Obama Imitates Clinton with Major Defense Budget Cuts
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
Mirroring President Bill Clinton’s reduction in defense spending that some critics claim led to the terrorist attacks against the US and its interests, President Barack Obama is planning his own set of defense cuts with the blessings of his Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At the same time, government officials are considering a policy reversal that will allow Iran to carry out uranium enrichment to produce nuclear fuel only, not weapons-grade material, according to a report in Londonâ€™s Financial Times.
Such a concession, being considered as part of a policy review by President Barack Obama, would be a 180 degree turn from the Bush administrationâ€™s hard-line policy of forbidding uranium enrichment, said Dave Eberhart in Monday’s NewsMax.com.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Gates laid out President Barack Obama’s 2010 military budget during a Pentagon press conference for the Washington press corp and teleconference for Internet journalists and bloggers.
To start, Gates plans to significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems program. “We will retain and accelerate the initial increment of the program to spin out technology enhancements to all combat brigades,” he said.
But he said there are still questions about the program’s vehicle design strategy. “I am also concerned that, despite some adjustments, the FCS vehicles — where lower weight, higher-fuel efficiency and greater informational awareness are expected to compensate for less armor — do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
The current vehicle program, developed in fiscal 2000, does not include the recent $25 billion investment in the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that have saved so many lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gates also noted problems with the current fee structure, which he said gives the government little leverage to promote cost efficiency.
“Because the vehicle part of the FCS program is currently estimated to cost over $87 billion, I believe we must have more confidence in the program strategy, requirements and maturity of the technologies before proceeding further,” he said.
“Accordingly, I will recommend that we cancel the vehicle component of the current FCS program, re-evaluate the requirements, technology and approach — and then re-launch the Army’s vehicle modernization program, including a competitive bidding process.”
The Army needs a vehicle modernization program to meet the needs of the full spectrum of conflict. “But because of its size and importance, we must get the acquisition right, even at the cost of delay,” the secretary said.
The secretary recommended halting the F-22 Raptor procurement at 187, and investing instead in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The secretary also would like to terminate the Air Force Combat Search and Rescue X helicopter program. The program has a troubled acquisition history and raises the question of whether this important mission can only be accomplished by yet another single-service solution with single-purpose aircraft.
“We will take a fresh look at the requirement behind this program and develop a more sustainable approach,” he said.
Gates said he is recommending an end to the $26 billion transformational satellite program, and instead would like to purchase two more advanced, extremely high frequency satellites as alternatives.
Turning to missile defense, he recommended restructuring the program to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat, meaning the United States will not increase the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska.
“But we will continue to robustly fund continued research and development to improve the capability we already have to defend against long-range rogue missile threats — a threat North Korea’s missile launch this past weekend reminds us is real,” he said.
The secretary said he would like to cancel the second airborne laser prototype aircraft, and shift the existing aircraft and program to a research and development effort. Under his recommendation, the multiple kill vehicle program also would end “because of its significant technical challenges and the need to take a fresh look at the requirement,” he said.
Overall funding at the Missile Defense Agency would drop by $1.4 billion.
The recommendation also calls for the purchase of two destroyers in fiscal 2010. “These plans depend on being able to work out contracts to allow the Navy to efficiently build all three DDG-1000 class ships at Bath Iron Works in Maine and to smoothly restart the DDG-51 Aegis destroyer program at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi,” Gates said.
The secretary also will delay or re-evaluate the next generation cruiser, amphibious landing and sea-basing programs.
Acquisition workforce changes also are imperative for the process to get on the right track.
“Under this budget request, we will reduce the number of support service contractors from our current 39 percent of the workforce to the pre-2001 level of 26 percent and replace them with full-time government employees,” he said.
“I know that in the coming weeks we will hear a great deal about threats, and risk and danger to our country and to our men and women in uniform associated with different budget choices,” Gate said.
“Some will say I am too focused on the wars we are in and not enough on future threats,” he continued. “The allocation of dollars in this budget definitely belies that claim.
However, part of the budget cutbacks include reducing the number of Army divisions, reduction in the number of warships and other reductions.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he fully supports Gates’ proposed $8 billion dollar cuts.
“None of them was easy to make; all of them are vital to the future,” Navy Admiral Mike Mullen said in a written statement.
Critics believe Obama is mimicking Clinton’s well-known dislike for the military that led to his intentional neglect of his primary responsibility: the protection of the American people. During the Clinton Administration, in less than three years, deployments for humanitarian missions increased while manpower decreased from 2.1 million to 1.6 million.
The decrease in armed forces was called “reinvention” of government. While telling Americans that Clinton was making deep cuts in the federal bureaucracy, the media failed to inform Americans exactly what part of that “bureaucracy” was being cut. It was the military who suffered the cuts in order to make Clinton a hero.
Of the 305,000 employees removed from the federal payroll, 286,000 (or 90%) were military cuts. The statistics for America’s defense during the Clinton years reveal the true feelings of the administration toward those who served in the military. The Army was cut from 18 divisions to 12. The Navy was reduced from 546 ships to 380. Air Force flight squadrons were cut from 76 to a mere 50. There were reductions in tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, special forces units, etc.
Obama and his Administration — filled with retreads from President Clinton’s Administration — believes in allowing the United Nations and the European Union to dictate US defense policy and strategy. His faith in these two entities will result less protection for Americans.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.