The disgraceful military legacy of the Obama administration

A shocking article at Defense News shows how threadbare our defenses have become, after eight years under an administration whose priorities did not include our armed forces in any meaningful way.  This report concentrates on the Navy, but the other armed services are in a similar plight.

The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.

Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.

Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.

Leaders claim that if more money doesn’t become available, five more submarines will be in the same state by the end of this year.

. . .

Yet, for now, money is tight, due to several years of declining budgets mandated first by the Obama administration, then Congress, and to the chronic inability of lawmakers to provide uninterrupted funds to the military services and the government at large. Budgets have been cut despite no slackening in the demand for the fleet’s services; and the Navy, to preserve shipbuilding funds, made a conscious choice to slash maintenance and training budgets rather than eliminate ships, which take many years to build and can’t be produced promptly even when funding becomes available.

Congress has failed for the ninth straight year to produce a budget before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2017, reverting to continuing resolutions that keep money flowing at prior year levels. CRs have numerous caveats, however, and many new projects or plans can’t be funded since they didn’t exist in the prior year. There is widespread agreement that CR funding creates havoc throughout the Pentagon and the industrial base that supports it — often substantially driving costs higher to recover from lengthy delays. Yet, like the proverbial weather that everyone talks about but no one can change, there seems to be little urgency in Congress to return to a more businesslike budget profile.

There’s more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.

It’s going to take years to recover from the backlog of maintenance and personnel issues, even without buying new equipment (some of which has still to be designed and tested).  This is the military legacy of the Obama administration.  I can only hope we’re given enough time to get over it before the next major military crisis comes along . . . because our enemies, potential and actual, are certainly aware of these constraints on our ability to respond to their actions.



  1. No money for the Navy or the rest of the military, but there was always plenty of money for freebie cellphones and other give-aways!!
    Bet I could find the money to get stuff fixed! Hopeful this new administration can also.

  2. Eliminate half of the generals and admirals, along with all of their staffs, and that would help free up some loose change.

  3. To be fair, the Navy (and other services as well) choose to waste a HUGE portion of their budget…..If there is not enough money for maintainance, then that is a decision that the operational folks have made.

    Look into it a bit more…you'll find that I am right. But look for yourself. There is a LOT of waste that they choose to allow, because it makes people happy, both civilian and military. Some is, perhaps inevitable, but fully 20% of the budget is known and accepted waste…..Waste that could be fixed with no impact on the operational tempo or the comfort of our Soldiers and Sailors. That might not fix the shortfall, but it would go a long way to do so…

  4. Yes, our enemies know this.

    This is why China is so frisky with their island creation hopping.

    It is the reason that Iran is openly thumbing it's nose at us and under the previous administration, openly attacked our warships and seized naval personnel.

    It is the reason that the National Guard units have a higher operational tempo than 'active duty' troops.

    There is a lot of waste.

    Wasted money on 'green energy', new uniforms every administration, massive amounts of money for 'touchy-feely' bullcrap like trans-genderification. Fixing military bases on the military's dime and then shutting them down and selling them to civilians, multi-year procurement programs for off-the-shelf hardware (the new super pistol is one,) buying tons of weapons and just leaving them as we pull out. Lots and lots of waste.

    And no money going to the ships, planes, tanks, artillery, personnel carriers, and so forth.

    It is as if we learned nothing after the end of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam………

  5. The uni-party looted $20 Trillion or so over those years. What happened to it?

    Don't forget the new aircraft carrier and destroyer are having some problems. What the hell happened to American competence and ingenuity?

  6. But they got gender sensitivity training, and that's much more important! (do I really need to add the sarc tag?)

  7. Its not simply wasting money. Its a tried and true way they can extort money for the stuff they want.

    If they know they cant get the large budget they really want they will always choose new stuff rather than people. Why? Because they can always come back later and whine about the lack of maintenance and personnel and congress will give it to them. They cant come back later and ask for additional funds to buy the latest ship or aircraft. This report is textbook military budget planning.

    Rule one; They will always throw people and maintenance under the bus for the latest equipment.

  8. "This is the military legacy of the Obama administration"

    The last 2 times this happened, during my decades of service, it was always a democratic congress, and President, that not only allowed but encouraged it to happen. You'd think we'd learn, but too many defense contractors depend on that pile of greenbacks, and too many politicians depend on that "slush fund". Perhaps if we corrected the attitudes of the various politicians acting criminally, we could get a handle on it.

  9. Seattle does this.
    The city spends money on all the "cool stuff" and then complains that they don't have enough money for basics.
    So we get a new tax.

    – Charlie

  10. As I understand it, we only have one carrier group at sea right now (the G HW Bush), and prior to them going to see a few weeks ago, we had NO carrier groups operational.

    We used to have 5 carrier groups going in times of crisis (normally one undergoing maintenance outside of crisis times)

    But because of the cutbacks and delays in maintenance, maintenance is postponed, and then takes longer (and costs more) when it finally does take place, compounding the problem.

    The Air Force has been fighting similar problems, but the maintenance is not concentrated into a few large objects the way it is with the Navy, so it hasn't been quite as debilitating.

    Over the last two decades, the Air Guard had been deployed continuously. You may not be aware, but the 'unsexy" jobs like tankers, transports, and A10 ground support has been moved out of the active duty Air Force and is done entirely by the Air Guard. This means that any time these resources are needed, the Guard has to be involved. They try hard to rotate through units (and crews within the units), but the "part time" Air Guard has been full time for many people for a long time.

  11. Blowing capital to the tune of $3.7 trillion for the Iraq war and $1.7 trillion in AFPAK tend to suck the training and maintenance budgets dry.


  12. As far as naval aviation we're talking 20 plus year old fighters that have been at a high operational tempo for 15 plus years. They are pretty worn out. the BIG problem is the F35 is years late and way over budget.

  13. Well…yes and no. Yes, there are likely genuine operational shortages. But no, there is no shortage of money. It's a question of priorities. Just two examples:

    Example 1: If you spend $billions on insanely priced F-35 fighters, there may not be enough money to maintain the fighters you've got. Of course, the F-35 is overpriced for political reasons, ranging from the "fighter jock" mentality of the Air Force to the requirement to have subcontracts in every important Congressional district.

    Example 2: If you have crazy numbers of general officers, with bloated staffs, you may not have be able to equip your enlisted soldiers. And the number of generals doesn't even include all of the civilians (SES and GS) employed by the military. Cut the military bureacracy by a factor of – let's say – a factor of 10. Nothing of value will be lost.

  14. over forty years ago my husband used to visit central america.
    in one country, in one year, the foreign aid was such that every human there could have been given 1 million dollars.
    but there was no improvement, no sewerage treatment, no water treatment and delivery, no new bridges or paved roads, no clinics, no anything.
    where did that money go?
    multiply this by all the countries receiving foreign aid, then multiply that by all the years in over 4 decades.
    where is that money?
    stop all foreign aid.
    any aid to be overseen by our own people, who will run the building of infrastructure, train the natives in the trades necessary, and leave each country better off and able to take care of itself.
    the savings will be astronomical and we will be able to provide for our own needs with the common wealth. with lots left over.
    corruption is a plague and it is alive and well in the USA.

    peter, please get rid of that damned recaptcha!

  15. Em? Never been in business or government, eh? General has an idea, needs money, proposes a plan, and says I need money to a) president? B) courts or to c) Congress. President says spend it or not. If they need contracts it's set by the courts. Oh so who delivered funds? Since the majority rules, and the supplies are not there, we blame the president?

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