Sequester III

My only experience with the Government budgeting process was my last year in the Marine Corps.  On my return to the U.S., I was stationed in Barstow, California and put in command of the NCO School and the Rifle Range.  When it came time to submit my budget request for the coming year I was given only one requirement by my Commanding Officer; “just make certain your budget request exceeds the current years budget.”  I didn’t really think about the implications until just recently when the howls of protest about the Sequester and the mandated cuts of 2% across all government departments approached.  A 2% cut would seem reasonable to most people, I think, but when you have grown accustomed to an ever increasing budget, it’s difficult to hit the (-) on the calculator.  All we hear is that a 2% cut threatens our ability to defend our Country even though we spend more on defense than the rest of the worlds’ governments combined.

I am not an expert regarding the Defense Budget but I have a suggestion as to how the Pentagon might save more than a few dollars of the taxpayers’ money.  The retirement benefits (including medical benefits) are a growing part of the Defense Budget.  Politically it’s easy to gain support for these benefits because these people “laid their lives on the line to defend our country!”  That is true for some military retirees, but how many?  Anyone who has ever been in the Military knows that it is a very small percentage of military personnel who are ever in “harms way.”  The vast majority, have jobs similar to every other government or private sector employee.  My recollection from my Vietnam experience was that it took 7 personnel in the “rear with the gear” (the REMFs) to support one combatant.  And of course a huge number of military personnel were in the U.S. and in other non-combat zones around the world.  In todays high tech military the percentage of military personnel “laying their lives on the line” is smaller than ever.  Even those flying the deadly drones in the Middle East, are based here in the U.S.

In my opinion, our Military should be increasing the care and retirement benefits dramatically for those who have been “in harm’s way,” but for those who have never been shot at, taken “incoming”, flown a plane, or walked through a mine field, they should no longer be allowed to retire with the same benefits as those who have.  Unfortunately, it’s the non-combatants who make all the spending decisions.


Filed under Politics

7 responses to “Sequester III

  1. Spot On, Dan. Thanks For Sharing.

  2. Peter Mancell

    Excellent rational thoughts Dan….from one who’s daughter is a non combatant just as you describe and who in Australia does not benefit as those on the front line do and should!

  3. Good thought. Another thought, my son brought it to my attention that soldiers in Iraq or Afganistan all got combat pay even if they never went into a battle. People like the cooks, mechanics, etc. It kind of frustrated him because his life was on the line everyday and they were safe behind the walls of some of the safest bases over there. Now my son is fighting with the Army to get the tax money back from his combat pay, Yes they taxed it!! They were not supposed to do that. The VA is one of the worst run government organizations on the planet.

  4. Jeff Wain

    Hi Dan,

    Unfortunately Governments around the world are all too good at spending other peoples money. To deliver a project under budget and on time is just not the done thing.


    Makes so much sense. You are the first person to ever point that out.

    Bo Cornell
    Vice President and Regional Director
    Dimensional Fund Advisors
    6300 Bee Cave Rd.
    Austin, TX 78746
    Office: 512-306-4340
    Cell: 425-246-8558

  6. Leslie

    I see your points, but here’s another side to the issue. It’s not so much that they’re laying down their physical lives, but they are signing on the dotted line to forfeit the majority of life’s decisions that civilians take for granted. My husband can’t choose where to live, how much money he can earn, if he would prefer to move on to another career without penalty, or whether he’ll miss his wife’s 30th birthday, 5th wedding anniversary and son’s first birthday all in one deployment (his 4th in 5 years), Those retirement plans mean that maybe someday he’ll have enough time and career flexibility to make up for the million special moments in life that he can never get back.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think there are billions wasted. But maybe we’d save some if we would just butt out of others’ political disputes.

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