I was participating in a project to streamline logistics systems in the Iraq theater when the group of us working on the project were visited by the general in charge of the project. He looked at us very sternly and said, “This war is bankrupting our country and we can’t plan on fighting it the same way we have in the past.” I use quotes because it struck me so hard that I remembered exactly what he said. I have to be honest, until that moment I thought we had an unlimited amount of money to fight and win these wars.
It was very sobering to hear someone that high up the chain say those words. Essentially, he wanted to focus on getting the most bang for our bucks because the bucks are running out.
That leads me to this.
The CBO is looking for ways to cut money from the military budget. They’ve made suggestions ranging from cutting pay increases to increasing taxes.
I would like to point out a few things I have noticed. First, when dealing with logistics I am appalled and never surprised by the amount of money that we spend hiring a single contractor to do the job of one soldier in theater. The cost per capita for a contractor is way more than a soldier. We need to use fewer contractors. We can do this two ways: 1) allowing soldiers to do the job we pay them to do. This is an unpopular option, especially with the current OPTEMPO already faced by Soldiers. This would lead to making soldiers deploy without proper dwell time. The thought is not appealing to me either, after having done 2 extended deployments. 2) Begin cutting contractor provided services in theater. This would mean that Soldiers would have to do without certain amenities currently afforded. Those amenities would be clean water, electricity, billeting, warm food, vehicle repair and parts etc. Again not appealing to me either. This would mean once again asking the service member to sacrifice. This would mean an overall drawdown of the infrastructure we have spent so long building.
Other than asking more sacrifice from those already risking life and limb, we could ask the American people to actually pay for the wars that we are fighting for them. That is code for raising taxes by the way. We have actually done the opposite of what every country in recorded history has done, lowered taxes in a time of war. Considering no more has been asked of the American public than that they continue shopping since the beginning of these campaigns. If the American people actually consider not paying for the war then we withdrawal. We are the American Army this is supposedly a war to protect them, if they don’t want to pay then we can’t play.
This especially struck as I watched the Teabaggers yesterday in D.C. Their messages were inconsistent. I would see a sign that said, “Don’t Raise My Taxes,” next to a sign that said, “Support the Troops.” These people, the anti-tax advocates, seem to be oblivious that China is paying for the troops to fight these wars because they can’t be bothered to pay more taxes, and asking people of any political persuasion to pay more taxes is unpopular and a death-knell for a politicians career. If the American people and our Representatives are serious about supporting the troops, I think it’s time they prove it by not asking us, ‘the troops,’ to sacrifice anymore than we already do daily. It’s time for us to be realistic that fighting wars isn’t cheap and we can’t put it on the credit card without destroying our country. We have already spent enough money to pay for healthcare for all Americans ten-fold. I would also like to see these people with the Chinese-made yellow-ribbon magnets put their money where their magnet is.
The military should, of course, be good stewards of the equipment and supplies under our purview. Even with 100% efficient systems there will be waste. Not to mention, nation-building is not cheap and doing it in two countries also raises the cost significantly. One of those countries not having any great infrastructure compounds an already significantly expensive operation.
The bottom line is that this war is bankrupting our country, and it seems the country, our representatives and civilian leaders have no problem asking us, the service member, to sacrifice, more and more and more. If America as a whole wants to continue these wars they should be forced to pay for them. They should be forced to feel the sting of sacrifice for these things that are, supposedly, so important to them. Once that sting hits them we’ll see how important these exercises in nation-building are to them as bridges collapse in Minnesota, aging, out-dated power grids fail in California and state governments shut down because they no longer have the capital to provide services to their citizens. Really where should their sacrifice be going?