There’s a new “s” word that has been circulating around the halls of Congress as of late, and that “s” word is Sequestration- pronounced sah- ques- tray- shun.
What is that word, and what does it mean?
Basically, it is a long, drawn out, big government word for reduction in spending.
Now, how might this affect our military? At first glance, as drawn up in arguments both for and against, it could be by a lot, or it could be by very little. Big government’s goal is to represent half of the reduced spending in cuts to the D.O.D. and the other half with cuts in the private sector. I don’t mention the amount of the proposed cuts, because most people don’t understand what all those zeroes mean anyway, and the point I’m harping on here is principal, not dollars and lack of sense.
Military brass from all branches has been clamoring that this cannot be done! Training will have to be cut back! Programs will go without funding! The sky will fall!
As you know from reading my “Hero Highlight” articles that I write to draw attention to our men and women in uniform in order to praise them while they are still with us, as opposed to waiting to read about them in an obituary and then praising them for five minutes, I am very much pro-soldier. I’m an Iraq War Veteran myself, and the welfare of my brothers and sisters in arms will always be a primary concern of mine, so this sah- ques- tray- shun issue has grabbed my attention.
You’ll also learn about me quickly, that though I’m pro-soldier, I’m not pro-big government, and that I think a little outside of the box.
With this non-conformist thinking of mine in mind, this whole issue continually reminds me of a certain World War I veteran who would later represent the state of Missouri in the senate and then move on to become the 33’rd President of the United States. His name was Harry S. Truman, and fyi, his middle initial, “S,” stood for nothing. This was common for the time of his birth in 1884, simply to give your new born a middle initial, but not necessarily a middle name. Another bit of interesting history about Truman is that he was the first U.S. President to be born in a hospital, the rest up until that time having been born at home via midwives.
Anyway, Truman made his mark, as a senator, by leading a waste watch committee during WWII. He traveled the country, visiting war factories and various war related projects, his goal being to find and site wasteful spending and profiteering.
And boy did he find it!
He went back to Washington, reported it, got it reduced (the wasteful spending, not the allocation of funds for the war effort) and made a name for himself politically.
Now, let’s just say that this whole sah- ques- tray- shun thing passes in such a way that military spending is reduced, and the sky does start to fall. Instead of reduction in troop training, why not make up for it elsewhere? Need some ideas big brass? Based on my time in the military, and what I saw with my own eyes, here are a few:
- Stop spending $1 million dollars a month on soda pop and energy drinks for soldiers in theater. This makes me think of the more than $830 million the US government has subsidized for Amtrak’s loss on their snack food venture over the past decade. All that soda pop just leads to higher toothpaste and dental bills for them later, and the local Iraqis who worked on our F.O.B.s (forward operating bases) were taking a lot of the energy drinks, rip-its they were called, off base to sell for $25 on the street anyway, at least in the north, where they had been banned due to the negative health affects they were having on the Iraqi children (you know, like the same negative affects they have on American children?).
- Stop giving sub-contractors, like KBR, $75 for every bag of laundry that their third world employees (who KBR pays a whopping $400 a month for their 60 hours a week or more of labor) for each bag of laundry they wash. Think that’s high? Well, it used to be higher! $100 a bag! Once complaints were made, KBR reduced the price to the tax payer to $75 a bag for boiling soldier’s dirty laundry in water, and not even using detergent. However, they were smart enough to place a limit on the number of items in each bag at thirty in order to hedge their losses. So, if we had thirty two dirty clothes items while we were in Iraq, we had to take out two dirty tee shirts, for example, and put them in a separate laundry bag, and then KBR got to charge the D.O.D. $75 for two bags instead of one.
- There are some very large, very expensive flat screen televisions scattered throughout blind spots in the hallways of many of our military bases and hospitals that we could probably go without. I’ll never forget the nearly $5,000 flat screens that blared some network news program or another, or the weather channel, from the oddest places at Madigan Army Hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington when I spent six months there recovering from non-combat related injuries after my time in Iraq. But even more, I’ll never forget being told that, “if we don’t spend the money they give us each year on something, they’ll reduce our budget,” by some mid-level officer that I asked, very respectfully, about the televisions in the empty hallways.
With all of this said, I’ll point out again, that I am very much pro-soldier, and should the “s” word work out in a cut in military spending, it is my hope that the troops don’t suffer through a reduction in force strength that would lead to longer deployments, or certainly, any sort of reduction in pay or benefits.
I don’t have much faith in big government, but I do hope that should the cuts come, the brass will remember their early days in the military, when they were those new, junior officers, and some of them even enlisted men, with families, and cut the gravy going to the contractors and the flat screens going into empty hallways before they cut pay and benefits to our troops.
Kevin E Lake is an Iraq War Veteran and an author. His book “Off Switch,” which raises awareness of the soldier and veteran suicide epidemic in the U.S. is available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Off-Switch-ebook/dp/B009Q3MSK2/