Monday, December 22, 2008

One Does Not Belong

December 20, 2008 - New York Times editorial:

Here is what we think can be cut back or canceled in order to pay for new equipment and other reforms that are truly essential to keep this country safe:

End production of the Air Force’s F-22.

Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer.

Halt production of the Virginia class sub.

Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey.

Halt premature deployment of missile defense.

Negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons.

Trim the active-duty Navy and Air Force.

Increase the size of the ground force.

Pay for the Navy’s needed littoral combat ships.

Resupply the National Guard and the Reserves.

To answer the question, Which of the NYT's defense cuts does not belong on the list above?, consider that the last three are not cuts at all, are they? Our analysis is reduced to just 7 possibilities. Of the 7, all but two had been mentioned during the election cycle as Obama campaign ideas. Trimming the Navy and Air Force was implied by Increasing the size of the ground forces, also an Obama campaign proposal:

As a co-chair on Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the General agrees that the rookie senator from Illinois believes in a strong military, and with it, a larger Army and Marine Corps. [from here]
The unmentioned (other than perhaps by Barney Frank) cut, then, is obviously halting production of Virginia class subs.

The editorial logic used to support cutting Virginia class (SSN-774) subs is flawed, as our friend Bubblehead explained here.

To review, the NYT editorial proposes cutting military spending in much the manner Obama had already proposed. What purpose does this editorial really serve?

Will spending on our most advanced weapons and intelligence gathering systems (VA class subs) be curtailed? If at all, only from 2 per year back to one. Why? Because the subs are made in states with strong Democratic congressional support.

What, then, is the real impact of the editorial? For Navy admirals it is notice that the stakes are being raised in a traditionally off-limits topic: assignment of females to subs.

For the similarly impacted Air Force the higher stakes involve who, besides pilots, will direct unmanned, remotely controlled aircraft.

In Eisenhower's day the "Military- industrial complex" loomed as the pinnacle of unbridled power. Today, the mantle has shifted to the larger, Legal-politico establishment (lobbyists, trial lawyers, congress, and courts). In this existing complex, only one element is actually elected, and too often those sent to Washington are still lawyers. Where then is effective separation of powers?

M.E. has written often about the likelihood of submarine build rate cuts and the undesirabilities of: female assignment to U.S. nuclear submarines; and, the Legal-politico establishment. Recently, we also uncovered a little-known 1997 NASA study delineating the need for:

Research on gender with respect to behavior and performance on space missions needs to be assessed with respect to space crews, ground crews, families.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 24 December, 2008 11:05, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can pretty much rule out any cuts in Virginia SSN construction. We just ordered 8 more...

At 24 December, 2008 12:18, Blogger Vigilis said...

Yes, indeed, SonarMan!


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