Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Defense Budget Proposal for FY15 Already Meeting Resistance from Obstructionist GOP in Congress

Will be taking some time off this summer from the blog to get ready to concentrate on elections this fall when the American people have a chance to oust a lot of Tea Party and hard right from the Congress, statewide offices, and legislatures across the Country.  Time to return the Country back to having office holders with common sense as you will there is none in the second article posted today out of two of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation.  First article is from the Secretary of Defense and talks about the budget of the Defense Department.  Finally a Secretary of Defense attempting to bring sanity to the Defense budget which is a rare happening.  From Jan 2001 - Jan 2009, the Defense Department under Bush-Cheney spent money on defense that was way beyond common sense.

Two fighters in production with numerous flaws were pushed by the GOP with the  F-35 put into production before flight testing was complete and has cost mega bucks to fix the fleet when they find the problems during flight test.  It was abject stupidity.  Then there was Sen McCain's hold put on getting a new Tanker fleet for almost ten years when the planes should have been replaced years ago. Finally last year Boeing was given a contract for new production of new Tankers which was much more costly than if they had been replaced years ago.  The old tankers have been an accident waiting to happen but thanks to Tinker Depot Maintenance, they have been kept flying accident free.  McCain wanted a smaller tanker at one time which would never work to refuel the wide bodied planes.

Then there was AWACS which had not had a major upgrade in years and had actually fallen behind the European AWACS who had the upgrades.  The amount of money Bush-Cheney and the GOP spent on new weapons systems should be a crime.  The F-16 didn't need replaced by a plane that is not as maneuverable and with a stealth coating that will increase maintenance cost.  Finally someone after Pres Obama was elected decided the F-16 was the best fighter we had and was going nowhere.  Congress after much pressure finally capped the number of F-22's at a much lower number than the GOP wanted to save money.

Today we have a Secretary of Defense with a budget which is the beginning of common sense from DoD, but chances of getting it passed through the Obstructionist Republican House are slim to none:

Hagel: Proposed Defense Budget Tailored to Meet Future Threats 
06/18/2014 11:31 AM CDT 
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service 
WASHINGTON, June 18, 2014 - After more than a decade of large, land-based operations driven by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proposed Defense Department budget for the coming fiscal year focuses on new and emerging threats, including those in cyberspace, with the department proposing significant reductions in the size of the Army and Marines, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate panel today. 
"After 13 years of long, large stability operations, we must shift our focus onto future requirements shaped by enduring and emerging threats," Hagel told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, largely recapitulating the main points contained in the proposed Pentagon budget first unveiled in February. 
"We must be able to defeat terrorist threats and cyberattacks and deter adversaries with increasingly modern weapons and technological capabilities," Hagel added. 
Even so, Hagel said, the department is taking a $75 billion hit in its budget this year and next, and he warned lawmakers "we cannot keep our current force structure adequately ready and modernized" under the strict budget limits being imposed on the department. And unless Congress changes the law to prevent another budget sequester, he added, another $50 billion will come out of the department's budget every year through 2021. 
This, he said, could occur at a time when America's and the world's and security are increasingly being challenged. 
"Recent crises in Iraq and Ukraine remind us how quickly things can change in the world and they underscore why we must assure the readiness, agility and capability of our military," the secretary told the senators. 
Even so, as outlined in the president's budget request sent to Congress earlier this year, Hagel said the department still proposes drawing down the active duty Army by 13 percent over the next five years to as low 440,000 soldiers, which he said he believes is still adequate to defend the nation and respond to future threats. 
The Marine Corps, he said, will continue its planned drawdown to 182,000 members while devoting an additional 900 Marines to stepping up security at U.S. embassies around the world.
The Navy will have 11 carrier strike groups, but 11 cruisers will be set aside for modernization and retrofitting, while the Air Force will see the 50-year-old U-2 surveillance plane replaced by the unmanned Global Hawk aircraft, as well as an end to the aging A-10 attack aircraft. 
Compensation for those in uniform is being adjusted, Hagel said, with the department slowing the growth in pay increases, while subsidies for off-base housing will be reduced as well. Co-pays for retirees and family members under the TRICARE health care plan will face modest increases, but health care for active duty personnel will remain free, the secretary told the panel, adding that the adjustments are tied to resourcing readiness. 
"Under our plan, 100 percent of the savings from compensation reform will go toward ensuring that our troops have the training and tools they need to accomplish their missions," he said. 
But Hagel warned that if Congress does not provide the department the money it needs, "it will jeopardize the readiness and capability of our armed forces and shortchange America's ability to effectively and decisively respond when global events demand it." 
Today's hearing comes midway through a congressional calendar that is not likely to see final action on a Pentagon budget for months. 
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneAFPS)
Last night while checking weather at The Oklahoman, I came across an article on AWACS and pretty much went ballistic because two members of the OK Congressional delegation Cong Tom Cole and Senator Jim Inhofe are opposed to the Air Force's plan to deactivate a Reserve Squadron of AWACS.  Right now seven of the AWACS are flown by the Reserve Squadron and those crews would go away to leave 20 active duty AWACS with active duty crews flying them.

When B-52's drew down, they had planes that they would put into rotation but drew down the number of crews and rotating planes without crews into the rotation which allowed for major overhaul of the B-52 fleet. When the Air Force went out with solicitations for upgrade proposal submittals, they included a larger number of planes then they were actively flying.   It sounds like what they are going to do with AWACS.  This would allow AWACS to rotate their planes into depot maintenance for major work and upgrades to lengthen the life of the plane.  Makes perfect sense but not to Cole and Inhofe who are worried Tinker will lose some people -- where were they when we lost units to Texas during the BRAC from Will Rogers or demanding that AWACS be upgraded years ago when European AWACS had more upgrades than US AWACS -- like crickets chirping.

From the Oklahoman on 17 June:
WASHINGTON — The White House came out strongly on Tuesday against the defense spending bill set to be considered by the full U.S. House this week and specifically cited a provision that would protect AWACS planes stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. 
A statement from the White House budget office says a section of the spending bill authored by Rep. Tom Cole "would prevent the Air Force from using funds to divest or to disestablish any units of the active or reserve component associated with E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft. 
"This provision would force the Air Force to take funding from higher priority defense needs in order to operate, sustain, and maintain aircraft that are not needed and are unaffordable in today's constrained fiscal environment." 
The Air Force had proposed cutting seven of the 27 AWACS planes at Tinker. And, under the proposal, a Reserve unit at Tinker would no longer be allowed to fly any of the remaining planes.
Cole, R-Moore, whose district includes Tinker, added a provision to the defense spending bill that would provide $34.6 million for AWACS operations and maintenance, $24.9 million for personnel and $31 million for parts and modifications. 
Cole is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and influential on the subcommittee for defense spending. 
U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, a former Navy pilot who has also fought the Air Force proposal, recently called AWACS “the only airborne asset capable of performing command and control and battle space management. ... If you take it out, we can’t fight, and we can’t win.” 
Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has added language to the Senate defense authorization bill to protect all of Tinker's AWACS. That bill is separate from the spending legislation that must follow. 
We don't need 27 AWACS with crews when our allies also fly AWACS -- we are not fighting two wars, we do not have a no fly zone like we did in Iraq and there is absolutely no need today for 27 with full crews as 20 AWACS will work just fine.  Are people going to believe politicians like Cole/Inhofe/Bridenstine or the people whose job it is to keep our Armed Forces armed and ready to protect this Country.  I just wanted to scream at the three that we don't fly the only AWACS in the world in case they missed that part.  It is always about politics with the Oklahoma Republican delegation not about what is best for America or the Department of Defense.

Same delegation that voted against Hurricane Sandy relief except for Cole and Lucas -- same delegation that voted against the veterans jobs bill and the list goes on but now they are in full attack mode to keep seven AWACS with Reservist and cost other programs in the Defense Department.  Forgot Cong Lucas from OK chaired the Ag Committee that cut food stamps including for active military while keeping subsidies for big farmers.

If only the people in this state would wake up to the millions left on the table by Republicans by turning down the ACA exchanges and defeating common core, not to mention loopholes and tax breaks for wealthy, big business and oil and gas, Oklahoma would be in better shape.  It is hard to figure out what these people support as they are so negative and selfish if it doesn't benefit them politically.

Wouldn't give you two cents for the whole delegation when I used to support some of them but they actually had common sense back then and were not part of the obstruction we are seeing out of the GOP in Congress today.

We were at Wright-Patterson AFB when the decision was made after studying various options to assign the new AWACS to Tinker AFB in the 70's as they had the room and ability to do the security upgrades required.  In the early 90's they were joined by the Navy E-6's from Hawaii as they share the same platform and made depot maintenance easier as the Navy was a little bit slow with maintenance of wide bodied aircraft (told to me by a former Commander of the E-6's).  After 9-11, we saw the European AWACS arrive here so our AWACS could be flying all the missions necessary for the US overseas.  That right there shows the cooperation with our allies in making sure we all stay safe.

My more than two cents.  I think Chuck Hagel is doing an outstanding job as Secretary of Defense against all odds with the obstruction by Republicans in the House and Senate who are more concerned about Benghazi then they are our active duty military and our veterans.

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