900,000 Real Jobs Waiting to be Created

That’s right. There are 900,000 jobs that the government could be and should be creating right now … and they are “government” jobs which existed about 20 years ago … and were axedunder the auspices of a “peace dividend”.

That’s right. I’m talking about DoD jobs including 600,000 active duty military positions.

At no time in our history since World War II (as far back as the data goes that I researched) has the United States tried to fight a war, or wars, with so few active duty personnel.

I served in the military from 1980 to 1984. During that period there were approximately 2,000,000 active duty personnel. The military, by that time, had already been drastically reduced from the Viet Nam era peak of approximately 3,400,000 active duty personnel.

The post Viet Nam active duty strength remained relatively constant until the end of the first Iraq War. Then under the Bush I and Clinton administrations the “peace dividend” was declared and the number of active duty personnel has been steadily declining since. By January of last year, the total active duty number had reached a low of less than 1,380,000. During his last State of the Union address, George Bush II announced his plan to recommend adding about 100,000 members to the active duty military. The latest data (January 2009) put the number of active duty member at slightly over 1,409,000.

I personally felt it was a fatal mistake after 2001 of the Bush administration not to increase the military strength back to approximately 2,000,000 … especially with its ambitious plan to attack Al Queda in Afghanistan and later to invade Iraq. It just didn’t make sense. Former President Bush’s plan last year to increase forces by 100,000 was basically too little too late especially after years of demoralizing failures which might have been prevented with greater manpower.

Technology simply can’t do it all. That was Donald Rumsfeld’s lesson. I’m not sure that he actually learned it. And, I don’t know that Defense Secretary Gates knows any better than Rumsfeld. Looking at the monthly numbers since January 2008 indicate that manpower has only increased by 35,000 … hardly 100,000.

Increasing the active duty military from 1.4 million to 2 million is only an increase of 600,000. So, where do the other 300,000 jobs come from?

A review of the statistics indicate that there is generally one civilian DoD employee for every 2 active duty members. There’s the other 300,000 jobs.

President Obama has vocalized a position of getting the “situation in Afghanistan” under control and continuing the fight against Al Queda and the Taliban there while leaving approximately 50,000 troops in Iraq.

Yet, when commanders in Afghanistan asked for 35,000 additional troops, Obama only authorized sending 17,000. Why?

They just don’t exist.

In spite of all of the warm and fuzzy feelings that a lot of people have about Barack Obama being elected president, he hasn’t necessarily made the world or this country a safer place to live in. Our enemies still exist and they are just as determined as ever to destroy our culture, society and country.

There is no indication that the world is a safer place to live than during the last years of the Cold War when we maintained a military force of 2,000,000 active duty personnel. In fact the last time our forces were near its current low was in 1950 … just before the onset of the Korean Conflict.

Training bases will have to be enlarged and some reactivated. Stateside active duty bases will have to be enlarged and some reopened.

Instead of the “collateral damage” that many communities experienced from the base closings over the past 20 years, there will be “collateral” benefits. Many new jobs will be created in the civilian sector related to construction and services. New businesses and opportunities will emerge.

Probably, the most significant benefit will be to the morale of the current active duty members and those that will join them.

Disregarding the obvious risk of being assigned to zones of conflict, there are too few active duty personnel trying to do too many jobs. That is just a demoralizing to those that don’t enter war zones.

In addition, there are too many civilian contractors “doing” jobs that were once performed by active duty personnel. These contractors have no vested interest in the well being of active duty personnel like other active duty members would have. Simply talk to someone on active duty and you will understand what I’m talking about regarding civilian contractors. Unfortunately, many of the current active duty members are too young or too new to the service to know that many of their frustrations regarding being on active duty were once nonexistent when other active duty personnel were performing many of these jobs. They sense something is wrong but frequently can’t put their finger on it while constantly complaining about trying to get services from people who “just don’t seem to care”.

In addition, where there is a DoD presence in the form of a military installation, there are per capita payments made to the local communities for services provided to dependents such as payments to public school systems.

So, what will it cost? The current DoD budget is around $580 billion. What if it costs another $300 billion?

To me, this is a win-win solution. We need the augmentation of the military and we need the directed infusion of capital into our economy. This seems infinitely preferable to the undirected and wildly flailing appearance of the approach the administration seems to be taking to date.

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All the Rhetoric About Military Families …

Tonight, on the first night of the Democratic party’s national convention, Michelle Obama has continued her appeal to the families of people in the military service as well as those service members themselves for votes.

There is no doubt that military families are now under a lot of stress. Since Congress began reaping it’s “peace dividend” in the early 1990’s, the military, as far as it’s human component is concerned, has been downsized and, to a large degree, neglected.

Michelle Obama has made a lot to do over the plight of military dependents, expressing concerns for their situation and pledging that she and her husband will do everything they can to improve their conditions.

One thing that will do more to relieve the current and recent past conditions of military families hasn’t been mentioned by the Obamas or John McCain that I know of. It is also one of the major blunders of the current Bush administration.

During World War II, the combined manpower of the military services was about 11 million active duty personnel. During the Korean Conflict it was about 3.5 million servicemen and women. During the Vietnam era, military manpower peaked at about 3.2 million members. After the official end of the Vietnam war, the military was downsized to about 2 million members and stayed at this size until the end of the first Iraq War. After the first Iraq War, military manpower was downsized to about 1.5 to 1.6 million members. Currently, and during the extent of the current Iraq War, military manpower has stayed in the range of 1.375 to 1.4 million members.

Insufficient manpower is the major cause of the stresses being placed on military families. Active duty members have had to serve as much as 15 months in the war zone with very short reassignments outside of that area. The United States is unable to adequately man two war zones in Iraq and Afganistan, adequately fulfill its other world wide obligations and has been unable to give an adequate or appropriate response to the recent Russian invasion of the country of Georgia.

Although President Bush called for a significant increase in the number of combat brigades in his last State of the Union speech, review of current manpower statistics show no response to that call for increasing military manpower with an actual decline for several months in the number of active duty personnel after the speech.

I have a daughter whose spouse is currently serving on active duty. One of his major complaints is the lack of adequate personnel to get jobs done, feeling like he is having to do the work of three people.

One of the things that I have noticed living in a community that has had a large military presence over the years, is the fact that, upon talking to various people, many jobs that were once filled by active duty personnel, during my time of military service, are now filled by civilian employees or civilian contractors. My daughter and her husband have noted that these people are frequently uncaring and unresponsive to the needs of the active duty personnel. There is no substitute for having an onbase position filled by a person who can understand and sympathize with the needs of the active duty member and his family and no one can appreciate those needs better than another active duty person or a member of a dependent family.

All of the sophisticated weaponry is no better than the individuals who man and maintain them and the wellbeing of these people should be the number one priority of the government. Adequate manpower can improve the perception of wellbeing among active duty personnel and their families and no amount of improved benefits or improved living conditions will be adequate if the active duty personnel are understaffed. All of the rhetoric and even some fulfilled promises will be to no avail if the working conditions of the military personnel are compromised and made difficult or impossible by a manpower shortage.

The first thing that any administration has to do to improve the conditions of military personnel and their families is to re-establish a reasonable size in manpower to the military, one that will address all of the current needs as well as an adequate number to provide an adequate buffer for unanticipated emergencies.

After all, this is the purpose of having a military force. Having a military which is understaffed and undermanned defies the logic of having a standing military force in the first place.

The United States should, at least return to its manpower of the 1980’s of about 2 million active duty personnel, and, with the current world threats as well as trying to conduct two wars, Congress and the executive branch should strongly consider enlarging the military to even greater numbers.

The lack of NATO support both in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the current reluctance of its members to stand up to Russia should show that it is only wishful thinking if not a grave and serious blunder to count on others to fulfill our shortfalls in manpower. This only emboldens and encourages adversaries of the United States like Russia is currently showing herself to be.

Obama Refuses to Give U.S. Troops Credit for Surge Success

While admitting that the surge has improved conditions on the ground in Iraq, Senator Barack Obama repeatedly refused to give American troops any credit for the improvements.

Instead, he totally evaded that issue by playing “what if”; i.e., we don’t know what would have happened if the surge hadn’t occurred … and steadfastly sticking by his vote against the surge. While adhering to his vote against the surge he also refused to apply a quantitative estimate of the effect of American forces on the improvements in Iraq while alluding to the possible effects of the Sunnis rebeling against Al Quaeda and a “so-called” cease fire called by Al Sadir supposedly restraining his Shiah militia.

Interesting.

Barack Obama supports the troops, but he refuses to give them any credit for improvements in Iraq. That must be a tremendous morale booster … knowing that someone who may be the next president of the United States has no capacity to assess troop effectiveness in a war zone which intreprets into a total lack of support … or respect … for the efforts of each individual soldier, marine, airman or sailor in Iraq … not to mention his own inability to deal with reality beyond his self-perception perpetually fed by a frenzied horde of sychophants.

Barack Obama’s ego is so fragile that he can’t recognize others efforts if their efforts … in some way … in his imagination … threaten his self image.

Well … now Barack wants to play “what if” to justify his decisions. That sounds like it’s a few steps away from a delusional madman hunkered down in a bunker in Berlin giving orders to move imaginary divisions while the city was being bombed into rubble, decaying flesh and dust around himself.

An extreme analogy?

Not really … just an assessment of a narcissistic personality and where it can go in extremes.

Now, don’t forget … this isn’t a person who wants to get the nation out of wars. He wants to get the nation out of a war that HE opposed. But … he wants to increase American presence in Afganistan … which he perceives as HIS war and wants to take it into Pakistan according to HIS assessment … but he disagrees with current military leaders who have been successful in extremely challenging situations. These military leaders are very different from Wesley Clark or “Tony” McPeak.  Remember, Wesley Clark commanded a “nonengagement” and McPeak had the responsibility of stripping the Air Force from 200 wings to 90 wings. Obama sees the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan as a failed Bush policy rather than the failure of NATO and the European community to uphold their commitment.

Don’t get me wrong about Afghanistan. I am totally for cleaning up the mess there … the fairly stable situation that we left for the Europeans and NATO to manage and the one which they’ve totally screwed up.

It will be interesting to see how he will now approach the European community. Will he be kissing European derrieres or chiding them for back stabbing the United States by failing to do their job in Afghanistan? That will be one defining difference between a politician and world leader.