Surprise! The Pentagon's internal problems are worse than we thought...
September 10, 2002 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Surprise! The Pentagon's internal problems are worse than we thought... And in other news, we still find ourselves fit to order the rest of the world around. That the Pentagon's internal management is a shambles is an understatement. Frank Spinney's testimony in June of this year demonstrates not only the complete failure of the Pentagon to manage itself, but also how the political system acts as a dangerous reinforcement, and vice versa. More important for the soldiers in the field, he also demonstrates how/why some of the tools being used are wholly inadequate and inappropriate. On a related note, does anyone else find it strange that our military planners feel a $350 billion/year budget is not sufficient to handle two "medieval countries" (Afghanistan/Iraq) simultaneously? Makes me glad we never had to take on the Soviets full bore...
posted by tgrundke (10 comments total)
Hey, I have an idea, let's all pretend patriotism and give 'em even more money!! Just so long as it all goes to defense contractors (especially those affiliated with the Carlyle Group) and none to soldiers or veterans, OK? Hang in there, help is on the way!!
posted by nofundy at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2002

In my former life I consulted for big companies. The bigger the company, the bigger the mismanagement of resources. The US Defense Department is several hundred times bigger than any company I ever worked for, so I guess some mismanagement is to be expected. We should work to minimize it, but we will never be able to eliminate it. And I assume breaking up and privatizing Pentagon is out of the question :)
posted by Triplanetary at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2002

How lame a post. What does management problems at the Pentagon have to do with the correctness of our military/foreign policy.

By the way, assuming, arguendo, we are able to "order the rest of the world around," does that not reflect more on the weakness of the rest of the world--their managerial and intellectual weakness--than our own?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:16 PM on September 10, 2002

Makes me glad we never had to take on the Soviets full bore...

Well, yeah. Cause we'd all be... like ... dead, y'know?
posted by Grangousier at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2002

It revolves back to the Eisenhower warning of 1960: Beware the military-industrial-complex and how it operates.
posted by tgrundke at 12:22 PM on September 10, 2002

ParisParamus - what an odd assertion. "If I run a rabbit over, does that not reflect more on the weakness of the rabbit".

No - it reflects the fact that your nation sits on a disproportionate share of the earth's resources and that, in exploiting them with passable competency (or, at least, a competency unfettered by any concern for the sustainability of your methods of exploitation), you have acquired the military and economic means to coerce other nations to comply with your agenda.

That's OK - but lets recognise it for what it is, shall we?
posted by RichLyon at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2002

I was interested to learn that our defense budget is equal to the sum of the 20 largest foreign defense budgets around the world. Admittedly, we're a lot bigger and we're also on the front lines of defending The American Way. But it's obvious that a huge portion of our budget is wasted in bad accounting and inefficiency.

I'm also disheartened to learn of the wild bugetary flailing that the Pentagon seems to have been practicing in the face of the manipulative spending system that has evolved, esp. referring to the front-loading and political engineering policies practiced by defense contractors., which Spinney so capably relates in his report.

From the article: "Brutally stated, the aim of this gaming strategy is to turn on the money spigot and lock it open. "

In fact, I have new-found respect for Spinney, and I hope he was able to get his message across to a receptive audience. It seems that he's revealing real problems and presenting real solutions, and it makes me wish I had some power so I could respond to it.
posted by Jonasio at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2002

Aha. It seems my wish for power is granted., who hosts the document, is working with, an organization that I signed up with not long ago because of another thread on mefi (couldn't find it on search).

So perhaps I can do something after all -- sending an email isn't much, but at least it's better than the fat nothing I was going to do a few minutes ago.
posted by Jonasio at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2002

There was a reason this merited a second thread, tgrundke?

There should be no question that Rumsfeld and his chosen acolytes came to the Pentagon with the full intent of taking on vested interests and ekeing out greater performance while cutting costs. Still, in the end, the great unspoken secret about defense spending is that we permit contractors to charge $600 for a hammer because the maintenance and parts contracts are what keep them around for when they're needed to build aircraft carriers and GPS missiles.
posted by dhartung at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2002

Waitaminnit. Aren't promises of military budget increases one the things that get politicians elected? Doesn't this help them to stay in office? Did not the GOP appeal to the military in the 2000 election with not-subtle hints that they would be taken care of when budget time came around?
What about the communities whose economies rely on keeping the cash flowing? Ever notice how people are in favor of base closures, as long as it's not in their state?
So bad accounting aside, basically-we have met the enemy and it is us.
posted by black8 at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2002

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