Posts Tagged ‘Defense spending’

If you want to balance the budget…

July 8, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2011 (which ends Sept. 30) was the highest, in inflation-adjusted terms, that it has been in any year since World War Two, according to the non-partisan Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the total national defense budget request for FY 2011 is at the highest level since World War II.  Even if only the base defense budget is considered, the FY 2011 budget request exceeds the previous peak in defense spending in FY 1985 of $538 billion (in FY 2011 dollars).  …

The president’s budget projects that the deficit will rise to a record level of $1.6 trillion in FY 2010.  In an attempt to address the deficit, the FY 2011 budget request proposes a freeze in non-security discretionary spending, which excludes defense, homeland security, veterans, and other security-related programs.  The proposed freeze applies to less than one sixth of the total federal budget and saves $15 billion, compared to a $45 billion increase in security-related spending.

Click on Analysis of the FY 2011 Defense Budget for the CSBA summary for FY 2011.

Click on Analysis of the FY 2011 Defense Budget PDF for CSBA details for FY 2011.

The base defense budget is projected to rise another 3.6 percent for Fiscal Year 2012, from $526 billion to $553 billion, the CSBA reporter.  But that’s less than the $566 billion the Obama administration originally estimated it would need for 2012.

And spending for Overseas Contingency Operations, mainly the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, are projected to decline from $159 billion to $118 billion, resulting in a decline of total spending.

However, all this was written by analyst Todd Harrison for the CSBA back in February, before President Obama decided to jump into war in Libya, so the current estimate may be different.

Click on FY 2012 Defense Budget Represents a Turning Point for the CSBA summary for FY 2012.

Click on FY 2012 Defense Budget Represents a Turning Point PDF for CSBA details for FY 2012.

Where the military budget can be cut

March 23, 2011

John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, in collaboration with a staff members of a design firm named Fogelson-Lubliner, wrote the following in the New York Times about how to cut the Department of Defense budget.

As our government teeters on the brink of a shutdown, and Congress and the president haggle over spending cuts, the Pentagon budget should be scoured for places where significant reductions may be made. Not the handful of trims alluded to by Defense Secretary Robert Gates — $78 billion over the next five years, with these savings simply used to shore up spending on other acquisitions — but major cuts to systems that don’t work very well or that are not really going to be needed for decades to come.

Unworkable or unnecessary systems tend to have something in common: their costs are often uncontrollable. A 2009 Government Accountability Office study of 96 major defense acquisition programs found that almost two-thirds of them suffered major cost overruns — 40 percent above contract prices, over all — with average delays of nearly two years. Those overruns totaled close to $300 billion, about the amount of President Bill Clinton’s last full defense budget request a decade ago.

Listed below is just a sampling of what systems could be ended without endangering America; indeed, abandoning some of them might actually enhance national security. These cuts would generate only small savings initially — perhaps just several billion this fiscal year, as contracts would have to be wound down. But savings would swiftly rise to more than $50 billion annually thereafter.

And there’s plenty more where these came from.


Double click to enlarge

Augustine’s Laws

March 20, 2011

Norman Augustine

Norman Augustine was an aerospace businessman who served as Undersecretary of the Army from 1975 to 1977, and was CEO of Martin Marietta Corp. from 1987 to 1995 and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp. from 1995 to 1997.   He wrote the satirical Augustine’s Laws, with pseudo-technical commentary and charts, in 1983.

Augustine’s 1st law.  The best way to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is to start with a silk sow.

Augustine’s  2nd law.  If today were half as good as tomorrow is supposed to be, it probably would be twice as good as yesterday was.

Augustine’s 3rd law.  There are no lazy veteran lion hunters.

Augustine’s 12th law.  It costs a lot to build bad products.

Augustine’s 13th law.  There are many highly successful businesses in the United States.  There are many highly-paid executives.  The policy is not to intermingle the two.

Augustine’s 15th law.  The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Augustine’s 16th lawDefense budgets grow linearly but the cost of military aircraft grows exponentially.

Corollary: By 2054, the entire U.S. defense budget will purchase one aircraft.  It will be shared by the Air Force and the Navy 3 1/2 days each week, except in leap years, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.


Military spending and Eisenhower’s warning

November 18, 2010

General Eisenhower with the 101st Airborne on the evening prior to D-Day

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?”

–Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953.

via Harper’s Magazine.  [Hat tip to Don Montana]

President Eisenhower, along with many conservative Republican businessmen of his era, feared that U.S. military spending would spiral out of control and that the United States would become a garrison state.  As a former five-star general himself, he was not in awe of the Pentagon, and actually succeeded in getting the military budget under control. As he left office, he commented, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.”

The following chart shows the ups and downs of the U.S. military spending before and after Eisenhower.