Blue Meltdown Hits The Pentagon
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  • Chase Crucil

    Well professor, I find it hard to accept the contention that the Pentagon is a “blue state” kind of place. The term “blue state” implies democrats, and I’ve known some folks who work in the military industrial complex, and I know some soldiers, and almost all of these people are ultra conservative; this is not a criticism, just a statement of fact. Furthermore, the reason the pay and benefits are so high is that, during the dark days of the Iraq War, generous compensation was necessary for the Army and Marines to fill their ranks. Yet, you do not mention this all important fact. Why?

    You constantly talk up the idea of replacing people with software. While I suppose this is probably inevitable at some point – after all, the computer technology can only get better – it is not clear that there are as many replaceable jobs as you say, at least right now. Can you cite any real studies on the number of jobs that can be replaced by computer programs and/or robots, or are you just offering boilerplate conventional wisdom? (I like most of your articles, but since you seem to talk about automation so much in the context of reforming what you call the blue state model, one would think that you be able to cite some strong studies to back up your recommendations)

  • Walter Sobchak

    I think we need an even more fundamental restructuring of the US military. I say this a believer in American Exceptionalism and that US military power has been the single most important factor in maintaining world peace in the post WWII era.

    However, it think we need to fit the tool to the times. There will not be a land war in Europe. There is no reason for American soldiers to be based there, and NATO should be dissolved. Further, I doubt very seriously if any future Congress could be talked into military involvement in the Muslim world, other than to defend Israel. As for the Persian Gulf, until we build the keystone Pipeline and drill offshore in California and Florida, it is criminally irresponsible to expend our resources there.

    Also, I think that technology will continue to transform warfare, as it has everything else. A Navy based on quarter-mile long aircraft carriers is like agriculture based on elephants. Smaller creatures are more manageable, and less risky and costly to deploy. The UAV opens an opportunity to replace the brontosauruses with mammals.

    We need to ask whether we need the Air Force as a separate command structure. Panetta has included ending bomber based nuclear deterrent on his list of savings. That is fine with me, but once that ends, the air force consists of combat air support, force protection, and continental air defense. We can save something by scraping the separate command structure.

    I also think we need to look at the force structure and our tooth to tail ratio. We have a lot of four stars, they are in overabundance at the end of every war. We should ensure that we have no more line officers than are needed to command the number of soldiers we actually have.

    We should separate staff officers from line officers with command responsibilities, and give them a separate ranking and pay scale commensurate with their risks, responsibilities, and duties. Those who get shot at deserve higher pay and better retirement. REMFs , not so much. And, while we are at it. Technical and skill positions, such as doctors, dentists, and UAV jockeys, should also get a separate pay and rank scale.

  • Kris

    [email protected]: “I doubt very seriously if any future Congress could be talked into military involvement in the Muslim world, other than to defend Israel.”

    While the likes of Luap Nor often raise the spectre of Americans dying for Israel, Israel has never asked for such help, and would be very uncomfortable with such help. As long as they’ve got American support off the battlefield, they’re very happy. (Not that you stated otherwise.)

  • Dave Moelling

    The old model of Military pay was to pay low pay compared to private sector jobs compensated by comprehensive job security, basic living benefits, and generous pensions. This combined with the high turnover of enlisted and junior officers kept personnel costs low. The Johnson/Nixon/Carter inflation years drastically reduced the value of Military pay, and transition to the all-volunteer force resulted in a considerable increase in pay.

    The current problem is not so much the pay/benefits of current service members but the legacy costs of a much larger military in the past. Splitting the earlier pensions into a separate “trust” might help focus attention on the current force. A hybrid pension program for non-career service, with some carryover to career long service types may provide flexibility.

  • Walter Sobchak

    3. Kris. I do not disagree. But, when it comes to Iran, they might appreciate a few B2 bomber runs.

  • Brian

    Where is the hard data. If you are going to make a statement like that put some numbers backing up your statement for goodness sake. Statements like this piss me off when someone can’t even due a few hours a research and put a few numbers to back up the arugment being made. Lazy Journalism which I will not belive untill someone can show me the data.

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