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Pentagon Forecast: The Perfect Storm


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pentagon-forecast-the-perfectAmerican Spectator:

Over the North Atlantic in 1991, several rare meteorological events occurred simultaneously combining, as Sebastian Junger wrote, into "The Perfect Storm" of massive destructive power. Next January a series of bad congressional actions -- and some awful Pentagon decisions on weapon systems -- may combine with the deteriorating outlook for the defense industry to create a perfect storm for the Pentagon. If that storm hits, it will have an enormously destructive effect on America's ability to defend itself for a generation.

Last year's "Budget Control Act" -- which was intended to give Obama political cover on our bizarre federal debt at least through the election -- also set up a sure-to-fail mechanism (the so-called "supercommittee") to cut spending under the threat of budget sequestration equally divided between defense (to motivate Republican compromise) and domestic programs (except entitlements, giving Democrats reason enough to not do so). The "supercommittee" failed to agree on cuts because the Dems, foreseeably, didn't want to cut anything and insisted on raising taxes.

The result is that "budget sequestration" will be imposed in January unless Congress changes the law and Obama signs the fix. The "sequestration" -- a limitation of future spending -- may amount to $600 billion in defense cuts over the next decade in addition to the $400 billion in defense cuts Obama has already imposed. Congress hasn't moved to fix the problem and, in November of last year, Obama threatened repeatedly to veto any attempt to block defense sequestration.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the automatic cuts from sequestration could cause the U.S. to lose its status as a global power. He reversed himself after what we must assume was a frantic scolding from his bosses. But his bosses are doing no better.

In February, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress, "There is not a hell of a lot of planning I can do," because sequestration makes automatic and equally distributed cuts across DoD accounts, using a "meat-axe" approach.Scissors-32x32.png

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