[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

Reese howell.r at inkworkswell.com
Mon Jun 28 14:40:19 PDT 2010

J. Andrew, I gave your post a lot of thought. Composed my reply. Then
gave it a lot of thought again. I did not miss some of the regular list
members siding with you on a singular point where you are in error. I
lack the "regular member" status you might take for granted so they
likely took your word for it, doubting mine by default. Still, facts
are facts and my position is the more defensible. Yours, less so. I
will make one last effort to correct what I hope is an unfortunate
error. On your part.

On 25-Jun-10 20:05, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:

>>> I wasn't the one enumerating wasteful programs. Why would I mention it?
>> Honesty?
> Are you in a conversation with someone else?

I thought I was in a mostly-friendly conversation with someone who
was mistaken on a particular, verifiable fact(1). Someone who would
double-check and provide evidence for claims when they were called
into question. Not rely on the "everyone knows..." fallacy. So, that
was my mistake, I won't make it again... with you - in this thread.

> I didn't list anything, you did.

I noticed. That was one of my points, earlier.

> I was commenting on your gross misrepresentation of their impact on
> the DoD budget. My only point has been that the boondoggle weapon
> programs -- regardless of what you define as such -- are a pretty
> negligible portion of the Department of Defense budget.

If, if the toys are strictly defined as R&D only. I do not recognize
that sort of narrowed, misleading definition. I've rejected it since
you introduced it, it is wrong-headed and mistaken. It was ongoing
war theaters and toys-spending that was criticized(2), not just that
portion of the budget that is spent on toys in R&D (or personnel).

>  List away, it won't matter, I'm still correct.

Okay. The unfortunate is looking less likely and the deliberate, more so.

I'll proceed with the understanding that your mind is made up and you
do not want to consider the facts. Let's review anyway - condensed for
the sake of brevity:
  - In the context of identifying the most wasteful DoD expenditures,
    you named personnel as #1. You've mostly ignored opportunities to
    name other wasteful expenditures although you did allow that there
    was a plurality. Where you did name other expenses, you gave them
    the soft shoe - such as when you brought up operating costs for
    diesel and jet fuel - calling them expensive but not identifying
    how expensive or what percentage of the total ops & maint. budget
    they represented.
  - I objected, invoking OPTEMPO by name and naming a few programs that
    have had too much money spent on them for insufficient ROI. I said
    there were likely more - that the ones I named were off the top
    of my head.
  - You accused me of wrongly identifying "successful" programs and
    ignoring the monumental wastes of money, which other than personnel,
    you've yet to properly name or document.

There's your "gross misrepresentation," in spades. I have little
patience or tolerance for "conversations" friendly or otherwise, that
devolve to these sorts of lists and overviews. I haven't posted a
link to the breakdown on DoD spending yet, because personnel as the
#1 expense was your claim, yours to prove and defend. Since you've
done nothing but engage in some hand-waving about it, I'll show you
just how "correct" you are:


The #1 expense is not personnel as you've claimed, not even the moving
of them around per your claim since they'd draw the same pay at the
same rate and most if not all organized personnel movements are not
done by commercial means. The #1 expense is operations and maintenance
(which is strongly impacted by OPTEMPO). Personnel costs were only ~55%
of the ops & maint. expenditures.

So reduce OPTEMPO, then you can reduce the toys in production, the toys
already in the field, and engage in wiser spending on R&D. Then you'll
be on firmer ground to call for reductions in personnel and *that* part
of the DoD budget. Closing the overseas bases and mothballing or
scrapping that equipment would be an excellent start. Instead, you've
persisted in your `personnel == #1 expensive` claim despite several
chances to properly document or self-inform and self-correct.

There are a couple of nits, since we are already here:
  - I thought that nuclear weapons fell under the DoD budget, they do
    not. They fall under the Dept. of Energy budget(3).
  - Payments to retirees, surviving spouses and/or other family members
    also fall under other budgets(3).
  - You mentioned Veterans Affairs in the context of personnel and the
    DoD budget. The VA is its own cabinet-level department with its own
    budget that is distinct from the DoD budget(4).

Finally, the Osprey. You said:

> Osprey very arguably isn't a boondoggle since it had a legitimate
> purpose, it was just a troublesome engineering challenge. Your
> assertion was that canceling programs like this -- boondoggle or
> not -- would materially reduce the DoD budget.

"Materially" in that line is your usage. I did not use it nor do I
recall implying any such construction. Kindly use words yourself,
don't be putting them into the mouths of other people.

I understand that Osprey was wanted. But get out of Iraq, finish the
al Qaida whack-a-mole game in Afghanistan and get out of there, then
close the overseas bases. Fix the mentality that thinks we need to
put boots on the ground (didn't you claim that was already in
progress?(5)) every time some bureaucrat or overly-promoted gets
indignant (or indigestion, whichever). What need for Osprey is there
really? If we are reducing the need for boots on the ground, why are
we augmenting the ability to put more boots on the ground?

There are two low-hanging fruits on the limb you might be tempted to
grab at here, you shouldn't. First, we do not need better ways to put
a smaller number of boots on the ground if the goal is to reduce
boots on the ground in the first place. Besides the obvious argument
about trying to have it both ways, how is it working in Afghanistan?
Second, the alleged performance gains. See below. So Afghanistan is a
wash at best, and that's being more kind than is warranted.

I asked what new capabilities the Osprey provided, you said:

> How about vastly more speed and range than a helicopter with most of
> the flexibility a helicopter provides. In many parts of the world the
> limitations of a helicopter make them a marginal aircraft.

The intention is that it will eventually replace the CH-46 Sea
Knight(6), let's compare some key characteristics:

                           MV-22B Osprey(6)  CH-46 Sea Knight(7)
Crew                      4                 5
Capacity                  24 (seated), or   25 troops
                           up to 6.8K kg.    up to 3.9K kg cargo
Max Speed (sea level)     250 kts           165 kts
Cruise speed (sea level)  241 kts
Range                     879 nmi.          360 nmi
Service ceiling           7,925 m           4,300 m
Cost                      $67M in 2010      $6M in 1987

So yes, Osprey gives some hauling, range, and speed improvements over
the Sea Knight. On paper. But as you ought to have learned by now, there
are lies, damned lies, and statistics. There is a lot of good reading
about the real Osprey on this "series of tubes", you would do well to
catch up on the controversies(8) and in particular, take a long, hard
look at the real performance characteristics(9) sans hype.

If we aren't invading and occupying other nations, why do we need to
move combat troops around in full combat gear like that? Just because
other nations want to? Remember, just because something can be done,
does not mean it should be done. We already have the largest and second
largest air forces in the world (Air Force and Navy), had the 2nd
largest navy after the Soviets (not sure on current fleet numbers),
and don't ask me about Army troops. We've got a lot. So why do we need
to be ferrying squad-sized troops around like that, unless we are
planning on *more* (not less) invasions of sovereign nations like Iraq?

This is where I'll get off of the crazy train to Errorsville since
herring with canards and straw does not suit my dietary needs. So we
can continue with the sane and reasonable - and the outrageous gets
documented when a proof is requested - or not.

As Bill K. wrote:

    > It's a bit ridiculous seeing you armchair generals [] fantasize
    > all manner of scenarios that support your pointless arguing.
    > Give it a rest.

Touché, Bill. Except I'm not and never was a general, and I don't
speak from armchair experience. And despite claims to the contrary,
I'm not fantasizing.


1- identity of the largest single DoD expense per standardized
    categories such as personnel, R&D, etc.
2- http://xent.com/pipermail/fork/Week-of-Mon-20100621/057425.html
4- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs
5- http://xent.com/pipermail/fork/Week-of-Mon-20100621/057464.html
6- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell-Boeing_V-22_Osprey
7- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CH-46_Sea_Knight
8- http://www.g2mil.com/scandal.htm
9- http://www.g2mil.com/V-22shock.htm

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