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Old 06-14-2019, 02:22 PM
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Has the military improved or worsened under Trump


First off, the talk about Obama being a peacenik dove who was anti-military is way distorted: Defense budgets under Obama were plenty high; he made a point in his 2012 presidential debate against Romney to point out that defense spending had gone up every year under his administration. Also, defense spending is only part of the puzzle.


But under Trump, the U.S. military has seen relatively sedate times. No major wars (there was a bit of ongoing intervention in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, but that's always going to be a given.) Unlike Bush, there has been no major war in Iraq or something that would truly deplete the military. Defense budgets are over $700 billion and may hit even higher highs. Trump's creation of a Space Force, however, might not do much good and may just cause stovepiping and unnecessary bureaucratic bloat or redundancy.

So by and large the Trump presidency looks like good times for the Pentagon and armed forces?
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Old 06-14-2019, 02:56 PM
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In what way? Readiness? Morale? Financially?

From what I understand, the Navy is undergoing something of a readiness crisis, in that there aren't enough ships to go around, training's not getting done, depots/maintenance facilities are inadequate, etc... The Army is having recruiting and retention issues. The Air Force is having trouble with recruiting and retraining maintenance personnel. The Marines are having budgetary issues, mostly brought on by unplanned/unbudgeted expenses (i.e. stuff they weren't expecting to do).
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:22 PM
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Let's get the low blow out of the way early: the commander in chief is so incompetent that despite the fact that the military typically aligns very firmly with his party, he's barely at an even approval rating among them. He's a completely incompetent buffoon.

Beyond that... does it matter? I mean, really, does it matter? The US army is still undeniably the strongest in the world. There's nobody who could credibly attack us, and pretty much nobody with any interest to do so (unless Europe starts getting all "NEVER AGAIN" about those concentration camps we're running, fat chance).
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:38 PM
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Trump has totally undermined our intelligence services including the Navy's 10th fleet (cyber command). The Navy crisis that bump mentioned is a longer lasting failure in leadership (IMHO). Personally, I think in this age of asymmetrical warfare Trump and the Republicans that support him have done lasting and significant damage to my country.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:50 PM
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Defense budgets under Obama were plenty high; he made a point in his 2012 presidential debate against Romney to point out that defense spending had gone up every year under his administration.
The second term saw massive cuts though driven by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The results saw large force structure cuts and the abandonment of the two major regional conflict approach as a result. In Obama's second term his SECDEF was warning about either needing more money or having to choose between a hollow force and even greater cuts.

How the budget got approved was also a readiness issue. The Obama era saw us operating under continuing resolutions. That had corrosive effects on readiness. The uncertainty produced a famine then feast cycle within the fiscal year. We've managed to avoid a CR in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Congress seems to be chugging along on the 2019 NDAA although there's some big issues to be settled between the House and Senate bills. Avoiding CR enables improvement even without increasing the spending top line.

It's probably worth a look at last November's review of our current situation by the non-partisan National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC). That was a year long effort to really look at where we were. It was cross department, not merely DOD. It included input from our allies and non-governmental security experts. They had the ability to review both classified and open source information. There finding were not good. They are probably surprising to most of the American public which sadly makes them easier to ignore. Normal human bias makes us more likely to ignore or rationalize away shocking and uncomfortable data. The opening paragraph from the executive summary sets the stage:
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The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority—the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security—has eroded to a dangerous degree. Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.
It's worth taking the time to read at least the summary, if not the entire report, for anyone that wants to understand the current state of our military to perform it's strategic functions. It's not pretty.

Congress has been working to address many of those issues under Trump...mostly without the knowledge of the American public. They were the ones that legislated the creation of the NDSC to do the review, after all. We're at least working to rebuild our advantages in order to produce deterence. Call that a work in progress. Under Trump there's been a pull back from the guiding principles behind US foreign policy, by both parties, since WWII. Mattis' resignation letter pointed it out; that was the major area of disagreement. For me that's a much bigger issue. We're working to rebuild our capability to maintain the old framework but tearing down the framework. At this point there's no clearly articulated replacement framework.

Last edited by DinoR; 06-14-2019 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 06-17-2019, 04:27 PM
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Let's get the low blow out of the way early: the commander in chief is so incompetent that despite the fact that the military typically aligns very firmly with his party, he's barely at an even approval rating among them. He's a completely incompetent buffoon.
A couple of notes about the poll you cited. It was from back in October 2018 and was showing steadily degrading support for the pres. so its likely that his current support is net negative. Particularly since the poll also showed massive support of General Mattis, who was fired 2 months later, and still hasn't been permanently replaced.
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Old 06-17-2019, 05:16 PM
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A couple of notes about the poll you cited. It was from back in October 2018 and was showing steadily degrading support for the pres. so its likely that his current support is net negative. Particularly since the poll also showed massive support of General Mattis, who was fired 2 months later, and still hasn't been permanently replaced.
Yeah. That's kind of a thing - we're barreling full-bore into war with Iran, and we do not actually have a permanent secretary of defense.

Weird, right?
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Old 06-18-2019, 10:32 AM
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First off, the talk about Obama being a peacenik dove who was anti-military is way distorted: Defense budgets under Obama were plenty high; he made a point in his 2012 presidential debate against Romney to point out that defense spending had gone up every year under his administration.
As has been pointed out above, this is definitely, not the case. Due to sequestration DoD spending was reduced in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and has not completely recovered from 2010 levels, not to mention recovered from 2010 considering inflation. This has caused readiness and procurement issues without a doubt.

Without going into details, I think one thing that virtually all in the military would agree on is that the US military strength vis-a-vis China has been reduced over the last 'X' amount of years. They are really the only competitor with the US at this point, and the US is losing ground to them.

How important that is depends on where you live I suppose and how much influence you'd like the US to have globally. I'd wager that even those that believe the US has overreached to the detriment of some, would be decidedly less pleased with a world shaped by China.

If you live in Paris or Connecticut you may not care that China is gaining on the US militarily. If you live in Taipei that's probably more problematic.
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Old 06-18-2019, 10:54 AM
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As has been pointed out above, this is definitely, not the case. Due to sequestration DoD spending was reduced in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and has not completely recovered from 2010 levels, not to mention recovered from 2010 considering inflation. This has caused readiness and procurement issues without a doubt.
Except the readiness and procurement issues you mention are the result of mismanagement by the Department of Defense, rather than a shortfall of funding.

In 2010, DoD had a regular (or "base") budget of $528 billion and a war (known as OCO) budget of $163 billion. This OCO budget was driven by the large troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2019, DoD has a regular budget of $616 billion and an OCO budget of $69 billion. This base budget is almost exactly on par with spending in 2010, when inflation is accounted for.

What happened is that the Pentagon started spending OCO dollars on things that were not strictly war-related, so as OCO began to go away when troops started coming home, DoD found that it's slush fund was being drawn down. So for example, let's say a destroyer deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2010. When it came back for maintenance, DoD rules said it could use OCO funds to pay for the repairs, because it was somehow supporting operations in Iraq. Well, guess what: that destroyer would have deployed to the Gulf anyway, so OCO funds shouldn't have been used.

Former Deputy Secretary Gordon England was the king of the OCO slush fund, and he (and others) dug DoD into a fiscal hole through their irresponsible mismanagement of taxpayer funds. Troops are paying the cost for this malfeasance today -- less so than a few years ago, before Trump's infusion of gobs of money into defense, but they still are.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:24 AM
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Without going into details, I think one thing that virtually all in the military would agree on is that the US military strength vis-a-vis China has been reduced over the last 'X' amount of years. They are really the only competitor with the US at this point, and the US is losing ground to them.

How important that is depends on where you live I suppose and how much influence you'd like the US to have globally. I'd wager that even those that believe the US has overreached to the detriment of some, would be decidedly less pleased with a world shaped by China.

If you live in Paris or Connecticut you may not care that China is gaining on the US militarily. If you live in Taipei that's probably more problematic.
But... why does this matter?

China isn't going to invade the US. They aren't going to directly engage the US in a shooting war on any front, because that's just not a thing nuclear powers do without the world ending, and China is part of the world. They're not even threatening a cold war in any meaningful sense, unless you want to count cyberespionage and industry theft, in which case they can join the queue with Russia, Iran, North Korea, and quite a few others... and, more to the point, our overall military capabilities are irrelevant to begin with in that case.

Indeed, barring the kind of cold war that we had with Russia (the kind where a whole lot of countries get bombed for unclear reasons), military influence is just about the least important kind of influence. I'm not sure what you expect to happen in Taipei if the Chinese military becomes slightly stronger than the US military; as Sagan put it, "The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five." If they suddenly come up with matches 4 through 6, I don't really know how that changes the calculus or makes the idea of war with American allies any less suicidal.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:49 AM
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China isn't going to invade the US. They aren't going to directly engage the US in a shooting war on any front, because that's just not a thing nuclear powers do without the world ending, and China is part of the world.
They might engage the U.S. in a shooting conflict on the South China Sea, Diaoyutais, Taiwan or the Korean peninsula. There's no reason to think nuclear powers will automatically pull the nuclear trigger in a war - it's in the interest of both sides for a war to stay conventional.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:08 PM
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They might engage the U.S. in a shooting conflict on the South China Sea, Diaoyutais, Taiwan or the Korean peninsula. There's no reason to think nuclear powers will automatically pull the nuclear trigger in a war - it's in the interest of both sides for a war to stay conventional.
Okay... But again, if we're not interested in bringing our full force to bear, I'm not sure how relevant a marginal decline of our military effectiveness is. Either way, our military is more than strong enough to project enough influence into the South China Sea to dissuade China.

(Also, seriously? A shooting conflict? China's power-hungry, but they're not stupid enough to start a war with their biggest trading partner.)
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:16 PM
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(Also, seriously? A shooting conflict? China's power-hungry, but they're not stupid enough to start a war with their biggest trading partner.)
They very well might. Consider their own words: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3715855
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:41 PM
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Either way, our military is more than strong enough to project enough influence into the South China Sea to dissuade China.
Why do you assume this? China's capabilities have increased a LOT in the last ten years. If a war happened in the western Pacific, it would look nothing like the wars we have seen in a long time. We operated carriers in the Persian Gulf with near-impunity during the Iraq war, because Iraq couldn't do shit about it. Getting carriers within 1,000 miles of China in a shooting war is increasingly senseless, and some day we won't be able to get carriers anywhere near China. It is inevitable.

Besides, they will be playing the home game, and we would be playing the very far from home game.

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(Also, seriously? A shooting conflict? China's power-hungry, but they're not stupid enough to start a war with their biggest trading partner.)
That's literally what a lot of people thought about the 20th century wars in Europe.
https://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/18/b...ar-062788.html
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Old 06-18-2019, 01:06 PM
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Yeah. That's kind of a thing - we're barreling full-bore into war with Iran, and we do not actually have a permanent secretary of defense.

Weird, right?
... and Shanahan is out - so not even an Acting SecDef.

I forget, is Defense one of the things Trump knows better than anyone else? If so, I guess we are good
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Old 06-18-2019, 01:11 PM
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Okay... But again, if we're not interested in bringing our full force to bear, I'm not sure how relevant a marginal decline of our military effectiveness is. Either way, our military is more than strong enough to project enough influence into the South China Sea to dissuade China.

(Also, seriously? A shooting conflict? China's power-hungry, but they're not stupid enough to start a war with their biggest trading partner.)
When exactly in our lifetimes, in the vast number of conflicts and outright "wars" have we brought our full might to bear?
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Old 06-18-2019, 01:39 PM
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Okay... But again, if we're not interested in bringing our full force to bear, I'm not sure how relevant a marginal decline of our military effectiveness is. Either way, our military is more than strong enough to project enough influence into the South China Sea to dissuade China.
Why are you certain that's the case?

We haven't been able to dissuade China from building seven artificial islands. China is sufficiently aggressive that Taiwan is concerned with them, and works very hard not to entice them to action. China views Taiwan as the "Taiwan Province" or "Taiwan Area" and that is taken very seriously by Taiwan. There is ongoing friction dud to "freedom of the seas" efforts by the US.

Keep in mind that the South China Sea is 7,000 miles away from San Diego but obviously in the back yard of China. While the US military is getting smaller year by year, the Chinese military is getting larger and more capable.

I did a short tour of duty in Africa in the mid-1990s. Not considering Africans themselves, there were a fair amount of European businessmen there and some Americans. I did a multi week tour with a Senior DoD Officer recently, and the continent had a huge amount of Chinese business there that has replaced the west. There is a large concern of a limit of access to raw materials there by the US and her allies.

You may believe that it's a no brainier that the US will be able to continue to dissuade China from aggression against Taiwan and throughout the world, but that is increasingly not the belief in Washington.
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Old 06-18-2019, 01:47 PM
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Y'know what? I'm speaking well beyond my actual level of certainty here, and I apologize.
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:03 PM
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Except the readiness and procurement issues you mention are the result of mismanagement by the Department of Defense, rather than a shortfall of funding. . .

What happened is that the Pentagon started spending OCO dollars on things that were not strictly war-related, so as OCO began to go away when troops started coming home, DoD found that it's slush fund was being drawn down. So for example, let's say a destroyer deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2010. When it came back for maintenance, DoD rules said it could use OCO funds to pay for the repairs, because it was somehow supporting operations in Iraq. Well, guess what: that destroyer would have deployed to the Gulf anyway, so OCO funds shouldn't have been used.
I disagree with much of this.

How is a net decrease in funding, not when measured against GDP or inflation, but a net decrease in baseline funding year after year possibly due to ďmismanagementĒ by DoD?

Since 9/11, there was increasing pressure within the Pentagon to push whatever requirements that could go into OCO into that budget. But over time, Congress supported those efforts and push those efforts as OCO was "off the books" and didn't count against spending caps. Both parties supported this.

So now, and over the past number of years there was an effort to move money back into the baseline if it truly belonged there, and reduce funding if it really wasn't required by a war. This effort was compounded by sequestration however. Sequestration came at the worst time as this "supplemental to base" issue was going on. DoD was losing money, real money not just inflation adjusted funding, at the same time there were honest attempts to realign OCO and base funding.

Additionally, it wasn't as if DoD was giving million dollar OCO bonuses. That money, even in your example, was still being used for operations and maintenance. So no matter what appropriation the funding was being given to DoD in, it was still supporting DoD.

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. . .

In 2010, DoD had a regular (or "base") budget of $528 billion and a war (known as OCO) budget of $163 billion. This OCO budget was driven by the large troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2019, DoD has a regular budget of $616 billion and an OCO budget of $69 billion. This base budget is almost exactly on par with spending in 2010, when inflation is accounted for. . . .
So . . . I don't agree with this either.

You toss out the $90M OCO reduction as if it doesn't contribute to DoD readiness when it does. That's a lot of maintenance and repair.

There was also a decline in readiness created by the reduction, or flat DoD spending levels from FY10 to FY18. I suspect you cherry picked FY19 as the first increase to DoD spending in close to a decade (since FY10 actually). Perhaps your boss could tell you that you'd either not get a raise, or you'd take a pay cut for 8 or 9 years, but I'll give you a good raise in year nine and you'd be fine with it. But it doesn't work that way when you run a business with payroll, parts, fuel, procurement and maintenance that is all increasing with inflation and you are living with a decreasing budget for four straight years and a flat budget over eight.

No matter how you slice it, DoD had a significant reduction in funding since FY10 that contributed to a decline in DoD's readiness.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:12 PM
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How is a net decrease in funding, not when measured against GDP or inflation, but a net decrease in baseline funding year after year possibly due to ďmismanagementĒ by DoD?

Since 9/11, there was increasing pressure within the Pentagon to push whatever requirements that could go into OCO into that budget.
The Pentagon created this pressure, which is a fact. The base budget was receiving increases of several percentage points per year above inflation, and plowing that into mismanaged acquisition programs -- FCS, TSAT, DDG-1000. Meanwhile, to afford these boondoggles, the DoD decided to start an irresponsible fiscal strategy of offloading as much of the regular cost of doing business -- from depot maintenance to procurement -- to OCO as much as the market would bear.

Yes, Congress approved these measures. That doesn't mean it wasn't a scam.

Then when the gravy train of OCO ended, the Pentagon is basically like the alcoholic who claims, "But you can't cut me off! You've been giving me all these free money for years, and yeah I've been using it irresponsibly... but this time I'll be good!" And sequestration hits, then blammo -- DoD for several years was laying in the bed that it made and got others to sign off on.

Quote:
That money, even in your example, was still being used for operations and maintenance. So no matter what appropriation the funding was being given to DoD in, it was still supporting DoD.
Oh, the people who knew that funding irresponsible stuff out of OCO just cared about the payday of cashing in on limitless supplementals that they knew Congress would approve "because we're in a war and you can't not support the troops." Gordon England for one, as I mentioned.

For the better part of six years or so, there was zero fiscal responsibility at DoD. Not only was money wasted on bad programs, like I mentioned, but as Republicans took over Congress and demanded spending cuts, the Pentagon came to be hoisted on its own OCO petard. Boo hoo, we made bad decisions to use slush funds and now you can't hold that against us.


Quote:
I suspect you cherry picked FY19 as the first increase to DoD spending in close to a decade (since FY10 actually).
I picked 2019 because that's the year we are actually in, and you were comparing FY10 to what implied to be now. It doesn't count as cherry-picking if you compare the past to today. What, would you prefer comparisons of one point in the past to another point in the past to draw conclusions about today? That's the definition of cherry picking.

[/quote]No matter how you slice it, DoD had a significant reduction in funding since FY10 that contributed to a decline in DoD's readiness.[/QUOTE]I'm saying there wasn't a rapid decline in readiness during those years. I'm saying that when the cuts started coming, DoD chose to prioritize investments and endstrength over readiness. And now that the budgets are all about readiness, everything is described as readiness. "Sure, buying an F-35 isn't about training... but its FUTURE readiness!!" What nonsense.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:14 PM
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No matter how you slice it, DoD had a significant reduction in funding since FY10 that contributed to a decline in DoD's readiness.
Oh, and by the way, during all this period of decline, I can show you documents that the Services portrayed themselves as adequately funding readiness. Most famously, the Navy said for years that it funded 100% of ship depot maintenance, only to have hundreds of millions of dollars of shortfalls discovered every year, in the middle of the year.

Strange how that happens, year after year, whether the budget is going up or going down....
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:43 AM
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The Pentagon created this pressure, which is a fact. The base budget was receiving increases of several percentage points per year above inflation, and plowing that into mismanaged acquisition programs -- FCS, TSAT, DDG-1000. Meanwhile, to afford these boondoggles, the DoD decided to start an irresponsible fiscal strategy of offloading as much of the regular cost of doing business -- from depot maintenance to procurement -- to OCO as much as the market would bear.

Yes, Congress approved these measures. That doesn't mean it wasn't a scam.

Then when the gravy train of OCO ended, the Pentagon is basically like the alcoholic who claims, "But you can't cut me off! You've been giving me all these free money for years, and yeah I've been using it irresponsibly... but this time I'll be good!" And sequestration hits, then blammo -- DoD for several years was laying in the bed that it made and got others to sign off on.
You seem to have major issues with OCO.

As you may (or may not know) the DoD budget isn't funded for contingencies or war. The baseline budget is sufficient for baseline, peace time activities. When you fly aircraft for two or three times the hours you anticipated flying in peacetime, steaming ships twice as many days as you had planned in peacetime, and expended munitions you hadn't planned for in peace time, that costs money that isn't in the base. So you request OCO. OCO isn't "free" money. It money to pay for all of that additional flying, steaming and fighting you're doing, and the increased maintenance required. I don't get why you think DoD can do all of that for nothing.

Are there judgement calls in there? Yep. If you fly that plane three times more than you had planned, is the next maintenance period base or OCO? Is it split? What is the percentage? Same issues with ships, tanks, bombers and the like. Did the Pentagon lean to the side of OCO? Yes. So did the President (Obama in this case) DoD and the Hill. Ratcheting that back isn't easy, and I'll agree that the Pentagon could be accused of dragging their feet.

But as I pointed out, at the same time DoD was told to clear this up, sequestration hit. At the very time that DoD was told to live with less OCO, their base budget was slashed. That is a very difficult environment to ask any department to cut budgets at a time when they are being cut already. What logic you're using to blame sequestration on DoD in the name of "mismanagement" is truly and completely beyond me, and makes me think you don't understand what happened.

Congress couldn't come to an agreement on the debt ceiling and the 2011 Budget Control Act took effect. Automatic spending cuts hit discretionary portions of the budget, and DoD bore the brunt of that. Total DoD spending (base and OCO) from FY10 to FY19 went from $691B, $687, $645, $578, $581, $560, $580, $606, $612 to $686. That's 6 straight years of declining of flat budgets. If you take away the OCO that you think is “free,” the baseline budget of $528B in FY10 was flat or decreased for six straight years and didn’t return to FY10 levels until FY19. That is a major chuck of money.

Keep in mind that in those eight years of decreased budgets, there were military pay raises each year, fuel costs increased, procurement increased, the cost of parts increased. Cost are going up and out of DoD’s hands, budgets are decreasing for a decade, and you blame “mismanagement?” Tell me any business that could live with that and thrive? Could your household live with a reduction of income for 9 years and live the same way? That had nothing to do with DoD "mismanagement" but was the result of the 2011 BCA and Congress.

Six years of declining or flat budgets with the military flying, steaming and running the crap out of equipment and people left a lot of broken equipment out there, and a lot of decreased readiness. While the Service chief's always defend the budgets to Congress, they made it clear that there was a decline in readiness and have noted that for years.

Last edited by spifflog; 06-19-2019 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 06-19-2019, 08:15 AM
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So you request OCO. OCO isn't "free" money. It money to pay for all of that additional flying, steaming and fighting you're doing, and the increased maintenance required. I don't get why you think DoD can do all of that for nothing.
First of all, I can guarantee you that I know more about OCO than you, so you don't have to explain it to me. And OCO money is free in one key sense: it is uncapped and unrestrained by any budget deals, whether the Budget Control Act post-2011, or by the various budgets and deeming resolutions pre-2011. While budget negotiations in either time period would call for trade-offs between defense, domestic spending, and the deficit, there is never any mechanism to address those trade-offs for OCO.

In fact, if you go back and look at the detailed history of how base vs. OCO budgets were requested versus enacted, you'll see that base budgets have been tinkered with over the last 18 years, sometimes a little up, sometimes a little down. OCO budgets only either stay the same or go up between request or enactment. That is a pretty good definition of free money.

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Are there judgement calls in there? Yep. If you fly that plane three times more than you had planned, is the next maintenance period base or OCO? Is it split? What is the percentage? Same issues with ships, tanks, bombers and the like. Did the Pentagon lean to the side of OCO? Yes. So did the President (Obama in this case) DoD and the Hill. Ratcheting that back isn't easy, and I'll agree that the Pentagon could be accused of dragging their feet.
The Pentagon hasn't "dragged its feet," it created the problem and is now reaping what it has sown. And in reality, the cost of maintenance bills like you're talking about is the least of anyone's problem.

The main problem is that the DoD built in all the base entertainment costs in CENTCOM to the OCO budget, not to mention substantial SOCOM funding, for purposes that you may know as "enduring OCO." For those not familiar, these are costs of the military that will continue even if every single troop is pulled from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat zones. While maintenance of ships and planes in these tweener cases you're talking about are a couple billion a year, the cost of enduring OCO has finally been revealed this year: $41.3 billion in 2020.

To put that in perspective, the cost of actually carrying out the wars -- including all the maintenance you're talking about, plus pay, equipment, fuel, etc -- is only $25.4 billion.

So to say it another way, the real war budget should be $25 billion or less, but DoD set up it's budget requests long ago so that off-budget OCO dollars are closer to $70 billion, even though nearly 2/3rds of those costs are things that the military can't get along without, and thus belong in the base budget.

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What logic you're using to blame sequestration on DoD in the name of "mismanagement" is truly and completely beyond me, and makes me think you don't understand what happened.
Whether sequestration hit or not, the fundamental dishonesty of the practice for budgeting for OCO meant that DoD was going to suffer as troop levels came down. As I said, OSD is reaping what it has sown.

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Total DoD spending (base and OCO) from FY10 to FY19 went from $691B, $687, $645, $578, $581, $560, $580, $606, $612 to $686. That's 6 straight years of declining of flat budgets. If you take away the OCO that you think is “free,” the baseline budget of $528B in FY10 was flat or decreased for six straight years and didn’t return to FY10 levels until FY19.
OCO was never supposed to be about maintaining readiness for baseline operations until OSD perverted it to that practice in order to pay for boondoggles like FCS, TSAT, CG(X), VH-71, Comanche, Crusader, and other junk that larded up the base budget for years. Again, true readiness costs were offloaded into OCO over many years in order to prioritize bad investments in the base.

And again, I'm not saying that readiness was not degraded post-2011 or so. The readiness debacle was the combination of a few things, at the top of the list I put both DoD's fundamental dishonesty in budgeting for the decade prior (for which the chickens came home to roost), and also the Tea Party prioritization of deficits over rational spending levels that they sought to use to cudgel Obama's deficits in the wake of the meltdown.

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While the Service chief's always defend the budgets to Congress, they made it clear that there was a decline in readiness and have noted that for years.
Look, the service secretaries and chiefs prioritized their modernization initiatives over readiness in the years leading up to the BCA, and to varying degrees continued to prioritize them during the bathtub of base budgets. At no point has has service secretary or chief made a real, substantive effort to rationalize the OCO gimmicks they have benefited from. Yeah, it's been a lot of talk -- but go ask the Army how important the European Deterrence Initiative is, and then remind them that for the Army it's something like $5 billion a year to rotate troops through Europe and pay for various FSRM that has nothing to do with any actual war going on, yet it remains an OCO funded item. Total gimmick.

Last edited by Ravenman; 06-19-2019 at 08:16 AM.
  #24  
Old 06-19-2019, 12:53 PM
spifflog is offline
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First of all, I can guarantee you that I know more about OCO than you, so you don't have to explain it to me.
I'm not going to embark on a measuring exercise, but I bet you don't.

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
. . . And again, I'm not saying that readiness was not degraded post-2011 or so. . .
I'm happy to see that you'll at least acknowledge that readiness has been degraded post 2011, and that degradation was caused by the BCA, not by DoD. Not sure why you won't really acknowledge that DoD was taking annual reductions. And you still have an issue for OCO, but as mentioned, that was supported by DoD, Congress and the White House, so I'm not sure why you focus on only one of those players.

Fact we can all agree on: DoD had 9 straight years of reduced budgets from FY10 and that was not caused by DoD and did result in a loss of readiness.

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Look, the service secretaries and chiefs prioritized their modernization initiatives over readiness in the years leading up to the BCA, and to varying degrees continued to prioritize them during the bathtub of base budgets. At no point has has service secretary or chief made a real, substantive effort to rationalize the OCO gimmicks they have benefited from.
You seem to be hopping from one thing to another here.

First, this is complicated. You can't say "the Service Secretaries and Chiefs" as though they are one entity. Army priorities are very different from those of DoN and the Air Force.

The Army had significant modernization issues that the other Services didnít. So the Army was focused on modernization much earlier than DoN and the Air Force did. Navy by far has the biggest maintenance issues among the Services. This makes sense of course because they have the both the most expensive equipment and no one has more technologically advanced equipment. Ship depot maintenance has been a significant issue, that is very difficult fix, even under the best circumstances.

You fault the Services for ďprioritiz[ing] their modernization initiatives over readinessĒ but the Services are constantly balancing manpower, operations and maintenance, procurement and RDT&E. Itís an ongoing discussion and effort. You canít stop one and go all into the others. You just canít stop procurement and fund all else. So when money was decreasing, as it was for years, DoD cut down on procurement as much as possible, paid the skyrocketing manpower bills that they had to, and maintained what they could, as best as they could. What would you have had them do? Not upgrade or purchase anything?

Adding pressure to this mix, in favor of procurement and RDT&E is the realization that fighting terrorism may have been distracting the US from the great power competition that China has been engaged and that the US had been ignoring. That further necessitated the Army especially to shift focus more to procurement and RDT&E.

Your OCO comment seems out of place in this discussion. But, got it, you think DoD used OCO when their base budgets were slashed and they shouldnít have. If youíre going to blame the tea party for this (!!) at least take Congress and Obama to task on this as well.

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Yeah, it's been a lot of talk -- but go ask the Army how important the European Deterrence Initiative is, and then remind them that for the Army it's something like $5 billion a year to rotate troops through Europe and pay for various FSRM that has nothing to do with any actual war going on, yet it remains an OCO funded item. Total gimmick.
EDI isnít a program of record. You think it should be and put in the base. Iíd argue itís new and not developed yet and should stay in OCO. OK. But itís not hidden in OCO, itís not buried there. If Congress wants it moved, move it.

And FSRM was funded at $830M out of $16.5B since 2015. That $830Mís your biggest bitch on EDI?
  #25  
Old 06-19-2019, 01:30 PM
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I'm not going to embark on a measuring exercise, but I bet you don't.
If you assert that you do, I likely know you, or you likely know me, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

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I'm happy to see that you'll at least acknowledge that readiness has been degraded post 2011, and that degradation was caused by the BCA, not by DoD.
Funny how I say something, and you feel compelled to repeat and change what I say. Do you think you're in a good position to improve on my own thoughts?

Quote:
And you still have an issue for OCO, but as mentioned, that was supported by DoD, Congress and the White House, so I'm not sure why you focus on only one of those players.
Because DoD budgets, as proposed to OMB and Congress, are generally 90+ percent untouched. And because again, DepSecDef England expressly authorized the "cram everything into OCO policy" that has backfired.

Quote:
What would you have had them do? Not upgrade or purchase anything?
I don't expect anyone to have a crystal ball, but I do expect that people and organizations be accountable for their decisions. The Services clearly made readiness a backseat priority, but then complaining that something they de-prioritized isn't being adequately funded is not exactly the level of accountability that I expect. ETA: and I think it's a travesty what has happened to milcon. Talk about an account that takes it in the shorts, even though RDT&E spending is at a historic high, even when inflation is accounted for.

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Ship depot maintenance has been a significant issue, that is very difficult fix, even under the best circumstances.
When the Navy runs shortfalls of hundreds of millions of dollars for years upon years upon years in a row, and still asserts that each new budget fully funds the executable level of ship depot maintenance, that's not a difficult problem. It's a simple one. The Navy is carrying out its traditional role in the three Ds.

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EDI isn’t a program of record. You think it should be and put in the base. I’d argue it’s new and not developed yet and should stay in OCO. OK. But it’s not hidden in OCO, it’s not buried there. If Congress wants it moved, move it.
Oh, it's not a POR. Well, that explains everything! Talk about a bureaucratic non-response: someone hasn't signed a slip of paper blessing something... so we will just call rotational deployments to a place where nobody gets combat pay a war-related expense. What a blessing of the bureaucracy, where lack of approvals from the necessary officials constitutes a re-defintion of reality. And the SASC did try to move it to base, which they should be commended for, and others should have followed suit.

And I understand that there was a look at moving it to base, which incidentally the Poles gave me an earful about because they thought it meant that it was all on the chopping block; but that didn't make it in the 2020 submit. The fantasy continues.

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And FSRM was funded at $830M out of $16.5B since 2015. That $830M’s your biggest bitch on EDI?
What are you talking about?

Last edited by Ravenman; 06-19-2019 at 01:33 PM.
  #26  
Old 06-20-2019, 08:53 AM
spifflog is offline
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What are you talking about?
You complained about how EDI was a big issue, and vented about FSRM:

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Fi Yeah, it's been a lot of talk -- but go ask the Army how important the European Deterrence Initiative is, and then remind them that for the Army it's something like $5 billion a year to rotate troops through Europe and pay for various FSRM that has nothing to do with any actual war going on, yet it remains an OCO funded item. Total gimmick.
I wondered why that $800M out of a $16B account bothered you so much. I guess you don't know why.

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
The Services clearly made readiness a backseat priority, but then complaining that something they de-prioritized isn't being adequately funded is not exactly the level of accountability that I expect.
I don't know why you canít understand that when a budget had been reduced or flat for nine years and inflation further eats away at what is left that readiness is going to take a hit. That shouldn't be hard to fathom. You can't just stop building ships for nine years, put all that into readiness and then just start up again. You canít stop paying the military or not give them a pay raise - Congress will force you. This isn't graduate school DoD or federal programming or budgeting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
. . and I think it's a travesty what has happened to milcon. Talk about an account that takes it in the shorts, even though RDT&E spending is at a historic high, even when inflation is accounted for.
MilCon isn't even in the Defense bill. You knew that right?

Maybe we'll measure after all.
  #27  
Old 06-20-2019, 09:14 AM
Ravenman is offline
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Originally Posted by spifflog View Post
You complained about how EDI was a big issue, and vented about FSRM:
I said EDI was primarily composed of rotational forces and some facility upgrades. I didn't say it was a travesty. Again, you seem to have a habit of putting things in my mouth.

Quote:
I don't know why you canít understand that when a budget had been reduced or flat for nine years and inflation further eats away at what is left that readiness is going to take a hit.
Where exactly have I denied a readiness impact? Oh yeah -- I haven't. I've attributed DoD's budget dishonesty to making the problem worse.


Quote:
MilCon isn't even in the Defense bill. You knew that right?

Maybe we'll measure after all.
I'm embarrassed for you, because every number you have used in this thread has included milcon. Now you say that milcon doesn't count as part of the defense budget?

Let me call DAU; I'll reserve a slot for the GS-15 who mixes up apples and oranges and needs to be set straight.
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