The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Pentagon wants $450m for Guantanamo | Al Jazeera

Keep this in mind as Obama speaks about Guantanamo on Thursday:

5/22/2013

The Pentagon is asking Congress for more than $450 million for maintaining and upgrading the Guantanamo Bay prison that President Barack Obama [purportedly] wants to close.

New details on the administration’s budget request emerged on Tuesday and underscored the contradiction of the president waging a political fight to shutter the facility while the military calculates the financial requirements to keep the installation operating, AP news agency reported.

The budget request for the fiscal year beginning October 1 calls for $79m for detention operations, the same as the current year, and $20.5m for the office of military commissions, an increase over the current amount of $12.6m. The request also includes $40m for a fiber optic cable and $99 million for operation and maintenance.

The Pentagon also wants $200m for military construction to upgrade temporary facilities. That work could take 8 to 10 years as the military has to transport workers to the island, rely on limited housing and fly in building material. [++]

For 2014, the President plans a nuclear weapons spending increase over the current level of $7.227 billion. Where’s the money to come from? Taking a page from the Reagan/Thatcher play book, Obama plans to get it from the nuclear non-proliferation budget. According to a report by Jeffery Smith and Douglas Birch in Foreign Policy April 9, the president has proposed a $460 million cut from the nuclear non-proliferation program — so it can boost nuclear weapons building programs by exactly $500 million.

John LaForge, The Weapons Oligarachy (via the-lone-pamphleteer)

See also: Obama accused of nuclear u-turn as guided weapons plan emerges

Although the White House doesn’t advertise this fact in the six-page budget overview it put out [last Wednesday], the new budget eliminates nearly all of the cuts that sequestration imposes on the Pentagon. Instead of $500 billion in cuts, Obama proposes only $100 billion, and you have to look closely to spot it (‘$200 billion in additional discretionary savings, with equal amounts from defense and nondefense programs’). Along with the well-advertised cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits, this is something that should appeal to the GOP. ‘It’s another one of the peace offerings in Obama’s package to Republicans,’ Robert Litan, the director of research for Bloomberg Government and a former official of the Office of Management and Budget, told me. Obama’s Budget Rescues the Pentagon | Businessweek

DOD Budget Calls for Spending $4.7 Billion for Cyber Operations

matthewaid:

April 12, 2013

Pentagon budget documents reveal that the Department of Defense wants to spent $4.7 billion this coming fiscal year on ”cyberspace operations,” which includes both offensive (cyber attack) as well as defensive cyber operations. Last year, DOD spent $3.9 billion on cyber operations. At this rate, cyber is fast becoming one of the fastest rising line items in the DOD budget.

According to the DOD budget document (page 3-5), the increased spending will pay for the first phase of significantly expanding the size and capabilities of U.S. Cyber Command up at Fort Meade, Maryland that will not be completed until 2017. New “Defend the Nation” cyber attack/defense teams will be formed at Fort Meade beginning next year. And CYBERCOM will also deploy offensive/defensive cyber teams to National Security Agency (NSA) listening posts (formerly known as Regional SIGINT Operations Centers) at the Medina Annex outside San Antonio, Texas; Fort Gordon, Georgia; and Wahiawa, Hawaii.

CYBERCOM will also begin building its own large 24/7 operations/watch center at Fort Meade, Maryland, originally called the Joint Operations Center, which will also be completed in 2017.

Bottom line: Expect dramatic increases in DOD spending on cyber operations over the next three years, and every year after. … .

It will be interesting to see how the War Department will demonstrate that it has to get its cut funds back. Nobody is going to see any greater threat to the US when the Pentagon loses $43 billion for the year. There won’t suddenly be an attack on the country. China won’t suddenly feel that it can bully the US Pacific fleet. Soldiers in Afghanistan won’t find they don’t have any fuel or ammo. The lights won’t be turned off at the Pentagon. Besides, if they want to make up for the lost revenue, they can just have the senior brass take a pay cut. Or they could walk out of Afghanistan early, which right there would save $88.5 billion, or more than the entire amount being sequestered from all departments. Dave Lindorff

The best letter from a Congressman you’ll read all year | Hullabaloo

Dear Digby:

One of the nice things about being a Member of Congress is that I have security clearance, and you don’t. (Sorry!) So I know about the threat that the looming sequester poses to a crucial top-secret military research project. Since we’re friends, I’ll tell you about it.

The U.S. Army has discovered that a small round white object, when hurled from close range at the upper extremities of an enemy combatant, can have a devastating impact, sometimes inducing unconsciousness. Deploying this weapon often results in immediate disorientation in the enemy combatant, reflected in his abrupt non-vertical motion and transient imbalance. The Army refers to these powerful weapons as “Ballistic White Spherical Objects,” or BWSOs.

Although it packs quite a wallop, the BWSO is surprisingly compact. It measures only nine inches in circumference, small enough for a properly trained U.S. soldier to hold one in each hand. A fully-functional BWSO weighs only five ounces, making it practical for a U.S. soldier deployed on the battlefield to carry several of them, simultaneously, in his kit.

Remarkably, U.S. military experiments have demonstrated that the BWSO is completely resistant to electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), and other advanced electronic countermeasures. In the wake of an EMP caused by a nuclear blast, BWSOs evidently will continue to function in the prescribed manner, unless they are vaporized.

BWSOs are especially useful in close combat, demonstrating the ability to project substantial force over small distances. Yet the effective range of BWSOs is proving to be very similar to that of grenades (for reasons as yet unknown). The effective range of BWSOs has been ascertained to be substantially greater than that of bayonets.
Currently, our entire supply of military-grade BWSOs comes from Costa Rica.

Recognizing the obvious wartime threat, Pentagon military planners have considered the scenario in which the Chinese Navy blocks both the Pacific and the Caribbean sea lanes. The planners have assured the Joint Chiefs of Staff that we will nevertheless be able to maintain our supply of BWSOs because, since Costa Rica has no military, we can just take whatever we want. (A nation without a military - imagine that. But I digress.)

BWSOs are white objects, as the acronym implies. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is, however, in the midst of a year-long study at a secret location to determine whether BWSOs remain effective when they are red, green, blue or even purple. If these tests prove successful, then next year, DARPA will test striped BWSOs, and in the following year, plaid.

Every BWSO features 216 pieces of red thread, or “stitches” (not to be confused with the medical treatment for combat wounds). These “stitches” sometimes cause a completely unexpected feature upon deployment - a curvature in the arc of the BWSO’s trajectory. At first this was believed to be an optical illusion, or perhaps a gravitational lensing effect, in accordance with general relativity. However, detailed telescopic studies performed by orbiting military satellites, in both the visible light and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, have confirmed that this effect is genuine.

Properly trained , a soldier can deploy the BWSO with mind-boggling speeds approaching 100 mph, or almost twice the velocity of a car on an interstate highway adhering to the national speed limit (if such a thing can be imagined). Interestingly, this is true of both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking drivers, and both automatic transmissions and “stick shifts.” At such velocity, scientific studies at Guantanamo Bay and certain “black ops” CIA locations have demonstrated that the impact of a BWSO upon the skull of an enemy combatant is devastating, especially when the enemy combatant is in chains.

Because BWSOs are usually non-lethal, they are also being studied for usage by internal security forces. One advanced concept is to deploy them from domestic drones. In the United Kingdom, tests are being conducted to see whether they can be integrated into the existing complement of equipment used by English “bobbies,” whereby one “pitches” and the other one “hits.”

The U.S. Army’s current BWSO research program - placed directly at risk by the sequester — focuses on the maximum speed with which BWSOs may be deployed. In this key project, the Army has identified and procured the services of certain experts in the field. These experts cannot be identified, for obvious reasons, but they definitely aren’t not named “CC Sabathia,” “Johan Santana” or “Barry Zito.” (Disturbingly, intelligence reports conclusively demonstrate that “Justin Verlander” may or may not be cooperating with foreign military forces in a similar manner, thus posing the very real threat of an “arms race.”)

Due to earlier budget cuts, the Army found that it could not pay the normal daily rate for these experts, which is $600,000 for approximately two hours of work. The Army found, however, that it could procure these services for half-price, or only $300,000 for each two-hour “start,” if it conducted these tests between mid-October and late March.

These essential tests are being threatened by the sequester. If the sequester goes into effect at the end of this month, then we may never understand why Army test data indicate that Santana’s deployment of the BWSOs appears to be slowing. (Could it be a gradual increase in the strength of the Earth’s gravitational field?) Or why Zito’s declining ability to force the BWSO trajectory to arc occasionally seems to leave the BWSO hanging in the air, much like a ripe pumpkin.

We cannot leave America defenseless. We cannot let the terrorists win. Remember, they hate us because we are free. But the cost of that freedom is precisely whatever the current military budget happens to be, before any terrorist-coddling sequester cuts.

Virtually all of the media coverage of the impact of the sequester on the US military-industrial complex has focused on the loss of jobs, as if hiring people to kill other people is some kind of national full-employment program. But having read all the way down to here, at least you, Dear Reader, you understand that there is a lot more at stake.
Oh, and we’re also cutting the air traffic control budget by nine percent. That should have some interesting consequences.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

P.S. Please sign our petition against Social Security and Medicare cuts at www.no-cuts.com, if you haven’t already.

Navy Tweets How Budget Cuts Will Sink Its Fleet, Ground Its Planes | Danger Room

[…] It’s debatable how much this Navy planning is intended to pressure Congress and President Obama to work out a deal averting the cuts ahead of the March 1 deadline. At least one commentator thinks the Navy’s public cries of impending penury are inappropriate. “The Navy could have cut back other, less-sensitive deployments or acquisition programs,” Ralph Peters wrote in the New York Post last week. “But the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chose to embarrass the White House and pressure Congress. He should have been fired.”

As Sam LaGrone of the U.S. Naval Institute wrote for Danger Room last week, the Navy’s making a specific gamble with its deployment cuts and their impact on short-term naval readiness. It’s sacrificing what it does in the near-term in order to preserve its long-term, high-budget shipbuilding plans, which take years to come to fruition.

But the Navy’s social-media plan already is. It took the unusual step of tweeting its budget documents shortly after sending it to Congress. Congress is out of session this week — indicating that Navy is diving into the blue waters of public opinion to save its money.

Pentagon Continues Contracting US Companies in Latin America | Upside Down World

… Colombia remained the country with the largest amount of Pentagon contracts in continental Latin America, with $77 million. A multi-year contract shared by Raytheon and Lockheed for training, equipment and other drug war activities accounted for more than a third of Pentagon contract spending in Colombia. Honduras, which has become a hub for Pentagon operations in Central America, is the site for more than $43 million in non-fuel contracts signed last year.

The US Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for US military activities in Central and South America and the Caribbean, is assisting the Panamanian border police, known as SENAFRONT, by upgrading a building in the SENAFRONT compound. The force was implicated in killings of indigenous protesters (PDF) in Bocas del Toro in 2011, and fired indiscriminately with live ammunition (PDF) on Afro-Caribbean protesters last October.

Many countries that host US military activities hope to receive economic benefits and jobs as a result. But more than five of every six Pentagon dollars contracted for services and goods in the region went to US-based companies. Only nine percent of the $574.4 million in Pentagon contracts signed in 2012 (including fuel contracts) were with firms in the country where the work was to be carried out. In the Caribbean, there were virtually no local companies that benefitted from the $245 million in Defense Department contracts.

A few corporations dominated Pentagon contracts in the region. CSC Applied Technologies, based in Fort Worth, Texas, received more than $53 million in contracts to operate the Navy’s underwater military testing facility in the Bahamas. Lockheed Martin received more than $40 million in contracts, almost entirely for drug war training, equipment and services in Colombia and Mexico. [++]

Probably the most egregious bit of military-related budgetary legerdemain has been the practice of keeping the operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan separate from the main Pentagon budget, as if those costs should not count as much because they are, well, sort of temporary. And so the base budget figure continues to get cited as ‘defense spending’ even though it excludes the main, and costliest, activities in recent years of the U.S. military. This practice makes as much sense as if I were to calculate my health care costs and to exclude stays in the hospital, instead only including recurring expenditures such as dental check-ups. There is, admittedly, a sense in which the Iraq War should not be counted as ‘defense’ spending. The war was not an act of defense; it was offense. But that, of course, is not the reason for the practice (begun by the administration that launched the Iraq War) of separating costs of the war from the main defense budget. The reason had much more to do with wanting to understate the actual amount the United States spends on its military. Paul R. Pillar, The Trickery of the Military Budget

Pentagon goes on an $8 billion year-end technology spending spree | Nextgov.com

While lawmakers went into overdrive to hammer out a budget deal before tax increases and automatic spending cuts kick in Jan. 1, the Defense Department pumped out billions of dollars in new weapons contracts in a move apparently designed to obligate funds before year end. If Congress and the White House do not reach a budget agreement today the Pentagon will have to absorb $50 billion in automatic spending cuts under a budget rule known as sequestration.

On Sept. 20, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told members of the House Armed Services Committee that budget cuts imposed under sequestration would have no impact on prior-year funds already obligated on existing contracts.  

Among the deals announced Dec. 28 was $4.9 billion in contracts to Lockheed Martin Corp. for the Pentagon’s most expensive project in history — the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. [++]