Readers Sound Off on Recent Stories
Regarding your April 2012 article, “U.S. Weapons Manufacturers Feeling the Wrath of Arms-Control Activists” (p. 18-21), if memory serves, this is the same drill we went through after World War I, and should be resisted by anyone with a modicum of intelligence and a knowledge of history.
We all should remember how effective the public anti-armaments efforts were, demonizing the armaments and munitions-makers, and leading to such fabulously “successful” peace agreements, eliminating war in the 20th century, as:
- The 1922 Washington Naval Limitation Treaty, which limited the number and size of warships that could be built, and resulting in Germany building battle cruisers and Japan building up their carrier fleet while the United States, France, and the United Kingdom limited their navies;
- The 1924 Geneva Protocol, which called for the pacific settlement of international disputes, such as Japan’s “peace” efforts in Korea and China (1910 and 1932, respectively), Italy’s in Ethiopia (1935), and Germany’s in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland (1938, 1938 and 1939, respectively); and
- The 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (Pact of Paris), renouncing the use of war in settling international disputes.
Hopefully, Congress will recognize that 9/11 reminded us once again of the validity of the cliché that it takes at least two sides to agree to a peace, but only one to start hostilities.
In reference to, “Amid Political Backlash, Pentagon Pushes Forward With Green Energy” (April 2012, p. 8), I strongly object to the misrepresentation of the opposition to the Pentagon’s pursuit of green energy.
In the 2nd paragraph, Sandra Erwin opines, “When did efforts to save lives and money become cheap partisan fodder?” An unnamed military official says it is “sad” that the military’s campaign to burn less fuel and to secure alternative sources of energy is being politicized. This is a deliberate and obtuse conflation of two separate and distinct issues, reducing consumption and developing alternative (non-petroleum) sources.
The Pentagon and the nation will obviously benefit from reduced fuel consumption. More advanced-technology fuel-efficient engines, generators, and utilities are worth pursuing, as is reduced consumption through revised operational procedures. These will certainly reduce the cost of fuel and quantity transported, with all the ancillary burdens, risks and costs entailed.
The problem is with that idiotic “alternative sources” boondoggle, especially Navy Secretary Mabus’ “Green Fleet” demonstration where he intends to develop and procure outlandishly expensive fuel in order to show that no amount of money is too much to waste for a show.
Emotional anecdotes and lamentations about soldiers risking their lives in convoys to guard petroleum fuel are simply distracting. Any green biofuel would also have to be hauled along the same routes and hazards. The only way to change that is to actually set up that mythical algae-farm/biodiesel plant right there in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that isn’t in the plans, is it?
In the 5th paragraph, Erwin wrote: “In fairness to green-energy critics, the terms of the debate over Pentagon investments in this area have been tough to frame because the goals are so wide ranging.”
Bingo! And that’s where the professional writers of National Defense Magazine are expected to wade in and sort it out into understandable chunks.
Defense Budget Cuts
Just finished reading your column “Industry Recalibrating Strategies for a Declining Defense Market” (May 2012, p. 8), on the Pentagon budget cuts. One element that is missing in most budget discussions and analyses is that current cuts are coming on top of many years of painful cuts, particularly for commands ashore. As a longtime staff member, I have seen mandated 15 percent or more cuts each year for at least a decade.
Over the years at various commands I have seen manpower and budget cuts that have left departments unable to meet their mandated missions. It is only through smoke, mirrors, duct tape and wild creativity that the lights remain on.
To exacerbate the dire budget situation, commands refuse to acknowledge the inability to accomplish what has historically been done before. In short, commanders and commanding officers have been raised expecting a certain level of service from departments and continue to demand support more likely found in the late 1980s than in 2012.
My point being, as painful as today’s cuts and upcoming cuts will be, they have to be seen in light of a decade or more of serious cuts.
San Diego, CA