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June 01, 2006

National Security:pre-election Amnesia
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

What a sweet long awaited rejoinder. The Dixie Chicks Album Taking the Long Way debuts at number one on Billboard this week. Hopefully some of those ranters at Townhall will unavoidably have to listen to tunes like "Not Ready to Make Nice" during drivetime radio this week. The song is a reflection on the band's treatment by the scary right in the run up to the Iraq war, when the singers had the audacity to have a critical opinion in public.

Of course, the idea of a critical opinion seems lost on the majority in Congress (that would be its former role: oversight). It appears to be not a worry at all, in fact.  This weekend on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Frist had an opportunity to discuss all matter of important national security issues, like why the Department of Homeland Security is cutting funding for the two most at-risk cities in the USA: Washington, DC and New York, and kicks New Orleans in the shins as well. Nope, he chose instead to talk about those huge security risks gays and flag burning.  Obviously, Rove has settled into his comfy post-White House job of re-hashing Republican talking points for the next 5 months.   

For a reality check must read: the email exchange between DoD Press Operative Larry DiRita and veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway, which took place earlier this month. Here's a sample of one Galloway response to DiRita:

the question is what sort of an army are your bosses going to leave behind as their legacy in 2009? one that is trained, ready and well equipped to fight the hundred-year war with islam that seems to have begun with a vengeance on your watch? or will they leave town and head into a golden retirement as that army collapses for lack of manpower, lack of money to repair and replace all the equipment chewed up by iraq and afghanistan, lack of money to apply to fixing those problems because billions were squandered on weapons systems that are a ridiculous legacy of a Cold War era long gone (viz. the f/22, the osprey, the navy's gold plated destroyers and aircraft carriers and, yes, nuclear submarines whose seeming future purpose is to replace rubber zodiac boats as the favorite landing craft of Spec Ops teams, at a cost of billions) meanwhile the pentagon, at the direction of your boss, marches rapidly ahead with deployment of an anti-missile system whose rockets have yet to actually get out of the launch tubes. at a cost of yet more multiple billions.

Amen, Joe.  And check out the 2006 Unified Security Budget. (full disclosure, I was on the task force) It suggests trade-off behefits within national security spending (including critical infrastructure, public health and Army stability ops) by reducing the funding for these Cold War relics.  Think Fox news might want a copy?  nah.....


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While one can make an arguement over the merits and costs of the F22, Osprey, etc., it is simply delusional to imagine one can simply cancel those programs and thus save money. The F-15 is over 30 years old and needs to be replaced. The CH-46 that the marines use as their main transport is 50 years old.

Certainly one could make an arguement that the Osprey is too expensive and the nation would be better served by a conventional helo to replace the CH-46 but money still needs to be spent- perhaps a little less on a CH-46 replacement program but perhaps more elsewhere.

The point is that people talk about specific weapon systems as if they really matter. What matters is force structure. Sure SSN's are expensive but the issue is simply how many the nation needs and how many years they average in service. If they last 30 years and we need 60 then the responsible thing to do is buy 2 every year or 1 1/2 a year if we need 45.

As an aside to argue we do not need the F-22 is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of war. What the nation actually does not need is the entire US Air Force. Fix the force structure and we would not only save money but have a more cost effective military to boot. The nation no longer requires the high/low mix of weapons developed in the 1970's. Low should go- as well as every single USAF F-16 fighter unit and every single CTOL F-35 the nation will buy for the USAF over the next 20 years.

The boot on the ground everyone talks about supporting simply wants something flying overheard 24/7 that he can call to drop a JDAM where it's needed. The F-16 is just about the last aircraft for this job- the B-52 and A-10 do a much better job and are far more cost effective.

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