We heard a lot of things that the next president will be dealing with but the one glaring omission from both sides of the fence is the quicksand that is building around the Pentagon. In a world where the US is involved in a war on two front we have a defense budget that is larger in inflation adjusted dollars than at any point since the end of WWII. this might be fine except our Army has fewer combat divisions tha before in that period, the Navy has fewer combat ships and the Air Force has fewer combat aircraft.
While the Pentagon has been pushing an increased reliance of technology documents from both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would suggest that there has been no improvement. In fact as Winslow Wheeler from the DefenseNews site points out in an article today
It gets worse. According to data collected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and many others, major categories of military hardware are, on average, aging dramatically. In some cases, our equipment is older than it has ever been. CBO also shows us that the officially approved plan in each of the military services is for this problem to get worse.
Other data from the Pentagon show that significant elements of our armed forces are less ready for combat than they should be. Air Force and Navy combat pilots get one-half to one-third of the in-air training time they had, for example, in the early 1970s. Army units are sent into Iraq and Afghanistan without the months of training and retraining they need with all the equipment and people they will take with them into combat.
This is all happening during a time of increasing cost overruns that are seeing no end in sight and not a single current major weapon has been deliveredon time, on cost and as promised for performance
The Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-35, can be regarded as only a technical failure, and it will cost multiples of the aircraft it replaces, the aging, overweight F-16. The Navy’s newest – ultra-expensive – destroyer cannot protect itself effectively against aircraft and missiles, and the Army’s newest armored vehicles, which cost several million each, can be and have been destroyed by a simple anti-armor rocket that was first designed in the 1940s
So regardless of who wins today’s election process there is a Pentagon so mired in a financial mess that it should provide many sleeplessness nights for the winner – or at least it should.