Or, The stretched military myth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are told on a daily basis by our media, our government and even our top soldiers that the American (and to some extent, the
British and Australian) forces are overstretched. We are told that a war with Iran would be 'almost impossible' and that this war has to cost
millions of dollars each day.
These are lies. Or rather, inaccuracies stemming from the wasteful way we manage our military. We have all seemingly forgotten that years ago we waged
total war against the combined military might of Germany, Italy and Japan and with success, I might add. Yet 60 years later the United States and
allies are at "breaking point" with the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There are many reasons for this, but it boils down to one simple thing. The main priority of our military is not to fight and win anymore, but to
generate Corporate Profit.
In World War II, America alone deployed 75
times the number of troops in combat than it does in the Middle East today. Adjusted for inflation,
the cost of deploying each troop was $20,400. Today, it is topping $400,000.
Despite fielding 75 times less troops, the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2006 came to one-sixth
of the cost of World War II. (1)
The cost of a soldier's equipment alone is 100 times greater than it was in WW2 and 16 times greater than it was in the Vietnam War. If the Pentagon
gets to implement all the technologies it is considering for the soldier, costs could double or even triple. (2)
Our men deserve the best. But you have to ask - are these corporations charging fairly for their products or is the government writing them a blank
check? After examining the facts, it would appear the latter is the truth of it.
Perhaps the more important question is, are our spending habits hindering our ability to fight a large scale war with say, China, or Russia?
Considering the "breaking point" situation we are currently in, it is hard to imagine how we'd wage war against a military superpower.
Army logistics aside, consider the other armed services. The US Air Force's top plane is the F-22 Raptor, $65 billion has been spent on the Raptor
program and the inventory stands at 183 planes with possibility of the production line being closed this year. (3) Russia, on the other hand is
pursuing practical programs to build advanced fighter planes to rival the F-22 for a fraction of the cost. Russia is also neogotiating a sale of 50
Su-33 jets to China for a total of $2.5 billion. A licence to construct Su-33 planes in China would cost a similar price, going by recent deals.
The Navy has it's fair share of problems, too. Delays and escalating prices in the shipbuilding industry has left the Navy without the ships it
needs. As Navy Secretary Donald Winter says, "The Navy has unfortunately eroded its expertise in shipbuilding and systems engineering and developed a
bad habit of relying too much on contractors." The latest shipbuilding project, the LCS, has doubled in price since manufacturing began. All of this
and more, is entirely avoidable if the defense industry wasn't allowed to gorge on every tax dollar it can get its hands on. (5)
More contractor madness...
"Rebuilding Iraq" has been a very profitable venture for Halliburton. Awarded the contract without competition, Halliburton reported sales of $4
billion in late 2003. Further contracts worth $1.4 billion have been awarded to help support the troops. Halliburton also charges the Army $1.59 a
gallon for its oil, yet it can be bought from neighbouring countries for as little as 98 cents. (6)
A South Carolina parts supplier billed and was paid $500k to ship three machine screws costing a little over a dollar each to Iraq. The company was
paid a total of $20.5 million by the Pentagon in fraudlent shipping costs over the past six years. (7, thanks to Joshua for finding this one)
These expenditures are crippling the government, the military, the economy and in the end it affects us all. If you want to fight a war effectively
and sustainably, you cut the waste and tightly control or even nationalize the war industries. You have a sense of fiscal responsibility at every
level of the Defense department. If you need men, you institute a draft. And the most critical point, if you cannot make supplies and equipment
inexpensively and quickly enough then the game is over when facing a foe who can strike your homeland.
If we learned this and more, there would be no "breaking point" in Iraq, and we could take on the whole Middle East if need be.
NB. Could does not mean should.