10 November, 2008

Lean, Mean Defense Machine

I really need to stop worrying:

Of course, it isn't as if Obama hasn't prepared himself for the enormous task ahead. Back in June, he assembled a stellar national security advisory team; the thirteen members include former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Warren Christopher, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, who is leading the team.

Inside Defense fills in many of the blanks in a lengthy subscription-only article. We are looking at, yes, a lot of change:

The Obama transition team, according to a briefing paper prepared for the campaign's national security advisory team, may consider a number of organizational changes to the Defense Department's civilian leadership that signal a break with priorities of the last eight years and point to the ascendancy of new issues that will affect defense strategy.

The incoming administration, according to the paper, may retool the intelligence under secretary office established by Donald Rumsfeld; create a new high-level energy security post; and divide the substantial portfolio of the assistant secretary for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

It will also mull cuts to high-profile weapon systems, the paper states, naming three: national missile defense, the Airborne Laser and the Army's Future Combat Systems program.

I like it. Creating an energy security post would make campaign rhetoric reality. In fact, Obama has literally been saying "energy security is national security" for over two years.

Now, about cutting funding to national missile defense: bravo. Let's turn to Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (yes, the same guy who's been posting here at dailyKos, as part of Vets for Obama). He's been talking about missile defense for a while now, and his latest analysis came out about three weeks ago.

Despite the Bush administration's investment of an estimated $60 billion since 2001, U.S. national missile defense continues to be an unnecessary and counterproductive enterprise. Testing objectives consistently are not met, cost overruns and scheduling delays are rampant, and relations between the United States and Russia are worse than at any time since the end of the Cold War, thanks in no small part to squabbling over the proposed third missile defense site in Europe.

He recommends three basic changes. Please click the link above for the details; basically, shift spending to systems countering existing threats, dissolve the Missile Defense Agency, and "spend political capital" on diplomacy.

You know, I've spent the last couple of days careening between the pinnacle of hope and the valley of despair. Obama made a lot of promises, and I know he won't be able to keep them all - no president can keep every campaign promise. But there are times I worry he won't be able to keep any, what with the way things are. The challenges and opposition seem too insurmountable.

Then more information comes out that shows me he's got this thing covered. He's had brilliant staff assigned to every conceivable issue, and the way things are presented, it seems we may indeed get to have our cake and eat it, too. So maybe there won't be icing on it. Oh fucking well.

This, though, is just astounding. In my wildest fantasies, I never considered he'd go after wasteful defense spending while at the same time turning the U.S. Military into a more effective force. And yet, that's precisely what he's aiming for.

Obama's proving with every day that he understands the hell he's getting in to, and that he's more than prepared to handle it. The Smack-0-Matic and I can only stand by helplessly. The fire I must hold his feet to remains unstoked. Every time I go to light the damned thing, I notice he's already gotten his feet roasting in a bonfire of his own.

It's a good thing there's still some Blue Dog Dems and some Con fuckwits left to kick around, or the Smack-0-Matic and I would be totally superfluous.

1 comment:

Cujo359 said...

Cutting back the missile defense budget sounds like a good idea, assuming Congress goes along with it. There's every reason to believe it won't, since the military always makes sure that things this controversial are spread into the districts of many prominent congresspeople.

As for the the "energy security" post, my reaction is "Huh?" Energy security, real security, is a domestic security issue. Except for escorting oil tankers and protecting offshore oil rigs, I'm hard pressed to think of anything the DoD could legitimately do in the way of energy security. The Iraq War is a form of energy security as done by the DoD, and that's not going too well.

This says nothing of the difficulties of the organizational relationships. Will it be another theatre command? If so, it will be expensive. Will it have its own units, or will it draw from the pool? Will it end up being another agency that issues reports no one reads? Hang around the DoD long enough, and you get cynical about these things.

It's good that they're rethinking defense strategy, but so far I haven't seen anything particularly useful come out of that thought process. How about cutting out more of the useless cruft? How about thinking about how large the Army and Navy need to be to accomplish their missions in the next couple of decades? Maybe we ought to think about not starting another expensive arms race.