40 Vets Died Waiting for Care at Phoenix VA || By Elliot Jager | Courtesy; Maj Dennis Shea, USAF (Ret) MILINET


MILINET

John McCain, Jeff Flake
Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, right, join military veterans and local politicians for an April 18 news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of veterans died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

Long waiting times have resulted in the deaths of at least 40 veterans at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, CNN reported.

Many of them died while listed on a secret waiting list whose purpose was to conceal how long patients actually had to wait before being seen by a physician, according to the cable news network.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Veterans-Administration-Phoenix-healthcare-CNN/2014/04/24/id/567417#ixzz2ztM0kUEq

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Arizona VA boss accused of covering up veterans’ deaths linked to previous scandal

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America’s $1 Trillion National Security Budget || Winslow T Wheeler |Courtesy; MILINET


America’s $1 Trillion National Security Budget
by Winslow T. Wheeler
March 13, 2014
The Pentagon’s current leadership and most on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in Congress describe President Obama’s 2015 defense budget request as painfully austere, if not dangerously inadequate.  The defense trade press is full of statements from generals, admirals and the other politicians from both political parties that there is not nearly enough money available to buy adequate amounts of new hardware,  maintain current pay and benefits or provide even low amounts of training and equipment maintenance.  As a result, they are looking for ways to relieve the Pentagon from its penury.
Scarcity of money is not their problem.  Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion.  How can that be?  The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is. 
There is much more than $495.6 billion in the budget for the Pentagon, and there are piles of national security spending outside the Pentagon-all of it as elemental for national security as any new aircraft and ships and the morale and well-being of our troops.
The table below details what a careful observer will find in President Obama’s 2015 budget presentation materials.  The amounts for the Pentagon are well above the advertised $495.6 billion, and there are several non-Pentagon accounts that are clearly relevant. 
(The relevant data for 2014 is also presented for comparison, and the notations in the “Comments” column help explain the data.  The table is also available on line here.)
(All figures are $billions; Then-Year$)
(Sources: Table 28-1 from Analytical Perspectives and Homeland Security Appendix in 2015 OMB Budget Materials)
 
 
National Security Program
2014 as Enacted
 
2015 as Requested
Comments
DOD Base Budget (Discretionary)
496.0
495.6
The “base” budget purportedly contains all routine, peacetime expenses; however, DOD and Congress have loaded tens of billions of such “base” spending into the Overseas Contingency Operations fund for declared wartime expenses.  See below.
DOD Base Budget (Mandatory)
5.7
6.2
DOD often does not count this “mandatory” spending in its budget presentations to the public; however, being for military retirement and other DOD-only spending, it is as much a part of the DOD budget as military pay and acquisition.
DOD Base Budget (Total)
501.7
501.8
“Total” spending is discretionary and mandatory combined.
Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)
85.2
79.4
The $85.2 billion in 2014 contains at least $30 billion in “base” budget spending; read here and here.  The $79.4 billion for 2015 is a “place holder” pending a decision on the actual amount to be requested, which may take months.  The ultimate 2015 OCO request may be smaller, but that is not certain–given past behavior.
DOD Subtotal (Total)
 
586.9
 
581.2
 
 
DOE/Nuclear (Total)
18.6
19.4
For nuclear weapons activities.
“Defense-related activities” (Total)
8.2
36.0
This spending is usually just for international FBI activities, Selective Service, the National Defense Stockpile and other miscellaneous defense-related activities.  For 2015 OMB added a $27.7 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative” that includes readiness and “wish list” DOD spending-the latter described here..
National Defense (Total)
613.6
636.6
This is the OMB budget function “National Defense” (also known as “050”) which is sometimes confused as Pentagon-only spending.
Military Retirement Costs Not Scored to DOD
35.8
 
37.8
This category shows funds paid by the Treasury for military retirement programs, minus interest and contributions from the DOD military personnel budget. The data for the amounts shown here are in functions 600, 900 and 950.  As DOD-unique spending they should be displayed as part of the DOD budget, but they are not by either DOD or OMB.
DOD Retiree Health Care Fund Costs
1.1
 
0.1
Shown are nets costs to the Treasury for this DOD health care program. See functions 550 and 950.  As DOD-unique spending, they should be displayed as part of the DOD budget, but they are not by either DOD or OMB.
Veterans Affairs (Total)
151.3
161.2
These costs are projected to increase to $238.1 billion in 2024 as the human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to grow.
International Affairs (Total)
38.5
39.0
The amount for the International Affairs budget function (150) do not include its share of the yet to be determined request for OCO funding in this budget function for 2015.
Homeland Security (Total)
51.0
52.1
Includes Homeland Security spending in DHS for federal agencies not shown on this table (thereby excluding DOD, DOE, State and VA). 
Share of Interest on the Debt
76.3
82.7
Total On-Budget Federal Budget Authority is $2.9 trillion in 2014 and $3.2 trillion in 2015. Total gross interest paid on Treasury debt is $254.3 billion in 2014 and $285.3 billion in 2015.  The calculable shares of defense-related spending relative to the federal totals are 30% in 2014 and 29% in 2015. 
Grand Total
967.9
1,009.5
 
 
Note the various ways the Pentagon augments its own budget well above the $495.6 billion that is frequently cited by the people seeking more money.
·         There is the additional “placeholder” amount for the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere ($79.4 billion), which may or may not turn out to be smaller once the formal request for this spending is compiled and Congress is finished fiddling with it: adding huge amounts of non-war (or “base”) spending to this account by both DOD and Congress is routine. 
 
·         There is also the $6.2 billion in “mandatory” (or entitlement) spending the Pentagon’s complete budget must include for military retirement and other DOD-only programs.
 
·         There is the Pentagon’s $26 billion dollar portion of the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative” (a slush fund if ever there were one) that OMB and Secretary of Defense Hagel have dreamed up–to the applause of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 
 
·         While some in the press have caught most of the above additions, they virtually never spot the additional money the Treasury pays out for additional military retirement ($37.8 billion in 2015) and DOD healthcare (just $100 million in 2015 but more in other years). 
 
In all, the Pentagon’s budget for all of its own expenses in 2015 is not $495.6 billion, it is $645.1 billion, or $149.5 billion (30 percent) more.  If one were to add the nuclear weapons’ costs borne by the Department of Energy, the amount would be $664.5 billion, or 34 percent more.  (Don’t add the four score billions of dollars for intelligence and snooping; the budgets for CIA, NSA and all the rest are embedded in the DOD budget.)
Consider also the substantial costs that are properly outside of the Pentagon’s budget but that are central to US national security:
·         $52.1 billion in non-DOD spending in the Department of Homeland Security,
 
·         $161.2 billion for the human consequences of past and ongoing wars in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and
 
·         $39 billion for the activities of the Department of State and related agencies-for international security and the exercise of US power abroad.
With the addition of an equitable share of the interest on the national debt that is attributable to this spending, it all adds up to $1.0095 trillion.  It is that amount, not $495.6 billion, that US taxpayers are being asked to pay out in 2015 for “defense,” defined generically.  However, you will not find that number in the talking points of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary Hagel, or most Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. They are arguing that times are tough and if still more money can be found, it should go to these accounts.
There is another perspective to measure defense spending in 2015.  We can compare just the amounts formally requested for the Pentagon (the “base” budget plus the “placeholder” amount for Overseas Contingency Operations) to what has been spent historically.  By converting annual Pentagon spending to “constant” (inflation adjusted) dollars adjusted to their 2015 value, and by using the economy-wide GDP measure of inflation for doing so (not the Pentagon’s own hopelessly self-serving measure of inflation), we can compare the 2015 Pentagon budget to its post-World War Two history.    See the figure below.
 
(Those interested to do so can find a historically identical graph in CSBA’s 2013 study “Chaos and Uncertainty: The 2014 Defense Budget and Beyond” by Todd Harrison; see Figure 18 on page 25.)
This graph tells us that the 2015 level of Pentagon spending would return us to the same overall level as 2005 when Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of defense and the DOD budget was generally considered flush with money and supporting substantial fighting in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Note also that this is a level of spending that matches the peak of the Ronald Reagan years that was thought by its advocates to be a US build up so massive it was intimidating the Soviet Union into collapse.  The 2015 level is also an amount that significantly exceeds the peaks of the Korea and Vietnam wars-both of them higher intensity conflicts with hundreds of thousands more US troops deployed than are currently in Afghanistan.
To repeat, the problem is not scarcity of money.  The problem is how it is being spent.  We are getting very little defense–training, maintenance, hardware, and troops–for a gigantic amount of money.  By virtue of how they characterize $1 trillion dollars as penury, our national security leaders in the Pentagon and Congress are clearly incapable of dealing with the problem. 
Our equipment is outrageously expensive and yet too much of it is a step backwards in effectiveness.  Since the mid-1990s Congress has bulldozed money into across-the-board pay raises, double pensions for many military retirees, significantly increased benefits for the survivors of World War Two veterans and much else that has much more to do with placating constituencies than addressing 21st century security problems. In addition, the Pentagon’s civilian and military leadership has bloated itself to historically unprecedented levels of overhead.  Worse yet, none of them have even bothered to fundamentally understand the dimension of the problems because, under their tutelage, the Pentagon remains unaudited and un-auditable, which will remain the case even after it meets its decades overdue, and embarrassingly modest, financial management goals-which by the way, it will do no time soon.
One more time: the problem is not scarcity of money.
__________________
Winslow T. Wheeler
Director
Straus Military Reform Project
Project On Government Oversight
301 791-2397 (home office)
301 221-3897 (cell)

Stolen F-35 Secrets Now Showing Up in China’s Stealth Fighter ||by Bill Gertz | COURTESY: Maj Dennis Shea, USAF (Ret) MILINET


Photo-comparison-of-the-U.S.-F-35-left-and-Chinese-J-20.-China-obtained-F-35-design-data-in-2007-through-cyberespionage.-Chinese-Internet

A cyber espionage operation by China seven years ago produced sensitive technology and aircraft secrets that were incorporated into the latest version of China’s new J-20 stealth fighter jet, according to U.S. officials and private defense analysts.

The Chinese cyber spying against the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II took place in 2007 under what U.S. intelligence agencies codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, a large-scale, multi-year cyber program that targeted governments and industry.

Defense officials said the stolen data was obtained by a Chinese military unit called a Technical Reconnaissance Bureau in the Chengdu province. The data was then passed to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).

An AVIC subsidiary, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, used the stolen data in building the J-20, said defense and intelligence officials familiar with reports of the illicit tech transfer.


Pentagon technology security officials in 2011 opposed a joint venture between General Electric and AVIC over concerns that U.S. fighter jet technology would be diverted to AVIC’s military aircraft programs. The Obama administration ignored the concerns and instead has since promoted the systematic loosening of technology controls on transfers to China…

Read More Here:  http://freebeacon.com/stolen-f-35-secrets-now-showing-up-in-chinas-stealth-fighter/

Why Are Dozens Of High Ranking Officers Being Purged From The U.S. Military? || By Michael Snyder | Courtesy: CWO4 Patrick Kelly, USSF (Ret) MILINET


Aerial-View-Of-The-Pentagon-Photo-by-Mariordo-Camila-Ferreira-and-Mario-Duran-300x199   Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented.  Things have gotten so bad that a number of retired generals are publicly speaking out about the “purge” of the U.S. military that they believe is taking place.  As you will see below, dozens of highly decorated military leaders have been dismissed from their positions over the past few years.  So why is this happening?  When I was growing up, my father was an officer in the U.S. Navy.  And what is going on right now is absolutely crazy – especially during a time of peace.  Is there a deliberate attempt to “reshape” the military and remove those that don’t adhere to the proper “viewpoints”?  Does someone out there feel a need to get officers that won’t “cooperate” out of the way?  Throughout world history, whatever comes next after a “military purge” is never good.  If this continues, what is the U.S. military going to look like in a few years?

Perhaps you are reading this and you think that “purge” is too strong a word for what is taking place.  Well, just consider the following quotes from some very highly decorated retired officers…

Read More Here:  http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/why-are-dozens-of-high-ranking-officers-being-purged-from-the-u-s-military

Pentagon: Half of stateside Marine units at unacceptable readiness levels || By Hope Hodge Seck | Courtesy: MILINET


bilde  Marines conduct a field exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Defense Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, released Tuesday, shows that many stateside Marine Corps units are lacking the personnel, equipment and/or training required to maintain acceptable readiness levels. (Lance Cpl. Ryan Carpenter/Marine Corps)

Only half of non-deployed Marine units were at an acceptable level of readiness last September due to the long-term budget cuts known as sequestration, the Pentagon announced this week.

This revelation was bundled into the Defense Department’s budget request for next fiscal year, released Tuesday morning. When it took effect last year, sequestration triggered $500 billion worth of cuts to the defense budget to be implemented over a decade. Marine officials have said the cuts, if they remain in place, will require Marines to dip to a “barely acceptable” force of 175,000 by 2017; but the new information shows sequestration has had a much more immediate impact.

The data comes from the Marine Corps’ Defense Readiness Reporting System, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan. The system, established as a concept across the Defense Department at the turn of the century and enhanced with new requirements for the Marine Corps in 2010, collects data on unit resources, training and preparation, which is then reported to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Flanagan did not specify what the units at unacceptable readiness levels were lacking.

 

Read More Here: http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140306/NEWS/303060001/Pentagon-Half-stateside-Marine-units-unacceptable-readiness-levels

Defense budget: training over benefits || by P-G Matuszak


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Washington, February 24, 2014 — In their defense budget plan, Department of Defense leaders suggest; troops and retirees sacrifice their benefits for training and equipment funds.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey presented their recommended 2015 budget and a defense budget plan for the next several years.

In a press conference at the Pentagon, Gen. Dempsey stated:

“[The DoD defense budget plan] represents a responsible and, more importantly, a realistic way forward. […] 

It provides the tools for today’s force to accomplish the missions we have been assigned, rebuilding readiness in areas that were, by necessity, de-emphasized over the past decade. […]

It reflects in real terms how we’re reducing our cost, the cost of doing business, and working to ensure that the force is in the right balance. […] The chiefs and I will never end our campaign to find every way to become more effective. […]

We’ll seek innovative approaches not just in technology, but also in how we develop leaders, aggregate our formations and work with our partners.

We will improve how we buy weapons and goods and services, streamline our headquarters, and, with the support of our elected leaders, shed excess infrastructure and weapons systems that we no longer need and simply can no longer afford.”

The leaders both stated that defense budgets in recent years split 50 percent for human resource costs and 50 percent for operational, training, and equipment costs. Facing a potentially reduced defense allocation, the DoD suggests cutting costs by cutting some military benefits and slowing the growth of others to easier fix the out of control defense budget. Their major point was that no base pay would be cut.

Read More Here: Defense budget: training over benefits by P-G Matuszak

Whitewashing Benghazi || By Jed Babbin & R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.


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Were he alive today, Richard Nixon would have to doff his hat to Barack Obama. Compared with how the Obama administration has swept under the rug the Benghazi attacks of September 11, 2012, Nixon’s attempt to cover up the Watergate burglary was rank amateurism. To be fair, Nixon’s team of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and Dean were not in the same league as Obama’s, which includes not only his cabinet but most of the national media and much of Congress.

If a president were intent on covering something up—something big, such as an illegal gun walking operation to Mexico or a dereliction of duty that gets Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost in the Middle East—he would have to operate on as grand a scale as Obama has.

Read More Here: Whitewashing Benghazi