National Defense

Defense Industry Does Not Support Cuts to Defense Budget


Breaking news alert! People who are paid to represent the U.S. defense are not happy about proposed cuts to the U.S. defense budget, according to The Free Beacon

Congress, in its August debt limit deal, signed off on $487 billion in defense cuts over the next decade. Failure to agree on further cuts by December will lead to another $500 billion reduction in defense spending, otherwise known as "sequestration."

"We're looking at it all with a great deal of concern," said Cord Sterling, a vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association, explaining that quality is ultimately sacrificed as contractors are forced to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

The cuts are expected to cost the industry a third of its active workforce, cause manufacturing plants to be shuttered, and lead to a reduction in the amount of money spent on research and development projects, which are seen as critical to the industry's ability to innovate.

"There are major shifts that will take place," Sterling said. "This is significant and long term. You can't turn it off and on."

Here's what turning it off would look like:

So if the sequester goes through, we'd cut defense spending all the way back to the lean and defenseless days of 2007 before letting spending start to rise toward record highs again. 

But what about all the high-tech space age weaponry we'd be supposedly be missing out on if the cuts go through? Granted, I like lasers as much as the next kid who grew up watching Star Wars. And guess what? We may be just a few years away from warships with frikin' lasers mounted on their decks, which will definitely come in handy when the Navy has to fight off an alien invasion.

But a lot of the fancy new military tech looks less like something out of sci-fi and more like something that should be headed straight for the junkyard. Take, for instance, the facepalm-worthy debacle of the Navy's next-gen Littoral warship, an oceanic minehunter that's only barely seaworthy and, uh, can't find mines. As Wired's Spencer Ackerman reported in January:

It's bad enough that the Navy's newest ship has had wicked problems with corrosion, missed out on thelatest naval wartime missions and is generally something of a Frankenstein's monster. Now the Pentagon's top weapons tester has found problems with its abilities to find and withstand mines — which is a big problem for a ship that's supposed to be the Navy's minehunter of the future.

That's the assessment of the director of the Operational Testing and Evaluation office, summing up a year's worth of trials for the Littoral Combat Ship, the Navy's cherished — and expensive — next-generation ship for warfare close to a shoreline. Little wonder that defense analysts think the ship is headed for the budgetary chopping block, even though the Navy wants 55 of the things and only has three.

The report finds that the Littoral Combat Ship's systems for spotting mines, the AN/AQS-20A Sonar Mine Detecting Set and the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System, are "deficient" for their primary task. That deficiency, if uncorrected, will "adversely affect the operational effectiveness" of a ship that's already "not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat environment."

You know, the Rebels may have destroyed the Death Star in the end, but at least it worked. 

Like a lot of industries that rely heavily on government funds, the defense industry frequently acts as if it has a natural right to a certain amount of taxpayer money, as if previous spending levels set a floor for future spending. This is reinforced by politicians on both sides of the aisle who actually agree with them: Mitt Romney, for example, has proposed spending a minimum of 4 percent of the economy on defense, which would require substantial increases from current dollar totals. But what Uncle Sam giveth he can also taketh away, or at least he ought to be able to.

Indeed, the defense industry's main talking point often seems to be that, well, reduced federal spending on defense would lead to a smaller defense industry. Isn't that the whole point? When it comes to military budget, it sometimes seems like the defense industry is mainly interested in defending itself. 

I told you those Navy lasers might come in handy:

Here's Reason contributing editor Veronique de Rugy on the invincibility of the military industrial complex.

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on Why Conservatives and Liberals Reject Science

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  1. I predict Battleship will be one of best movies based on a board game this year.

    1. Set the bar a little lower, Stephen Hawking cant quite clear it.

      1. Put balloon tires on his chair and he’ll get over it.

    2. But I’m only going to see Monopoly!

      1. Mall Madness or nothing at all.

        1. Risk.

    3. Space Hulk.

      wait…that might actually make a good movie.

      1. Ultramarines was such a cinematic classic.

        1. did that actually get made?

  2. Like a lot of industries that rely heavily on government funds, the defense industry frequently acts as if it has a natural right to a certain amount of taxpayer money, as if previous spending levels set a floor for future spending.

    I watched 60 Minutes Monday because of a segment featuring Dr Robert Lustig and the toxicity of sugar. While waiting for it I saw a cry-fest about the people of Brevard County, FL being hurt by the cancellation of the Space Shuttle and Project Constellation. Kennedy Space Center’s billions was the norm, and should go on forever, evidently.

    1. I was disappointed that Florida didn’t push harder to retool portions of the Cape for pure commercial use. The location is a good one, and attracting commercial space to replace the departing government-run stuff would seem to make sense. Still time to correct that, but by not moving that direction, the screams about the tits moving away aren’t much of a surprise.

      1. So far the only real commercial launch provider that has any actual launches under their belt is Spacex, which did take over one of the old defunct Titan launch pads at the cape. So far Orbital Sciences hasn’t launched its entry into the COTS program yet (though that will change later this year if all goes according to plan), and when it does it will be from Wallops Island instead of the cape. Liekwise Sierra Nevada hasn’t launched its Dreamchaser spacecraft on even a test flight so far. When/ if it finally does, IIRC, it will be on an Atlas V, which currently launches from the cape.

        FWIW I don’t count the Atlas V or Delta IV as commercial vehicles because their development was paid for entirely by the DoD, and they’re not commercially competitive (what a surprise).

        1. Sierra Nevada: Beer and Spaceships. What Could Go Wrong?

    2. Hopefully, we will be treated to more and more of such cry-fests.

      1. Oh, we will. The money is running out. Regardless of the wishful thinking of Our Masters in DC, the budget will be cut until it balances. The only question is when, not whether.

        1. Cut the budget, or the budget will cut itself.

          1. The budget is emo?

    3. Did Lustig also mention his fervent belief that sugar must be regulated by the federal government for the sake of the childrunz?

      1. Not directly, though he compared sugar to alcohol and tobacco. But yeah, I know about that. Scientists often make lousy politicians.
        Einstein wrote, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.” Never mind that was written to be published in May 1949, with National Socialist Germany freshly defeated, Communist China recently minted, and Soviet Russia still in full flower.

        1. Scientists often make lousy politicians.

          People aren’t numbers or abstract fields. You can’t calculate upon them and expect them to cooperate.

          1. Scientists often make lousy scientists

  3. If you’re for cutting defense spending, you’re against the troops. And you hate America.


  4. Threadjack:

    Earlier John was talking about how all Massholes sound like the people in THE HOPPA commercial.

    I had to call the MA Department of Revenue today. If Reasonoids from other parts of the country want a good laugh, call 617-887-6367 and listen to the phone tree guy. It’s a scream.

    1. For me, one of the saddest parts of being here is that I actually rarely get to hear those accents.

      1. Just go talk to some cops in Watertown. They all sound like that and are tremendous pricks to boot.

        1. I make it a point to not talk to cops at all.

  5. After watching that trailer, all I have to say is that I liked Battleship when it was called Independence Day

    /Welcome to earf.

  6. Take the word Tampa.

    Many southern new englanders pronounce Tampa as Tamper.

    Take the word hopper.

    Many southern new englanders pronounce hopper as hoppa.

    1. Meh… In New Orleans we have streets named after the Muses. The Yats can’t seem to wrap their mouths around a few.

      Terpsichore becomes turpsa-kore
      Euterpe becomes u-turp
      Calliope becomes kaly-ope
      Melpomene becomes mel-pa-meen
      and best of all, Clio, because the street signs have a sans-serif font, gets mangled into Cl-10 and pronounced klie-ten.

      1. Buena Vista, VA: Be-you-nah.
        Houston Street in Manhattan: Hose-ton.

    2. A friend of mine from Boston explained the nuances of the New England dialect to me once – fascinating.

    3. Aussies do the same thing. Although the real trick to an Aussie accent is to pronounce every sentence as if it’s a question.

      1. California, Dude! Valley!

  7. Aren’t we always ready for the last war? The Civil War shouldn’t have been a “stand in a long line and slug it out” affair but it took several years for that lesson to sink in. The battleship was virtually obsolete by WWII but the world’s navies were ready with all sorts of expensive new ships – Bismarck, Yamato, Missouri, etc. instead of putting their money into carriers. Now many think the carriers have been obsoleted by missiles and ultra quiet submarines. It would be really informative to see a discussion on what defensive weapons the U.S. is really going to need for future potential threats.

    1. Solo spacecraft ala Star Wars. That is the future.

      1. Space drones?

    2. That is because we don’t know what technologies or tactics are obsolete until they are used in battle. And sometimes in hindsight only. For example, even though more accurate guns and cannons should have stopped generals using mass formation charges early on but they were used till the end of the war. And the primary reason the US went to a carrier centered battlegroup in WWII was because we lost all our battleships in Pearl Harbor. And we were still trying to build bigger and better battleships throughout WWII.

  8. Scott Brown is a big government republican.

    I predicted that the size and scope of government would increase while Scott Brown was a senator.

    I also predicted that Scott Brown would contribute to the growing size and scope of government.

    Scott Brown is a totalitarian tool.

  9. You know, the Rebels may have destroyed the Death Star in the end, but at least it worked.

    That’s because the Emporer was not a forgiving guy.

    Which kind of makes you wonder how Vader managed to not get his ass handed to him for failing to protect a 2 meter wide thermal exhaust port.

    1. Well, Vader had Tarkin to blame.

      In fact, one way to really reconcile the otherwise really inconvenient fact that in ESB and ROTJ Vader is the #2 guy in the galaxy, but in ANH Vader is Tarkin’s bitch lackey, is to say that Vader knew on some Force-Subconscious level that the Death Star was toast and he was letting Tarkin fail.

      1. ^^This!!
        The destruction of Death Star 1, the pride of the Imperial High Command but hated by the Imperial Navy, was Vader’s ticket to a better position in the Emperor’s court and the loyal backing of the Navy (at least until the incident with LC Needa when Gone to serve Vader became a galaxywide euphemism for untimely death). Why was he out dog-fighting in a single seat fighter instead of staying on the cushy battle bridge of the Death Star if not to impress the Navy and be conveniently elsewhere when his boss was killed by his son?

        1. in-depth analysis of the politomilitary aspirations of StarWars characters.

          This is why I love Hit & Run.

          1. This is why I love Hit & Run.
            Seconded. Where else can one get into wonderfully heated discussions about police abuse of power, the overwhelming Leviathan of the welfare/warfare state, first principles and philosophy, economics, and the regional superiority of foodstuffs all in one thread? Never have I met a more varied, erudite, and welcoming group. If I find out there are some A.F.O.L. (Adult Fans Of Lego) here, I might just Santorum with delight. 😉

            1. Adult Fans Of Lego

              I just started rebuilding my collection this xmas. They make great desk toys.

              1. Awesome!! I got hooked again 7 years ago, after a 20 year hiatus, when we started buying Star Wars sets for the nephews. Now we have a 2 year old and we’re getting her started on the Duplo Disney Princesses and Winnie The Pooh series.

                1. Does she enjoy those? My wife and I are having a girl in june and I thought I might start a little stockpile now.

                  1. At this point, 18 months, she loves just about anything tactile and brightly colored but yes, she loves them.

                  2. My wife and I are having a girl in june and I thought I might start a little stockpile now.

                    whatever you need to tell yourself 😉

            2. Well met l0b0t, Legos farking rule.

              1. Right back at ya brother. Cheers.

  10. The Littoral Combat Ship is a floating coffin for Navy corpsmen, figuratively speaking.

    1. It’s a nice idea though. The whole point of LCS is to have something smaller & faster to deal with shit like pirates & other non-monolithic opponents.

      They were also supposed to be designed with a lot of automation in order to reduce the number of sailors required.

      I can’t speak to the implementation – evidently it’s not good, but as far as I can tell, the development of every single new ship system has suffered form the same types of debacles.

      Full disclosure: I will most likely lose my job if LCS gets cancelled.

      1. Joshua|4.3.12 @ 1:48PM|#
        The whole point of LCS is to have something smaller & faster to deal with shit like pirates…

        Have the Barbary wars taught us nothing?! You tell the marines to sail into their harbors, and then blow themselves up! *From the Halls of Montezuuuuma, to the shores of Tripoli!!… Hoo Rahh!!! GET SOME PIRATES!!!*

  11. When it comes to military budget, it sometimes seems like the defense industry is mainly interested in defending itself

    From my (extremely) limited experience (…but *some*), in many cases its not the DoD or the Pentagon so much that demands ever-increasing budgets, but rather congress… which is constantly horse-trading on all sorts of issues in order to guarantee they either a) retain the existing amount of federal spending on military projects in their states/districts, or b) come up with whopping NEW projects to get a piece of, send back to their home districts.

    I’ve heard of multiple instances where Generals/Joint chiefs have *objected* to increasing funding for failing/failed projects – in fact praying for the thing to die – and directing those funds to more “core” operational requirements rather than the GEN3 SMART STEALTH GYROCOPTER or the MINESWEEPER OF TOMORROW… But that congress is far less interested in having ‘defense’ funds actually end up used by the Military… they want it to go to their chosen contractors. Or at least go into decades-long development projects with unknown horizons… Gifts that keep on giving.

    I admit, often the Pentagon plays ball, or even generates their own nonsense-programs… but my feeling is that the cycle of entitlement is perpetuated largely by ‘elected officials’ more than the military. Just my impression

    1. ^^^This. Too much procurement is performed on a political basis.

  12. Hehehe, not only can I post under Banjos, but when I am feeling nostalgic, I can also post under my original handle (Banjos Kick Ass!, I registered both), without fear of someone spoofing me! It is finally safe to post again, the trolls have been vanquished!

    1. When you go to post a comment or response, where it says “You are currently logged in as [you screen name]”, click the link. It takes you to a screen where you can change your user settings, including your handle.

      The main thing registration does is make it more of pain for the griefers. They’d have to constantly register under different email addresses whenever one gets banned.

      BTW, I’m usually Loki, I just changed my handle for this post to show that it’s possible. Sorry.

      1. Now I’m back to Loki. Pretty easy.

        1. Now try it using my handle(s).

          1. Correct, you can’t spoof someone whose handle already exists. Hadn’t tried spoofing an actual person yet. I generally refrain from doing that crap anyway. Joke handles, yes; spoofing actual people, no.

            1. I don’t get it – you can ‘register’ multiple handles? I just thought you alter the current one, and go back as needed.

          2. This do anything for you? Gambol gambol gambol gambol!

            1. Dammit. White Indian is already taken too.

  13. Heh heh. They said (c)Littoral. Heh.

  14. “”We’re looking at it all with a great deal of concern,” said Cord Sterling, a vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association”

    The guy’s name is CORD STERLING! How cool is that? I think we should give him whatever he wants. I bet the President’s name is Dirk Mcbrickpecs.

    1. The guy’s name is CORD STERLING! How cool is that?

      Exactly 42% as cool as “Sterling Archer.”

  15. I think you meant:

    We may be just a few years away from warships with frikin’ lasers mounted on their frikin’ decks

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