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"Pentagon Will Not Target Firms' Profits: Official"

This is my first diary, and I consider myself new to Daily Kos. I should point out two things. First, my only career since 19 has been with the Defense Department -- either as an enlisted man or civil servant. I have fallen in to a life of serving. It wasn't really deliberate, but it happened. Why then would I write a diary critical of the DoD? I write this to join the chorus of warnings dating back to President Eisenhower.

Second, I'm a new member of the left, a reformed right winger if you will. I don't know if I just grew up or got tired of the political lies. So as I try to express myself, I hope I make some sense here.

Pentagon Will Not Target Firms' Profits: Official
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS
Published: 30 Nov 2011
Defense News (DefenseNews.com)

Angry yet? Or is that a misleading headline for the "I only read headlines" crowd?

I saw it early this morning while scanning headlines for defense news related to my work, and I got a little miffed. Then I saw the same article aggregated in the Early Bird. For those who don't know, the Early Bird is an online compendium of civilian news, selected by editors at DOD and reprinted inside the DoD network.

Now, in the old days, the Early Bird was printed and faxed around the world. It was actually cut from papers and hand placed. It was much harder to do saturation messaging back then. Today, it's electronic, and the top nine or so articles were all reflecting the dire warnings about the automatic trigger cuts for DoD ($1 Trillion / 10 years)

So we're all on message. Don't cut DoD or bad things will happen.

Back to the article.

NEW YORK - Even with the Pentagon looking to make widespread cuts and improve efficiency, profitability is not a target and it may increase, Shay Assad, U.S. Defense Department director of procurement and acquisition policy, told an audience of investors Nov. 30.

Link

Angry yet? I'm not so much angry as I am concerned that we're taking the time to reach out to the poor, starving defense titans to reassure them about profits.

This isn't leading from the front, in my opinion. It is nearly catering to the defense-industrial complex. I was instructed to look out for the weak link in the squad. You help the guy who can't ruck it out.  Everyone pulls together, and if need be the higher-ups get into the fight and we all stick it out.

So what I'd like to hear from this Director and in the strategic message from the top is:

We are going to cut spending, that means less profits as we focus on our people after ten years of war. The defense industry is a large employer, but the long ride of record profits has to end. The defense industry going to be tasked to find a way to carry on with their work, take care of their people and take a cut in profits. Everyone from the President down to the contracting officer is going to insist they go forward while giving back to the workers.

Fantasy. I know I'll never hear that.

But no. That's not the message.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse 2011 Aerospace & Defense Conference, Assad said that the Pentagon is concerned with cost reduction, not margin reduction, and that he would be surprised if profitability went down even as spending is decreased.

There were protesters there, according to the article. That's always a good thing. Keeps the folks out front sharp.

"It's not too late to quit your job," one young woman shouted.

Now I honor this protester who was swept out the side exit. But I don't want the very large Defense Department workforce, civilian, officer and enlisted, to go in the unemployment line. I want the capitalism dialed back a few notches. Right now it's at 11 and we could use it turned way, way down.

Honestly, back in the late 80s as a young enlisted guy, I remember meeting my first contractor, a mechanic. I thought, "OK we need this guy." Then as I grew up in the system, I grew more cynical and jaded. The systems got better. We all got more lethal. Ok. I get it.  Fewer people. More systems. Check.

All that changed with 9/11. Now the "enemy" was "everywhere" and money, if it ever was as object of concern, appeared from "everywhere."

The old revolving door rules were gone, and as I began to question my own right-wing views, a kicker was seeing my commanding general walk out the door one day and into a very nice job at Lockheed Martin. I nearly cried, honestly. Recently I saw another of my commanding generals have his staff announce a consulting contract for the whole command. Then he retired. Then I read the press release from that same consulting firm announcing they had hired my now-retired commanding general. I really felt betrayed. It was all legal (as long as he follows a few rules as he works for them.) It didn't used to be that way did it?  Is the game so rigged now? Or was I always in the dark? Ok enough of my own walk through memory lane....

Now the trigger cuts are on deck and the message machine is in full gear. Hoping for a hail mary I suppose.

The dire warnings in the defense-centric media have been coming for months now. Moody's warned us. Mr. Panetta had really been pushing this warning. But I think someone pulled him back.  But maybe they just changed his tune to preaching about the job losses that go with DoD cutbacks.

Who knows what the message is on this tomorrow? But I hope the President can get in there and make this about people rather than defense-industry profits.

I fear the hawks will continue to roll out threat scenarios that support big ticket weapon systems while the civilian and military folks take it on the chin.

The House Speaker has rolled outwith that message, and I expect the Republicans can pull military-dependent  Democratic Party folks further down the road.

“He’s the commander –in-chief,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “He knows what those cuts mean to the military and so I frankly believe that Congress still must work with the president to find a solution to our long-term debt.”

via Politico

No sir.

Let the Defense cuts stand. Prioritize people over contractor profits. Remember that the people behind those weapon systems are the real power. The real danger is the hollowing out of America. Part of that hollowing out is spending too much on offense, and calling it defense.

We made a mistake and watched a potential $3 trillion dollar tab pile up for Iraq (when all is eventually counted and paid up).  So we took lives, spilled blood and if that's not horrible enough, we pretended we could have a war without raising taxes to fund it for the first time in modern US history. It has been a mistake, but we can recover.

One of the many military "themes" is "Mission first. People always."

If we don't focus on the People while we get on with these cuts, we're just speeding up on our way over the cliff. Ike gave the only warning we need to be concerned about 50 years ago.

So I'll end with that.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Originally posted to Reformed and trying to be reasonable on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 07:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos and Community Spotlight.

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