at all... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:11AM (#42988863)
        The problem is the F-35 doesnt need to replace half of those planes. Instead of scrapping the F-15s or F-16s, we could have just upgraded and modified them: new electronics, upgrade the airframe (I think a lot of the 16s are starting to develop cracks in their wings). And the F-35 has nowhere near the survivability of an A-10. A-10s can fly and land with damage that would make any other plane fall out of the sky. Instead of spending a lot of money on the bastardized F-35 (remember, something that can do a little bit of everything can't do anything well), we should have bought a lot more of the F-22s and upgraded the rest of the fleet.
      • by jamstar7 (694492)
        The F35 is basically a Swiss Army Knife of warcraft. It does a bunch of things, none of them well.
      • by Dr. Tom (23206)

        and the remotely piloted aircraft are doing those jobs already. seriously, why do we need billions of dollars worth of aircraft carriers full of overpriced defense-contract-airshow F-stuff when we are already taking out our enemies with cheap drones and no risk to pilots?

    • Re:No bias at all... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jawnn (445279) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:58AM (#42988811)

      Point is, yes, the man from the CIP, a group dedicated to the eradication of the world's militaries, but particularly the US military, thinks we should cut the military. Shocking. I love how people for various things never call their organization by their true intentions, but always give it something normal and official sounding, to create a built in bias towards thinking they are legit when they call for things.

      So..., you're saying that an organization that, "...promotes transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign policy, while advocating a foreign policy that promotes international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for human rights..." (taken directly from the CIP mission statement) should have no credibility? That it's not possible that one of the reasons that they support "demilitarization" is that they actually understand that the business of war is hugely profitable and the money that is spend on that might be better spent on better things? Riiiiiiight....

  • Plenty to cut (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:52AM (#42988793) Homepage Journal
    And always at the neck. Putting the blame in the dot that is at the very tip of the iceberg makes simple people forget the 10% of it that is over the water, and normal people forget the 90% is below. If just gets considered the cost of starting wars (cyber and real world ones, even if they are disguised as humanitarian, or supporting rebels, or whatever), preserving the (corporate) order, or plainly stripping privacy/spying to all the world, including US citizens, would be evident where the real waste is.
    • Re:Plenty to cut (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:42AM (#42989015) Homepage

      Even lower down it isn't clear that government agencies are particularly wasteful because there is nothing to compare them to. No private companies do anything like what the government does, and that is kind of the point of the government doing it. It's something not commercially viable, or that we can't trust to the free market to sort out.

    • by Dr. Tom (23206)

      so you're saying cutting the F35 cuts even more than we think, so cutting it will save even more money for programs that already work for less, like unmanned vehicles

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:04AM (#42988827)
    Look at the Pentagon suppliers for extracting as much money as they can from our defense spending. Good ole Capitalism at its worst.... sucking a Country dry just to engorge defense contractors' executives.
    • Building these kinds of machines is always going to cost a fortune. Even at 2000-3000 units, this isn't mass production. It also incorporates a lot of new tech which is hard to budget.

      I'm all for cutting military spending but that will also cut jobs. I wonder what the jobs per million spent on the military is compared to other government spending.

    • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:12AM (#42988869)
      Yep, cost (materials and labor)+10%(the profit) is totally sucking our country dry... Nothing to do with the Pentagon driving costs through the roof by forcing bidding on one set of requirements, then changing them hundreds of times before the program is finished.

      No, it is killer 10% markup that is the problem.
    • by fafaforza (248976)

      It takes two to tango. If contractors are sucking the government dry, why is your government letting it happen?

  • If you fired at least 50% of the civilian employees, you would probably barely notice a dent in military readiness since most of the DoD's work is done by the uniformed services and contractors.

    • Depends how you define readiness.

      But looking at the sizes of civilian contracts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_contractor) I doubt it.

      • I think what he is saying is, keep the Mils and the defense contractors, let go of the civvies doing menial tasks as part of the DoD itself.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to put a person through bootcamp and AIT/whatever just to have them push papers or make copies? Use civilians for clerical/office work, and let soldiers actually soldier.
  • Fix acquisitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:06AM (#42988843)
    There is no need to cut programs or funding. If the Pentagon wants to save billions per year, simply fix the acquisitions process. Pretty much every single defense program in development and production runs over in time and budget. If we simply hold the contractors to the terms of their contracts, we will save tons of money and have equipment that works. Contracts are always underestimated in terms of the time frame and the cost, and yet companies that constantly overrun these still get preferential treatment when it comes to the next contract. And heaven forbid there's a fair competition for a bid: if one of the main contractors doesn't win the bid, they push for and usually get a reevaluation from the military for the bid, and usually end up getting the contract. A simple fix off the top of my head would be that, should a contractor not be able to adhere to the terms of the contract, they should be unable to bid on another contract for a certain period of time. Any other business that was constantly late and over budget would stop getting work and go out of business; so why do we tolerate it with defense companies? We need a strong military, and we need new, modern equipment. What we don't need are programs that run 3-4x over their stated costs or take 15-20 years instead of 10.
    • IT contracting companies have been useless forever and yet corporations still keep employing them. This isn't private sector vs public sector, this is crap contracts agreed to by people focusing on price over reality because agreeing to an impossibly low figure on the new payroll system means a bonus now and any future shambles can be blamed on the contractor.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        This isn't private sector vs public sector, this is crap contracts agreed to by people focusing on price over reality because agreeing to an impossibly low figure on the new payroll system means a bonus now and any future shambles can be blamed on the contractor.

        I never said anything about public versus private. I think defense is an industry that needs both. What I said is simply to make those that bid for a program to actually be held accountable for and adhere to the terms of the bid that they propose. If we do that, we will save a lot of money.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          One of the biggest problems is that the bids submitted are often not the product produced. Imaging you bidding to repair the storm damage on my home. you place the bid, I accept it, then I decide i want the new front door to be one of the security doors I recently found out about. I then notice the front entrance would look better with a stained wood rather then painted wood. Oh, and I want Oak trim instead of pine and wooden floors instead of carpeting.

          Now suppose suppose some of those changes are made bec

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:19AM (#42988909)
    We're not broke people. Really [google.com]. We're not. This is what people in politics call a "Narrative". It's a story to get you to vote a certain way. Specifically to vote for massive tax cuts for the rich so they can pocket all the gains in productivity from the last 50 years.

    Cut all the "Waste" you want. It'll never come close or be a drop in the bucket against what the ultra wealthy are taking from you on a daily basis. I tell ya man, dog eat dog capitalism for the poor, socialism for the wealthy...
  • I guess there is no longer a need for your services.

  • Real world numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:22AM (#42989211)
    So over it's service life it would cost roughly the same amount as putting solar panels on 40 million homes. One unneeded airplane that has yet to see a day of service. There's plenty of money to solve our problems it's all being wasted!
  • by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:40AM (#42989667)
    If you apply a 20% reduction to the number of pentagon sides, it shrinks to a square. You can go further, and apply a 40% reduction so that it becomes a triangle. But if you apply a 60% cut the pentagon shrinks to a segment. As a consequence workers will find quite difficult to move along the only remaining hallway. The consequences of a 80% cut are left as an exercise to the reader. It should also be obvious that applying cuts that are not multiple of 20% will change the pentagon into a fractal shape, with unpredictable consequences over the productivity of people working inside.
  • by CaroKann (795685) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:48AM (#42989701)
    I think that some trimming of the fat is long overdue for the military. It will force them to think about what is really necessary, what is "nice to have", and what is obsolete. It might even force the politicians to think a little more carefully about how the military is used and what its role is supposed to be. (Fat chance?)
  • by nickmalthus (972450) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:14PM (#42989877)
    On September 10th, 2001 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the pentagon could not track 2.3 trillion dollars [cbsnews.com]. To this day, the Pentagon cannot be accurately audited [businessinsider.com] For an institution with organization and discipline as its creed this is laughable. If Congress mandated that they would not receive one penny in funding until they got their house in order this problem would be solved overnight. Unfortunately the power of fear, obstinate Militarism, and the federal reserve corporations ability to manufacture unlimited debt provides no impetus for Congress to take the necessary corrective action.
  • Wishful thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Python (1141) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:38PM (#42990433)

    This statement is just wishful thinking "we have more troops than we need in a world in which we will no longer focus on fighting large, boots-on-the-ground conflicts like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Yes, the same thing was said after every single war in the 20th century as well, and was the mantra of the 90s after the Soviet Union fell. No one thought we would be fighting the kinds of wars that happened in late 90s (Serbia, Bosnia, etc.), or the Watson the early 21st century and yet here we are. This is just wishful, hopeful thinking, sure a world without wars like Afghanistan seem possible but let's face facts we didnt suddenly inherit a world filled with peaceful stable nations. There are plenty of screwed situations in the world that will likely cause more wars.

    The realy problem with the pentagon is the procurement system. Things costs too much because weapons platform developers can get modifications to their contracts, which means more money, if they don't deliver. They basically play games with the contract, unbidden with a partial solution that appears complete to dod, a well written contract, wich means they did what they said, yt need more money to deliver a complete product. It's all very legal, but its so prevalent that its a sick joke in dod.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:54PM (#42990549)

    Listen, if you told the pentagon- we are cutting 10%. You decide where.

    A few bad programs might be retained (generals personal favorites) but a lot of bad programs would be cut.

    But congress decides. The pentagon tried cutting the laser plane multiple times and congress insisted that it be continued because a powerful congressman had jobs depending on it.

    So we need to cut 10% but probably a lot of bad programs will be retained and a few good ones will be cut.

  • by PuckSR (1073464) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:16PM (#42992129)

    The current sequester will indeed cause a lot of problems, and this is rather useless at point that out. The current sequestration requires ALL PROGRAMS to cut 15%. So, the F-35 will have a 15% cut and the guys who maintain the A10s will have a 15% cut, the janitor will have a 15% cut, and the security will have a 15% cut. This is the problem with the sequestration. This was actually on purpose, to make sure that congress actually took care of everything. The thought was that no one would be stupid enough to let this go through, and at the very least the would modify it so that they could cut a weapons research program before cutting the budget for the furnace at the office.

    Even if we get past the stupidity of the sequestration, we are still left with the fact that many of the cuts that managers want to make don't align with what cuts congressmen want to make. A great example is that the military knows that operating so many bases is a huge drain on their resources, and it would be much easier to operate a few large bases like Ft. Hood. Unfortunately, a base closure will raise the ire of the local congressman because it hurts the local economy so he fights to keep it. Government organizations have two customers: the public and the congress. They have to make sure that they operate in a way that pleases the public, but then they also have to operate in a way that pleases as many congressmen as possible.

    Finally, the bulk of the programs which are being discussed are not the bulk of our spending. DoD and discretionary spending(FAA, Parks, Dept. of etc) only account for about 35% of total spending. Considering that our deficit is about 35%, the only way that this would even balance out is if we zeroed ALL of it. This would mean that every single department of the federal government ceased to exist. No more Departments.(Except for perhaps the treasury). If we did this, we would have no more deficit. Even the most idealistic conservative would agree that this is insane. We can't get rid of the patent office, for example. This entire debate is somewhat pointless.

    The only options that would actually be feasible would be some combination of the following: Reducing benefits for social programs, some tweaking of regular government spending, and higher taxes. This isn't an opinion. The only optional part of that is that you might be able to avoid any government tweaks with much higher taxes, but that seems unlikely to pass. This is why the entire thing is so silly. Everyone in Washington knows the score, they just don't want to be the one who has to be the messenger to their constituents.

    The truly sad thing about all of this is that Social Security is probably going to get hurt in the process. It is sad because social security has its own paycheck tax(OASDI), and the program has a massive surplus credit. It is just that Washington raided Social Security to pay for other programs, and now that Social Security cannot pay its own way(despite having generated trillions in surplus), people are suggesting that it is a bankrupt program. I don't mention this to make any argument about the program itself, but rather to use it as an example of how much of the argument is manipulated to take advantage of the short memories and general naivety of the American voter. Only in Washington would someone agree to a plan that paid dividends for 40 years but eventually would require interest and go along with it happily until the first bill showed up.

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