Hardware Über Alles in the Spendagon
For a good example of the Military-Industrial-
Note his opening paragraph:
Here’s a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.
And here is Kristof’s penultimate paragraph:
We refurbish tanks after time in combat, but don’t much help men and women exorcise the demons of war. Presidents commit troops to distant battlefields, but don’t commit enough dollars to veterans’ services afterward. We enlist soldiers to protect us, but when they come home we don’t protect them.
In between, Kristof supports these statements with horrific detail.
Kristof’s op-ed is symptomatic of a deeper problem — one that evolved in the MICC’s cultural DNA during the give and take of budget battles fought over 40 years of Cold War and the subsequent 20 years of warmongering since 1991. This DNA shapes the MICCs behaviour, as I explained in The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War, in Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs (January-February 2011).
The proper order of priority in any military force should always be People – Ideas – Hardware, in that order — the opposite of that implied in Kristof’s penultimate paragraph
But you won’t won’t see P-I-H value system reflected in the actual decisions made in the Pentagon, the defense companies, or on Capitol Hill, or the mass of the juiciest stories in the defense media (like Aviation Week, Armed Forces Journal, Inside The Pentagon, etc. (or much of the mainstream media, to boot). By far, most of the energy, money, words, and time is spent debating the merits of the individual weapon systems, like the problem plagued, $500 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
During my 33 years in Department of Defense, this warping of values became steadily worse over time, notwithstanding the empty flag-waving rhetoric of supporting our troops. At the same time the nation has become ever more dependent on an the higher personnel costs needed to support an all volunteer force — a standing permanent military, something the Framers of the Constitution would have abhorred.
The growing costs of the all-volunteer force eat into the budget and displace money needed for new weapons. So, there is constant pressure to reduce the size of the force and training tempos, and reallocate the money to higher priority items, like the ever-more-expensive Joint Strike Fighter.
In the 1997 and 1998, the insensitivity of these priorities became transparently obvious. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, in one of stupidest faux pas I have ever witnessed — and I have seen many — approved a poster celebrating Armed Forces Day that inadvertently became a metaphor for the MICC’s deeply entrenched, perverted value system.
What is missing?
Phi Beta Iota: 4% of the force takes 80% of the casualties (and commits over 90% of the suicides) while receiving no more than 1% of the Pentagon budget. The lack of intelligence and integrity from the President down to the Service Chiefs is so deeply distrubing oce can only wonder what depraved depths they have sunk to be immune from the consequences of their decisions favoring corporate profits over stewardship of the personnel entrusted to their care by a grateful trusting nation now realizing that Washington is not in friendly hands.