This Week Arizona Senator John McCain, in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a report titled Indefensible: America’s Most Wasted. In the Report McCain outlines $13 Billion of what he defines as wasteful spending, and without a doubt some of it is very wasteful and should have no business being in the Pentagon Budget.
The problem is that the bulk of the $13 Billion, 12.4 of it in fact, may not be wasteful at all, he just simply opposes it. Before we go into that, let’s actually look at the real wasteful spending in the report:
- $458 million in inappropriate travel expense reimbursement payments
- $375 million for Missile Defense Agency (MDA) targets that were never used or didn’t work
- $58 million for the Navy’s experiments with alternative fuel sources for its Great Green Fleet
- $12 million for defective spare parts that will need to be replaced or refunded
- $1 million for travel claim reimbursements for unauthorized expenses at casinos and strip clubs
- $1.3 million to research the mating habits of African Giant Pouched rats
Fair enough. That is wasteful spending. But what about the other 12.4 Billion? Well, McCain lists this item with a unique qualifier:
- $12.4 billion for 26 Littoral Combat Ships with no proven combat capability
Airplanes didn’t have a “proven combat capability at one point, neither did tanks. Now I’m not saying that the Littoral Combat Ships(LCS) are the next revolution in warfare, what I am saying is that the LCS seem to be a big advance in and a way to diversify our naval capabilities.
By opposing the LCS, John McCain is taking a page out of Barack Obama’s playbook when he promised to end the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems or FCS program.
Both the LCS and the FCS are things which the military, both at the higher levels and the rank and file really want in order to improve their safety and their capabilities on the ground or in the water.
McCain said in a press release about the “wasteful spending”:
“As our Armed Forces confront the most diverse and complex array of national security challenges since the end of World War II under extraordinarily constrained fiscal resources, we simply cannot afford to waste our precious defense dollars on unnecessary or poorly performing programs. This oversight report exposes just a few examples of the wasteful spending at the Pentagon that is so detrimental to our national defense. It has never been more important to eliminate unnecessary defense spending and mismanagement so that we can reinvest savings into improving the training and equipment our warfighters need.”
On the flip side, the Navy’s own AllHands Magazine lists the benefits of the LCS as:
LCS fulfills a crucial role in the six core areas of the Navy’s Maritime Defense Strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”
- FORWARD PRESENCE- With half of the LCS fleet deployed at all times, the LCS 3:2:1 (3 Rotational Crews:2 Rotational Ships:1 Ship Deployed) rotational crewing concept provides twice the forward presence than other surface combatants.
- DETERRENCE- LCS is suited to build and strengthen maritime partnerships by training and operating with smaller, regional navies, as well as entering previously inaccessible, shallow-water foreign ports. Operational commanders will have an ideal asset available for Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) tasking, freeing large surface combatants for other missions.
- SEA CONTROL- LCS will use its modular mission packages to control Sea Lines of Communication by defeating swarming surface craft, enhancing the Fleet’s ASW capability, both in littoral waters and in concert with current ASW forces in the open ocean, and counter mine threats to sea lines of communication, particularly in global commerce chokepoints.
- POWER PROJECTION- LCS will defeat anti-access threats such as mines, small surface craft, and submarines, to gain and sustain maritime supremacy in the littorals.
- MARITIME SECURITY- LCS is ideally suited to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) including countering piracy, terrorism, and drug trafficking. LCS is a cost effective means to fulfill maritime security missions as compared to larger, multi-mission surface combatants
- HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE/DISASTER RESPONSE (HA/DR)- The forward presence of LCS operating in theater ensures Geographic Combatant Commanders will always have several ships available to respond to HA/DR tasking. Each LCS is aviation capable, allowing it to conduct search and rescue (SAR) and airborne logistics. The 40+ knot sprint speed of LCS allows for quick, intra-theater positioning. With a shallow draft, LCS will be able to access a wider range of littoral water space than any other combatant.
Again, fair enough if John McCain in his capacity ad SASC Chairman wants to call out the Pentagon for wasteful spending, they surely have no business spending our tax-payer dollars on the mating habits of giant African rats. However, listing $13 Billion in wasteful spending when $12.4 Billion of those may actually not be wasteful at all seems very disingenuous by the 6-term senator.