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Defense Chief Urges Big Cuts In Military Spending 449

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nasa-quick-get-in-there dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the Pentagon is wasting money it will no longer get, and focused on targets as diverse as the large number of generals and admirals, the layers of bureaucracy in the Pentagon, and the cost of military health care. 'The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade,' Gates says. 'Military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny. The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.' Gates, a Republican who was carried over as Defense Secretary from the Bush administration, has already canceled or trimmed 30 weapons programs with long-term savings predicted at $330 billion, but is now seeking to convert as much as 3% of spending from 'tail' to 'tooth' — military slang for converting spending from support services to combat forces. While this may not seem like a significant savings in the Pentagon's base budget, cuts of any size are certain to run hard against entrenched constituencies. Gates's critique of top-heavy headquarters overseas was underscored by the location of the speech — the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. President Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II, warned the nation of the menacing influence of an emerging 'military-industrial complex' in his farewell address as president in 1960. 'Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,' said Eisenhower, 'so that security and liberty may prosper together.'"
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Defense Chief Urges Big Cuts In Military Spending

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  • Sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:07AM (#32155658)

    This will be spun as a Democratic administration not "supporting the troops", despite it being proposed by Gates, a holdover from a Republican administration. Much like how only Nixon could go to China, only a Republican can advocate cutting the defense budget (even if only a mere 2-3%) without being pilloried as near-treason.

    • Re:Sad but true (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hadlock (143607) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:42AM (#32156376) Homepage Journal

      I am pretty sure Gates is just the mouthpiece for the administration on this. His job is to say and do what the Commander In Chief (aka President) says. Either way, considering roughly 1/6th of the federal budget is millitary spending, we ought to be seeing some better results for that than failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
       
      For 665 billion dollars a year, we ought to have hover cars, laser rifles, robot/android soldiers, forcefields and fusion power by now.
       
      2010 Federal budget: 3.552 Trillion Dollars
       
      Total Federal revenue to pay for budget: 2.381 Trillion Dollars
       
      Amount we put on the "Federal Credit Card" (a.k.a. our Children's Grandchildren), just for 2010: 1.717 Trillion Dollars
       
      Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget [wikipedia.org]
        http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/fy10-newera.pdf [gpoaccess.gov]

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday May 10, 2010 @02:04PM (#32159120) Homepage Journal

        While I agree that we're spending too much on some weapons systems... there's absolutely no excuse to pay 7 billion dollars for a DDG-1000 destroyer...Gates is fiercely protective of the biggest, most expensive military boondoggle of all time, the Joint Strike Fighter. He will absolutely tolerate no talk of canceling it.

        It was supposed to be the "cheap" supplement to the F-22, much the same way the F-16 was the cheap supplement to the F-15. But now the F-35 costs as much, or possibly even more than the F-22 (CBO estimate: $122 million a copy and climbing), while being a substantially less capable airplane. And this has happened under Gates' watch.

        And yet, he balks at buying more Super Hornets for the Navy instead, at what is a bargain price in the fighter world... $45 million apiece. There's no logic here.

        I'm as big a hawk as you'll find, but I think the primary problem is with two parties here... defense contractors, and Congress. Congress sees defense as a jobs program, and defense contractors are ripping off the taxpayer. I've come to the reluctant conclusion perhaps we should abandon private suppliers for the military, and go back to in-house supply solutions. For instance, the Navy used to build their own ships in their own shipyards. It was seen as a way to not be too reliant on private yards, and to keep them honest. God knows we need that again. I'm a big capitalist, and all for competition in truly free, private markets. But defense contracting isn't really a free market. You're serving one customer... the government. Maybe it's time to open up our own shipyards again, and revive the old Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia. Maybe that's the only way to put firms like Lockheed on notice that the gravy train is over.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GooberToo (74388)

          It was supposed to be the "cheap" supplement to the F-22, much the same way the F-16 was the cheap supplement to the F-15. But now the F-35 costs as much, or possibly even more than the F-22 (CBO estimate: $122 million a copy and climbing), while being a substantially less capable airplane. And this has happened under Gates' watch.

          I agree. I the plane is anywhere over 100 million per plane, it doesn't make much sense. At that price, based on what I've seen and read, the F22 is more than twice the plane. So from that perspective, it doesn't sound like the tax payers are getting a good return on the money.

          And yet, he balks at buying more Super Hornets for the Navy instead, at what is a bargain price in the fighter world... $45 million apiece. There's no logic here.

          On the other hand, I can defend this position. Each F22 and F35 consistently tests on par with at least a ten to one ratio. That means an F35, at 120 million each, versus 45 million per SH, is still a far, far, far better buy. For the

  • In the same speech (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:08AM (#32155666)

    Eisenhower said:

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/indust.html [h-net.org]

    I wonder why people always ignore that part.

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:11AM (#32155720) Homepage Journal
      Because it didn't turn out to be relevant?
      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

        Because it didn't turn out to be relevant?

        That you know of. Maybe a sufficiently advanced scientific-technological elite's control of public policy is indistinguishable from no control at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by urusan (1755332)

        Just because it hasn't happened yet in the US does not mean it is not a possibility. It's a continuation of the tension between the state and intellectuals that has been going on forever. To put it another way, it's the tension between those who have power and those who have knowledge.

        In the olden days it was royalty and clergy and nowadays its military-industrial and scientific-technological. In both cases the relationship is mostly mutually beneficial (the state's power is derived from the intellectuals a

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jeng (926980)

      Goes against the teachings of Athena.

    • by chill (34294) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:15AM (#32155814) Journal

      Because it has never come close to happening?

      Or are you making the case that any of the previous administrations *cough*George W Bush*cough* could be considered a scientific-technological elite? Hell, President Obama just admitted to not knowing how to use an iPod or iPad. Yes, he has his Crackberry, but still...

      Scientists routinely have to beg for funding, and NASA always seems to be on death's door for lack of funding.

      Wake me when it is the other way around, and the military budget is round-off error for the scientific research one.

    • by Raul654 (453029)

      I don't think anybody ever accused Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Reagan of being a "scientific or technical elite." Obama, at least, seems scientifically/technically literate, but that's a far cry from being elite. So the Eisenhwoer quote probably gets ignored because it's entire irrelavant to modern political discourse.

    • by dnwq (910646) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:39AM (#32156328)
      1946:
      Arthur Roberts

      [Written while the Brookhaven National Laboratory was being planned]

      Upon the lawns of Washington the physicists assemble,
      From all the land are men at hand, their wisdom to exchange.
      A great man stands to speak, and with applause the rafters tremble.
      "My friends," says he, "you all can see that physics now must change.
      Now in my lab we had our plans, but these we'll now expand,
      Research right now is useless, we have come to understand.
      We now propose constructing at an ancient Army base,
      The best electronuclear machine in any place, -- Oh

      It will cost a billion dollars, ten billion volts 'twill give,
      It will take five thousand scholars seven years to make it live.
      All the generals approve it, all the money's now in hand,
      And to help advance our program, teaching students now we've banned.
      We have chartered transportation, we'll provide a weekly dance,
      Our motto's integration, there is nothing left to chance.
      This machine is just a model for a bigger one, of course,
      That's the future road for physics, as I hope you'll all endorse."

      And as the halls with cheers resound and praises fill the air,
      One single man remains aloof and silent in his chair.
      And when the room is quiet and the crowd has ceased to cheer,
      He rises up and thunders forth an answer loud and clear.
      "It seems that I'm a failure, just a piddling dilettante,
      Within six months a mere ten thousand bucks is all I've spent.
      With love and string and sealing wax was physics kept alive,
      Let not the wealth of Midas hide the goal for which we strive. --Oh

      "Take away your billion dollars, take away your tainted gold,
      You can keep your damn ten billion volts, my soul will not be sold.
      Take away your army generals; their kiss is death, I'm sure.
      Everything I build is mine, and every volt I make is pure.
      Take away your integration; let us learn and let us teach,
      Oh, beware this epidemic Berkelitis, I beseech.
      Oh, dammit! Engineering isn't physics, is that plain?
      Take, oh take, your billion dollars, let's be physicists again."

      1956:

      Within the halls of NSF the panelists assemble.
      From all the land the experts band their wisdom to exchange.
      A great man stands to speak and with applause the rafters tremble,
      ‘My friends, ’says he, b e all can see that budgets now must change.
      By toil and sweat the Soviet have reached ten billion volts.
      Shall we downtrodden physicists submit ? No, no,-revolt!
      It never shall be said that we let others lead the way.
      We'll band together all finest brains and save the day.

      Give us back our billion dollars, better add ten billion more.
      If your budget looks unbalanced, just remember this is war.
      Never mind the Army’s shrieking, never mind the Navy’s pain.
      Never mind the Air Force projects disappearing down the drain.
      In coordinates barycentric, every BeV means lots of cash,
      There will be no cheap solutions,-neither straight nor synchroclash.
      If we outbuild the Russians, it will be because we spend.
      Give, oh give those billion dollars, let them flow without an end.

      [Folklore records that the brave and solitary scientist who so vigorously
      defended the purity of science at the original meeting was killed by
      a beam of hyperons when the Berkeley Bevatron was first switched on.]

      In this light the context of Eisenhower may be clearer. Here is a larger quote:

      Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

      In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

      Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:09AM (#32155690) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean major cutbacks on corporate welfare and job security clearances for US Persons?

    I'd love to get an engineering job outside of the defense/military industrial complex, maybe this will finally make the other jobs on the market relatively more competitive! And maybe I could get to apply some of the mechanical/aerospace skills I learned in college finally?

    Corporate welfare through defense spending has been an awfully good way of keeping the educated middle class too busy doing busywork to try to enact any kind of social change. But maybe mass entertainment has finally caught up with keeping those minds preoccupied with inane things.

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:11AM (#32155724) Homepage

    "Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, not one, and we could explore space together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace." -Bill Hicks

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:18AM (#32155870)

      Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world

      Having no military power makes about as much sense as having enough to obliterate the entire planet.

      Is there still some people who believe nations live in peace because people are naturally kind and caring?

      • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:21AM (#32155930) Homepage

        Like I said, it's hippie bullshit...but it is true. If you look at how much money the world collectively spends on trying to kill each other, we could instead SUPPORT each other many times over.

        This is one of those "I know this will never happen, but this is how it should happen" kind of thoughts.

        • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:30AM (#32156140)

          but it is true. If you look at how much money the world collectively spends on trying to kill each other, we could instead SUPPORT each other many times over.

          This is one of those "I know this will never happen, but this is how it should happen" kind of thoughts.

          Ohh, that kind of thoughts... Then why stop at the military?

          If we were all kind and caring, there'd be no need for money or property, people would just work because it's necessary for teh common good of the society. We'd work as much as reasonably possible, while being happy. Then, the results of all that work would be distributed among the people, in a optimal way.

          And, as to feed the entire population would only need the work of a minority, the rest could center on science, to investigate how to propagate the human collective to the stars.

          In flying unicorns, genetically engineered for such purpose.

          • by Pojut (1027544)

            Ohh, that kind of thoughts... Then why stop at the military?

            If we were all kind and caring, there'd be no need for money or property, people would just work because it's necessary for teh common good of the society. We'd work as much as reasonably possible, while being happy. Then, the results of all that work would be distributed among the people, in a optimal way.

            And, as to feed the entire population would only need the work of a minority, the rest could center on science, to investigate how to propagate the human collective to the stars.

            There's this little-known franchise that's really popular, I'm not sure if you've heard of it. They did exactly what you described though. Here, you should check it out [wikipedia.org].

        • Bullshit is the opposite of truth. Your last sentence alludes to the real truth, which is 'this is what I want even though it won't happen'. But merely wanting something isn't going to rewrite human nature. That's as much genetic as it is social. Even if we could eliminate the instincts that have put us at the top of the food chain I doubt that it would make us very fit to explore space. Although the reality of space exploration is almost certainly 'apes or angels [projectrho.com]', I don't think we want to turn ourselves i
  • I like Ike (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope.gmail@com> on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:13AM (#32155774) Journal

    I remember reading somewhere that Eisenhower was the president to most significantly cut the military budget in the past 60 years.

    Anyone else who tried to do it was labeled as "making America weaker" or a giant wuss. But it was much harder to call the man who lead the largest amphibious invasion in history a pussy.

    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:26AM (#32156062) Homepage Journal

      it was much harder to call the man who lead the largest amphibious invasion in history a pussy.

      A frog, sure, maybe even a salamander... But never a pussy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GrumblyStuff (870046)

      Some jackass will always be willing to take money for such a cause.

      Remember triple amputee Vietnam vet Max Cleland?

      They have no shame.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DesScorp (410532)

        Some jackass will always be willing to take money for such a cause.

        Remember triple amputee Vietnam vet Max Cleland?

        They have no shame.

        Being a military vet doesn't neccessarily mean you support a strong defense, or even support a military at all. Howard Zinn, after all, was a decorated AAF veteran.

        And ultimately, while you're blaming "them"... Republican strategists... ultimately it was the voters of Georgia that made the decision, not "them". The fact is, Cleland was becoming increasingly liberal (see his votes on ANWR, abortion, etc) in an increasingly conservative state.

        If you have a problem with the vote, take it up with the voters.

  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grahamsaa (1287732) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:14AM (#32155792)
    Military spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate for at least the last 30 years. If it continues to increase at this rate it will surely bankrupt us. Our heavy investment in the military (over other important things such as education) also suggests that our priorities are badly skewed and need to be realigned.
    • > Military spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate for at least the last 30 years. If it continues to increase at this rate it will surely bankrupt us.

      Very unfortunate, that using future tense is incorrect...:-/

    • Re: National Debt? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phrogman (80473) on Monday May 10, 2010 @12:59PM (#32157912) Homepage

      I put it to you that you are already bankrupt from overspending for the past 30 years. If the USA wasn't a nation that can just keep printing more money when required, or spend itself trillions into the hole, it would have been bankrupt years ago.

      The Military/Industrial Complex that Eisenhower was warning against, got into power, and its been reaping massive fortunes for its Corporate Owners for that entire time. Look at Haliburton most recently.

      Blackwater - when did the US citizenry decide it was actually okay for the country to hire mercenaries, and in fact let them equip themselves with a private airforce etc? Billions lost there.

      Its long since past time for these cuts to be made - and in fact if the system were forced to trim itself down to ensure the "Tooth" part of the equation is still effective it would probably be very effective still - but the US budget is firmly in the grasp of the corporations that are making billions in profits for their owners off of defense spending, and the Military who naturally want all the high-tech tools and manpower they can get so they can be as effective as possible. You are not going to break that grip, ever. The politicians who are in office, BELONG to those companies, and if they want to keep their jobs, must keep supporting them I am afraid.

    • Not Quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday May 10, 2010 @02:38PM (#32159632) Homepage Journal

      Military spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate for at least the last 30 years.

      No, the cost of individual weapons systems has been rising at an unsustainable rate. Military spending is a fraction of what it was during it's peacetime highs, when it dominated federal spending in the 50's and 60's. Bush the Elder made big cuts to the military budget, and Bill Clinton made even bigger cuts. Even at the height of our military force structure during the Reagan years, the military was a fraction of what it was under Ike, Kennedy, and Johnson.

      What we're getting isn't more military spending, but less bang for our military buck, by buying fewer weapons. We're spending about the same, GDP-wise. It's just that individual ships, planes, etc, cost more, so we're buying less of them. We bought 800 F-15's. We replaced them with 187 F-22's. Same buck. Less bang, even though the individual weapons are more capable. There's simply no way one F-22 can replace 4 F-15's in the real world, no matter what Lockheed's marketing department says.

      By far the largest and most bloated parts of the federal budget are the entitlements... Social Security, Medicare, etc. They'll bankrupt us long before military spending would. And while you can cut military spending, by law, you can't cut SS and Medicare, only their rates of growth.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And while you can cut military spending, by law, you can't cut SS and Medicare, only their rates of growth.

        Please don't propagate this bullshit. You can cut SS/Medicare and just about anything else by law or otherwise. Another option is to simply not fund something. Whatever law one Congress passes, another Congress - or even the same Congress - can revoke. Why would you think otherwise?

      • Re:Not Quite (Score:4, Informative)

        by TerranFury (726743) on Monday May 10, 2010 @04:11PM (#32160964)

        There's simply no way one F-22 can replace 4 F-15's in the real world, no matter what Lockheed's marketing department says.

        You raise an extremely good point, and Lanchester's Square Law [wikipedia.org] agrees with you. Basically, in order for a military force to beat an opponent twice its size, its weapons need to be four times as effective. In other words, numbers trump technology.

        This only goes so far of course. It's based on a model in which both armies are engaged for the entire duration of the fight. If technology allows one army to strike the other from a distance with impunity, then the model does break.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:16AM (#32155822)

    Makes sense to me. America is in a huge economic hole and desperately needs money pumped into infrastructure, health, job creation and other areas of government. America spends more on the military than other developed countries combined, so even a slight reduction in this should reap rewards in other areas. And if the US is smart about how it cuts spending, it does not even mean the military need become weaker as a result. Spend smarter, not 'harder', I guess you could say.

    • by DogDude (805747) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:31AM (#32156172) Homepage
      "t does not even mean the military need become weaker as a result."

      So what if it does? The US already has the most powerful military in the world by an order of magnitude. What do we need all of this "power" for, anyway? We haven't had a real threat to the US since WWII.
  • Budget cuts (Score:4, Funny)

    by SoTerrified (660807) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:16AM (#32155826)

    When your budget is greater than your earning power, things must be cut. That's just the way it is and anyone with a brain can understand that. As such, I expect that the US Military will accept the cuts logically and maturely... Much like the Greek people.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:17AM (#32155846) Journal
    The man is awesome. He cares for America. Basically, another Eisenhower. Obama has a group working on figuring out how to cut the deficit and balance the budget. That group needs to have EVERY head of each dept. tell them how to cut waste for each. Finally, that group needs to push for a balanced budget amendmendment that will block the running of deficits during good times. Right now, the majority of our unneeded debt is from 1982-1990, and from 2002-2007. That accounts for about 8 trillion dollars of a time when we had a decent economy and had ZERO reason to run a deficit.

    Personally, If Robert Gates was to run for president (or even replace Biden) , I would vote for him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by coaxial (28297)

      It's a lot easier to find waste in the military. The military knows where it is. The hard thing, is that you can't cut it. It's not because of the normal turf wars, it's because all too often you're legally forbidden to cut it. There are numerous weapon systems that the military doesn't want, yet, they have forced on them. Let me give an example I found last night. Since the late 80s the Air Force wanted to replace the A-10 close air support attack craft. Their first plan was to create a F-16 variant [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by carp3_noct3m (1185697)

      I have seen some of his actions lately that seem to show he is making smarter decisions, but that being said, Gates is one of the last people I think we would want in the presidency, much less in the position he is in now. Under his watch since 2006 there have been some of the biggest travesties, both strategically and tactically, that could have been made. He is not only one of the "good ol boys" who basically got into his position because of his tenure at A&M and previous work at CIA (while being heav

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:21AM (#32155922)

    If you study the events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the size and rampant spending of their military-industrial complex as it slowly bankrupted them for thirty years comes out on top. Everyone knew it existed, and everyone knew it would suck the nation dry before they could "win" the Cold War against the United States, but it was so entrenched in their economy that the means to measure and control it simply did not exist. It's interesting to see that Eisenhower noticed this disturbing trend fifty years ago. If the Soviet Union was bled dry in thirty years, how much longer can the United States survive the siphoning of hundreds of billions of dollars from their economy? Or is it already too late?
    American citizens really must ask themselves what this spending has done for them. Access to foreign oil? Protection from terrorists? For a fraction of the trillions of dollars spent in the past decade on "defense", those issues could have been resolved virtually overnight. Instead, you have made a select group of people very rich and very powerful. Was it worth it?

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:52AM (#32156598)

      Instead, you have made a select group of people very rich and very powerful. Was it worth it?

      Well, since they also happen to be the ones in charge of almost everything, I think they'd say yes. The lower classes are too busy drugging up and watching TV, and the middle classes are kept busy with B.S. distractions like "gay marriage" and federal vs state control of abortion. When Bush/Haliburton said "mission accomplished" they meant it literally. Just not the mission the gullible thought it was.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gtall (79522)

      And you still would have a deficit of 1 trillion in the current budget even if you cut every last dollar out of defense. Get a sense of proportion. It will be the entitlement programs that bankrupt the U.S.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday May 10, 2010 @12:48PM (#32157712)

        It will be the entitlement programs that bankrupt the U.S.

        You refer, of course, to the entitlement programs for the rich and powerful, such as Gates is saying we need to cut out?

        We'll go bankrupt because of the unwritten amendment to our constitution that says "The Congress shall make no law that cuts into anyone's profits or share prices."

        That and the fact that we've offshored all our industry, so that what passes for an economy these days is just a giant pyramid scheme called "Wall Street".

      • by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday May 10, 2010 @01:07PM (#32158076) Homepage

        A sense of proportion? Here's some proportion for you:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

        If we cut our war budget from six times the next-biggest country to three times the next-biggest country, our budget would balance and our economy would grow. And we would still be far and away the best-defended nation.

        • by mdarksbane (587589) on Monday May 10, 2010 @02:27PM (#32159438)

          How does that math work?

          According to your chart, the US spends 607 billion on its entire military.

          According to this chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget) the budget deficit is about 1.4 trillion.

          So if you cut out US military spending entirely, you wouldn't have cut half of the deficit.

          If you cut it to 3x what China spends (3 x 85 billion = 255 billion, or a 352 billion dollar cut) you will still have over 1 trillion of deficit.

          The US spends a ton on its military. Whether it needs to or not is something that can be debated, as well as whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. But saying that military spending is even the primary reason the US government is bankrupt is just bullshit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Lord Ender (156273)

            Tax revenues are lower at the moment due to the recession. Spending is higher at the moment due to stimulus spending due to the recession.

            Cutting a few hundred billion in wasted military expense does not balance the budget this year, but it does once revenues and expense return to non-recession levels.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ShakaUVM (157947)

          A sense of proportion? Here's some proportion for you:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

          If we cut our war budget from six times the next-biggest country to three times the next-biggest country, our budget would balance and our economy would grow. And we would still be far and away the best-defended nation.

          What a wonderful, hippie, idea!

          Unfortunately the numbers aren't anywhere like you think they are.

          Total outlays this year: $3.5T (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/e

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:21AM (#32155944) Journal
    Eisenhower and DOD created DARPA as a way to guarantee that we had fundamental RD being done. That group has been responsible for keeping American military on the cutting edge. W converted it from a mix (basically university, business, etc) to a great deal of money to just business esp. into Texas. That has come at the cost of long range basics. That needs to be changed back. We do need a better way to get our RD into the field, but not at the cost of the future. In addition, more of the RD needs to funnel back to either American business, or at least Western business, with all of the work in America/West.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:24AM (#32156004) Homepage Journal

    In the councils of government [msu.edu], we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial-congress complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    I know it's complex, but if you ignore the political implication aspect you're devaluing the entire notion.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:31AM (#32156184)

    Well, we're doomed then. For the majority of USA "citizens," if it doesn't exist on American Idol, it doesn't exist.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Monday May 10, 2010 @11:46AM (#32156474)

    http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1467 [defense.gov]

    I found a lot of the media coverage to be selective, and the headline on this /. posting to be somewhat misleading

  • Bang For the Buck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday May 10, 2010 @12:26PM (#32157290)

    There will always be terrorists--does that mean that we must always have war? If we do have war, does this mean that we always have to fight in in the quintessential American way--throwing massive amounts of expensive resources at our enemies at an overwhelming rate?

    That strategy is great for WWII and for duking it out with the Soviet Army at the Fulda Gap, but it isn't very sensible for a long term war against a loose coalition of poor, ideologically committed killers.

    We're spending tens of thousands of dollars per terrorist kill. If we're going to fight terrorists successfully we need to do it on a budget. Our irresponsible spendthrift congresspeople can only see as far as the money that defense industries bring to their regions. Military spending can easily become just welfare for the upper classes. Gates' point about the military being topheavy with generals and admirals is important. The military leadership is committed to propagating itself and will never act to make its command structure more "lean and mean."

    We've remained in Iraq and Afghanistan all these years because our military is a $700 hammer and those countries happen to be the nails that our country's warhammer is adapted to. That approach isn't working and we can't afford it forever.
       

  • Hard to Kill (Score:3, Informative)

    by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Monday May 10, 2010 @12:50PM (#32157762)
    When I was born, America was the industrial giant of the world. Economic theory held that a positive trade balance was necessary to remain an economic power and that "consumer driven" societies were doomed to collapse under a mountain of debt. Since then, we have given up our manufacturing leadership in every area but one -- weaponry. The military industrial complex is our last big manufacturing exporter of hard goods. True we are selling death on a scale that Wall-mart might envy, but just like the Soviet Union in the 1970-80s this is what keeps us as a world power. Many might say "good riddance" to such a role, but this industry will not go down without a fight, something that is probably second nature. Many Americans will support them too. Mr. Gates may slow the acquisition of new weapons. However, it will only take one contractor selling a "latest and greatest" weapon to another country instead of US for all of that to change.
  • by cluge (114877) on Monday May 10, 2010 @01:07PM (#32158078) Homepage
    It's interesting that people always point to Ike's comments re: the military industrial complex. In the same speech he said the following re: science

    "Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. "

    I wonder if we will see similar thinking with respect to funding science?

    -cluge

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