My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


But Is He Interested In A Solution?

I don't know why I'm doing this to myself . . . or to you . . . but more from John Murtha on Meet the Press.

"This is a worldwide problem. What happened internationally, the Chinese have bought 23 submarines they’ve built in the last four years. They’re increasing their defense spending to $90 billion. We don’t have to worry only about Iraq. We got to worry about Afghanistan. We got to wa—long-term future of this country. And we got to address the fact that we have no ground reserve to take care of those strategic problems."

Huh. Yeah, that seems like a problem. I bet he's going to be the first one to sign on to the Jim Talent solution.

The "operational tempo" of American conventional forces -- the number, intensity, and duration of their deployments -- has increased since the end of the Cold War. Yet the forces were almost twice as big in 1992 as they are today. The active-duty Army was cut from 18 divisions during Desert Storm to ten by 1994 -- its size today. The Navy, which counted 568 ships in the late 1980s, struggles today to sustain a fleet of only 276. And the number of tactical air wings in the Air Force was reduced from 37 at the time of Desert Storm to 20 by the mid-1990s.

Modernization budgets also were cut substantially during the Clinton years, and procurement budgets were cut much further than the cuts in force size and structure warranted. In essence, the Clinton administration took a "procurement holiday" where the military was concerned. The contrast in the average annual procurement of major equipment in two periods -- 1975 to 1990 and 1991 to 2000 -- is startling. For example, the Pentagon purchased an average of 78 scout and attack helicopters each year from 1975 to 1990, and only seven each year from 1991 to 2000. An average of 238 Air Force fighters and five tanker aircraft were procured each year from 1975 to 1990, as against only 28 and one per year, respectively, from 1991 to 2000.

These dramatic reductions had profound implications. When older platforms are not replaced, readiness levels drop, and the cost of maintaining inventory climbs rapidly. By the end of the Carter years, the force had gone "hollow"; by the end of the Clinton years, it had begun to "rust," badly. The George W. Bush administration has increased procurement budgets, but nowhere near enough to make up for the 1990s. The average age of Air Force aircraft in 1973 was just nine years. Today, the average aircraft is 24 years old and aircraft-modernization funding has dropped by nearly 20 percent over the last 22 years. . . .

The good news is that robust and consistent funding of the military is fully within America's capability. Currently the U.S. spends only 3.8 percent of its GDP on the core defense budget, including the non-Department of Defense expenditures for national security. That is far lower than during the Cold War, and almost a full percentage point less than was spent even during the Carter years. America's economy is so powerful that even after years of underfunding military procurement, the U.S. could still recapitalize and sustain its military strength by enacting the $34 billion increase I mentioned earlier, and maintaining defense spending at no less than 4 percent of GDP thereafter.

Seems like a no-brainer for a great tactical thinker like John Murtha. He should welcome an increase, so that there are no more trucks with the seats falling out of them on aircraft carriers (as he talked about on MTP). Especially in light of this:

China's military is engaged in a major buildup of submarines that includes five new strategic nuclear-missile boats and several advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The new nuclear-powered missile submarines (SSBNs), identified as Type 094s, will be outfitted with new 5,000-mile range JL-2 missiles that "will provide China with a modern and robust sea-based nuclear deterrent force," . . .

Look, Mr. Murtha. For a year you've been making noise about sounding a full retreat from Iraq, but haven't been able to muster the support to get it done. In fact, you've never even offered the necessary bill to defund the effort, showing that you do not, when it comes to actual legislating, have the courage of your convictions.

So, maybe you can redeem yourself with this one: be the first one to carry the legislation to do the things you're complaining about--equipment, training, the strategic reserve. C'mon, Mr. Murtha . . . put your money where your mouth is.

Or, better yet . . . . . put up or shut up.

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