Defensive Capabilities

It seems to me…

Considering the seriousness of the current budget negotiations in Congress and their importance to the future of our country, too many politicians refuse to acknowledge that changes are required in ALL areas of our budget.  While there appears to be general consensus that in addition to reductions in smaller programs, similar changes are necessary to the budget behemoths of entitlements and defense, very few realistic proposals are receiving appropriate consideration.

There is an unreasonable insanity by conservative extremists in refusing to rescind the tax reductions of wealthy Americans instituted by the previous administration (and continued by the current one).  We need to increase revenue and discontinue unnecessary subsidies and tax breaks to agriculture, mining, and petroleum companies.  Our tax code must be simplified and made more equitable but a slight tax increase along with program reductions will be required to achieve not only balancing our budget but to reduce the national debt.

The largest bloated sacred cow in these deliberations is defense.  Every politician is afraid of being considered soft on national defense if any current or future program is even questioned.  If a program contracted within any congressman’s district is questioned, they immediately claim it is vital to national security even if the Pentagon or Secretary of Defense has publicly stated it is neither necessary nor even wanted.

Much of our military is still oriented to fighting the large land battles of the past rather than the wars of attrition against a foe that does not have an army, hasn’t any navy, and doesn’t have a single plane.  Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the need for change.  Some of our most expensive military capabilities are rapidly becoming relics hindering rather than helping us defensively.

The truth is aircraft carriers, while prestigious, are behemoth artifacts leftover from the Second World War.  China, as well as most other possible antagonists, has developed anti-ship missile capabilities making large targets such as carriers increasingly vulnerable.  Carriers were not utilized in the recent strikes against Libya; many of the air strikes even on Iraq were conducted from bases either in Europe or even directly from the U.S.  When the reduced cost of missiles and unmanned drones are considered, we could reduce our current 11 carrier strike groups to 8, not build any addition carriers following the Gerald R. Ford and the still unnamed carrier currently under construction, and improve out defensive capabilities by instead developing newer more versatile missile and drone support vessels.

We also need to reconsider off-shore balancing.  Troops stationed in Germany as a deterrent to a Soviet invasion across the Fulda Gap or in positioned in Japan to possibly respond to North Korean aggression no longer is justified.  Nations involved in the World War II not only have recovered but, in many cases, are financially and strategically more capable of providing their own defense.  Other nations must shoulder an increased responsibility for their own security rather than continuing to expect the U.S. to always be the world policeman.

Why do we need seventeen competing intelligence agencies when merging them would not only reduce costs but also improve information sharing?  Granted they have different mission responsibilities but interdepartmental separation would accommodate basic difference while increasing cooperation.  Each agency, including the military, justifies maintaining its own intelligence capability based on different mission responsibilities.  Maybe what we need to do is create an addition service branch similar to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard responsible for intelligence.

What kind and how extensive should our missile defense system be?  Is continued development even justified when the primary threats we face probably would be delivered in either a backpack or suitcase?  Rather than deploying this type of system, it seems that given the nature of today’s most probably threats continued research would be more appropriate than unnecessary deployment.

Funding reductions in current defense appropriations should not be strictly considered budget cuts as some funding should be used to increase research project levels and development of capabilities better suited to enable improved response to future combat expectations.  By so doing, we can achieve substantial budget reductions while improving our nation’s overall security capabilities.

That’s what I think, what about you?


About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
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