SecDef Gates announced today that he is going to take an axe to his own budget.
Not that the Defense budget is going to be CUT, exactly. Next year's budget request (FY13), estimated at about $530 billion, is still (adjusted for inflation) the largest since 1945. It will still be more than the combined military expenditures of every single nation on Earth. It will still - regardless of the global strategic situation or the geopolitical aims and interests of the United States - be divided within a percentage point of 33% into equal thirds for each of the three major services.
But Gates' proposal reduces the DoD growth to 3% this year and to inflation level (about 1-2%) for FY14 and FY15. He proposes to reduce the flag officer billets by roughly 100, and senior DoD civilian positions by as many as 200.
Included on the chopping block are the Marine's EFV, the Army's FCS (pretty much already dead at this point, but this is the official death certificate), and delays for the USAF's F-35 JSF. Several other programs are also scheduled to be taken out behind the Pentagon and given two in the back of the head.
What I will be intrigued to watch now is the reaction from Congress.
Not so much the Republicans, the (insert hysterical laughter here) "Daddy Party", the "Party of Fiscal Responsibility". Smaller government interests the GOP only if the government that is getting smaller gives money to brown people instead of kills them. No, the GOP will go batshit, because...well, because the GOP is batshit. Where military spending is concerned they are like a fourteen-year-old huffing glue and playing "Gears of War" nonstop for two days; they have not a lick of sense in them. Whatever useless knick-knack some overage-in-grade bull colonel says he wants they will want to give him, regardless of whatever dry-humping they have doing to their fiscal responsibility girlfriend in the meantime. We all know that regardless of what they say, they just want the feeling of that sweet, sweet, drone controller in their hands, a Paki Talib in their sights, and their heads ringing with the heady combination of Testor's and 4-Loko.
No, it's the Democrats I'll be watching. Here's their opportunity to make a principled stand, to act like statesmen instead of your tweaker uncle who shows up near the end of the month to mooch a couple of twenties and a half-rack of Natty Light off you to hold him over until the eagle shits. There will be quite a few of these guys, mostly in the House (which is the New Home of Batshit Crazy anyway), whose districts are going to take an economic hiding when they lose some of these defense contracts.
Supposedly Dwight Eisenhower chose to avoid the term "military-industrial-congressional complex" during his famous 1961 address to make nicety with the boys on Capitol Hill. It's too bad; in my experience among the worst offenders in the U.S. in terms of making poor choices about spending tax money on war toys are the ones lolling about the Congress, and that comes from someone who had the M792 GAMA Goat on his DA 348.
I'd like to get my hands on the sonofabitch who got that piece of used food through the acquisitions process...
So it will be interesting to see what happens now. Will this signal some real changes in the way the Pentagon does business? Or is this just another serving of cherry jello at the Five-Sided Funny Farm?