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An On V Update to Old Ideas: Military Waste, DADT and OPSEC Edition

Once again, we troll through the interwebs to find updates to On V ideas. (Some of these are particularly old, (like May) but we still want to highlight them.) Without further ado...

Update to the Pentagon Wasting Taxpayers Dollars

As long as we’re complaining about “Our Communist Military”--which hates government spending, but never mentions defense spending--we might as well keep updating you on massive military waste. (Again, some of these examples are a few months old, but consider all of them exhibits in this ongoing argument.)

- The F-22 may never work right. 60 Minutes had a story last spring about how it makes its pilots sick. Even though the Air Force has resumed flying them, concerns linger on, as the Air Force admits.

- While China may or may not be preparing to field two stealth jets...

...the Air Force is behind schedule on the F-35.

- Last May, Mark Thompson, for Time's "Battleland", listed a series of examples where House budget committees protect money flowing into their districts for Pentagon programs, whether or not they believe in fiscal discipline, or whether or not the programs work.

- The Army finally deploys a communication network...after the wars are mostly over.

So DADT Wasn’t a Problem...

As we covered in our post, “The Military’s Gay Shower Fiasco...and 5 Other Anti-DADT Predictions that Never Came True” many conservative’s breathless predictions about DADT never came true. But don’t take our word for it. A study from UCLA concluded that “ending the policy ‘has had no negative impact on overall military readiness or its component parts: unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.’”

Read an article by the study’s author on Slate for more.

More on OPSEC Leaks and Obama

To avoid cluttering our post, “The Loudest “Quiet Professionals”: Why We Disagree with the “Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund”, we left out a key point about OPSEC: most violations don’t result in dead U.S. soldiers. They don’t even result in failed missions. When comparing OPSEC leaks versus the massive over-classification of U.S. intelligence and military information, the far bigger problem is the over-classification which hides corruption, bureaucratic incompetence, illegality, and intelligence failures.

And somehow, in our last update on this topic, we failed to mention this article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon going over all the evidence showing that the Obama administration leaked classified information. To be clear, we oppose the leaking of classified information; we just think the government should classify much, much less, and release much, much more in a coherent, legal process that doesn’t just shield the government from oversight when it crosses the line.

Since we don’t have that rational system in place, we support protections for whistleblowers.

Update to Intelligence is Evidence: CSI Edition

Michael C based much of his series “Intelligence is Evidence” directly on Frontline’s reporting into two specific topics: the U.S. war on terror/counter-insurgencies and travesties of the U.S. judicial system. When justice goes wrong, either in a war zone or in a courtroom, it feels the same to us. Well, Frontline has kept up the great reporting with an investigation into the “science” behind crime scene forensic analysis.

In short, prosecutors, detectives and forensic analysts hoping to score convictions sent innocent people to prison, and murderers remained on the loose.

On Leslie Stahl’s Softball Interview: Torture and 60 Minutes

Sorry for the tardiness of this response, but last spring, 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl interviewed one of the CIA masterminds behind their torture program, Jose Rodriguez. Despite numerous accounts challenging the effectiveness of torture, Rodriguez stuck by his claims and Stahl barely challenged him. Worse, Rodriguez destroyed any and all evidence of interrogations, not only ruining the legal process but preventing historians and journalists from ever knowing what the CIA did.

(On Violence is against torture.)

Update to Time Travel

Way back in time, Jessica Scott wrote an amazing post called, “Welcome Back 90s Army” bemoaning the coming uniform crack downs. As we’ve written about before, plenty of officers want to return to the standards of the 90s army, including increased reliance on physical fitness, uniform standards and “garrison leadership”. As Jessica mentions, the OEF/OIF Army didn’t need the silly garrison standards of the 90s Army to excel in combat, so why bring them back?

nine comments

You might want to check some of your sources. The J-20 and J-31 (21?) have radically differing configurations and sizes. The would bespeak aircraft designed for 2 different missions.

Th F-22 had an ox system problem, that once they actually seriously looked at it, wasn’t so mysterious. The tech problem wasn’t all that remarkable once the USAF got serious about looking at it. The problem was getting them to look at it seriously. That ties into your ‘best military in the history of the world’ piece last week. (Boy is that piece stimulating the bidding at SWJ imperial headquarters.)

The F-35 is a hopeless mess.

One of the recurring reasons that people are skeptical of Red China’s ability to field advanced fighters is they look at how much trouble our system has had putting planes in the air and then they figure the Red Chinese will be as fouled up as us. That is a dangerous bit of chauvinism.

@ Carl – What would be amazing is if China decided to militarize. What would it look like? How quickly/effectively could they do it? Right now, they seem disinterested in wasting money on defense that they know they don’t need.

Oh that is the reason they are in the midst of developing two new jets, fielded the DF-21D missile, commissioned a carrier and are shoving people around in the South China Sea and north towards Japan; they aren’t interested in wasting money on the military. I was fooled.

I was more thinking along the lines that china spends what, one fifth what we do on defense?

Nothing would slow their growth like getting stuck in a land war or two and quintupling the size of their military.

Nobody knows for sure what Red China spends on the military. We know a little bit about what they come up with and the potential capability. The capability is what is important, not what we think they spend. They don’t have worldwide commitments, they only have to be strong in the region. Why would they care if the convoys get to Europe? They might only have to stop the ones going to Japan. So they perhaps can be regionally superior while spending a bit less overall.

Where would they fight a land war? Anything spat they might get into would be primarily naval. And the idea is not to get into an actual fight, but build up forces so as to overawe opponents and get their way without a fight.

Carl, I’ve been monitoring the discussion over on SWJ, but not intervening. I said my piece when it first got started, but thanks for defending our work, and what we were trying to get across.

As it comes to China, here is the scenario I worry about. If they decided to, they would simply decide to outspend the US by building the same planes we have with 10 as good which is ten times larger for the same money.

No problem. Your work stimulated a lot of needed discussion.

Forgive me Michael but your meaning about Red China is unclear to me. Could you restate?

Yeah, what I wrote didn’t sound like English. Here is how I envision China “out spending” the U.S. Say they develop a plane that is about 90% as effective as the JSF/F-22. Now say this plane is one tenth the cost. (Which is kind of reasonable considering the exorbitant over-charging in the U.S. plus our planes are expensive precisely because they are overly engineered.)

At this point, China could simply decide to build ten planes for every one plane the U.S. buys, if it wanted to spend the exact same as the U.S. In this scenario, even if the US had the technologically superior planes, it wouldn’t have enough missiles to shoot them all down if China and the US ever actually started an air war.

Now my caveat is I don’t ever see a reason why China and the US would want to start a shooting war. And if it did start, then one side would probably launch a catastrophic nuclear strike. So the real issue is we shouldn’t even be planning for a war with China, but the real world contingency plans that could actually effect global security/economy.


That is a very good thing to worry about. We have so badly hamstrung ourselves with procedure and process they may be better at getting things into the air than we are.

I read something once like that regarding the WWII German army and the Russian Army. At the start of the war, any two Landsers were worth any 5 Ivans, which was good since the Germans were outnumbered 4.5 to 2. Then things changed as the war progressed and any two Landsers were worth any 4 Ivans, which was not so good since the Ivans still outnumbered the Germans 4.5 to two. (or numbers something like that)

I don’t think either country would launch a nuke strike. Too much to lose. The countries have fought before for years while limiting the scope of the conflict, so there is precedent for that. And speaking of airplanes, Korea was a conflict where the lucky presence of a single design, the F-86 made a huge difference in how the war progressed, in my opinion anyway.