The most costly military waste: Morale
By Mark Alexander
Our Founders, and all qualified commanders in chief since our nation's founding, have understood that the most reliable prerequisite for peace is the ability to prosecute war.
George Washington wrote, "To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." Thomas Jefferson wrote likewise, "Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace."
A modern-era CINC of that stature, Ronald Reagan, said, "The dustbin of history is littered with remains of those countries that relied on diplomacy to secure their freedom. We must never forget ... in the final analysis ... that it is our military, industrial and economic strength that offers the best guarantee of peace for America in times of danger."
The greatest threat to our national security for the last eight years hasn't been Islamic Jihad. It's been the combination of a feckless and disastrous foreign policy of appeasement and the failed domestic economic agenda of Barack Obama.
And those futile and perilous policies have been embraced and will be extended by Hillary Clinton should she win the presidency in November.
Another very serious national security threat is the growing debt bomb — most notably due to federal funding of statist Democratic Party programs for special interest constituencies — all at the expense of national defense spending. A quick look at the U.S. Debt Clock will provide sobering insight into our nation's ever-growing and utterly unsustainable debt.
While Republicans in Congress have actually held some ground on spending in the last eight years, both political parties share substantial responsibility for untenable federal spending growth and waste, both of which have ballooned under the Obama regime.
The most critical part of that budget is its allocation for national defense.
As the Heritage Foundation's senior defense policy analyst, Justin Johnson, notes, "Instead of accepting the lower defense budget level proposed by Obama, Congress should: 1. Recognize the growing threats to U.S. vital interests. 2. Increase the national defense budget to no less than $600 billion for FY 2017. 3. Reduce non-defense discretionary spending to cover the increased defense budget." He concludes, "Congress should take the constitutional responsibility of providing for the common defense seriously, and the first step is to increase funding for national defense in FY 2017."
Those recommendations are consistent with most conservative think tank proposals, but most do not address a critical issue — political and bureaucratic accountability.
When deciding how to spend Americans' tax dollars, and how much debt to extend to future generations, members of Congress often make allocations based on districts and donors — which is to say that when it comes to accountability, they've failed miserably and repeatedly.
In the film "All the President's Men," which covered the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up that eventually led to Richard Nixon's resignation, the "Deep Throat" character advised Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to "follow the money" in order to expose the corruption.
Likewise, if you want to discern between spending in the national interest and waste associated with districts and donors, follow the money. Among the more notable online organizations that track political donations from "special interest" groups is one called Follow the Money and another called Open Secrets.
I recently wrote about the Clinton Crime Syndicate and specifically the Clinton Foundation, noting that to gain a better understanding of the Clintons' influence peddling, "Just follow the money — both in and out." Of course, Hillary Clinton has brilliantly used political cutouts to buffer her from direct prosecution — unless there is something in her recently recovered deleted emails.
Unfortunately, the Department of Defense is also exposed to the "district and donor" influences that define budget allocations — often resulting in military contracts for arms and services that commanders say they neither want nor need.
To put the problem into perspective using one small program, consider the DoD's process for replacing the military's Beretta M9 pistol — while a tiny budget line item, one indicative of the larger problem. Now, I have extensive experience with the M9, and I've always found it reliable. But DoD has launched a $17 million program to test models for a new so-called "Modular Handgun System," the XM17. And that $17 million can be multiplied by all of the ancillary programs and support associated with this program.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said of this expense, "We're not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon. This is a pistol. You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I'll call Cabela's tonight, and I'll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I'll get a discount on a bulk buy."
Of course, that would cut the congressional "district and donor" factor out of the loop. So the XM17 program moves forward.
Despite critical challenges to military readiness, DoD is wasting billions of dollars on politically motivated boondoggles and covering the money trail with fraudulent accounting practices.
Last month an astounding report on DoD's budget noted, "The Defense Department's Inspector General said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up."
Read that again for its full impact.
The waste in military budgets doesn't go unnoticed by our military personnel, whose aging equipment and restricted training endangers both our warriors and our nation. Combine all the unnecessary acquisition programs, the oppressive bureaucracy, and the hundreds of ridiculous political and social mandates forced upon our military by their JV commander in chief, and the military's most valuable resource — morale — begins to hemorrhage.
Obama has used our military as a social testing ground for his homosexual agenda, most recently ordering "gay pride celebrations," opening the closets wide for transsexuals, and naming a ship the USS Harvey Milk after a degenerate homosexual activist and pedophile.
Earlier this week, we detailed Obama's mandate to spend millions of dollars to ensure that anything published by the Marine Corps is gender neutral — a requirement of the other service branches as well.
Beyond the gender mandates, consider the damaging blow to military morale caused by Obama's Rose Garden welcome reception for the parents of Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl — particularly for those Army units who lost personnel in the search for Bergdahl.
And, as the Islamic State threat continues to metastasize to the West, unabated, Obama ordered every military branch to prepare for so-called "climate change," and he issued directives to adjust operations accordingly.
Add to all of this the ineffectual "leadership" of Obama's defense secretary, Ash Carter, and the ineptitude of his ill-equipped secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and his leftist secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, and the decline in morale only accelerates.
In recent months, Carter has, at Obama's behest, dangerously dumbed down the role of women in the military.
Mabus appointed Adm. Michelle Howard as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, despite the fact she has little ship time and no combat experience. He also decreed Navy green fleet mandates and restricted sonar that may be distressing to whales.
For her part, James just acknowledged that by the end of this year the Air Force will be 700 pilots short (21%) of the level required to defend our nation. To understand her impact on Air Force morale, consider her absurd and tasteless remarks praising Obama at the 2016 Air Force Academy graduation.
While our Armed Forces personnel are the best in the world, their effectiveness is being undermined by wasteful and absurd political mandates, at the same time their CINC is asking them to do much more with far less.
The net effect of those mandates is their detrimental influence on our military's most valuable asset, the morale of our warriors. And the decline in morale undercuts, in Washington's timeless words, "the most effectual means of preserving peace."
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.