Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A VERY LONG EMERGENCY....The LA Times reports today that the Army is engaged in a sort of sit-down strike, refusing to submit a budget until it gets more money:

The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.

....According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army's budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker's request a 41% increase over current levels.

"It's incredibly huge," said the Army official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when commenting on internal deliberations. "These are just incredible numbers."

Army budgeting, like pretty much all federal budgeting, is an arcane science that one is well advised to approach carefully. To the extent that Schoomaker is just playing hardball because expensive new weapons systems have turned out to be more expensive than anticipated (surprise!), this is little more than an age-old wrestling match playing out between adversaries who are both well versed in bureaucratic warfare.

However, the bigger part of the problem is that the Bush administration, in its usual political approach to policy issues, has decided to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars almost entirely via emergency appropriations. This makes life easier for Bush, who gets to imply that these expenses are temporary without actually having to defend that belief, but the problem is that these wars also have a significant effect on day-to-day Army affairs. Unfortunately, the day-to-day Army isn't getting any money to deal with them.

This will be an interesting fight to watch. It might play out entirely in the shadows, but eventually I suspect it's going to have to become more public. It would be a good chance for Democrats to insist on a more realistic approach to defense budgeting in the age of terror.

Kevin Drum 12:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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The Pentagon has a well-known liberal bias.

Posted by: Wingnut on September 25, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

These cowards are gonna be in for a REAL surprise when we bomb them Iranians! Then the Army will have to pull itself up by its bootstraps and stop acting like a bunch of namby-pambys!

Posted by: Wingnut on September 25, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. Kevin Drum neglects to point out the REAL reason why the Clintonista Schoomaker wants so much money is so he can spend it on wasteful weapon systems that probably won't work.

Link

"However, a good portion of the new money the Army seeks is not directly tied to the war, Kosiak cautioned, but rather to new weapons it wants particularly the $200-billion Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that is eventually to replace nearly every tank and transporter the Army has."

""This isn't a problem one can totally pass off on current military operations," Kosiak said. "The FCS program is very ambitious some would say overly ambitious.""

All we have to do is to cut those useless weapon systems and we would have no budget problems at all.

Posted by: Al on September 25, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The Pentagon has a well-known liberal bias."

Well, the L.A. Times sure as hell does. From the article--

However, a good portion of the new money the Army seeks is not directly tied to the war, Kosiak cautioned, but rather to new weapons it wants particularly the $200-billion Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that is eventually to replace nearly every tank and transporter the Army has.

Odds are good this porkpile would be coming down the chute even if we had no troops at all in Iraq or Afghanistan. Remember the Crusader gun? Same old, same old.

Posted by: bobwire on September 25, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"...a good chance for Democrats to insist on a more realistic approach to defense budgeting in the age of terror..."

Wow. And I would expect pigs flying at about the same time.

Posted by: CR on September 25, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Al, we liberals have been opposing expensive, wasteful new weapons systems of questionable utility for decades now. Welcome to our side. :D

Posted by: RT on September 25, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

the Clintonista Schoomaker

You obviously mean the Clintonista Schoomaker whom Rumsfeld pulled out of retirement to make his Army Chief of Staff.

Posted by: Jadegold on September 25, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Al >"...All we have to do is to cut those useless weapon systems and we would have no budget problems at all."

Great idea, an army without weapons

*sheesh*

These Fascist apologists continue to amaze me w/their crass behavior & spew but I should be prepared for this I suppose

"As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." - Voltaire

Posted by: daCascadian on September 25, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Most useless weapons programs are actually protected by members of Congress who fear that eliminating them will cut jobs and pork spending back home.

Posted by: Red on September 25, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

"All we have to do is to cut those useless weapon systems"

Too bad Bush is too much of a wimp to stand up to his own generals. Truman wouldn't have done that.

Posted by: Speed on September 25, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I've been studying Mongolian cavalry tactics lately. I have decided that our military needs to use the small steppe ponies the Mongols practically lived on, got their milk from, slept with, made their clothes from, made composite bows out of their bone & sinew, etc.

Think of the cost savings! And remember how lightning fast the Mongols were! And how big their empire was! Why, it's brilliant! Why hasn't anyone else thought of it?

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on September 25, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

the bigger part of the problem is that the Bush administration, in its usual political approach to policy issues, has decided to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars almost entirely via emerency appropriations. This makes life easier for Bush, who gets to imply that these expenses are temporary without actually to defend that belief

No kidding. It's also concrete evidence of 1) how unserious Bush is (so as not to jeapordize his insistence on paying for the war with a tax cut), 2) how dishonest he is (pretending that the war's costs are truly unknown from year to year, as if there's no fixed cost at all for running an occupation) and 3) how cowardly he is (since he knows that the American people, confronted with the true cost in American treasure as well as American blood, would balk even more than they already have at his disastrous adventure).

That the Congress -- to say nothing of the so-called "liberal media" -- has let Bush get away with this charade for years is a disgrace to our system of checks and balances.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Think of the cost savings! And remember how lightning fast the Mongols were! And how big their empire was! Why, it's brilliant! Why hasn't anyone else thought of it?

If memory serves me right, the Poles did (resort to horse cavalry, that is) in 1939. Brilliant parody, that.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

There are some in the military and the Republican Party, who have come to the conclusion that the U.S. will have to withdraw from Iraq within a year or so, if any fighting capability is to be salvaged.

The political strategy for doing this will certainly not involve Bush standing manfully before the American People and saying, "Sorry, I made a terrible mistake, with costly consequences."

The more likely move -- and ones that Democrats should be thinking about hard -- is to let the Democrats "force" withdrawal thru the budget process. Assuming the Democrats take control of the House, this will become the favored strategy. And, Bush and the giant Republican Wurlitzer will blame the Democrats for losing Iraq.

So, let's not imagine that this bureaucratic in-fighting is simply some arcane bit of "inside baseball". No, this is early positioning in the policy/propaganda battle over whether the Republican Party will continue to rule in the long-run, despite their manifest and massive failures.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on September 25, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

in its usual political approach to policy issues,

That needs a rewrite: contention over policy IS politics.

Posted by: republicrat on September 25, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

from the link: Pressure on the Army budget has been growing since late May, when the House and Senate appropriations committees proposed defense spending for 2007 of $4 billion to $9 billion below the White House's original request.

from Kevin Drum: It would be a good chance for Democrats to insist on a more realistic approach to defense budgeting in the age of terror.

The Democrats could simply have demanded that Congress accede to the President's initial request. It would have demonstrated their seriousness on defense issues.

Posted by: republicrat on September 25, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

The more likely move -- and ones that Democrats should be thinking about hard -- is to let the Democrats "force" withdrawal thru the budget process. Assuming the Democrats take control of the House, this will become the favored strategy. And, Bush and the giant Republican Wurlitzer will blame the Democrats for losing Iraq.

And as with Vietnam, which was abandoned through exactly the same process, they'll be right.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 25, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I had the mission of begging, borrowing, bartering and stealing - we had to set up a MASH in Kuwait before the festivities began back in 90-91. We went in willing and able, and we did indeed get the job done, but we did that job by the skill of our wits. We did not have the materiel we needed, nor did we have the support of adequate supply lines. But by hook or by crook we did the mission. Failure was not an option.

Yes, armies need weapons. But the most pressing issue today is that of material support. Five years in Afghanistan and three and a half in Iraq have taken their toll on transport vehicles, armored troop carriers and supply vehicles. And don't get me started on the absurdity of fighting wars in jeeps - and that is what the hummer is - it is a small-j jeep, or a utility vehicle. Up-armor a humvee and it loses it's nimble agility, the only advantage the thing has. But that is another rant.

Never has this nation cut taxes in a time of war, and Speed is right - Truman wouldn't have stood for this. He would have put Hagel and Harkin in charge of a bipartisan commission like the one he headed up in WWII that struck fear in the hearts of war profiteers.

Wars cosst a hell of a lot of money to prosecute. They are not frivolous enterprises and they should not be ebtered into lightly. It is all fun and games for the neo-con chicken-hawks. It is quite serious for those who don the cloth.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Interestingly, on Air America last night, Sidney Blumenthal (book just out, article in Salon) said that one of the most UNREPORTED stories today is that both the military and the intelligence communities are at war with this War President. SB was referring in this regard to torture--particularly a military that knows if the US abrogates the Geneva Conventions then our own soldiers will be tortured with impunity.

This budgetary battle heaps more irony. About all Bush has to hold on to is the perception (figment?) that he is the indispensable tough guy Commander in Chief - yet the mutiny is unreported.

Posted by: geo on September 25, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, if we raised taxes the Democrats would be pumping it into military spending. Pull the other one.

Posted by: monkeybone on September 25, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Unbelievable. The trolls are so divorced from reality that they even launch character attacks on generals who are trying to hold the line while the Army disintegrates around them. Hey Al, Gen Shoomaker is one of the most highly decorated Special Operations soldiers in history. He was hired for the job by Rumsfeld. Is he a Clintonista just because he disagrees with you? Get some intellectual integrity, twerp.

Posted by: cunning linguist on September 25, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

This will be an interesting fight to watch. It might play out entirely in the shadows, but eventually I suspect it's going to have to become more public.

Rumsfeld will win, because despite being a failure as a leader, there is no nastier bureaucratic knife fighter. The more public this conflict becomes, the more likely a public humiliation for Schoomaker, ala Shinseki. Rumsfeld lives to win the organizational battles. The military ones, not so much.

Posted by: zeeeej on September 25, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats could simply have demanded that Congress accede to the President's initial request. It would have demonstrated their seriousness on defense issues.

Ah, so the Democrats, who are in the minority, should have "demanded" that the Republicans, who are in the majority, accede, to demonstrate their "seriousness" (with no explanation of how the minority can force the majority to do so).

But if the Repubiclans, who are supposedly so "serious," need to be forced by the unserious Democrats to pay attention, then how "serious" can the Republicans be after all?

Shorter republicrat: it's all the Democrats' fault for not making the Republicans act like respnsible public servants.

Even shorter republicrat: stop me before I kill again!

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, armies need weapons. But the most pressing issue today is that of material support. Five years in Afghanistan and three and a half in Iraq have taken their toll on transport vehicles, armored troop carriers and supply vehicles. And don't get me started on the absurdity of fighting wars in jeeps - and that is what the hummer is - it is a small-j jeep, or a utility vehicle. Up-armor a humvee and it loses it's nimble agility, the only advantage the thing has. But that is another rant.

As one of Josh Marshall's correspondents wrote today regarding our (in)ability to attack Iran,

Our support capacity is stretched to breaking. All the airlift (C5 and C17) is pretty well engaged in Iraq and Iran. Can't insert troops you cannot support. Critical hardware (up armored humvees, Strykers, etc) all in use. Hard to scrape up the hardware, even if you activated all the reserves, etc. Shades of WWII, where guys trained with broomsticks, because we did not have enough rifles. This country's logistics capacity is awesome, but it is not "poof" overnight . . .

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats could simply have demanded that Congress accede to the President's initial request. It would have demonstrated their seriousness on defense issues.

Oh, that's rich, "republicrat." Agreeing with Bush doesn't demonstrate seriousness -- quite the contrary, in fact, especially as regards defense.

But it looks like you do love you some rubber-stamp Congress. All the better for that monarchy you crave, eh?

Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

As one of Josh Marshall's correspondents wrote today regarding our (in)ability to attack Iran,

Sorry Stefan, but strictly speaking that demonstrates the inadvisability of attacking Iran, not the inability. So we have a half-assed crazy scenario for an air attack against Iran (possibly with nukes) and no way to cover any of the contingencies of this attack that might call for ground troops?

Do you really need to hear anything more? Pretty clearly we're going to be bombing Iran in the near future.

Posted by: cyntax on September 25, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

And why is my idea half-assed crazy? Don't need no stinking dirty boots.

Posted by: Lt Gen Don "Bomber Harris" Shepard on September 25, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

You obviously mean the Clintonista Schoomaker whom Rumsfeld pulled out of retirement to make his Army Chief of Staff.

Jadengold, good catch. More important is the reason why Rummy and Bush needed to rely on Schoonmaker.

You see, of all the other generals who might have taken that post, none wanted to cap off their career by being Rummys butt-boy. That is a mighty severe indictment. More so than Kevin's
original post.

Posted by: Keith G on September 25, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Stefan, but strictly speaking that demonstrates the inadvisability of attacking Iran, not the inability. So we have a half-assed crazy scenario for an air attack against Iran (possibly with nukes) and no way to cover any of the contingencies of this attack that might call for ground troops? Do you really need to hear anything more? Pretty clearly we're going to be bombing Iran in the near future.

You're right -- I should have said "our (in)ability to successfully attack Iran."
Our ability to fuck up enormously and damage our national security remains unimpaired....

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK
SB was referring in this regard to torture--particularly a military that knows if the US abrogates the Geneva Conventions then our own soldiers will be tortured with impunity.

The military also is probably aware that practicing torture isn't particularly good for the psychological condition of the torturers, or for morale and discipline in the force that practices it.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 25, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's weird to see people calling a budget increase of $40 billion crazy when Congress has been dropping a $100 Billion a year on Iraq w/o batting an eye.

Posted by: Boronx on September 25, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Shoomaker was happy and basking in the sun at Lake Havasu City (I don't actually know where he retired, but lots of Army brass retire there, near Yuma) when the call came that he had been drafted. It seems that Shinseki being hoisted on his own pettard for having the audacity to tell the truth had a slight chilling effect. No Lt. Generals or Generals wanted the damn job after that.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

We get a little testy about punks who never saw blood spilled playing politics with out lives. And officers get really protective of the enlisted personnel who serve under them. The administration may not know what "accountability" means, but we do.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

You're right -- I should have said "our (in)ability to successfully attack Iran."
Our ability to fuck up enormously and damage our national security remains unimpaired....
Posted by: Stefan

Yeah, GWB is good at one thing at least. That and the most opaque thought process imaginable:

I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is my point is, theres a strong will for democracy. The unity government is functioning. -G.W. Bush

That's it trolls, you're new talking point: Iraq is a comma. Does that make Iran a semi-colon?

Man, spinning GWB: hard effing work. But I guess it beats clearing IEDs.

Posted by: cyntax on September 25, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive -

Amen. I take it you are fellow service member. I'm gratified too that general officers are finally starting to say "enough already." I'm sick to my very bones that these deluded neo-cons insist on spilling our blood for no other reason than they can't let go of their Project for a New American Century fantasy. These are the same people who had "other plans" to pursue instead of serving themselves.

Posted by: cunning linguist on September 25, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I rsigned my commission in 1995 (MFA 71, AOC 67B) to take over blood bank operations at a large VA hospital.

But after Bush leaves, i'll probably go back in. I just won't serve him. By the way, I didn't have a problem serving Clinton, before anyone starts. He never had his daddy pull strings to get him out of his duty. He used the same route out as Vice did. Be careful when you paint Clinton as a draft dodger - when you do, you Pollack Phil Grahamm and Cheney.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gratified too that general officers are finally starting to say "enough already."

Yeah, it's nice to see the top brass saying that for some stuff, but is it too little, too late?

    "The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning," Hersh wrote. "Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran�without success, the former intelligence official said."

    The senior intelligence official who spoke to RAW STORY, along with several military intelligence sources, confirmed that the nuclear option remains on the table. In addition, the senior official added that the Joint Chiefs have "come around on to the administration's thinking."

Posted by: cyntax on September 25, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"These are just incredible numbers."


...and dont forget the military needed at least 420-million dollars in 2005...

for retention bonuses...

gao.gov says that was nearly 8-times what they had
originally budgeted...

sure seems like hard work...


Posted by: mr. perspective on September 25, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Offer a 40K reenlistment bonus to an enlisted troop who comes from an area where a four-bedroom house costs 30K and he'll jump on it. I date a Lt. Colonel who is an Army doc at Fort Riley, just back from a deployment. He tells me that more than one corpman has re-upped instead of pursuing med school on their benefits, saying "If I bite it, at least my wife can buy a house."

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Unless I'm mistaken, the Army funding includes not just weaponry, but also support operations for soldiers and their families who live on Army bases.
So things like quality of housing, schools, PXs etc. are affected by the budgetary black hole caused by Iraq and Bush's fiscal irresponsibility.

Posted by: Bill H. on September 25, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

JL -
It's the perfect set of circumstances if you're a soulless son of privilege isn't it? You can line the pockets of your rich supporters with contracts, scare people away from criticizing you with dire warnings of terror, and you buy fodder for the adventure at $40G a pop. Best of all, you can cut the marginal rates and estate taxes along the way so more of the burden falls on the same people sending their children - because they certainly aren't yours or your friends'.

Posted by: cunning linguist on September 25, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Bill H gets a gold star for making an obvious point that we all overlooked. The Army is the largest branch of service, and it has more bases, more base housing to support, more families using facilities during deployments.

Yes, we get Pissed off when politics is played with our lifes-blood. But the guys with the boots on th ground, taking territory and holding it, by standing on it with a rifle, get really fucking irate when they hear from their families about some bullshit political ploy that affects them.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

"JL" was supposed to be "JS" of course. Used the ring finger in the wrong hand.

Posted by: cunning linguist on September 25, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

maybe if Rummy weren't paying out $200M to PMCs [private military contractors] (1/3 to 1/2 of which can not be accounted for by anybody) - quadruple what it would cost if our own military were doing those jobs. by the way, how come we NEVER hear about the 2000 contractors killed in Iraq so far.

Posted by: brkily on September 25, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

and what about the 10,000 wounded and more who will suffer depression and PST syndrome. i guess they can just live on the streets. you can bet this admin doesn't give a shit what happens to them. They will be JUST A COMMA.

Posted by: brkily on September 25, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

and what about the 10,000 wounded and more who will suffer depression and PST syndrome. i guess they can just live on the streets. you can bet this admin doesn't give a shit what happens to them. They will be JUST A COMMA.

Posted by: brkily on September 25, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

And the Guardsmen who are dying are only dead one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

JUST FOR AL-

Just so you know, FCS (Future Combat System), that mega-expensive, non-proven military transformation deal, happens to be the pet of good ol' Donny Rumsfeld! It's his fault that we are wasting money on it, so you can't blame the liberals on this one!

I know you are a regular troll, but you really need to research things more. I wholeheartedly agree with you in dumping FCS- it is a waste of resources. But, unfortunately for you, your trolling ends up as support of the liberals! Sorry :) !

Posted by: Castor Troy on September 25, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

And the Guardsmen who are dying are only dead one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

And we have a winner!

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

thanks Stefan. That is high praise coming from you! :)

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Cut the goddamn Raptor. Cut the damn missle "defense." All you need is the JSF because it's being made for EVERY BRANCH and non-chemical lasers to destroy incoming missiles.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 25, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: amr铃声 on September 26, 2006 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK
All you need is the JSF because it's being made for EVERY BRANCH

You know, the past record of fixed-wing combat aircraft supposedly made for multiple branches of the service (helicopters have done better, for some reason) hasn't been great at the whole serving the needs of multiple branches thing (the F-111 comes to mind.)

While it certainly would be nice if a good multiservice combat airframe was developed, I'd be hesitant to cancel a single-service airframe that's several years farther along in the hopes that a multiservice bird that isn't yet operational will meet the needs of all services, even if they served similar roles in the first place.

Further, the F-35 (JSF) is intended as primarily a strike aircraft in all of its configurations, the F-22 Raptor is principally designed for air superiority. Replacing the latter with the former may not be the wisest choice, though it might seem attractive in a "planning for the last war" kind of way, as recently the US hasn't fought many wars with nations with advanced air forces that really required new air superiority fighters.

But planning for the last war has been a source of catastrophe more than once in the past.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 26, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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