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Sunday, July 01, 2012

A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO CRITIQUE THE PENTAGON


Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis

INTRODUCTION

We offer in this posting not only our opinion on the massive Military Industrial Complex, but also the opinions of three experts who have lived war fighting - on the recent fields of battle, and in weapons systems development.

The quotations are extracts from larger articles. We suggest the reader follow the links after each to become further informed. 

It is our hope that the facts offered here will contribute to the knowledge of US citizenry regarding hard decisions forthcoming on the nature of war fighting and its role in the future of our country.

OUR VIEW

This Blog was founded in 2006, based on the 36 years experience of a soldier in war zones and major corporations in the US Military Industrial Complex.   Our view is expressed in the below article, an extract of which reads:

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years. What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Men like Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.”


A FELLOW VETERAN’S VIEW

Paul Riedner is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. December 13, 2011 – Minneapolis Star Tribune Commentaries. Personally, sacrificed four years in support of the war effort -- one deployed as an army engineer diver.
There remain countless inner struggles that lurk in dark corners of my psyche. They are difficult to measure or even explain.
What does it mean to have been a part of this war?
To have been a part of: 4,500 American deaths; 33,000 Americans wounded; estimates as high as 600,000 Iraqi deaths; more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent; $9 billion lost or unaccounted for; huge corporate profiteering; a prisoner-abuse scandal; a torture record worthy of the Hague; a hand in the financial crisis, and runaway unemployment when we get home.
I've learned that we are easily duped and that we quickly forget. Saddam has WMDs. No, we are exporting democracy. No, we are protecting human rights, and by the way, their oil will pay for it all.
I've learned that 9/11 was used against us. We gladly handed over our civil liberties in the name of security. And recently our Congress quietly reapproved the unconstitutional Patriot Act.”
AN OFFICER’S VIEW
Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel L. Davis in the United States Army, serving as a Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch. He has just completed his fourth combat deployment. (Desert Storm, Afghanistan in 2005-06, Iraq in 2008-09, and Afghanistan again in 2010-11). In the middle of his career he served eight years in the US Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs, one of which was an aide for US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Legislative Correspondent for Defense and Foreign Affairs).
From “Dereliction of Duty II
Senior Military Leaders’ Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort 27 January 2012”

We have lavished praise a few of our senior military leaders for being “warrior-scholars” whose intellectualism exceeds those of most wearing the uniform. But what organization in the world today – whether an international terrorist organization or virtually every major company on the globe – needs physical territory on which to plan “future 9/11 attacks”? Most are well acquainted with the on-line and interconnected nature of numerous global movements. We here in the United States know video conferencing, skyping, emailing, texting, twittering, Facebooking, and virtually an almost limitless number of similar technologies.

And a few men have convinced virtually the entire Western world that we must stay on the ground in one relatively postage-stamp sized country – even beyond a decade and a half – to prevent “another 9/11” from being planned, as though the rest of the world’s geography somehow doesn’t matter, and more critically, that while the rest of the world does its planning on computers and other electronic means, al-Qaeda must be capable only of making such plans on the ground, and only on the ground in Afghanistan.

When one considers what these few leaders have asked us to believe in light of the facts pointed out above, the paucity of logic in their argument becomes evident. What has been present in most of those arguments, however, has been emotionally evocative words designed to play strongly on American patriotism: “…this is where 9/11 was born!” “these young men did not die in vain” “this is a tough fight” etc. It is time – beyond time – for the evidence and facts to be considered in their comprehensive whole in a candid and honest public forum before we spend another man or woman’s life or limbs in Afghanistan.”


A PENTAGON DEFENSE ANALYST’S VIEW

Franklin C.   "Chuck  " Spinney Pentagon’s Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (better-known by its former name, Systems Analysis, set up to make independent evaluations of Pentagon Policy)

Author - "Defense Facts of Life: The Plans-Reality Mismatch", which sharply criticized defense budgeting, arguing that the defense bureaucracy uses unrealistic assumptions to buy in to unsustainable programs, and explaining how the pursuit of complex technology produced expensive, scarce and inefficient weapons. Spinney spent his career refining and expanding this analysis. The report was largely ignored despite a growing reform movement, whose goal was to reduce military budget increases from 7% to 5% after inflation. Two years later, he expounded on his first report, including an analysis on the miscalculation of the burden costs of a majority of the weapon systems and re-titled it "Defense facts of life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch", which later became simply known as the "Spinney Report":
And that's why we ought to treat the defense industry as a public sector; and if we did that then you wouldn't see these gross disparities in salaries creeping in. But essentially if you try to understand what's going on in the Pentagon and this is the most important aspect, and it gets at the heart of our democracy. Is that we have an accounting system that is unauditable. Even by the generous auditing requirements of the federal government.
Now what you have to understand is the kind of audits I'm talking about these are not what a private corporation would do with a rigorous accounting system. Essentially the audits we are required to do are mandated under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, and a few amendments thereafter. But it's the CFO Act of 1990 that's the driver.
And it basically was passed by Congress that required the inspector generals of each government department, not just the Pentagon, but NASA, health, education, welfare, all the other departments, interior department where the inspector general has to produce an audit each year. Saying, basically verifying that the money was spent on what Congress appropriated it for. Now that's not a management accounting audit. It's basically a checks and balances audit.
Well, the Pentagon has never passed an audit. They have 13 or 15, I forget the exact number, of major accounting categories. That each one has it's own audit. The only one of those categories that's ever been passed is the retirement account.
Now under the CFO Act of 1990 they have to do this audit annually. Well, every year they do an audit and the inspector general would issue a report saying we have to waive the audit requirements, because we can't balance the books. We can't tell you how the money got spent.
Now what they do is try to track transactions. And in one of the last audits that was done the transactions were like… there were like $7 trillion in transactions. And they couldn't account for about four trillion of those transactions. Two trillion were unaccountable and two trillion they didn't do, and they accounted for two trillion.”
CONCLUSION:
The material here is submitted on its own merits. Consider it carefully as the Pentagon consumes 70% of US disposable tax revenue and our national debt approaches $16 Trillion.  

Ask yourself if there are other alternatives for the future of our country.


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