Pass in Review!

Bill Neinast

In a few weeks, Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump
should command, “Pass in review!”  This will not be the ordinary order for troops to march past the reviewing stand, but an order for the entire Defense Department to be reviewed.

Protecting the 50 states from foreign assault is the most serious responsibility of the US.  That is the mission of the Department of Defense.  

This department, like all government departments, is driven by the budget.  So-called shortfalls in that budget are blamed for the obsolete and poorly maintained air and naval equipment.  One of the eight engines falling off a 1960s era B-52 last week is the latest evidence of the type of equipment the Air Force is trying to work with.

Unfortunately, interest and money has switched from guarding against foreign assaults to watching homegrown terrorists.  In the absence of hand-carried nuclear weapons, the most carnage local terrorists can inflict is on the order of a World Trade Center destruction with 3,000 deaths.

A volley of intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads, however, would incinerate millions of souls.  Both Russia and China have that capability and North Korea is well of the way to join the club.  This means that every metropolitan area of the country could be obliterated in one coordinated attack.  The chances of that occurring are small, but when the trigger for such an attack is in the hands of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, it could happen.

Also, are some of those missiles being replaced with drones that can fly higher with more stealth capabilities?  If so, what will be required to detect and defend against a drone attack?

The destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons has eliminated the need for armadas of antiquated B-52s for carpet bombing. As there is no need in drones for human life support systems, they are much cheaper to make and maintain than bombers with crews.  They 

are also many times more accurate in hitting chosen targets. So should the bombers of old and all the maintenance they require be sent to scrap heaps?

That is just about the air war.  What about the oceans?

The recent news about China “capturing” one of our drone submarines opens another chapter. Our nuclear powered submarines with missiles are behemoths.  Much of that size is required to support the human crews.  They must frequently return to port or tender ships to replenish the human needs.  

Is it possible that those old subs could be replaced with drones that carry just as many missiles?  If so, those drone subs could stay immobile on the bottoms of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for months.  They would have to return to port or tenders infrequently for routine maintenance of the missiles, war heads, and power systems.  

A review of these two platforms of the defense budget by experienced businessmen aided by capable, experiences military leaders could result in tremendous savings on future military budgets.

Those savings would be in the materiel field, the largest part of the budget.  But what about the personnel costs where all the services are clamoring for more men in arms?

There, too, a business review of the personnel organization of the Department of Defense could result in more boots on the ground at no additional expense.

Take, as an example, legal services for defense.  There are seven separate legal offices in the Pentagon.  There is a three star Judge Advocate General for each of the services, a general counsel for each service, and a general counsel for DOD.  Each of them is performing the same legal service, some of which is duplicitous, for the three services.

There would be no diminishment of legal services in the Pentagon if all of those offices were consolidated into one under the command of one Judge Advocate General.  

The personnel spaces eliminated in closing six of the seven offices could be transferred into the combat arms.  As most of of the incumbents are high ranking officers, the money saved by the consolidation could pay for a much larger number of lower ranking combat troops.

The lawyers or JAGs in the field would be fitted with uniforms different from all the other soldiers, sailors, and air men in the field and could be assigned to an army post for one tour and to an air base for the next.

The same type of consolidation could be considered for other combat service support branches like the chaplains, medics, engineers, finance, ordinance, and others.  These branches do not have the type of duplication of the legal offices in the Pentagon, so not as many personnel spaces would be eliminated.  Nonetheless, there would be more spaces available for combat troops

So here’s the perspective.

A review of these issues by highly qualified and experiences businessmen with the help of seasoned military officers could produce a better equipped and staffed military force with no increase in the defense budget.

Let’s hope President Trump barks out (or maybe tweets out) a “Pass in Review” order.


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