Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wants to cut administrative layers in the US military. I say best of luck on that.
Among Gates's apparent targets for major cuts are the private contractors whom the Pentagon has hired in large numbers over the past decade to take on administrative tasks that the military used to handle. The defense secretary estimated that this portion of the Pentagon budget has grown by as much as $23 billion, a figure that does not include the tens of billions of dollars spent on private firms supporting U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The defense contractors, who populate new office towers throughout Washington's suburbs and have been a major driver of the local economy, are a significant source of budgetary bloat, Gates said. "We ended up with contractors supervising other contractors -- with predictable results," he said in the speech Saturday. Gates rattled off examples of costly bureaucracy inside the military, as well. A simple request for a dog-handling team in Afghanistan must be reviewed and assessed at multiple high-level headquarters before it can be deployed to the war zone. "Can you believe it takes five four-star headquarters to get a decision on a guy and a dog up to me?" an exasperated Gates said to reporters Friday.
Parasitism grows in bureaucracies.
Gates has decided to aim at cutting bureaucracy because he can't cut unneeded weapons systems. He doubts the efficacy of multi-billion dollar aircraft carriers that can be taken out by highly accurate missiles. But the political constituencies protecting aircraft carrier battle groups are too strong for him to go up against. He's only Defense Secretary after all.
The US government is headed for a sovereign debt crisis that will make $15 billion budget cuts seem small. Peak Oil is going to bite heavily and slash tax revenues as economies contract year after year.