Editor’s Note – At a time when America faces what seems to be a certain conflict with Iran and her allies, along with many other theaters of threat, the Department of Defense budget cuts, and the reason there are to be such deep cuts is coming home to roost. When America, and her politicians chose entitlement avoidance over security, we all lose.
There is deep resentment in many corners, but political expediency rules the day. A common analogy where a stone is thrown in a body of water, sending ripples to all shores, applies here. What you voted for last year, is sending not mere ripples, but shock waves across every shore because our economic woes and debt issues were not properly addressed. Politics reared its ugly head, to the point that we have not even had the Senate pass a budget in over 1,000 days.
The shear lunacy of this whole debacle is going to sink us, if it has not already. How do you feel about hope and change now? Here’s the change we bet you did not bargain for.
Meanwhile the Secretary of Defense begins in a political fashion to describe the new budget as he addressed Congress:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the top U.S. military leader on Tuesday defended the Pentagon’s slimmed-down, $614 billion budget, telling lawmakers it is time to show Congress is serious about reducing the deficit.
[Quick note to Mr. Panetta: You were appointed to run our Department of Defense, not to tell Congress how do its job, that is our duty, sir! Take your White House talking points and liberal agenda and place them squarely where the sun does not shine!]
Additionally, Panetta urges Congress not to “double” the pain:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Congress today to abandon automatic defense budget cuts of about $500 billion over 10 years that he said would cause “severe damage” to the military.
The politics of it all!
But what we do not see readily, are the political ploys and the many impact points, some of which are unconscionable, and cloaked in rhetoric made for the campaign trail, not the deep and abiding onus to protect this nation. To whit, Carl Levin, a Democrat and John McCain, a Republican found room to question Panetta, Dempsey and the administration’s plans:
The testimony immediately met resistance from members of the committee. Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat and the panel’s chairman, insisted that the military look to closing bases in Europe and overseas before targeting installations in the United States.
Sen. John McCain, the committee’s top Republican and Obama’s presidential foe in 2008, expressed reservations with the budget and complained that it “continues the administration’s habit of putting short-term political considerations over our long-term national security interests.”
Then there is the question about our nuclear preparedness and the ability of the world as whole to identify and secure nuclear stockpiles:
The Obama administration is weighing options for sharp new cuts to the U.S. nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons…
Even the most modest option now under consideration would be an historic and politically bold disarmament step in a presidential election year, although the plan is in line with President Barack Obama’s 2009 pledge to pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The world’s stockpiles:
The Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request takes a major step backwards in the fight to prevent nuclear terrorism by slashing key nuclear security budgets in all the major agencies involved in the effort, the Fissile Materials Working Group, a nonpartisan group of nuclear security experts said today. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) took the biggest cut at $293 million, while the State Department received an overall 7% reduction and a key Department of Defense effort a $21 million reduction. These cuts are being proposed on the eve of the March Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, where over 50 world leaders will come together to consider how to better secure all vulnerable nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism.
This does not equate to a secure America, no matter how the White House, Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s, General Martin Dempsey spin their plans and reasoning. We must question why these cuts and moves are in America’s best interests. Senators, as well as anyone who had a hand in voting to cut the Pentagon so deeply while avoiding the poltical ‘third rail’, are deeply concerned:
The Pentagon’s new, slimmed-down budget is an agent of unity, bringing together Republicans and Democrats alike. Senators of every political stripe on the Armed Services Committee hate the thing — or don’t want to defend it. The only thing they may hate more: the next round of Pentagon cuts, due to take effect in less than 11 months.
You should be concerned as well, because its not just our security that is in jeopardy, it also shows just how deeply broken and politicized our government has become. In this major election year, perhaps the most important in anyone’s lifetime still breathing today, it is now that you must become engaged. You must educate yourself and teach your neighbor what you have learned. If we do not, and we allow the machines of power to remain intact, and the status quo of the ‘beltway’ is allowed to continue, even they will rue the day!
Then there are the things you will not hear about. Things that will get funded, and maybe, they are needed, but at what cost when we cut so much else. Black budget lines continue to make it by the watchful eye, and the following describes this facet:
$80 Billion Puzzle: The Part Of The Pentagon’s Budget You Won’t See
by Loren Thompson
This is the week that the defense department unveils its fiscal 2013 budget request, which Pentagon policymakers have been heralding as a turning point in military spending priorities. So if you care to listen, you will be able to hear a lot about why weapons outlays are being cut, military healthcare costs are increasing, and land-based forces are losing money to sea-based forces.
However, there are a few items about which you won’t hear anything.
You won’t hear a word about the huge eavesdropping satellites the military has been launching, the biggest satellites ever built. You won’t hear about the intelligence missions that U.S. submarines are silently conducting in the Eastern Mediterranean and Yellow Sea. You won’t hear about the sprawling complex near Baltimore that monitors billions of emails every day. And you won’t hear about the program awarded last year to develop new photo-reconnaissance satellites that can see what Chinese users are looking at on their laptops from over a hundred miles away.
All of these efforts and hundreds more are part of the government’s vast intelligence-gathering enterprise, which is funded to the tune of $80 billion annually. Although the intelligence community consists of 17 different agencies and organizations scattered across the government, about 85 percent of the funding is hidden in defense department accounts. That’s because most of the technology and personnel costs associated with the intelligence enterprise are incurred by defense agencies.
The activities of the intelligence community are organized under two overarching programs. The $55 billion National Intelligence Program collects and analyzes strategic information — meaning information relevant to the security of the entire nation — through four defense agencies, intelligence units in other cabinet departments, and the independent Central Intelligence Agency. The $27 billion Military Intelligence Program collects tactical information through the intelligence commands and field units of the military services relevant to their immediate warfighting needs.
Congress established a Director of National Intelligence in 2004 to oversee the intelligence community and break down the barriers between agencies to sharing information. However, with so much of the activity carried out by defense agencies and the military services, it is largely a Pentagon show — which helps explain why the current Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is a former Air Force general who previously served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Director Clapper told a conference in October that the intelligence community is headed for big spending cuts in the years ahead, but you can forget about trying to find out where the budget axe is falling because the government refuses to disclose details about how funding is allocated. We know that there are about 200,000 personnel working in the intelligence community — about a quarter of them contractors — and that they are almost evenly divided between the national and service-specific programs. What we don’t know with any precision is what occupants of the cars filling 18,000 parking spaces at the National Security Agency (NSA) outside Baltimore are doing on any given day.
NSA, one of the four byzantine defense agencies engaged in collecting national intelligence, is emblematic of just how big the secret part of the defense budget really is. The agency’s mission is to intercept the electronic transmissions of other nations and break codes while protecting U.S. networks from foreign intruders, a job that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. NSA is said to operate more supercomputers than any other organization in the world, and rumors are constantly surfacing about how extensively it monitors global telecom traffic. It doesn’t do that just by tapping into fiber-optic lines, it also listens in from overhead using satellites with antennas as big as football fields — which is one reason it’s “Mentor” series of eavesdropping satellites are the biggest ever built.
The satellites NSA relies on are developed and launched by another defense agency called the National Reconnaissance Office which overseas so-called “black” space programs. It is that agency which recently awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a new generation of imaging reconnaissance satellites following the meltdown of a Clinton-era effort that failed to coalesce under a rival contractor. The award restored Lockheed to the same kind of long-running franchise in photo-reconnaissance satellites that Northrop Grumman enjoys in eavesdropping satellites. Other companies that seem to be key players in black space includeRaytheon, which fashions ground networks for moving classified data, and Exelis (formerly ITT Defense).
But you have to search far and wide to learn such things, because the government seldom discusses its overhead intelligence assets, and the companies won’t even admit they’re in the business. The same is true for a host of other airborne, ground-based, and undersea intelligence systems. For instance, the nation’s fleet of fifty-odd attack submarines spend most of their time on-station in places like the Persian Gulf monitoring the electronic transmissions of other nations, aided by the fact that coastal climate conditions bend the signals of what would normally be line-of-sight communications. Many of those missions are requested by “national command authorities” such as the White House.
So are submarine intelligence missions part of the National Intelligence Program or the Military Intelligence Program? Darned if I know. The Pentagon’s budget is so opaque on such matters that you can’t even figure out where a lot of the money is located. It seems to be distributed in roughly equal thirds across R&D, procurement and readiness accounts — although much of the personnel spending is probably also for military intelligence specialists. As Aviation Week & Space Technology expert Bill Sweetman has pointed out, add it all up and the secret part of the Pentagon’s budget is similar in size to the entire defense budget of other big military powers.
However, don’t expect to hear about any of that this week from the Pentagon. This may be budget week for the rest of the federal government, but for the intelligence community, it’s just another week of hiding in the shadows.