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About That Boom! in the Pentagon’s Civilian WorkforcePentagon Filersmeaglen

Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:16:51 +0000

What is most remarkable about the Pentagon’s massive growth in its civilian workforce is not that it expanded after 9/11, alongside the military’s much smaller increase. Rather, it has been the unchecked boost in Pentagon civilian manpower that has occurred since the financial collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008. While the rest of America — particularly private-sector companies and many U.S. families — tried to constrain their budgets and spending since the recession began … the nation’s largest employer just kept on growing. Even more astonishing was that this growth in people — the Pentagon’s single most-expensive weapon system and asset — occurred as defense budgets were coming down. Since President Obama took office, he has cut the defense budget by 10%. The President has significantly reduced the planned sizes of the Army and Marine Corps. He has overseen the cancellation of dozens of major equipment programs, and ended production at several long-standing marquee manufacturing lines across the country. But the President has grown the size of the federal civilian workforce during his tenure. And the 760,000-large Pentagon civilian workforce is no exception. Since coming into office, the President has set into motion a plan to cut the active-duty military by roughly 12%. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense civilian workforce has grown by about 13 percent. Leaving the civilian workforce untouched from the budget squeeze is even more questionable in light of the dramatic level of effort the President has demanded from the military to cut costs. In the President’s 2011 defense budget, he began a major initiative led by then-defense secretary Robert Gates to identify over $100 billion in so-called efficiency savings over the next five years. Then again in 2012 and 2013, the White House directed another $200-plus billion be cut in the name of flab. Once again for 2014, the military is on the hook for more additional efficiencies — also known as reductions — to the tune of $34 billion. The sheer volume of supposed “efficiencies” billed to the military has become so large that it

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Hagel’s Strategic Choices Study Is Something Americans Need to See — Now130605-D-BW835-571meaglen

Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:22:13 +0000

Pentagon leaders have been working for months on a process Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said will inform budget decisions should sequestration stay in place for the U.S. military next year (the top weapons buyer said Monday that it’s likely to continue). The process, known as the Strategic Choices and Management Review, is apparently designed to “stress test” President Obama’s strategic guidance, from January 2012, calling for a pivot to Asia amid shrinking defense budgets. The review is long overdue, given that sequestration — mandated budget cuts of roughly 10% — took effect more than three months ago. For that reason, Hagel should prepare to release some of its findings publicly. By keeping the budget-review findings secret, Hagel will instead allow speculation, rumors and select leaks to drive the debate. Politicians on Capitol Hill still lack any clarity on the real-world consequences of continuing sequestration (it’s slated to last for nearly a decade under the Budget Control Act of 2011, unless Congress and the White House come up with a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package for that timeframe, or change the law that imposes the sequester — neither of which appears imminent). Unfortunately, the less policymakers know about the pain of continued budget cuts on the military, the more likely it is to stay in place. In a widely-leaked memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter outlined some revised outputs of the review. Adjustments include: — Adding in “break points” for capacity, capability and readiness to the military missions outlined in the January 2012 strategic guidance. — “Rapid turnaround adjustment” plans for U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific. — And a white paper that outlines the options considered during the process and their strategic implications. The military services are also directed to craft alternate budget plans for the next fiscal year that reflect a 10% sequestration cut from the President’s request. This analysis is supposed to include one scenario where cuts are implemented across the board (as is currently happening, more or less), and a second option if the Pentagon gets greater flexibility

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Who Knew the Pentagon Had Bad Habits?Gen. Dempsey 2meaglen

Thu, 02 May 2013 12:12:21 +0000

At lunch with reporters Tuesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made a public confession of sorts. He expanded on an earlier point he’d made to the New York Times about “bad habits” that the U.S. military had developed over the past decade due to what Army General Martin Dempsey called “unconstrained resources.” He rattled off the following bad habits: — How the Pentagon buys goods and services. — The growth in health care costs. — Too much infrastructure — bases and other real estate. — Over-investment in operations. — Too much reliance on contractors. With budgets shrinking further than Pentagon plans currently acknowledge, Dempsey noted that he and his colleagues will have to get creative. One way, he said, will be to review the areas of the most growth and determine whether it was justified. These kinds of discussions and early planning efforts are a start. A very small start, however. Sequestration-level budget cuts have been on the books for nearly two years now. They’ve been in legal effect for over two months. Time’s up for Pentagon officials to talk more and think harder. The time has come for definitive action and real change. Congress must insist that the Defense Department floor the accelerator into this new budget reality where detailed sequestration planning is complete and public. This would speed up the requirement for defense leaders to offer specific reforms and tangible solutions to the government’s biggest bureaucracy. By continuing to let the Pentagon ignore sequestration, Congress is letting defense leaders postpone and push off the need for comprehensive change. The massive 800,000 Defense Department civilian workforce is a good example — and one left off the chairman’s list, which is odd since this workforce has grown 10% since the Great Recession began and President Obama took office. Furloughs of this workforce have been announced and amended repeatedly over the past few months. Had Pentagon officials planned properly, furloughs could possibly have been avoided and the Department could have begun efforts at thoughtful rightsizing

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President Obama Learns the Value of the Military ToolboxF-22 Raptors Take-Offmeaglen090423-F-PT489-315

Fri, 05 Apr 2013 12:39:58 +0000

Last month, the Obama Administration began noticeably increasing military shows of force on or near the Korean peninsula, as the North’s young leader increasingly took steps of his own to increase tensions. Some of the earliest high-profile decisions by the President included bolstering missile defense capabilities in order to protect the American homeland, deployment of B-52 and B-2 bombers in military exercises, and the mobilization of stealthy fifth-generation F-22 fighter jets. The moves are designed to highlight American military technological supremacy and power, warn the North and show support for our treaty ally. But the biggest irony of all is that the Obama Administration has targeted many of these weapons and capabilities for budget cuts and cancellations previously. Early on in President Obama’s first term — before sequestration and debt reduction started chipping away at the defense budget — missile defense was singled out for major reductions.  In 2010, the Administration cut $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency. This included eliminating 14 planned ground-based interceptors in Alaska, cancelling the second Airborne Laser prototype aircraft, and terminating the Multiple Kill Vehicle. The President also reversed course, backing away from Bush Administration efforts to deploy elements of a missile defense network in Poland and the Czech Republic, and killing the Kinetic Energy Interceptor. Yet in the face of North Korea’s recently bellicose behavior, the Administration seems to have pulled a 180 on missile defense. Last month, the Pentagon announced it would spend roughly $1 billion by 2017 to restore the 14 ground-based interceptors in Alaska that were canceled four years ago. The shift is all the more remarkable given that sequestration is underway, meaning that an unexpected $1 billion boost for added missile defenses is no small investment. Also curious is the Administration’s embrace of stealthy aircraft like the F-22 and B-2. The F-22 was perhaps the highest profile of all Obama’s defense cuts his first year in office. Not only did this decision permanently shut down America’s only fifth-generation fighter  production line then open, the President refused even to allow himself

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The Unreadiness Iceberg132073307meaglen

Fri, 18 Jan 2013 16:43:07 +0000

The members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have penned a 28-star letter to Congress warning that the U.S. military is at a “tipping point” in the face of future budgetary reductions and uncertainty. The chiefs paint a grim picture of a post-sequestration military, arguing that they will have to “ground aircraft, return ships to port, and stop driving combat vehicles in training.” While that is supposedly a consequence of the future, today’s outlook doesn’t sound any better: Not enough people, not enough parts, not enough training, not enough everything. Those were the blunt words of the admiral in charge of the surface fleet this week. He went on to note how demand has only grown while resources have gone down even though the new defense strategy, issued just last year, indicated otherwise. Think the “hollow force” is only something that could happen if policymakers plow ahead with sequestration? Not according to the admiral: When a combatant commander says a ship’s supposed to leave on deployment and it doesn’t leave on time for whatever reason, then we know we’ve probably gotten there [a hollow force]. And there’s ships right now that aren’t doing it. Unfortunately, this is no surprise. By the time a problem this deep bubbles up to the Joint Chiefs, it is often beyond obvious to the military’s daily operators. Problems plaguing reduced readiness levels for sustained periods of time are typically masked or in hibernation due to Band-Aid fixes before they show real and clear consequences. Even when it appears as if the force is healthy on paper, maintainers and operators using equipment on a daily basis often cannibalize parts to patch up ships, vehicles or aircraft to let them last another day or, worse, get notice of deferred or cancelled maintenance after leaders perpetually underfund regular upkeep to make up for shortfalls elsewhere. Former Army chief of staff George Casey previously referred to an invisible “red line” of readiness that is often not detected by senior leaders until much later (or, in some cases, too late). Retired general

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Calls for Phantom Defense Cuts Must Stop772px-mechanized_p-38_conveyor_linesmeaglen

Thu, 13 Sep 2012 14:08:44 +0000

Fiscal restraint is en vogue and increasingly the cover many are using to push other agendas. Republicans spent a week in Tampa monitoring America’s mounting national debt at their recent convention. Democrats included a call for “tough” spending cuts, especially to the military, as part of their official party platform. The document indicates “outdated Cold War-era systems” should be favored for the chopping block.

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Sequestration’s Shadow Darkensmeaglen138625859

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 18:57:51 +0000

House and Senate Republican leaders released a letter Friday — the 13th — that will effectively kill an increasingly favored option in Washington to temporarily delay the onset of sequestration (automatic budget cuts) by three or six months. It comes on the heels of President Obama’s former campaign manager floating the idea that Senate Democrats should consider a six-month delay of sequestration in order to avoid poorly-timed WARN Act notices offered on the eve of the November elections across the country to aerospace, shipbuilding and defense workers. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification act requires employers of a certain size to notify their employees when mass layoffs may be coming so they can prepare. In most states, the act mandates that employers must provide at least 60 days’ notice before possible layoff notification. In New York and California, employers must provide 90 days notice, however. Because sequestration goes into effect on January 2, 2012, these pink-slip precursors would go out around October 4 in New York and California, and November 2 in most other states. The effect of thousands of employees receiving word that their jobs could disappear in a few short months before the election could dramatically swing the vote against incumbents, including the President. Welcome to the politics of the WARN act. A sequestration delay had been growing in popularity to free up more time to find a comprehensive solution to the problem (including broader tax reform) and now to avoid the inconvenient timing of WARN act notifications. The Republican position is now simple: either find a one year “fix” to the 2013 sequestration cuts — preferably soon, but in lame duck session if necessary — or else sequestration goes into effect January 2. Republicans are not the only ones digging in their heels. In response to a letter from House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) urging Senate action to address sequestration’s impact on the U.S. military, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent a curt reply that chastised the chairman for urging the Senate to “renege

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Sequestration or Not, Defense Budget to Continue Its Decline84955450-percentage-cuts-gettyimagesmeaglen

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 10:39:59 +0000

While many in Washington assume that Congress will solve sequestration by the end of the year–the problem Congress created when the Super Committee failed–recent comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicate that sequestration in some form is coming. Worse, in some corners it seems that sequestration is not viewed as a problem to be solved but rather an increasingly preferable solution already on the books. Sure, some say, sequestration is a tough pill to swallow, but Congress has to reduce the debt. Only one party is trying to meaningfully address sequestration, and that should worry everyone. According to Politico, Majority Leader Reid and others are digging in on sequestration. There is the sense Republicans are vulnerable since they agreed to this as part of the debt-ceiling deal. Now Democrats can use sequestration as negotiating leverage in the lame duck to tackle taxes and possibly another debt-ceiling increase. That’s the dirty secret in Washington. It may have appeared just a few months ago that there was near universal consensus on the need to avoid the sequester’s devastating cuts to the military, adding about $600 billion to the $487 billion already slashed for the coming decade. But Republicans negotiated a debt ceiling deal only Republicans could hate that offered up two bad choices: tax hikes or defense cuts. Now the most likely outcome is that taxes will go up and more defense cuts are still in store, including partial or full sequestration and beyond. Senator Reid has drawn bright red lines, stating “I am not going to back off the sequestration…. To now see the Republicans scrambling do to away with the cuts to defense, I will not accept that.” Reid continued, “My people—in the state of Nevada and I think the country—have had enough of whacking all the programs. We’ve cut them to a bare bone and defense is going to have to bear their share of the burden.” Sequestration is now being offered up by some as the least-bad option. As Reid stated, “I don’t think there is

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Coming Soon to Your Town: Sequestration Road Tour129162955meaglen

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 14:42:09 +0000

Americans will celebrate Memorial Day next month, and honor those who’ve died while serving to protect the rest of us. But some concerned members of Congress are going to skip their hometown barbeques so they can hit the road: they’ll be warning of a looming half-trillion-dollar cut in defense spending over the next decade (atop the $487 billion already being carved out of the Pentagon’s projected spending plan). Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and other members of the House Armed Services Committee are embarking on a national listening tour to talk loudly about an inside Washington term known as sequestration — big military spending cuts, to the rest of us. While the House and Senate are busy passing their defense spending bills over the next few weeks, current federal law will break those plans (and possibly the U.S. military) come January. Congress is budgeting under the White House assumption that an additional half trillion in defense cuts over the next nine years—and $99 billion in FY 2013 alone—agreed to as part of last year’s debt ceiling deal will not come to pass. These automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, became law when the Super Committee failed to negotiate a package of over $1 trillion in deficit reduction last year. Unless the President and Congress can agree on a different solution, this will leave the military absorbing yet another round of budget cuts because Washington cannot agree on what to do about taxes and long overdue entitlement reform. There is near universal recognition that these additional and arbitrary reductions would harm those who serve and our security. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey has said that under sequestration, America would no longer be the global power that it is today.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said that sequestration would be akin to “shooting ourselves in the head.” Former Army Vice Chief of Staff Jack Keane went as far as to say “We would be a mere shadow of our former selves and be unable to face our global

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