Trump Admin Has Opportunity to Rebuild Military, Shrink Bloated Government


This post originally appeared in CNS News, co-authored by Allen West. “Washington D.C. is all about politics, policy and procedure. The Department of Defense receives plenty of political and policy attention, but few care to look at the procedures. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t raise campaign funds. But that is precisely what needs fixing. The incoming Trump administration needs to begin shifting the defense budget away from baseline budgeting to a zero-based budgeting model.

Defense advisors recently voiced plans to rebuild the military with reallocated funds earned by cutting bureaucracy and wasteful spending within the DoD. But American Enterprise Institute defense analyst Mackenzie Eaglen rightly calls this plan a fantasy. There is simply not enough fraud, waste and abuse to yield the $55 to $60 billion per year in new money needed for Trump’s ambitious reinvestment plans, she argues. This historically inadequate snark-hunt approach to the budget process too often defines how elected officials try to balance a budget.

Zero-based budgeting is an alternative system proven to decrease expenditures and improve efficiency within private sector companies and public institutions. This budget method identifies wasteful spending and helps purge unnecessary expenses by obligating each department to justify its proposed spending each and every year. This method automatically eliminates the practice of carrying over the budget from the previous year. And that’s important since the current baseline budgeting system requires the government to set the previous year’s spending as the starting point for the next year’s budget.

Under the current system, preparers assume all of the same programs and operating procedures, and only adjust the following year’s expenditures to account for actual spending in the current year, inflation and population growth. Since inflation and population growth are almost always positive, the budget almost always rises.

This automatic carryover of expenses under baseline budgeting actually encourages spending. Defense officials regularly exhaust their funds in a period known as “use it or lose it” so as to ensure they do not lose money in future budgets. Researchers found that federal procurement spending was five times higher in the last week of the fiscal year than the weekly average for the rest of the year, and the quality of the projects was scored well below average.

Zero-based budgeting, while initially time-consuming, has saved large corporations 10 percent to 25 percent, according to independent studies. And those savings are more sustainable over a longer period than traditional cost reduction methods, such as lower level workforce reduction and outsourcing. If the DoD achieved just a 10 percent savings over the entire organization, those savings would amount to $53 billion.

The zero-based budgeting model could be tested within the DoD by applying it first to the bloated bureaucracy. The growth in civilian and staff numbers continues to exceed what is necessary, while the number of general and flag officers positions has increased disproportionately to the personnel they oversee:

  • Roughly 2,000 GFOs oversaw 12 million military personnel in 1945.
  • Now, nearly 900 GFOs oversee 1.3 million active duty personnel.
  • In fact, over the past 30 years, the military’s end-strength deployable/fieldable forces has decreased 38 percent, but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65 percent.

A 10 percent cut among general and flag officers and their staffs alone could save nearly $11.5 billion over 5 years.

Now critics will say that other sectors of government should be forced to adopt such a procedure. And we agree. But a successful annual or even biannual implementation in the DoD first would provide the bipartisan incentive necessary for officials to adopt the process elsewhere. After all, imagine the impact of a stringent budget process that required all government agencies to justify everything they spend. The annual requirement to defend each and every expenditure as necessary and worthwhile would cause an agency like the EPA to collapse under the weight of its own uselessness.

The traditional government budgeting system is simply not working. Zero-based budgeting could specifically help refocus defense priorities by ensuring money is spent in areas that promote readiness. A biannual application may also improve the outcome. Successful implementation in the DoD would encourage Congress to target other departments of government that would have a difficult time justifying their existence.

Based on a recently released NCPA study “A New Budgeting Approach for the Defense Department.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Potential Success of Trump’s Counterterrorism Strategy


President-elect Donald Trump has been criticized during the election process for maintaining the element of surprise in his strategy to defeat ISIS. He indicated that detailing his plan during the debate would allow the enemy to prepare accordingly. This discipline mirrors the teaching of military strategist Sun Tzu, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

Hillary Clinton detailed her plan, and continued to propose no-fly zones in Syria; but there are many other tactics that can be used in war to defeat the opponent. The Syrian military would simply alter their maneuvers to those that do not involve air strikes.

President-elect Trump has since proposed a combination of strategies to defeat ISIS, and when deployed simultaneously, create a solid counterterrorism policy. Sun Tzu also taught “There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.” President-elect Donald Trump seems to understand the complexity of public policy and the ambiguity of terrorism; and this combination approach will win the war, rather than Hillary’s approach to win a battle.

The leadership of President-elect Trump combines tactical and strategic thinking through his plan to defeat terrorism.

  1. An organization cannot operate without financial assets; and ISIS is no different. President-elect Trump plans to destroy ISIS’ financial stability by eliminating their oil camps. While crippling their resources, the United States can also collect valuable intelligence through improve human source operations, which have proven successful at gathering critical information on our enemy.
  2. President-elect Trump is against nation-building. It does not help defeat ISIS to set up a democratic government in a country unable to sustain the efforts. But setting up safe zones for Syrian refugees will keep the Syrian population near their home state and prevent the tsunami of refugees flooding into Europe. Keeping the refugee population at their home is a strategic method to prevent displacement into a democracy that would eventually be exploited.
  3. International collaboration is a strategic plan to increase global resistance to terrorism. President-elect Trump values the U.S. partnership with British forces; and seeks to create partnerships with Russia, Syria, and Iran. By aligning anti-ISIS plans, this effective partnership is key to denying ISIS a geographic footprint and deters their ability to plan and organization operations. The partnership with Syria will support the Syrian government and defeat ISIS internally rather than arming the Syrian rebels. This long-term strategy will also prevent ISIS from obtaining more weapons, paid for by the U.S., since those supplies will by acquired from the Syrian forces we currently arm.

Identifying our enemy and creating a global leadership vision will defeat ISIS. President-elect Trump will wage an ideological war by achieving balance between direct and indirect action. Through collaboration, strategic and tactical visions and military strength, ISIS can be defeated!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When Citizens Threaten the Establishment


This originally appeared in Townhall: “The outcome of this presidential election will not change the fact that the United States is experiencing an internal Thucydides Trap – a reference to how the emerging power of Athens struck fear in the heart of the established power in Sparta, sparking the ancient Peloponnesian War.

According to Gallup polling, trust in government to do the right thing “all or most of the time” has reached its lowest point in more than 50 years. The increasingly informed American public is an emerging power that threatens the establishment.

This is not a tax inspired, tea-in-the-harbor routine. No, this situation is a result of political elites — a mosaic of Republican and Democrat bureaucrats, media clingers and financiers — taking for granted the security of the United States, and then trying to hide it from the governed.

Elites and their hangers-on have worked tirelessly to insulate themselves from the consequences of the big government they champion. Meanwhile, they tell average Americans that exorbitant spending, unabashed federal overreach and legislative manipulation, while frustrating, were acceptable shortcomings of a modern bureaucracy. Cultural overlords excused it all as competing visions of America’s future.

Somewhere along the lines, emboldened elitists have shifted to actions that undermine national security. And they haven’t tried to explain it away as with taxes, education or healthcare. They’ve tried to hide it.

Political elites admitted, for instance, that governments cannot effectively vet thousands upon thousands of Syrian refugees. No matter, they simply try to insulate themselves from the impact. The Daily Caller confirmed that 112 of the 121 Syrian refugees resettled in Virginia ended up in the state’s poorest communities. The counties of the highest means received nine. Peggy Noonan calls this the “top detaching itself from the bottom.”

Ben Rhodes privately confessed that the Iran nuclear deal was a bad one. John Podesta agreed that it condemned “the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf.” Naturally, they went on to congratulate fellow elitists for their expert pageantry in selling such a terrible idea. In other words, they measured success by the creativity it took to approve a horrible something, rather than scuttling the horrible something. Yes, the same could be said for the Omnibus Bill and Obamacare. But the difference here is that officials privately acknowledged a solution posed a long-term threat to national security and still fought for it.

The administration used the cover of darkness to deliver $1.7 billion in foreign currency (an illegal technique known as money laundering) to pay the greatest state sponsor of terror for the release of U.S. prisoners. They told the American public it had to do with an outstanding debt from decades ago, but only after the deed was uncovered. Now Loretta Lynch, the country’s chief law enforcement official, has chosen to “effectively plead the Fifth” when faced with questions from congress.

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal epitomizes the establishment’s complete disregard for the security of the country. The pattern of contempt for protocol is alarming; even more so when one considers that she was fourth in the presidential line of succession as Secretary of State. Those actions prove her instinct for choosing personal priorities over national ones.

Those are just the highlights. The establishment went from an entrenched power that fought to guard the American system so it could selfishly benefit from it to a group that acts unconcerned with the system’s survival. The American public went from suspecting the political elite of corruption to knowing it.

Ayn Rand declared a society doomedwhen you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors…when your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you.” The establishment will fight. It might even offer token remedies. But those will amount to very little as the political class continues to undermine the country’s safety. The American public should begin by demanding innovative security solutions all purposed at yanking power back from the establishment:

  • Restructure centralized classification systems so as to limit federal power and allow for intelligence to flow directly to state and local law enforcement officials.
  • Position military assets at choke points of national interest rather than spread haphazardly throughout the globe. This would decrease defense costs, focus U.S. efforts on real threats and limit the establishment’s ability to manipulate the armed forces for its own agenda.
  • Make continental defense a priority by encouraging states to protect critical infrastructure like the electric grid. This action would proactively guard the nation and encourage greater state authority.

The conflict inherent in the Thucydides Trap can be avoided but it requires major change.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Response to the Presidential Debate – Nation’s Security at Risk or Not?


The second debate helped clarify how each candidate sees the world at this moment, which ironically added to the confusion of truth that has overtaken this election cycle. Mr. Trump described a country and a world that seems to be falling apart. Secretary Clinton offered a differing view, one where improvement could be realized with some modifications and collaboration. Much like the first presidential debate, one candidate defined a system that is in serious need of change – the other considered existing policies and government strategy as something in which to build on, requiring slight adjustments to maximize outcome. In other words, Mr. Trump believes the country is headed in the wrong direction – Secretary Clinton disagrees.

If national security is any indication of truth, Mr. Trump’s perspective appears to be closer to reality.

The email controversy once again met a generally unrepentant Secretary Clinton. She flatly denied even those facts to which the FBI Director testified. Her willingness to challenge those truths on such a big stage should be seen as a symptom of a larger problem: how political elites refuse to believe their actions take for granted the security of the United States. That theme continued with immigration when Secretary Clinton suggested her administration could and would effectively vet thousands of additional Syrian refugees. That surge is not sympathy – that’s untenable and dangerous. Our government has proven, from healthcare to the economy, that it simply does not have the capacity to manage such a consequential operation. Secretary Clinton closed the loop on this theme by naming the Iran Deal and work with Russia on nuclear material as successes that prove her ability to address Syria. Those conclusions were either knowingly untruthful or frighteningly naïve. In fact, the situation in Syria may be unrecoverable because of her decisions while with the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, a plan to defeat global jihadism remained elusive.  Both simply chose to focus on other matters. And the moderators’ recent obsession over Aleppo strikes me as curious. The questions which echoed the vice presidential debate imply that America must now get involved. A frustrating development since few in the media demanded action from the Obama administration when it could have potentially prevented the ongoing tragedy. The issue reminds of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he extolled the House of Commons for dithering in the face of Nazi military build-up. “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.”

But we did finally see some separation in strategy over the Middle East, wherein Secretary Clinton called for increased focus on Syria, particularly human rights investigations into Russian aggression, and Mr. Trump said the United States must focus on the Islamic State. Both ideas seemed reasonable and easily digestible for voters.

The highlight of the night, however, came when Mr. Trump essentially said America must know its enemy first and foremost in regards to terrorism. This point is a critical one we at the NCPA have called for in partnership with Lt. General Michael Flynn (ret.) in our Foxnews article. Secretary Clinton’s muddled and stale response about accepting people – “not all Muslims are bad” routine — proved his point and her own inability to be honest about the threat. She should be reminded that naming the enemy actually clarifies things, it doesn’t confuse them.

The lack of comments on the state of our military, despite the litany of foreign policy solutions each wanted to implement, remained the most glaring omission. It will be difficult to achieve any of their objectives with the readiness crisis facing U.S. armed forces.

In the end, both proved to have completely different views of the world as it stands. Americans must decide with which reality they agree.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Experts Respond to Vice Presidential Debate


Allen West said:

“What I heard from this Vice Presidential debate in the area of foreign policy and national security is one side that was delusional. Furthermore, there was not enough conversation on the critical issue of our security and the restoration of our military.

There is no Iranian nuclear agreement; every aspect has been violated. Also, Hillary Clinton has stated she will not deploy any American troops into Iraq or Syria. President Obama has deployed 6,000 already, after dismissing military leadership recommendations to keep a residual force. The most savage and barbaric Islamic terrorist organization was reconstituted. That threat has not decreased; even the Director of National Intelligence has stated so, and the Director of the FBI has evidenced concern about domestic jihadism. There has been an immense increase of Islamic terrorism under the presidency of Barack Obama. Also, Hillary Clinton supported the destabilization of Libya, now a terrorist sanctuary and base of operations.”

David Grantham writes:

“The vice presidential debate proved to be one of measurable national security ideas. Both men took advantage of opportunities to elaborate on their running mates’ respective foreign policy strategy. Overall, we heard a promise of more government from Senator Kaine and a plea for less of it from Governor Pence. Both urged a strong U.S. global presence, although they defined strength differently. Both aimed for an improved military through different means. The major problem for Senator Kaine is explaining how that can be achieved with his simultaneous increase in domestic spending.

More precisely, the ideas presented defined each potential administration. Both seemed to agree on a version of protection in Syria – humanitarian areas and no-fly zones. Kaine wanted to extend the current administration’s largely failing ISIS strategy, while Pence suggested a more aggressive approach. Kaine even championed an ‘intelligence surge,’ defined as increased cooperation with allies and the hiring of more people – unfortunately that requires even more growth in government and more spending. Our work at the NCPA has shown that the government spends enough – it’s the wisdom behind the strategy that’s lacking. Perhaps the most egregious claims came with the ‘success’ of the Iran deal, the decrease in terrorism ‘in some ways’ and the reset with Russia, all touted as achievements by Kaine. Each one is demonstrably false, and to be counted as successes sounded naive and dishonest.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Why Foreign Military Sales Benefit the United States


Joe Ruzicka is an NCPA contributor and expert on military affairs:

After more than two years in the making, the Obama Administration has approved sales of 4th generation fighters to several Middle East countries. Qatar and Kuwait have been patiently waiting for White House approval to move the sales packages forward, while Bahrain may need to show more effort in their human rights efforts before full approval is given.  The sales packages now head to Congressional leaders for final approval.

While some may disagree with the sale of U.S. weaponry to a foreign country, particularly those in the Middle East, the foreign military sale process makes sense from an economic and partnership standpoint.

First, production lines in key economic areas can stay open. U.S. Government orders for 4th Generation fighter aircraft are very limited due to the ongoing transition of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft fleets to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (a 5th Generation jet).  Boeing was expected to completely shut down its production lines by the end of the decade if the F-15 and F/A-18 sales were not approved. With these latest foreign military sales, new life has been breathed into a production line that was on its last legs.

Boeing employs over 15,000 people at their St. Louis plant. The sale packages could easily extend those production lines’ lifespan into the next decade. This means those highly technical jobs remain and thrive in the St. Louis area.

Additional economic impacts include several strategic business benefits. Overall unit costs are lowered due to economies of scale, the U.S. balance of trade is improved and the foreign sales create a windfall for U.S. industry.  According to Loren Thompson, the F-15 sale to Qatar would be worth about $4 billion to Boeing’s defense business if all options are exercised. The F/A-18 package will consist of 28 Super Hornets with an option for 12 more and could be worth nearly $3 billion.

While the impact can certainly be felt in real dollars, the intangibles from a foreign military sale might be even more lucrative.

When the United States enters into a foreign military sale agreement with a country like Qatar, the government uses a “Total Package” approach. This means that not only are the aircraft procured, but also everything else that is required to utilize and operate the weaponry.

For example, the Middle East fighter jet sale will also contain provisions for training (of both maintenance and aircrews), logistics and spare parts, and maintenance applications. The Total Package approach is a 30-35 year bi-lateral agreement that has been entered into between the two countries. This long-standing relationship is key if the United States wants to maintain security cooperation with its allies in an increasingly dangerous world.

Furthermore, by selling U.S. products and weaponry, the United States ensures that interoperability is achieved between the two countries. It also prevents non-U.S. weapons systems from being purchased and proliferated. Fighting alongside a country that has similar weaponry helps build a military coalition through common tactics, techniques, and procedures.

A great example of this is the 2011 Air Campaign against Libya where U.S. and NATO aircraft worked in conjunction with each other to unseat dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. Belgium flies the U.S. made F-16 fighter. During the campaign, Belgian F-16s were qualified to conduct air-to-air refueling (AAR) operations from any boom-type NATO tanker. This resulted in Belgian fighter aircraft being refueled by tankers from the U.S. Air Force, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, or the French Air Force. The interoperability of the Belgians with other NATO aircraft simplified AAR planning and was one key factor in preventing Qaddafi from crushing the rebel movement.

Finally, for those naysayers who are worried that the receiving country would use our own technology against us, the U.S. is very careful in controlling what technology is sold abroad. Foreign military sales go through a rigorous vetting process. Key technology restrictions must be met prior to the weaponry being exported. This may be as simple as fighter aircraft being sold with a less powerful radar than the U.S. version or a full scale Anti-Tamper plan in place to prevent any technology leaks. Regardless of the sale or the country, rest assured the United States maintains a tactical advantage with its own weaponry.

And remember, that tactical advantage also translates into a great economic and security cooperation impact for the United States.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Cyber Threats to the Texas Electric Grid


“Texas plays a unique role in America’s infrastructure as the only state with a self-contained electric grid. The entire U.S. electric power system is a prime target of cyberattacks from hostile governments and terrorist organizations, but the Lone Star State is in a unique position to act.

The Consequences of a Vulnerable Grid. The Northeast blackout in 2003 left nearly 55 million residents of the United States and Canada temporarily without power. Crews traced the cause to a software error at a utility control room in Ohio and restored power after two days to most of those affected. But the blackout disrupted transportation in many areas, cut off city water in several locations, and hampered emergency services. Experts attributed 10 deaths to the blackout, which cost more than $10 billion.

Remember: For many, this blackout only lasted a few days. And there was no significant damage to sensitive infrastructure. However:

  • Any serious injury to important power equipment could create a blackout lasting for at least one year “given the nation’s current state of unpreparedness,” argues Peter Pry, a former executive of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
  • The Obama administration remains “unwilling to empower competent authorities to combat the adversaries within the grid environment,” according to the assessment of George Cotter, the founding director of Department of Defense Computer Security Center.
  • The Pentagon’s current information security strategy is nothing more than “patch and pray,” said Arati Prabhakar, the Director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in 2015.”

To continue reading, click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Part Two – Discussing global terrorism with General Michael Flynn


Part Two of my discussion with Lt. General Michael Flynn regarding the threat of global terrorism.

You can view the interview here.

You can view Part One here: 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How Defense Dollars Are Wasted on Security Assistance


“The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act would give the Pentagon greater control over security assistance to other countries — oversight now generally reserved to the State Department. A larger issue than the administration of funds, however, is that current security assistance programs are ineffective and often undermine American security.

In July 2016, the president announced that 8,400 American troops would remain in Afghanistan. A few days later, he announced the deployment of an additional 560 U.S. troops to Iraq. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) reminded the president that the added deployments were not funded under the current budget. Defense dollars channeled to ineffective security assistance programs –‒ a centerpiece of Obama administration defense policy –‒ could instead be used to fund these deployments.

Indeed, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded that “it remains unclear whether building the capacity of foreign security forces is an effective way to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives.”

Read the full report here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn visits the NCPA


I had the distinct honor of sitting down with Lt. General Michael Flynn recently to discuss the threat of global terrorism during his recent visit to the National Center for Policy Analysis.

You can view the interview here: 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email