Category Archives: Militarization & Control of Space

Financial Times applauds Chuck Hagel’s Pentagon plans

A US army that is leaner but stronger

Financial Times, February 26, 2014

Editorial

Hagel’s vision is right – but needs the backing of Congress

It is never easy to slim the Pentagon behemoth. In times of emergency, such as after the 9/11 attacks, US defence spending tends to balloon rapidly. In times of relative calm, previous gains are rarely clawed back. Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon chief, this week broke with the trend, outlining a vision for a leaner US defence posture. It is a vision to be applauded.

The defence secretary’s budget unveiled a reduction in US forces to just 440,000 – its lowest since before Pearl Harbor. From now on, the US would be equipped to fight just one conventional war rather than two simultaneously. Yet it would extend its technological edge and remain more powerful than the combined capability of the next few powers in the world rankings. Mr Hagel’s vision makes sense as far as it goes. However, sketching it out was the easy part. Now he must persuade Congress to put it into effect.

The case for a smaller US army is strong. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American public has little appetite for prolonged foreign occupations. Results on the ground offer little evidence that they have been worth the expense in lives and money. This week President Barack Obama told Hamid Karzai that the US would consider withdrawing altogether from Afghanistan by the end of this year unless Kabul agreed to a treaty putting the US presence on a legal footing. Such an agreement looks remote. After the deaths of 2,313 US personnel and more than $1tn in expenditure, this is a terrible return on investment.

The US army was never equipped to build civil societies in faraway lands. But it will continue to win wars. A slimmer army only reflects the exponential growth in military technology. In 2001, it cost $2,300 to equip a US marine. That has since risen tenfold. The age of the underequipped “grunt” is over. The US army can achieve more with fewer people.

It can also achieve more with a far leaner system of procurement. Mr Hagel offered some cuts to overextended weapons programmes – notably the Combat Littoral Ship, which is billions of dollars over budget and vulnerable to Chinese anti-ship missiles. He also promised to close down the antiquated A10 attack aircraft fleet. But he stopped short of more radical steps to curb the hugely expensive F35 joint strike fighter programme, or wind down the US aircraft carrier fleet from 11 battle groups to 10. Such decisions cannot be ducked. Mr Hagel rightly proposed more spending on US special operations forces and on cyber defence. Both are smart investments against the threats of the future. But he will need to convince Congress to close outdated – but job-generating – weapons systems in order to free up the resources. That political battle has yet to be joined.

In an election year, Pentagon budgets usually go up. Mr Hagel is going against the grain by proposing a virtual freeze on military pay and a reduction in benefits in advance of midterm polls. He has set himself an ambitious task. Leaders in Congress have already signalled they will ignore Mr Hagel’s budget and produce a more lavish one of their own. Critics of his proposal have quite wrongly said it would reduce America’s ability to defend itself and embolden its enemies.

Even in less fiscally austere times, the case for a less bloated Pentagon would be overwhelming. It is supported by US military chiefs and by successive defence secretaries, both Republican and Democratic. Those who fight America’s wars do not mistake waste and duplication for military readiness. Congress specialises in such myopia. It is now up to Mr Hagel and the White House to take the case to the US public. The future of the Pentagon is far too important to be left to business as usual on Capitol Hill.

[Comment by the Web Administrator:  This Editorial illustrates how terms and concepts are abused to convey an ideology]

Pentagon cannot track $2.3 in transactions

More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.

 "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.

 

The War On Waste


LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29, 2002
The Pentagon. (AP)
    
(CBS) On Sept. 10, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, "the adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy," he said.

He said money wasted by the military poses a serious threat.

"In fact, it could be said it’s a matter of life and death," he said.

Rumsfeld promised change but the next day ? Sept. 11– the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste seems to have been forgotten.

Just last week President Bush announced, "my 2003 budget calls for more than $48 billion in new defense spending."

More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.

"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.

$2.3 trillion ” that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.

"We know it’s gone. But we don’t know what they spent it on," said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Minnery, a former Marine turned whistle-blower, is risking his job by speaking out for the first time about the millions he noticed were missing from one defense agency’s balance sheets. Minnery tried to follow the money trail, even crisscrossing the country looking for records.

"The director looked at me and said ‘Why do you care about this stuff?’ It took me aback, you know? My supervisor asking me why I care about doing a good job," said Minnery.

He was reassigned and says officials then covered up the problem by just writing it off.

"They have to cover it up," he said. "That’s where the corruption comes in. They have to cover up the fact that they can’t do the job."

The Pentagon’s Inspector General "partially substantiated" several of Minnery’s allegations but could not prove officials tried "to manipulate the financial statements."

Twenty years ago, Department of Defense Analyst Franklin C. Spinney made headlines exposing what he calls the "accounting games." He’s still there, and although he does not speak for the Pentagon, he believes the problem has gotten worse.

"Those numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year," he said.

Another critic of Pentagon waste, Retired Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, commanded the Navy’s 2nd Fleet the first time Donald Rumsfeld served as Defense Secretary, in 1976.

In his opinion, "With good financial oversight we could find $48 billion in loose change in that building, without having to hit the taxpayers."
 

Space Hawks Chase Death Rays

Space Hawks Chase Death Rays

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70303-0.html?tw=wn_index_1

By John Lasker for Wired News

Mar, 01, 2006

For more than a year, Bruce Gagnon strongly suspected he and his family were being spied on, but he didn’t have any evidence, and he didn’t know who might be behind it.

An Air Force veteran, Gagnon is one of the most prominent activists in the world concerned with space weapons. He directs the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space from a small office in Maine.

Still, he was caught off guard when the American Civil Liberties Union called and told him it had uncovered court documents revealing that NASA and the U.S. Air Force were secretly monitoring him.

"We’re a small organization with meager resources," said Gagnon. "They feel threatened by us? That tells us something."

As tourists line up to ride private rocket ships into space, the galaxy has never seemed closer as a theater for war. The evidence goes beyond surreptitious surveillance of peace-loving space activists. Even now, lobbyists from the fledgling commercial space industry are besieging Capitol Hill, hoping to persuade the government to hand out contracts to help put the U.S. military into orbit.

This week is "March Storm," when 50 to 75 lobbyists will spend three days speaking with staffers from more than 250 offices on Capitol Hill. Some of the lobbyists represent the aerospace industry, but most have been hired by smaller space startups and entrepreneurs.

The big talking point? How the private sector can help the U.S. military build space-based weapons a lot faster and with a lot less of taxpayers’ money.

"The U.S. military still doesn’t have the capability to launch a spy satellite on demand," said Marc Schlather, director of ProSpace, the lobbyist group coordinating March Storm. "We are seeking a cross-pollination."

The Bush administration, as the Clinton administration before it, continues to push forward President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — or "Star Wars" — a wide-ranging space weapons program first proposed in the mid-1980s.

Since the ’80s, the military has spent an estimated $120 billion trying to develop weapons that could destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical warheads targeting American cities.

Yet in the 20 years since Reagan called for this multilayered "space shield," the military is still light-years away from deploying any directed-energy weapons or anti-satellite mines.

Despite the lack of tangible progress, the Bush administration increased the Star Wars budget by 20 percent for 2007, with the total allocation reaching $10.7 billion, an increase of nearly $6 billion since 1999.

Gagnon is convinced this master plan for space defense is nothing but a fantastic Trojan horse.

"This massively costly program under way today is not really about defense," he said. "The true purpose of this arms program is to control and dominate space. And whoever controls space will control the Earth."

Gagnon and other critics say the military’s ambition to control space has been an objective since the beginning of the Cold War.

The Bush administration has called for a permanent base on the moon by 2020, Gagnon noted. Once there, the United States will be able to monopolize the moon’s resources, he said, such as helium-3, an element rare on Earth but abundant on the moon that may drive nuclear fusion.

In January, Russia announced a similar plan, aiming to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2015 and mining operations to extract helium-3 by 2020. China, which in 2003 became the third country in the world to send a human into space, has announced plans for an unmanned lunar landing by 2010, and a manned moon mission by 2020.

To protect U.S. interests, Gagnon said space-based weapons will be deployed near or on the moon.

"The military has stated the moon is the ultimate high ground," Gagnon said. "There’s going to be a scramble for the moon by the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans. This is real. There’s going to be a conflict over it."

Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank, said the militarization of space is being championed by factions in the Air Force, the Pentagon, the Defense Department and even the White House — but not by all.

"There is a debate ongoing about the wisdom, the affordability and the do-ability of implementing a full-up space-war fighting strategy," she said.

But because China is claiming to have developed anti-satellite capabilities, and the U.S. military is fighting terrorists across the globe, "these space hawks are emboldened now," said Hitchens.

On the other hand, Hitchens said there are factions within the Air Force and the White House against the militarization of space, mostly because the cost would run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Hitchens said the space hawks, which include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, have clearly stated their goals in several strategic-planning reports published during the last several years.

"While our ultimate goals are truly to ‘exploit’ space through space force enhancement and space force application missions, as with other mediums, we cannot fully ‘exploit’ that medium until we first ‘control’ it," said U.S. Space Command in the recent Strategic Master Plan FY06 and Beyond.

Controlling space, said sources, was outlined in a Department of Defense report published in 2000 titled Joint Vision 2020. The report introduces the doctrine of Full Spectrum Dominance, or supremacy on land, sea, air — and space.

"In the past, Full Spectrum Dominance meant land, sea and air," said a public affairs officer from U.S. Space Command, who declined to give his name. "Now it encompasses cyberspace and space.

"We need to operate in the realm of space. No doubt about it," added the officer. "We also reserve the right to protect our assets in space."
 
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space