As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gates Defenders, Ball's In Your Court

Some liberals have had a field day praising Bob Gates for his courageous maneuvers to stick it to the military industrial complex and stop the continued funding of some of the most obsolete Cold War weapons out there. I consistently argued that Gates wasn't trying to put a shiv in the bloated military budget, he was trying to save it - by shifting spending to other priorities currently in vogue, but keeping the same baseline numbers that remain larger than the rest of the entire world combined. Winslow Wheeler echoes this in an article for Politico. He adds up all the money appropriated to the military and veterans, whether in the Pentagon budget or other accounts, and comes up with nearly $1 trillion dollars for the next fiscal year. And then, this:

Finally, what about all those “sweeping changes” the think-tank pooh-bahs will declare they see in the Pentagon budget — well, actually, in its press release?

Didn’t happen.

For example, while Gates’ excellent decision to stop making ultra-high-cost, badly underperforming F-22 fighters opened the door for reform, he slammed it shut when he took advice to go with the F-35 fighter-bomber.

It is not just that the F-35 is literally designed to be a failure as a fighter and a mediocrity as a bomber; the program to acquire it is the antithesis of reform.

Consider this: The plan Gates has been persuaded to follow is to buy 510 F-35s before the flight testing is complete, and that testing will verify only 17 percent of the aircraft’s performance characteristics. The rest will be validated — if that’s the word you want to use — by simulation and desk studies.

It’s business as usual, pure and simple.

I'm looking for those same Gates defenders to respond to this, but so far they have not taken the opportunity. Hopefully they will soon.

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