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Concrete Hillbilly

Defense Spending: $700 Billion a Year and We're Still Not Safe

10:30 PM, January 13, 2010 .. 0 comments .. Link

On Dec. 19, 2009, President Obama authorized a military budget plan for a record $663 billion to defend the United States, the highest since World War II -- higher, adjusted for inflation, even than during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Senior U.S. officials often have described the conflict as a global war, albeit against a different kind of enemy. Conservative critics of the commander in chief have been clamoring for Obama to use that word, "war," and truth be told he's done it several times, including in his inaugural address. He employed that term last week as well, and he even named the enemy: al-Qaeda. And therein lies the rub: Most of the $700 billion is not designed to fight this foe

Far more money is tied up in buying weapons systems of questionable value. For instance, the Pentagon plans to spend more than $300 billion to buy thousands of F-35 fighters, which Erhard said are overly sophisticated for counterinsurgency operations in places like Afghanistan, but not capable enough for air warfare against a sophisticated enemy. He calls the F-35 a "classic 'middle' capability that lacks critical performance characteristics needed for high-end challenges, while it is over-specified and over-priced for low-end challenges.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service wrote recently in The Washington Post, the United States "is superb at reacting and responding but not at outsmarting. . . . Remarkably, more than eight years after Sept. 11, we still don't fully understand our dynamic and evolutionary enemy.''

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