Apparent for years, the government in Kabul is corrupt and incompetent; it does not have the support of its own people. We have been fighting their fight for them. And for what? We have known for years the number of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is about 100 or so; they are in Pakistan by the thousands. Our troops—at one point over 100,000—have been tasked with running a country, performing as engineers, providing medical care, providing water assessments, and performing as diplomats.
Running A Country?
I have taken hundreds of classes in the Army. I have taught countless classes, but I have never taken nor given a class on how to run a country—influencing the leadership of a foreign government, yes, but not running a country—which requires hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of billions of dollars. Now comes the news that U.S. initiatives spending billions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan are running so far behind that there has been and will be no benefit to U. S. combat troops. The expensive new power plants and roads will do nothing to turn the tide of the war.
The answer is simple; don’t supply 100,000 troops to run a country. Instead, send a few hundred elite counter-terrorism teams—supported by good human intelligence—directly to where the “bad guys” are. The job of the Central Intelligence Agency is to insure a strong national defense abroad. We remember the Arab Awakening. Responsive new and democratic governments, with pro-West intentions, are in the national interest of the United States. In dozens of keys countries around the globe, CIA personnel should be working to insure that unfolding new government coalitions are pro U. S., instead of letting them be overrun by radical fundamentalists. How do they do that? It’s their job. With few CIA operatives in Syria, the CIA has been forced to rely on its counterparts in Jordan and Turkey. One official said, “But we have to figure out who is over there first.” The CIA is an elite agency, with a stellar record, but it is not only supposed to be “over there” in force. The Agency is supposed to be influencing events and supporting political leaders who are pro U. S., so a new regime will not be a breeding ground for terrorists attacking the United States and our assets around the world.
Saving Lives & Huge Price Tags We are not talking troops, not armaments, not a blockade, or even a no fly zone; we are talking about something far less expensive, with far fewer downsides and a better chance for an outcome that is favorable to a stronger national defense for our country. Psychological warfare tactics are long established and time proven. Our operatives need to be right on location to develop the intelligence to know which political leaders to support. They can guide them forward with measures of how to develop proper political messaging, what to put in an institutional constitutional platform, how to communicate with the people, how to use social media, and how to plan a series of public events with media coverage that lends public support to the favored coalition. Look at Egypt. Our PSYOP operators should have had a far more successful hand in influencing a more pro West regime. Now the country has moved from a murderous, but pro U. S. autocrat, to the military wrestling for political control with anti U. S. extremists. We have the expertise in covert psychological operations necessary to have a profound impact on the leaderships of governments, requiring a few dozen, perhaps no more than hundreds in key countries. Sending hundreds of thousands of troops won’t make a difference if the leadership of the host country is completely wrong headed.The cost of this war in human treasure and human misery of Afghanistan has been without calculation; the actual financial cost has not: $100 billion in 2012.
That’s one dollar bills of our money placed end to end going around the world 300 times. For what? We need to get out now and don’t do it again.
Stronger Defense, Less Spending Military spending?
Every person who has served in the military knows there is enormous financial waste throughout all our military services. There is not a direct relationship between more military spending and a strong defense, first because of the unconscionable waste and second because of the expenditure on totally unnecessary weapons systems. There are uncomplicated ways to actually spend less and still maintain a strong national defense. The formula is simple; don’t cut defense spending horizontally across the board. Instead, eliminate all the useless weapons systems vertically. We spend tens of billions on weapons systems we don’t need, many of which the Pentagon does not want. The SSN-774 Virginia-class Submarine at $2 billion, the Littoral Combat Ship at $2 billion, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at $1.8 billion are all of dubious value.
Our government is squandering tens of billions of dollars in pointless defense spending, and there is no secret why. The defense contractors hire subcontractors in Congressional districts nationwide, so Congressmen fear job losses in defense cuts. Remember the hundreds of billions of dollars taxpayers spent for “a lightning fast military, mobile force?” If it’s so lightning fast, why have we had 30,000 troops in Korea for 50 years and 47,000 in Japan, especially when the people don’t even want us there. We have another 40,000 troops in Western Europe and tens of thousands in over 50 countries. Why are we paying the bill so they can save on military spending?
Simple Tenet, Start with the Core
Our domestic and global policy should be grounded in simplicity itself. Let’s start with supporting our service members, the veterans, the citizens of our great nation and then work our way out to help everybody else we can. Our government is spending 1,000's more in benefits for illegal aliens than it is on homeless veterans. Domestically? The tens of billions of dollars our government agencies are squandering could take homeless veterans off our streets, provide infrastructure for jobs, and help 47 million Americans get out of poverty.
The Government Accountability Office has reported that the Veterans’ Administration wastes upwards of $10 billion a year by a simple lack of competition during is “miscellaneous obligations” procurement process. The mid-level bureaucracy refuses to do the work and fill out the paperwork. The Congress is well aware of the problem but does not have the will to correct the morass. Add in another $10 billion that the VA squanders by not filling in paperwork for insurance companies to collect for services performed for veterans. That makes around $20 billion that could assist 700,000 veterans with some degree of PTSD and TBI. With it’s $130 billion budget, only about half of the VA Centers provide adequate counseling for our veterans vital needs.
Saving 100’s of Billions
Multiply the $20 billion squandered by the VA by 16 for every other Cabinet Department and you are focused on a major cause of our emerging $16 trillion deficit. There are about 150,000 homeless veterans on our streets tonight. About 18 veterans a day commit suicide. Disability claims for vets are backed up by 800,000 cases. About 15 million Americans are unemployed.
What do we do? We need a firebrand in every department—a flamethrower who has the will to not tolerate waste and abuse. A Congress with the will to make a difference, to give the full power of subpoena to all 60+ of the federal IGs. Again, it’s really not complicated. Start at the core, charity begins at home, and have the will to fire the incompetent and unwilling in the federal bureaucracy.
Sack the Slackers, Elect the Champions
We at the VETERANS’ VISION publication have been fighting for American Veterans in Washington for two decades. Without a shadow of doubt, we know who the champions are and who the slackers are in Congress. (Please review the endorsements that start on page five). We urge you to Sack the Slackers of American Veterans and vote for the Champions. It’s time to get back to the core. It’s time to get rolling. It’s time to stand up for those who stood up for America. It’s leadership time. It’s time to Put Veterans First and Make it Happen for the USA!