The Pentagon and Its ‘Laser Focus’
You have no doubt been breathlessly awaiting my update on my Pentagon article concerning their F-35 debacle (a disastrous or embarrassing failure).
No problem—embarrassing failures are Pentagon specialties
Our Pentagon knows no shame, having allocated (thus far) $1 trillion on the F-35 and settling for a plane no one can afford to fly. What the hell, a trillion is just a number for an agency that simply can’t account for $35 trillion in its most recent failed audit. The Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments last year alone -- a total that’s larger than the entire U.S. economy and underscores the Defense Department’s continuing difficulty in balancing its books. That's quite an adjustment and a stretch as an admission, even for them. The latest estimate is up from $30.7 trillion in 2018 and $29 trillion in 2017, the first year adjustments were tracked in a concerted way, according to Pentagon figures and a lawmaker who’s pursued the accounting morass. Additionally, in the area of other embarrassing failures, we might include a Pentagon stalemate in the Korean War, debacle (I really love that word) in Vietnam, as well as disaster in Iraq and our military foot stuck in the mud of Afghanistan, our longest war ever at 17 years and counting.
So why the need for an F-15?
Good question. No one knows, just like no one knows the missing $30 trillion—or it wouldn’t be missing, it would be stolen or in someone’s bank account in non-extraditing country. To some degree it calls into question what money even is. If a trillion falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear, does it make a noise? But someone thought a replacement for the venerable F-16 was a good idea. And then the idea grew. It needed to suit the Navy for carriers, the Air Force for weaponry and maneuverability, the Marines for vertical takeoff. It was the classic camel—a horse designed by a committee. But it was profitable, oh my yes.
How did that cake come out of the oven?
Well, it suited no one and a camel at least does that. After 25 years in the oven, the F-16 carries twice the armament, performs better in a dogfight and cost’s half the 35’s $44,000 per hour to fly. Pilots who actually fear flying the F-35 are comfortable and deadly when strapped into an F-16. According to the NY Times, “It’s no accident that there are more than 1,500 suppliers for the F-35 program, and they’re spread out to almost every state,” he said. “That means that there’s basically a veto-proof constituency bloc on Capitol Hill for the F-35 program, so it becomes very difficult for members of Congress to really criticize this program.” Reliable though. Again, from the Times: On the morning of June 23, 2014, an F-35 burst into flames just moments before its pilot was set to take off on a routine training mission. He heard a loud bang and felt the engine slow as warning indicators began flashing “fire” and other alerts signaled that systems in the plane were shutting down. Witnesses at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola, Fla., reported seeing the pilot escape from the cockpit and run away from the fighter jet, which was engulfed in thick plumes of black smoke. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. In less than a month, the F-35, America’s high-profile next-generation fighter jet, was poised to make its international debut in Britain at Farnborough Airshow, the second-largest event of its kind in the world. Officials from the Pentagon and the aircraft’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, had eagerly anticipated the opportunity to show off a working, flying F-35 after a decade of delays and spiraling cost overruns.
The best-laid plans of mice and men…
…often go awry and—like the Middle East wars—we have our fingers too deeply stuck in this pudding to pull out. But the F-35 program is the poster-child for why we need to break away from the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us of. Sucking out over 50% of our available national budget, not including a ‘black budget’ that’s classified, our Pentagon hasn’t prepared us for modern warfare. Spending the equivalent of the next six highest-spending militaries—including Russia and China—we are unable to defeat popular insurrections with nothing more than roadside bombs and a willingness to die. The F-35 is not only worthless, it inspires arms races elsewhere. Yes, we need a carrier fleet and yes, we need rapid deployment strike forces, but it’s long past time we got out of the better-than-anyone mindset of weaponry. Because it’s been proven not to be better-than-anyone.
Eisenhower also said…
… Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
Think a bit on that.
Image Credit: moroccoworldnews.com