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Virginia is for Lovers (But It’s Not, It’s For Bloated, Unneeded Bureaucratic Pentagon Homes for Generals)

Since 9/11, the Department of Defense budget has doubled.

Think about that. Doubled.

So when Secretary Gates proposed serious cuts to the Department of Defense two weeks ago, I applauded him. Even when he announced that he wouldn’t ask for an actual decrease in total Pentagon spending--the budget would increase by about 1% in raw terms--I still supported him. Secretary Gates understands that a bloated Pentagon budget is a bad pentagon budget.

By asking for across the board cuts Secretary Gates isn’t just targeting individual programs, he is attempting to alter the unsustainable financial culture of the Pentagon. I agree with his strategy for several reasons.

First, as I explained on last week, the Army is about keeping what you have.
No Colonel wants to lose his budget, no General wants to lose his staff, and no senior government civilian wants to lose his responsibility. By ordering each branch to find across the board savings of 100 billion dollars, Secretary Gates is attacking the mindset of bureaucratic leaders to hoard what they have.

Second, because we have to keep what we have, the military is constantly creating new, without eliminating old. The result is our individual branches of the military don’t cut organizations unless somebody tells them to. JFCOM is unnecessary, for example, but the only way to get rid of it is through congress. Too many subordinate units in the military are relics of past wars, and they need to go.

Third, we have too many Generals and Admirals. The accumulation of flag officers only encourages every fiduciary problem plaguing the Pentagon. They get paid more with only an indirect benefit to the men and women fighting on the front lines. There is a rumor that we have as many Generals in Iraq with the drawdown that we had at the height of the surge. What are they all doing?

Fourth, national security is about safety, not jobs. The only people complaining about JFCOM’s demise are--surprise!--people from Virginia. The representatives, Senators and governor of Virginia will feel the sting of losing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. I understand why they want to fight this move, but be honest: it has nothing to do with our national security.

And this is the worst part, the politicized nature of the Department of Defense budget.  The Department of Defense, and its allied military-industrial complex, are more jobs program than national security platform. Congress makes the budgets, and representatives care more about jobs in their districts then the Soldier on the frontline.

four comments

I just want someone to explain to me why waste is so endemic to the military, yet no one fights against it, and no one really writes about it.

I have a theory, but it is mostly political.

I just want to say this is my favoritist title I have ever written.

Humble as always, I see.

Speaking of unneeded bureaucratic homes for generals, can we get rid of PEO Soldier as well?

Or at least give it a less-stupid name.

MC – are there any other readily-identifiable commands that could be either merged easily or simply eliminated?