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What Does America Really Gain From Excess Military Bases?

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

In a recent piece at the National Interest, MIT Professor Harvey Sapolsky accuses “quick-fix budgeteers” of pushing a new round of military base closures as a “way to create magic money” for the Pentagon or taxpayers.

Sapolsky also claims that the “local economy disappears” when a base closes, and that savings are offset by other federal spending as former bases “are stuffed with other government-funded activities.” Accurately capturing the true savings generated by five successive “Base Realignment and Closure” (BRAC) rounds between 1988 and 2005 must include this other spending, but Sapolsky is wrong to suggest that closing unneeded bases does not produce net savings.

Base closures cost money upfront to clean up bases and hand them over to local communities. But the data shows that savings begin to accrue almost immediately. In the first round of BRAC, the savings began in fiscal year (FY) 1990—the first year of implementation—at a meager $72 million and then rose steadily to $1.5 billion annually by FY 1995. The second round of BRAC was even more impressive, with savings beginning at $548 million in the first year of implementation, FY 1992, and rising to a peak of $3.4 billion in FY 1997. The third and fourth rounds of BRAC in the late 1990s followed a similar pattern.

Sapolsky is correct that the savings from base closures are more significant when activities are eliminated and forces are reduced. The first four rounds of base closures focused on reducing legacy Cold War infrastructure that was no longer needed. Closing these bases allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to eliminate the activities (and associated costs) needed to support them. Once these base support functions are eliminated, the savings accrue in perpetuity. We are still reaping the savings today from bases that were closed in the 1990s. DoD estimates that together the first four rounds of BRAC produced recurring annual savings of about $7 billion as of FY 2001, and those savings will continue accruing indefinitely.

The fifth and most recent round of BRAC is the exception that proves the rule. It was the only BRAC to occur during a military buildup, and it was more focused on realignments than outright closures. Because activities are not eliminated when they are moved from one base to another, the savings are more limited. Even so, the recurring savings from the fifth BRAC—by far the most expensive and wide-reaching BRAC ever—rose to $5 billion annually by FY 2011.

Sapolsky also claims that, “in the eyes of the BRAC proponents no one gets hurt. It is all win-win.” That is absurd. No one disputes that a base closure disrupts local and regional economic patterns, just as a factory closure does. The relevant point is that maintaining excess overhead doesn’t serve the nation’s interest, just as keeping an underperforming manufacturing facility doesn’t serve a company’s interests. BRAC is disruptive to local economies as existing government jobs (and the contractors that support them) are moved or eliminated. But that disruption is in many cases temporary as new private-sector jobs are created from the economic opportunity a closure creates.

In a dynamic economy, we take it for granted that resources are regularly reallocated, even if we are sometimes sad or inconvenienced when our favorite businesses succumb to competitive pressure. Changing consumer preferences and needs affect the supply of particular products and services. In much the same way, technological and geopolitical change affects both the demand for military hardware, and ultimately its character. This has happened in the U.S. military over the past decade, and it is why another BRAC is needed now.

We can’t ignore the impact that a base closure has on local communities. Many former bases have drawn in a wide range of businesses and industries, ultimately creating a more diverse and dynamic economic environment. But no one who has visited Limestone, Maine, can reasonably argue that the closure of the Loring Air Force Base was economically beneficial to that tiny town on the Canadian border.

On the contrary, Limestone—and much of surrounding Aroostook County—is in the midst of a long, slow, economic and demographic decline that seems all but irreversible. That didn’t start with Loring’s closure. And keeping Loring open longer wouldn’t have halted it. But it would have sapped resources from the Air Force that could have been used for more productive purposes.

Sapolsky implies that Loring and Limestone are emblematic of base closures in rural areas, and that the cases of the Presidio in San Francisco, or Governors Island in New York, are the exceptions.

But this is misleading. Far more typical are two other bases in Maine: Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, and the former naval air station in Brunswick.

The Air Force departed Bangor in 1968, but the Maine Air National Guard still operates there, sharing runways with commercial flights to and from the Bangor International Airport. There are also business parks and a satellite campus of the University of Maine at Augusta on former Dow Air Force Base property. General Electric began operations within months of Dow’s closure, and it is still one of the city’s largest employers.

The people of Bangor were certainly dismayed by the Air Force’s relatively abrupt departure, but they managed to make the best of it. In 1989, as communities around the country were facing the prospect of a new round of base closures under the new BRAC process, the DoD designated Bangor’s conversion of Dow as a model that others should emulate.

Meanwhile, Brunswick Naval Air Station is now Brunswick Landing, a diverse business campus operated by the Midcoast Regional Reuse Authority (MRRA). The base was included in the fifth and final BRAC round, and the last P-3 Orion aircraft departed in 2009. But the MRRA has flown past its five-year goals in terms of employment and business activity. MRRA executive director Steve Levesque told the Portland Press Herald last year “that we have a real opportunity to have 4,000 to 5,000 jobs in the next 10 years.”

No two cases are alike, and every community facing a possible base closure must devise a plan adapted to their needs. But no one should dispute that the U.S. military is carrying excess overhead, and that true savings can be achieved if we can muster the political will to do what is right. Wasteful and inefficient defense spending on bases and facilities that are no longer needed does not make us more secure.

Christopher Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. Todd Harrison is the director of Defense Budget Analysis and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Image: Fort Ord, California. Flickr/Creative Commons/Presidio of Monterey

Researcher Finds That UFO Sightings Have Never Been This Numerous

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

UFO

The Daily Sheeple

It’s well-known that strange UFO phenomena have been going on for some time. People have reported these objects for decades. There’s even reason to believe that UFOs were spotted centuries ago. However, what’s more surprising than the UFO reports themselves, is how often they’re occurring in the modern world. Apparently the number of UFO sightings has been escalating in recent years.

According to Sam Monfort, a US PhD student who collected data provided by the National UFO Reporting Center, UFO sightings are at an all-time high. For instance, there were 10,000 claimed sightings in 1990, but by 2010 there were roughly 45,000 sightings every year.

He also noted that the type of UFOs that people claim to see have changed over time. For most of the twentieth century, UFO sightings mainly consisted of flying saucers and cigar shapes, but these days most people describe them as strange lights.

What’s also interesting about his report, is that it shows just how many UFO sightings occur in the US. Monfort described Americans as hilariously more likely to report a UFO sighting than anyone else.” Americans report these objects at a rate that is 300 times the global average. He also found that UFO sightings in the US tend to spike on the 4th of July (for obvious reasons), but that trend has escalated significantly since 2008.

According to the maps that he’s published, UFO sightings tend to occur most often in developed Western nations and their neighbors. That would lend credence to the idea that UFOs are either nothing more than a Western cultural phenomena, or perhaps that these objects are top-secret military aircraft built by the world’s most advanced nations.

Unless of course aliens just find our high-tech societies more interesting. You decide.

Here’s How the Deep State Is Trying to Lead Trump into a Nuclear War

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

nuclear-blast

Daniel Lang

Before Donald trump took office, he promised to rebuild the US military by diverting a lot more funding into the armed forces. And when he made that promise, he wasn’t just talking about our conventional forces. He also proposed expanding America’s nuclear capability; a position he recently reiterated in an interview with Reuters. He stated that “It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

If Trump is really going to reinvigorate our nuclear program (a decision that many experts fear could spark another arms race), then he needs to be very careful about who he listens to. That’s because some of the high ranking officials in our government have some certifiably insane ideas on what a nuclear arsenal should look like. Recently a Pentagon panel known as The Defense Science Board, told the Trump administration that they need to remake our nuclear arsenal into a force that is capable of engaging in a “limited” nuclear war.

According to the report, “The Defense Science Board … urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a ‘tailored nuclear option for limited use.’”

The strategy behind limited nuclear use sounds deceptively simple. You need to escalate a conflict just enough to end it.

As the theory goes, using low-yield nuclear weapons against an adversary’s conventional forces will demonstrate that you mean serious business and might be crazy enough to launch an all out nuclear attack. This will cause the enemy to “blink” and ultimately back down, rather than risk global thermonuclear war or continue conventional hostilities.

There’s only one problem with the idea of engaging in a limited nuclear war. It simply can’t be done. Any limited nuclear war would eventually lead to a full scale nuclear war.

The lynchpin of a limited nuclear war is the tactical nuke. These are nuclear weapons that have a much smaller yield than a strategic nuke. Whereas a strategic nuke might have a yield of half a megaton or more, a tactical nuke is usually somewhere in the ballpark with the atomic weapons that we used on Japan, but usually smaller than that. They’re for use on the battlefield, possibly within close proximity to friendly forces. And there’s a reason why our government has been slowly phasing them out for decades. Just because they make a smaller crater, doesn’t mean they make a smaller impact.

When you use a tactical nuke, you’re still using a nuke. It doesn’t matter that it’s not large enough to destroy an entire city (though some of them can). By using them, you’re telling the enemy that you’re willing to use nukes. You’re saying that you’re willing to rain radioactive fallout on their territory. You’re willing to engage in total war.

The only appropriate response to that is escalation. The enemy has to show you that they can do the same thing. In war, both parties aren’t thinking “gee, how the heck do I get out of this?” They’re thinking, “how do I win” and “how do I get back at the other guy” and “how do I teach my enemy a lesson he won’t forget.” Limited nuclear war doctrine doesn’t burn the bridge between conventional war and full on nuclear holocaust. It builds that bridge.

This should be common sense. All you have to do is imagine what would happen if Russia dropped a relatively small, 10 kiloton nuke on an American military base in Europe. Would the US government respond with capitulation? Nobody in their right mind believes that.

And let’s pretend for a moment that a limited nuclear war is possible. What would that do? It would normalize nuclear warfare. It would make nukes a viable option in every single war. Every conflict would leave behind a trail of radioactive fallout and mass civilian casualties.

Hopefully brighter minds will prevail, because whoever is proposing this notion of limited nuclear conflict, needs to change out their dress uniform for a freaking straight jacket.

Citizen Militia Experiences Explosive Growth Following the Last Election

February 27, 2017 1 comment

ar-15, soldier, militia

Until the 1990’s, civilian run volunteer militias weren’t all that common in the United States. They were the fringe of the fringe in our culture. But after Waco and Ruby Ridge, their ranks swelled and they became a common subject in the news and in pop culture. Their numbers fell again under President Bush, and then grew to new heights under President Obama.

It’s an obvious pattern. Conservative militias multiply like crazy under Democratic presidents, and for good reason. When Democrats take the reigns of government, they always threaten to restrict gun ownership. They then decline under Republican administrations, when conservatives don’t feel as threatened.

However, there may be a new trend emerging. CBS Atlanta recently did a piece on a militia called the Three Percenter Security Force (which obviously showed them in slightly negative light, given the source). The organization is run by Marine Corps veteran Chris Hill, who says that their membership has grown from a few dozen, to roughly 400 members since November. The Marine told CBS that the militia would protect the Second Amendment under any administration, and that “The government or law enforcement agencies, disarming people, it’s a constant threat.”

That doesn’t sound very different from the stated objectives of any conservative militia that has emerged since the 90s. So why is this militia’s membership growing so drastically during the early stages of a Republican administration? What’s different this time? The answer may lie in how the Left has responded to Trump being elected. According to Hill:

“The level of violence I see coming from these protests is alarming, I think that creates more of a need for people like us to be there,” Hill said.

Hill says, just as anti-Trump supporters have a right to organize and protest, his group wants to show their presence.

“We have a duty to protect, our freedom, our liberty, our constitutional Republic.” Hill said. “That responsibility can’t be deferred to you know Congress.”

So radical leftists and conservative militias are experiencing explosive growth at the same time, and neither of them are afraid to present themselves in the streets of America. While I do support the rights of militias, I have to say that this probably won’t end well.

‘No evidence’ yet of Trump campaign contacts with Russia – House Intel Committee Chair

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

All accusations, no evidence

‘No evidence’ yet of Trump campaign contacts with Russia – House Intel Committee Chair

The House Intelligence Committee probe into possible improper contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia has not found any evidence yet, according to the Republican committee chair.“We still have not seen any evidence” that the Trump campaign communicated with Russia, Rep. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, told reporters on Monday.

“As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” Nunes said. “What I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there.”

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who spoke with the Russian Embassy in Washington prior to the inauguration, was just doing his job, Nunes said. He added that US intelligence services eavesdropping on the call amounted to “inadvertent collection,” but was “very interested” to find out who made the decision to publish Flynn’s name.

“The Logan Act’s ridiculous and you know it,” Nunes told reporters who inquired whether Flynn was acting improperly.

No one has ever been prosecuted under the 1799 law banning US citizens from engaging in foreign policy without government sanction.

Reports that US intelligence services were listening in on the call were leaked in papers critical of the Trump administration following the inauguration, resulting in mounting pressure on Trump to fire Flynn, who resigned on February 14.

Nunes confirmed that the White House asked him to address the New York Times story published on February 14 that claimed there were frequent contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In addition to Flynn, the Times named former campaign manager Paul Manafort, adviser Carter Page, and Roger Stone.

“I want to be very careful that we can’t just go on a witch hunt against Americans because they appear in news stories,” Nunes said.

Democrats have claimed that Russian security services, personally directed by President Vladimir Putin, interfered in the US presidential election to help Trump, and even accused the Republican of being “Putin’s puppet.”

The accusations began after Democratic National Committee emails were published by WikiLeaks on the eve of the party’s national convention, revealing collusion among senior officials and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In October, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails from the private account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Clinton and the DNC likewise blamed the disclosure on Moscow.

Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, Adam Schiff (D-California), has emerged as one of the loudest voices claiming Russian interference in the US elections and aid to the Trump campaign. No evidence of either claim has ever been provided to the public.

Deep ocean GPS would revolutionize submarine and naval warfare

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

DARPA is creating a GPS-like technology that works in the deep ocean called Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation, or POSYDON.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the predominant means of obtaining positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information for both military and civilian systems and applications. However, the radio frequency basis for GPS also means that its signals cannot penetrate seawater, and thus undersea GPS is effectively denied. The Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) program aims to develop an undersea system that provides omnipresent, robust positioning across ocean basins. By ranging to a small number of long-range acoustic sources, an undersea platform would be able to obtain continuous, accurate positioning without surfacing for a GPS fix. Phase I of the program focuses on accurately modeling the signal propagation channel, and Phase II focuses on developing the signal waveform. A complete positioning system is scheduled to be demonstrated in Phase III.

DARPA selected BAE Systems to develop POSYDON

DARPA envisions that the POSYDON program will distribute a small number of acoustic sources, analogous to GPS satellites, around an ocean basin.

Underwater acoustic signal propagation channels present a number of challenges:
• Time-varying multipath propagation and multipath delay
• Doppler spread due to platform motion relative to the acoustic source(s) and ocean environment
• Bandwidth-limited signals
• Convergence zones
• Tomographic calibration of a region as a function of time/environmental variability

There are some GPS radio systems that can work in shallow waters, but DARPA wants to go into the deep ocean with submarine drones. Submarine navigation is one of the most complex and dangerous ventures in the military because, to get a precise location on one, the vessel has to eventually emerge from the water to catch a radio signal. Even access to a GPS can be blocked by enemy jamming.

Currently, submarines are outfitted with a “very large and very expensive inertial measurement unit,”Niedzwiecki. says. It basically remembers the submarines last known location and keeps track of its diving depth and forward movement. This, of course, is not the nearly as precise as a GPS system.

Drone subs operating under POSYDON could locate underwater mines, track enemy subs and perform other critical tasks larger manned submarines cannot, according to The National Interest:

* Number of small drones could send out an acoustic ping and then analyze
* Drone swarms update ships and submarines

Fearing Assassination, Illegal Clinton Fundraiser Made Secret Tape

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Tentacles spread: The Chinagate scandal also saw Ng Lap Seng, a Macau billionaire tied to the Chinese government, accused of pouring $1 million into Clinton's 1996 reelection bid.

(Daily Mail) A Chinese-American businessman at the center of a Clinton campaign finance scandal secretly filmed a tell-all video as an ‘insurance policy’ – because he feared being murdered.

In footage provided exclusively to DailyMail.com, Johnny Chung spills details on how he illegally funneled money from Chinese officials to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid.

The Chinese-American Clinton fundraiser recorded the ‘elaborate videotaped testimony’ while in hiding in 2000.

He smuggled it to trusted friends and family with instructions to release it to the media in the event of his untimely death because he believed he was at risk of being assassinated.

Chung is believed to still be alive and living in China.

The video was obtained by author and historian Doug Wead for his new book Game of Thorns, which traces Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign and the Chinese government’s long-running operation to buy political influence in Washington.

Wead provided excerpts from the film to Dailymail.com. The man with whom Chung made the tape, Bob Abernethy, a friend from his church, said it was right that it was shown.

In the never-before-released footage, Chung described how he feared for his life after he publicly admitted to funneling money from Chinese officials to President Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign.

He also claimed Democrats pressured him to stay silent about his dealings with the Clintons and said the FBI tried to enlist him in a sting against a top Chinese general at a Los Angeles airport…

Original Source

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