Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Loyal Babblers, Pawns, Fellow Travelers, and the Old Guard Losers of the ‘Military Reform Machine’

How to tell who the Faux Military Reform Players are and the name of the ‘Show’… Since they won’t give you the REAL program.

Note: I'll probably clean this up, add some more links and pics etc over the next few days, but it's late, I'm tired, and I don't have any minions who can type or do artwork.

Like many, I frequently begin the day perusing the web over coffee. One of the things I often check for these days is ‘breaking news’ about the F-35. My main interest in keeping on top of the F-35 story has little to do with my past or current associations with the program (contrary to the Crack Circumstantial Ad Hominem Suicide Brigade’s belief). I expect soon I will be shifting to the next big ‘target’ of anti-defense crowd: the Next Gen LRS program just because it will BE the big target like the F-35 today.

Usually, the legionnaires of F-16.net manning their remote keyboard outposts around the globe have the ‘latest and greatest already posted’ before I’m even awake, and I need go no further to find a trailhead for the day’s trek through F-35 Newsdom. Sometimes though, I’ll just ‘Google’ “F-35 News”. Early yesterday just the other day that tactic yielded a ‘jackpot’ of sorts. I’ve been working on a “transonic acceleration” post in the little free time I can find, and will have it up eventually, but I’ve had a post on the back-burner even longer looking for just the right platform on which to roll it out. Today, er Yesterday, I mean TWO THREE FOUR days ago was “THE DAY”… (Delay explained in blub at end of post)
Brad Plummer
'Serious' (Just not when
it comes to "Defense") 
The Great Google spit this article out right at the top yesterday that morning. It’s a pretty vapid lamentation, written by some tech-deficient ‘writer’ named Brad Plumer. The article is titled “This military program lost 100 times as much money as Solyndra — yet no one talks about it”. The article has since begun descending to its rightful place in the deepest depths of Google anonymity. It is also hardly worth mentioning anything in detail about the ‘piece’: Brad does a lousy job trying to draw an analogy between the F-35 program cost increases to Obama’s Poster-Child-for-Crony-Capitalism, aka “Solyndra!”, and he loses all credibility when he reveals he based his overwrought title on an Atlantic ‘piece’ by James Fallows (introduced in some detail to regular readers here), opening with:
James Fallows has a long, excellent essay in this month's Atlantic….
That is our first clue….that Brad doesn’t have one.

I say Brad’s title was “overwrought” because, to quote ‘Brad’, “Fallows estimates that taxpayers could end up losing 100 times as much money on the F-35 as they did on Solyndra”. Annnnd…to quote Brad quoting Fallows:
Total cost overruns, losses through fraud, and other damage to the taxpayer from the F-35 project are perhaps 100 times that great, yet the "Solyndra scandal" is known to probably 100 times as many people as the travails of the F-35.
Setting aside unsupported allegations of ‘fraud’, in what reality do “estimates” and “perhaps” translate into a definitive statement of fact, ESPECIALLY when drooled out of Fallows' pie-hole? To be fair, ‘Brad’ probably had an editor write the title – writers often suffer the editor's imprimatur. If so, then Brad’s editor is a worthless producer of Bulls***. Brad is a worthless producer of Bulls*** for writing the rest of the worthless ‘article’. From his portfolio of writingit appears Brad has his own agenda for using Fallows ‘piece’ in his interpretive dance-cum-journalism routine. If so, that makes Brad an “Opportunist” and a “Fellow Traveler”. In the ‘Reformer’ sense he is merely a “Pawn” but he could with time work his way up to "Loyal Babbler" if he minds his manners (more on these characterizations later). But Brad’s electronic effluence is only the quick first stop on this journey.

Next Stop: Fallows’ Epic Cultural Hit Piece

James Fallows: Boy Speech 
Writer for the second worst 
President in my life-time 
has parlayed that gig into 
quite a career promoting 
bad ideas. One of Thomas 
Sowell's 'Intellectuals: 
Believes Inconsequential 
Knowledge should have
Consequential application.
So we follow Brad’s link to Fallow’s Atlantic ‘editorial’, where he re-sows some ground in his ‘fallow’ field of left-wing fantasy. This one is ostensibly about an America ‘disconnected’ from its military. He could have titled it ‘An Aging Leftist Regrets His Kind Do Not Enlist’. There’s all kinds of falderal inside the margins. Here’s a short list of Fallows’ most typical foibles that I would feel remiss if I let go by without pointing the reader to them.

1. Fallows expresses a wonderment that the percentage of people who are immediate relations to a (I presume living) veteran has dropped:
Among older Baby Boomers, those born before 1955, at least three-quarters have had an immediate family member—sibling, parent, spouse, child—who served in uniform. Of Americans born since 1980, the Millennials, about one in three is closely related to anyone with military experience.
Yeah, Total War for 5 years (1940-45 counting the call-ups in 1940, 0r 1941-1946 counting the time it took to return home – your choice) and an active ‘draft’ that ran right up to the early 70s will artificially raise the average until a few years past those factors fading won’t it? Want to feel more connected to the ‘Military’ Fallows? Move to a Red State. Then shed every silly Fascist urge you may feel a) to champion America’s return to a military ‘draft’ or b) that doing so would be ‘good for America’.
2. Fallows weaves a tale of cultural media (film, electronic and print publishing) ‘shifts’ in attitudes towards the military and how it is portrayed by the media. He provides enough cultural comparisons between days of yore and now to make the point but yet does so without ever observing that the shift is entirely due to today’s media and entertainment industries being controlled by the Left, not to mention carries the Left’s water on all things anti-military. But of course, if he did, he would be tacitly admitting his own complicity in attempts to ‘manage reality’ wouldn’t he?

3. Fallows drags up the ‘Missed-It-By-This-Much-Darn-You-Gary-Hart-Libido Reformer’: William S. Lind. Lind’s (keeping with the 'hyphenizin') much-debated-at-one-time-and-still-generally-seen-as-‘derivative’ Fourth Generation Warfare ‘shtick’ is used thusly: l
The most curious thing about our four defeats in Fourth Generation War—Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—is the utter silence in the American officer corps. Defeat in Vietnam bred a generation of military reformers … Today, the landscape is barren. Not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change. Just more money, please.
Perhaps the (asserted) utter silence in the ‘officer corps’ is more due to the widespread knowledge that the cockup ain’t with the military Mr. Lind, but with the ‘political class’ of which you and Fallows belong. The political class these days behave as self-annointed Archons of ‘truth’ with presumptive rights to define reality for the rest of us. The ‘Political Class’: the ones that Goldwater-Nichols’ed the military a generation ago. In Lind’s case here, he attempts to obfuscate what has really been occurring since the latest President took office: a retread of the Left’s canned ‘Vietnam’ strategy. That is the one that illustrates there is no military ‘Victory!’ the American military can secure that the Political Left will not turn into a political defeat if given the chance.

Full disclosure: There's a lot of Lind's stuff I like (see here). It's just that none of it has to do with 'defense'.

Oh, and Lind’s old meal-ticket Gary Hart (as part of his political rehabilitation?) makes a return from exile in an appearance later in Fallows’ dump.

Lind’s contribution actually seems a little out of place, as much of Fallows’ complaints seem pointed at the politicians and ‘Mericunizm in general. But the cognitive dissonance of lamenting a lack of ‘military reformers’ when ‘political reform’ is what is needed is…. palpable.

Fallows’ and Lind’s problem in selling this ‘stuff’ is that there is too much information and too many sources to get the information from for the gatekeepers to control the ‘message’ like they did the first time they hit the scene. Too bad for them.

Franklin C. 'Chuck' Spinney.
Good with 'Cost', lousy with 
Fallows, as a ‘Loyal Babbler’, continues to roll out nearly all the still-active Old Guard Faux-Reformers from his National Defense days. Besides Lind, he treats us to a mention of Chuck Spinney, who’s fabulous (as in ‘fable’) “Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch” briefing book got him a TIME magazine cover once. Too bad his analysis sucked then and it still sucks now. I keep a marked-up copy of a ‘Westview Press’ edition in a binder because if I marked up the original the way it needed to be, I couldn’t read it. You could pick about any page number and I’d tell you where he was most ‘wrong’ on it, but IMHO most of his ‘sins’ derive from three fatal flaws. The first is a total lack of understanding of ‘complexity’ (origins, drivers, effects), The second was complete discomfort with not knowing the unknowable before it can become knowable. That boy had a textbook “High Motive for Certainty” and probably does still. The third was Spinney’s analysis relying on assuming the U.S. economic conditions at the time (particularly the high inflation rates) were “the” reality relevant to future spending, and then using them in his ‘projections’. From where I’m standing, Spinney suffers from a life-long and over-inflated concern for ‘costs’ with, like most of the ‘Reform’ blowhards, a vestigial (at best) grasp of the greater concept we call ‘value’.

Full Disclosure: I have a ‘bias’ when it comes to ‘Cost Analysts’. I do combat and logistics operations analysis (mostly the latter these days). It’s a side gig that I get ‘called in’ on now, but it once was my main job. One of my great professional frustrations has been when I have to closely deal with cost analysts for any length of time. They’re usually good people (like most people) and they do a job I would never want to do. The problem is they seem to rarely have the depth of technical experience needed to understand all the cost drivers they attempt to characterize, and I end up spending an inordinate amount of time every occasion I do deal with them just 1) keeping them for declaring something they’ve done in the past as ‘equivalent’ or 2) getting them to understand a nuance to a cost driver that took me or somebody else years to distill properly. Almost invariably, I’ve found myself presenting and standing behind my technical analysis including the explicit, and clearly-defined caveats, but having to explain some ‘hidden’ or overly abstract cost element on something that the cost analysts accepted and treated as somehow ‘real’ without bothering to caveats. It is almost as if the cost estimates become real dollars in their minds, and it is an affliction that is too often shared by some managers—it’s not a good ‘synergy’ when they get together.

Ricks: Long Time 'Go To'
Guy for getting the 'Reformist'
Propaganda out to the public.
There’s also a cameo appearance by semi-retired ‘Loyal Babbler’ Thomas E. Ricks. But more significantly, there is a ‘Reformer’ presence that isn’t explicit but it is clearly sitting there to anyone familiar with the subject. This unattributed ‘Reformer’ presence is of particular interest and will be used to wrap up this dissection of Fallow’s Fallacies. It is important because it can be clearly shown as the basis for the fallacious representation of reality: using gross oversimplification to dupe the unaware. It didn’t require particular insight to tickle out the fraudulence, as some of it has been used before by the ‘Reformers’. Specifically, there is not one but two presentations containing the same data (a graphic and a similar representation adapted for the embedded video) sourced from POGO (or were sourced TO POGO by Fallows? –whichever direction, the link is there). The data was used by CDI/POGO’s point man, Winslow Wheeler, a few years ago for much the same purposes, and I caught it that time as well.

Winslow Wheeler: CDI
Ringmaster at POGO
Wheeler and CDI/POGO fingerprints are all over Fallows’ craptastic article. As a bonus, Dina Rasor, founder of POGO and now running the high-grade idiocy collector and low-grade information dissembler called ‘Truthout’ (won’t link to it. Yeccchhh!), links to the Fallows video from their Buzzflash feed. 

The only guy missing from this Old Guard Faux Reform ‘all-star’ production seems to be Pierre Sprey.

Here is the graphic from the Fallows piece:

 Source: The Atlantic

This is a fraudulent (intentional or not) mishmash of unsourced (but largely traceable) numbers posing as ‘facts’ that is used in such a cavalier manner by Fallows et al. The acquisition costs are meaningless without knowing the fiscal year dollars involved, and comparing aircraft that do not perform the same mission is folly anyway. This chart is a typical 'fool the innumerate' propaganda that regularly comes out of the Faux Reform camp. The interesting thing to me here is the perverse representation and comparison of operating costs across aircraft types, especially the bit about:
“…the efficient A-10 Warthog has the lowest per-flight-hour cost, because it needs so little maintenance—yet the military plans to phase it out. The F-35, which was supposed to bring new efficiency to plane design, costs five times as much per plane and three times as much preflight hour.”
One must presume the target audience has no idea of the differences in the full-up capability between the two airplanes, among many other factors (perhaps a topic for the future?) that make such a comparison ludicrous.I slapped some of this ‘operating cost per flying hour’ horses*** down when Wheeler trotted it out the first time.  

POGO conveniently provides an updated version of the data Wheeler misrepresented at the time and it, along with all of the other operating cost data now shown by Fallows deserves the exposure it is about to receive. No direct link, but here's a screen capture showing how to get it:

The data Wheeler and Co. use is (ostensibly) from the Air Force itself. We have no reason to suspect otherwise. However, we have very good reason to call out the representation of the data as “highly-misleading”. This ‘data’ seems to be subject to annual exploitation by POGO/CDI now. Emerging (not fully 'conditioned' yet) Loyal Babbler Mark Thompson used it in March 2013 at Time’s 'Babbleland'. Wheeler and Pierre Sprey (Hey, he made it to the dance after all!) also rolled out the same meme in early 2014 (Google “Chuck Hagel’s A-10 Legacy”- I won’t link to that place if I don’t have to), where they did a Kaleidoscope-on-reality in a number of ways via the now-standard Reformer non-sequiturs. The only value of the article here is that it identifies the AF Comptroller’s office as the source. 
 Again, I have no problems at this time with the numbers Wheeler/POGO use: just the nefarious way in which they use it. 

The Numbers in the Fallows’ Atlantic ‘Cost’ Graphic

Now that we have identified just how widely and frequently this cost ‘scare tactic’ is deployed, let’s return our focus on this specific invocation: Fallows’ using sketchy O&S cost numbers that even if they were ‘correct’ are used in a way designed to mislead the public.

First, the only operating cost data shown above in the Fallow's graphic that we can trace to the same source and characterized in the same way as Wheeler’s 2011 hit piece is the B-2 and the V-22 (Note: The only rational explanation for the V-22 numbers that Fallows uses are if they are for the AF Special Operations Command CV-22s in 2011). The rest of Fallow’s numbers could have been randomly pulled from anywhere EXCEPT ‘an official source’ with the same provenance/ timeframe as what Wheeler used. Here's some of the big stuff missing from Fallow's graphic:
Dear James Fallows and the Atlantic: Sharing Numbers without Context is NOT DATA
As the inclusiveness of cost accounting has broadened over the decades, the Faux Military Reformers strived to exaggerate weapon system cost increases in an attempt to misshape public perceptions on ‘Defense’ and ‘Defense Spending’ in particular. One of the tactics of the Leftist Anti-Defense ‘activists’ has been to present the Operations & Support (O&S) Costs of a weapon system in terms of ‘Cost in Dollars Per Flight Hour’. When costs are presented in this manner, the unwary Public is left with the perception that it costs the Taxpayer these dollar amounts EVERY time, and for every hour these systems operate. In reality, these amounts include dollars that are spent whether the aircraft fly or not, dollars that have no direct connection to the weapon systems or their operation, and dollars that would be spent if there were no weapons systems present just to have the ability to support a weapon system. The dollars sourced from POGO contain every operational cost element listed in the graphic below as noted:
Everything except the Kitchen Sink. Well...actually that's in there too.
If you get the Excel spreadsheet from POGO, there are other cost numbers you may be interested in. 

Since Fallows’ Atlantic piece, another arm of The Atlantic media machine has spit out a screed titled "The F-35 Has to Phone Home Before Taking Off" (really), repeating out-of-date information as if it were somehow relevant to the F-35 ALIS system's current state. This was done when with only a modicum of journalistic inquiry, the issue could have been shown to be past.

Patrick Tucker, who wrote the piece had to reach past all current news, pushing newer well known developments out of the way to retrieve his moldy chunk of information ‘cheese’. From the ‘Reformer POV’ the author would be a ‘Pawn’, and perhaps the Pawn was moved by Fallows, the Atlantic’s Loyal Babbler’?

Update 8PM: Tucker has added an update from the JSFPO: 
Joe DellaVedova, Public Affairs Director F-35 Lightning IIJoint Program Office contacted Defense One about this story. He says that while previous versions of ALIS did not allow for a human override, ”this has been corrected in the latest fielded release (ALIS 1.0.3).”
He adds: “ALIS continues to mature per its development roadmap and we currently have it installed aboard the USSWasp today to support of an operational test and evaluation of the F-35B air system which will happen this spring. There is also a more portable, modularized version of the ALIS Standard Operating Unit server for shipboard and expeditionary operations that is currently in final integration and test. This version will support the U.S. Marine Corps initial operating capability later this year.”
Sounds like...

...to me!

Kudos to Mr Tucker for not playing a 'Pawn'.  

Why I took the time to lay this all out.  

It’s kind of anti-climatic, but this entire sequence of events was perfect for making the following point:
The Old Guard of Military Reform are feeling the end is nigh. They have been operating within a certain framework for years now:
Indirect (Dotted Lines) Influence on Lawmakers and Strong Parallel Coordination With Fellow Travelers
But this is not the model under that they wish to operate. In this model, they have no ‘insiders’ in elected government and it irks them (Just read some of their published ‘work’) They yearn for the heady days of the 70’s and ‘80s when their crazy ideas about weapon systems being 'too complicated', 'too costly' were actually considered within the halls of government (Desert Storm knocked them off their game for an election cycle or three). This is the model they USED  to operate under:
The Old Days: When Reformers had a Toe-hold with the 'Ins' (May they NEVER return) 

The 'Reformers' want this arrangement to return, so they don’t have to spend so much time distorting reality and duping the Hoi Polloi. They’d like to just have to whisper in some politician’s ear, and party with their Loyal Babblers again. There’s been some rumbling by some politicians lately about ‘reform’ again. If one or more of the Old Guard hasn't been 'working' them already, I’d be amazed.

We covered everybody I wanted to cover in the system except the 'Foot Soldiers'. those are basically Old Guard 'wanna-bes', whose primary interest isn't just providing a conduit for the 'Reform' Message, but instead want to generate the Message as well. Not a lot of those guys around these days thank goodness, Although Thomas E. Ricks, through his activities at the fake defense 'Think Tank' the Left has set up called Center for a New American Security and 'serious' writings for the self-perceived serious 'Foreign Policy' audience seems to want to fill the shoes of a loyal 'Foot Soldier' in his semi-retirement.    

Why this took so darned long

The Excel spreadsheet POGO offers had some 'delimiting' problems when I grabbed a copy. On top of that, The original post I did on POGOs numbers was based on what Flight Global had at their site, and their 'interactive graphs that were....aren't anymore. An interesting thing to note about the AF Comptroller numbers (as represented by POGO) is that they are subject to correction. For instance, in my first post, I wondered why the WC-135W had a spike in one year's $/FH:
2011 POGO Data: 2006 Spike in Cost for WC-135W 
In this year's version of the data, the 'spike' is gone, and the numbers are completely different. take a look at the data, I may point out some things I noticed in some detail in a later post. Quick observations are that if the F-16C/D O&S cost trend continues, it will pass the F-35's estimated $/FH by about 2020, and the low density aircraft have the most sensitivity to support costs, groundings and airframe losses--and it shows in the data. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tyler Rogoway on F-35 Fuel Trucks

Sometimes,.... when it’s really, really hot..., you don’t want to heat soak your fuel trucks. So What? 

Hat tip:KamenRiderBlade at F-16.net 

Tyler Rogoway writes for a living. He’s got to write about something, and the latest ‘something’ is all about telling the American, nay, The World’s Low-Information crowd that not only the Air Force has found out that in really, really hot, weather, it doesn’t want to 'heat soak' the fuel trucks servicing your F-35s, but also that this development is, apparently in Rogoway’s opinion, a ‘BAD!’ thing.

His ‘article’ is about what we've come to expect from him, and the entire treatment of the subject matter is an excellent example (yet one more in a line of many) of how F-35 critics will highlight something they don’t understand as being a flaw or deficiency. The next step will be to add that one little mis-characterization to a litany of previous mis-characterizations, and then use them in their totality to continuously criticize and condemn the aircraft, program, technology,and hell, when you get right down to it, even the ‘National Defense Strategy’ that drives the selection and fielding of weapon systems in the first place.

The ardent F-35 critics generally fall into two camps: Those that do so while really understanding NONE of it, as I suspect in Rogoway’s case, or alternatively, those who do so as an intentional manipulation of the facts to distort reality for nefarious purposes (P.A.C.E. anyone?). I am indifferent as to what brand of delusion drives the contrived criticisms, but believe while the latter is incurable, there is always hope for disabusing the former of their delusions through information. (Kreuger-Dunning Effect notwithstanding, there is always hope). I could go into Rogoway’s GAWKER piece and dissect it into itty-bitty chunks of tautological floatsam, but to me the comment thread is far more interesting.

Rogoway’s façade of being a disinterested observer slips somewhat, and probably reveals more about where he is ‘coming from’ than he really would have wished. To his credit, he did not immediately wash these exchanges down the memory hole like a lot of people would have.

I’m now going to place one of my favorite quotes here for later reference. I think I will be pointing to it later in this post:

Novices in mathematics, science, or engineering are forever demanding infallible, universal, mechanical methods for solving problems. 


Here we go. My observations in [square brackets] and boldface emphases in Rogoway’s responses are mine. No typos are corrected. The selected (because it was more succinct than another) exchange of interest is:

‘Dastim’ to Tyler Rogoway 

Having decades of experience with LockMar's military products (Submarine sonar), I can honestly say this is par for the course. It is VERY common for a new weapons system to have faults out of the gate and the more complex/expensive they are, the more faults possible. Moving forward they prove themselves invaluable but the start is always ugly. When they took the submarine sonar contracts in the early 90s we had a plethora of problems, some mission limiting, but in the end, their systems proved to be the best in the world. Be patient, this shit is far more complicated than most of you have any idea about.

[Other than not being a ‘fault’, but an emergent requirement based upon the press release wording, the need for fuel not to exceed some very high temperature when it is loaded is almost certainly driven by the aircraft using the fuel system as a heat sink for its environmental control system (ECS). If the fuel is already hot, it will not be an effective heat sink, will it? This again, is not a ‘fault’, but at worst it is an “operational requirement”. All aircraft have specific operational requirements, and there’s no requirement that they all be the same that I’ve ever heard of. So What? If one is familiar with advanced aircraft or avionics systems design, one might speculate--and then ask for confirmation either way—that perhaps the additional heat controls placed on the fuel that is loaded and the effect on the ECS cooling system is related to the closely controlled gaps and openings on the F-35 outer mold line (OML) in order to meet LO requirements. For whatever reason, the requirement can be perceived as problematic only if it will require some onerous workarounds to overcome. Clearly this isn’t about an F-35’s systems intolerance of normal military operating temperatures and requirements, though the ‘stories’ written to-date might lead one to believe it were so. This has to be about fuel temperatures after the fuel has been heat-soaked for hours (or days), and reducing the heat soak by either reducing the amount of heat absorbed directly (paint the truck tank a light color) or indirectly (shelter the truck to prevent direct sunlight from beating down on the fuel tank). Not being a panic-prone F-35 hatercritic, I would also wonder if then perhaps the F-35 might also expect fewer problems with very cold fuel in arctic climes? Dastim’s point about complexity is well founded and well made, but it is only half the story. Combine an aircraft in development experiencing the normal issues one would expect if one knew what they were doing, with the apparent legions of technically deficient souls who have NO understanding of the challenges AND BENEFITS that make those challenges worth the effort in pursuing advanced technology systems, and you get a technically illiterate response...such as:]

Tyler Rogoway to ‘Dastim’ 

You sir are a part of the problem. Major systemic issues led to the F-35 being in the place that it was, including ridiculous sell job on concurrency and laughable cost goals and timelines. We cannot sustain the best fighting force in the world like this, it will economically break us.

You may feel just at home with this sort of nonsense and after writing well over 200 pieces on this program I am insulted when you say myself and others probably have no idea what we are talking about. We need a new approach with fresh minds that will come up with new ways so that this sort of program never happens again. And finally, the F-35 program, the largest weapons program in history, is not new sonar arrays for submarines.

[Rogoway’s first paragraph, aside from the abstract, unsupported, and unwarranted accusation made against his commenter, is a series of claims made without supporting evidence and with the presumption that they are indisputable facts when in reality they are a series of claims that are not only debatable but have been and are continuously debated. Rogoway, apparently happens to believe these claims are true. This is his first logical fallacy: “Begging the Question”. He layers on top of this fallacy, via assertions of “ridiculous”, “sell job” and “laughable” (without falsifiable support) the additional logical fallacy of “Appeal to Ridicule”. The second assertion that he has written “well over 200 pieces on this program” in defense of his knowledge base is clearly a Fallacious Appeal to Authority, and it is one built upon another fallacy: The Non-Sequitur. Just because someone ‘writes’ about something, particularly ‘opinion pieces’ it “does not follow” that they must understand, much less be an authority on what they are writing about. How we judge someone knows or knows not what they are talking about is based upon the CONTENT and the 'verifiability' of the writing. Rogoway digs deeper with a rhetorical ploy you don’t see every day: Righteous Indignation (“I am insulted”) over his being ‘doubted’. Rogoway begins his fadeout with more ‘Begging the Question; (‘need fresh minds’) with another Non Sequitur (‘so it will never happen again’). Rogoway’s last sentence is a throwaway line but he should have thrown it farther. As he slung it, “the F-35 program, the largest weapons program in history, is not new sonar arrays for submarines” misses Dastim’s point: It takes time to develop and field complex systems. If Rogoway is willfully ignoring this point, his assertions that ‘one of these is not like the other’ could very well be thought of as a Composition Fallacy in his denial.]

I wonder... 

If Rogoway cut down on his logical fallacies to nil, would the next 200 articles on the F-35 gain him the  'cred' he thinks he already deserves? Personally, I think he won't get any better until he realizes he is one of those Novices' old J.R. warned us about. (Told you I would refer back to J.R.)

I worked a 12 hour day today (now 'yesterday'-yikes), so I don’t feel like taking down his Magnum Opus of Circumstantial Ad Hominem that occurred in his exchange with ‘ashkelon’ tonight/this morning.

But here's some food for thought, 

What happened the last time a bunch of naysayers, some 'expert', but all OUTSIDERS who were looking in at a revolutionary weapon system program and then made all kinds of criticisms they just knew 'had to be true'?
Answer: Hilarity ensued.

Friday, November 14, 2014

U.S. Navy ‘Non-Receptive’ to the F-35?

 Where did that come from? 

Source of original photo: US Navy 
Where did the idea that the “Navy” has been less than enthusiastic about the F-35C come from? I think I know, and can trace it back two or so years to a single statement made by the incoming CNO in an article for the USNI ‘Proceedings’. That single article gave such hope to the anti-JSF crowd that it gained far more audience and credence that it would have ever otherwise received, certainly more than it ever deserved.

Today, with the successful-to-date F-35 sea trials of the CF-3 and CF-5 aircraft operating off the USS Nimitz these past two weeks, the story has become one of a ‘surprising’ reversal of opinion (or beginnings thereof) by the Navy—at least as far as the media would lead us to believe.

I submit, that to the contrary it can be shown that what Navy enthusiasm there is for the F-35C is probably pretty much what it has always been, with perhaps a few more opinions among Wizened within the competing NAVAIR tribes lately changed for the better.

The life cycle of the whole ‘Navy chill to the F-35’ meme can be tracked easily—all the way back to its origins. The first FIVE citations/quotes are from the same publication taken over time. I do not mention the publication’s name for a couple of reasons. One, it doesn't matter. The media followed pretty much the same path getting here no matter what the sponsor. Two, I am partial to the reporting at the source and do not want to unfairly highlight this one little misadventure among a larger body of greater work. [I've numbered the steps involved in developing the meme to make it easier to discuss and reference if needed]

Ready? We begin…. 

Published this week, our source informed us that:
1. …The Navy has been much less enthusiastic about the F-35 than its two sister services, the Air Force and Marines. That seems to be changing now that the F-35C has successfully landed and taken off repeatedly from an aircraft carrier….
There was an embedded link in the statement that took me to last year:
2. “That’s the message Orlando Carvalho, new head of Lockheed Martin’s iconic aeronautics business wants to send the US Navy, the service most skeptical of the F-35."
There was an embedded link in THAT quote that took me to earlier last year:
3. “Speaking for the Navy,” added the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, “I need the fifth-generation fighter, and that [F-35] provides it, so we’re all in — but it has to perform. It has problems; it is making progress.” 
“I do not at this point believe that it is time to look for an exit ramp, if you will, for the Navy for the F-35C,” continued Greenert, who in the past has damned the Joint Strike Fighter with similar faint praise.
This passage had an embedded link to an article with this bit:
4. By contrast, the CNO sounded more resigned than excited about the Navy piece of the $240 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the carrier-launched F-35C. We have to have it, but “the question becomes how do we buy and how does it integrate into the air wing,” Greenert said. “If we bought no Cs, I think that would be very detrimental for the overall program.”
This passage contained one link to a 2012 article presenting this passage:
5. …Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert’s recent article in Proceedings announces in public what many have already known in private: The U.S. Navy is not wholly committed to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Admiral Greenert’s controversial — and, potentially, hugely consequential — article raises several interesting points, among which is the contention that advances in sensing capabilities and electronic and cyber warfare will increasingly degrade America’s stealth arsenal. 
This is not news. What is news, however, is the head of the U.S. Navy signaling a tepid commitment to the military’s largest acquisition program, not to mention the many allied and partner country participants
There were three links embedded to sources in the above to the ‘sources’ that follow. These are the first references external to the publication we’ve been citing so far:

6. A link to Admiral Greenert’s “Limits of Stealth” script in his now infamous “Payloads Over Platforms” article in USNI’s Proceedings as incoming CNO (2012), which, I note here, does not even mention the F-35. His shtick did not impress me at the time. Still doesn’t. But as we have seen in getting back to this point in time, his later comments appear to reflect a somewhat more ‘informed’ POV now. The 'CNO' is NOT 'the Navy' BTW.

7. A link to the ‘corrected final’ copy of the 2010 “The Final Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel”, A report that a word search of finds no mention of the “F-35C”, nor just the ‘F-35”, nor the words “Stealth” or “Low Observable”. Why it was even linked, I cannot tell.

8. A link to a Heritage Foundation paper titled “Thinking About a day Without Seapower: Implications for US Defense Policy”. It also has not a single mention of the “F-35”, ‘C’ model or otherwise, or “Low Observable”. It does mention the word “Stealth” three times:
Developing a Long-Term Research and Development Plan. After numerous studies and a half-dozen shipbuilding plans, Navy leaders have correctly concluded that the United States needs a larger fleet—not simply in numbers of ships and aircraft, but also in terms of increased network capability, longer range, and increased persistence. Navy leaders recognize that the U.S. is quickly losing its monopolies on guided weapons and the ability to project power. Precision munitions (guided rockets, artillery, mortars, and missiles) and battle networks are proliferating, while advances in radar and electro-optical technology are increasingly rendering stealth less effective. Policymakers should help the Navy to take a step back and look at the big picture to inform future investment portfolios. Congress should demand and uniformed leaders should welcome the opportunity to develop long-range technology road maps, including a science and technology plan and a research and development plan for the U.S. Navy. These plans should broadly outline future investments, capabilities, and requirements. The possibilities include:
  • A next-generation surface combatant,
  • A sixth-generation fighter, and
  • Low-observable capabilities beyond stealth
Building a Modern Congress–Navy Partnership. …
...To relieve additional pressure on the already strained Navy shipbuilding budget, Congress should seriously consider funding the design and construction costs of the Navy’s new replacement ballistic missile submarine outside of Navy budget controls. These national assets are employed as part of critical strategic missions. Without additional resources, the defense industrial base and the nation’s conventional advantage at sea could be sacrificed to recapitalize the strategic force. Alternatively, Congress should consider whether this extremely expensive leg of the nuclear triad should be maintained in the face of decreasing stealth, shrinking nuclear stockpiles, and limited shipbuilding funds….
Note only two of the three ‘stealth’ references relate to low observable aircraft, and those stake out a claim similar to that which Admiral Greenert has since backed away from after he assumed the CNO responsibility. In any case, the Heritage Foundation report comes closest to representing the “Navy’s” coolness towards Low Observables in the form of one of the co-authors: a retired Navy Captain and ship driver. Not quite "The Navy' .

Strip away the journalistic overlay of 'what it all means' and there's no 'there' there. So much for the Navy being ‘cool’ towards the F-35C.

Now if you want to talk about the F-18E/F/G ‘community’ (read ‘tribe’) being cool towards the F-35, well………..DUH!

Just wait until the F-35 starts smacking the F-18 tribe around in training. It will be worse.

That’s called ‘Tradition’.

Monday, November 03, 2014

F-35C Makes First Carrier Traps

Hat Tip:  'Raptor_Claw' at F-16.net.

Today, the first two carrier landings by F-35Cs were accomplished. One more check box checked.
The first trap (landing, catching the cross deck pendant, or 'wire') caught the 3rd (of 4) wires --exactly as it is preferred.

U.S. Navy Video:

Screen captures from this event show some interesting things going on. I'd say the pilot positioned the jet about as well as any man or UAV software could have done it. The objective is to catch the '3- Wire', and the optimal touchdown area is 95%+ between the 2nd and 3rd wire. The pilot could not have bought hardly any more area to measure hook behaviors after touch down:

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 1

Notice the main wheels are not yet touching the deck (you can see the stripe in the middle still under the left main tire).

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 2
Here the wheels are just beginning to touch the deck but are not showing signs of weight on the wheels. It looks like the first curls of tire smoke are starting to come up.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 3

This screen cap is just (barely) after the previous one, A little more tire smoke, and the weight is not yet on the wheels very much. The tailhook is about even with the 2-Wire.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 4
Weight is coming on to the wheels now and it appears the hook is down on the deck as well. Notice the 2-Wire in the center where the hook went over/across. It appears the hook bottom may have hit the wire top, or at the most barely nicked the wire. I think it hit the top because of what we see in the next screen cap.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 5
There is a lot going on in this picture. The hook is about to engage the 3-Wire. The nose gear is still in the air and the 'mains' have run over the 3-Wire: you can see the wave in the pendant propagating outward. Now look back at the 2-Wire. It has very a slight displacement forward that has propagated outward (compare to previous pic) , but is laying flatter than I would expect if the hook had impacted it directly. I guess we might find out someday.

A Good Day for the Program, the Navy, and the Taxpayer eh?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Lt General Bogdan: F-35 Noise “Good to Go”

F-35 No More Noisier Than Other Fighters the VANG Has Flown

Hat Tip Spazinbad @ F-16.net

In fact, the F-35 will very often be quieter taking off than the F-16s it is replacing because afterburners will not be required for the F-35 under more weight, operational, and environmental (density altitudes) conditions than the F-16.

From AF Magazine's website (Google cached) :
F-35 Noise “Good to Go”
—John A. Tirpak  10/31/2014 
Studies of F-35 noise relative to legacy fighters will be released Friday, and will show that “on the ground, at full military power,” which is full power without afterburner, the F-35 is “actually quieter, by a little bit” than legacy aircraft such as the F-15, F/A-18, and F-16, F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Thursday... 
...This “real noise data” should dispel rumors that the F-35 will be much louder than its predecessors. Part of the reason is that the F-35 is “very sleek in its outer mold line, without a lot of drag,” Bogdan said. Using afterburner, however, the F-35 is considerably noisier than its predecessors, as it generates 43,000 pounds of thrust. Its noise will be on a par with the old F-4 Phantom, Bogdan reported. Although its character is different, the F-4 noise is deeper than that of the F-35, he said.

That's Great News!  

The F-4 started flying out of the Burlington VT  airfield in 1982 (preceded by Canberras, Delta Daggers, Scorpions, and Starfires) and were replaced by the F-16s in 1986. That makes the F-35 the quietest jet since 1981 to operate out of Burlington. To help the 'Stop the F-35 in Vermont' crowd (website and Facebook no less!) disseminate this awesome good news faster, I've created the following graphics to drive the good news 'home':

The F-35 has a lot shorter takeoff roll than the Phantom, so it will get to higher altitude than the Phantom before getting to  the end of the runway. I also see this phenomenon regularly at Carswell JRB compared to  the JRB's F-16s and F-18s.   

When the F-35 takes off out of Carswell, only the deeper note, and the fact that the sound does not linger tells 'your ears' that an F-35 is taking off instead of an F-16 or F-18

At Burlington's 335 ft altitude and 44°28′19″N latitude, the F-35 won't need afterburner as much as the aircraft that came before it. 

 What This Means 

Overall, the residents of Winooski can expect to be more annoyed (noise times the number of airfield operations) by the airliners currently operating out of the Burlington VT airport. Just like 'now'.


When the next "bioregional decentralist", "writer/satirist" and/or "delicate flower of Yankee womanhood with a profound lack of respect for authority" starts 'going off' about the Green Mountain Boys'  new F-35s, just tell 'em:

Also, because there is NO  'Divine Right to Stagnate' (but we won't get into that).  

Update 2 November: The 'noise report' summary is now  out:

If you were too lazy to look at the notes, the blue background data is 'old' data, the white background data is 'new' data.

Looks like I'll need to do another chart for 'Approach and Go' (airfield pattern work). In the interim. an 'artist's concept' of what a 'Stop the F-35; reaction might look like:

I suppose 'some' might think I'm being a little hard on what they see as good  'civic minded citizens'. If so, that 'some' obviously never really looked at the drivel the Stop the F-35 Vermont website and Facebook page proffer. Socialists, Luddites, Aging Hippies, NIMBYers, and Opportunists --all on a bus to 'Nowheresville' man! AKA 'Rabble meets Rousers'. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There is NO Military Industrial Complex

It’s just that dirty Hippie Commies want you to think there’s one out there.

Alternative Title: What Military-Industrial Complex? 2014 Edition

I've noticed a recent uptick in references to Eisenhower’s ‘feared’ Military-Industrial Complex in public discourse across various media outlets; in print and online articles as well as the internet comment threads for same. It is almost as if a new generation of low-information consumers has discovered the MIC, aping the old ‘Sixties Left’ paranoia and deceit. They throw out the ‘MIC’ as if it were argument-ending proof or at least ‘evidence’ of a malevolent and destructive phenomenon: something that is wreaking havoc on the American polity and economy at this very minute or, ‘trust them’- by golly there would be if ‘we’ don’t put a stop to it. Just ask ‘em!

So it is time, once again, to insert proper perspective into the discussion…and slap the Military-Industrial Complex myth silly. This time, I plan on the ‘definitive’ debunking. Barring any wild economic gyrations in the near future, I shouldn’t ever have to revisit the topic, and should be able to just point others here whenever the topic comes up for a VERY long time.

This post is in two halves. In the first half, we’ll revisit (with a little twist) what we have covered in the past (here and here) to put proper perspective to the current relative economic power of defense activities within the total scale and scope of the American economic machine. In the second part, we will reach across time to examine the scope and relative impact of the Mythical MIC from the time Eisenhower first framed his now ‘infamous’ warning and compare it with today.

Some Housekeeping Up Front

Data Source

All data shown and not otherwise labeled/attributed is from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Downloaded in early August.  The BEA data has since been updated at the source at least once in the interim, but for our purposes, there is no material difference in newer data and the data I used here.

Define Our Terms

It is particularly important that we first define our terms, since I categorically reject (obviously) the modern, clichéd definition of what a “Military-Industrial Complex” actually IS. If the accepted definition of the MIC in modern parlance was the same “manifestation” that Eisenhower noted in the ‘MIC’ speech where he stated “We recognize the imperative need for this development” then I would happily accept use of the term ‘Military-Industrial Complex’.

However, the term ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ has been routinely and now pervasively perverted to represent something only with those characteristics Eisenhower feared would come about, as specifically stated in following the acknowledged need for “this development”:
Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. 
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
Eisenhower above speaks of a Military-Industrial Complex that NEVER came into being. This is easily demonstrated by weighing the facts against the part of Eisenhower’s speech preceding the passages above:
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
These passages describe the state of America’s economy at the time of Eisenhower’s speech. He saw his 1961 ‘MIC’ as part of an “imperative need” even though at the time, the US was spending more on “military security” than what the “US Corporations” ‘netted’ every year. (Which when you think about it, is not that surprising. Military Security is a whole sector of public spending. ‘Net’ profits are a small subset of the private sector.) By the time we complete ‘Part 2’ it will be obvious that not only did Eisenhower’s feared Military-Industrial Complex NOT materialize, his 1961 MIC atrophied into a shadow of its former economic presence. This real history unfolded not just through the relatively flattened or declining GDP proportions of military spending, but came about just as much, or more, through the growth of other parts of the economy.

Instead of the mythical Military-Industrial Complex, America’s defense has been and is still (perhaps too tenuously these days) supported by what we will refer to as a ‘National Defense Infrastructure’. From here on forward in these ‘MIC Myth’ posts I shall refer to the ‘MIC-that-never-happened’ as the Military-Industrial Complex (‘MIC’) and the MIC that actually came into being as the National Defense Infrastructure (‘NDI’).
We now proceed with the first half of the discussion…

Current Defense Industry Economic Impact: The Defense Industry Share of the Economic Pie.

We’ve been looking for the Mythical MIC for some time now, and once again it has failed to appear among the real powers-that-be in America’s economy. Following my past posts’ lead, here’s what the MIC’ looks like within the perspective of the Fortune 500.
No Military Industrial Complex Here

No MIC here.

The little blue scratches in the plot of this chart and the next are ‘defense revenues’ of the ‘biggest’ defense companies. As has become our custom, let’s zoom in closer to see the top Fortune 100 companies more clearly.

For completeness, I have also included the only non-publically traded company with significant ‘defense’ revenues in the position they would hold if they were a public company.
This chart actually displays some useful details. First, the biggest company with significant defense revenues (a Global Top 100 Defense company) is General Electric, but GE's defense revenues are almost insignificant compared to the company’s non-defense revenues. In fact, only Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, could be unquestionably characterized more as ‘defense companies’ than just 'non-defense companies with defense business interests' in the Fortune 100.

If one wants to be concerned about concentration of economic power, take a look at Berkshire Hathaway.

Over half the companies in the Fortune 100 took in MORE non-defense revenues than Lockheed Martin’s total income, and any two non-defense companies on the Fortune 100 list, even those companies smaller than Lockheed Martin, took in more revenue than Lockheed Martin. I observe here that each of the top 3 largest companies at the top of the Fortune 500 took in more revenue than ALL of the defense revenues brought in by the U.S. Global Top 100 Defense Companies on the Fortune 500 list, and the fourth company on the Fortune 100, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, had revenues equal to about 86% of the defense revenues of those same Global Top 100 Defense Companies on the Fortune 500 list. 

A Global, More Encompassing Perspective

In the past, I’ve focused on data sources that relied on contract awards to identify the ‘big boys’ in the American ‘Defense Industry’. This year, I took a different tact and extracted data for all listed American companies in the “Global” Defense 100: i.e. the US Companies that are among the biggest defense companies in the world. This obviously excludes state-run industries that do not report revenues, found in places like the PRC and NoKo. But then, their industries are hardly direct participants in the US economy.

The breakdown by country of the Top 100, illustrating the distinction between defense and non-defense revenues is shown here:

The US company revenues dominate the list. Note that even the ‘World Top 100’ defense revenues tail off to almost undetectable levels once the top few counties’ contributions are counted. To make it easier to see the non-US revenues, here we exclude the US total to show ‘the rest’ of the world’s Global Defense 100 economic impact: 

There are minor ‘quirks’ in this breakdown, such as tiny Netherlands shows up as a major defense player due to the Airbus Industries consortium being headquartered there, and there is a possibly-significant portion of BAE Systems US-based businesses being rolled into the UK totals, but what is important to us is the overall scale, and relative proportions of defense and non-defense revenues. This will later be put into the greater perspective.

The breakdown by country of the Defense 100 finds 48 U.S companies on that list Sorted by percentage of revenues from 'defense', with reliance on defense revenues from most to least and bottom to top we see: 

 Most of those companies are remarkably ‘small’ in size when measured against all other companies and industries. 

Revenues for the biggest US Defense 'Defense' Companies
Twenty-One (21) of those 48 U.S. ‘Global Top 100 Defense’ Companies don’t even make it into the Fortune 500 ranks. And if Non-Defense revenues are taken away from the total revenues, more than three quarters (37!) of those 48 U.S. defense companies on the ‘World Top 100 Defense’ list would not even make it on the Fortune 500 list. All but Lockheed Martin and Boeing would drop out of the Fortune 100, and those so-called defense ‘giants’ would be hanging on somewhere near the bottom of the Fortune 100 list.

Defense as a part of the GDP: 1960 vs 2013

We now return to Eisenhower’s speech, and the world that existed during that time Does the economic impact on the U.S economy by the defense industries bear any resemblance to the 1959-1961 era?

The short answer is NO.

Here is a ‘snapshot’ of Government spending as a percentage of GDP running from the end of the Korean War through to 1965:
Percentages of GDP for Government Spending in the Eisenhower Era

Note that the percentage of the GDP attributable to ‘Non-Defense Federal’ spending rose only about 1% overall in that time-frame. ‘Defense Federal’ spending expressed as a percentage of the GDP actually declined from ~16% of the GDP to less than 10% of the GDP. ‘State and Local Government’ increased ~2.5% over the same time-frame. This is the ‘kind’ way to view the changes. An equally valid and ‘less kind’ observation would also note that the percentage of the GDP attributable to ‘Non-Defense Federal’ spending increased by about 30%, the percentage attributable to ‘Defense Federal’ decreased by about 40% and the percentage attributable to ‘State and Local Government’ spending increased nearly 41%. True, the percentage increases were for relatively small numbers for ‘Non-Defense Federal’ and ‘State and Local Government’, but those small numbers can and do compound over time. The two most important things to take away from the chart above are:
  1. Even at the time of Eisenhower’s farewell address, ‘Defense’ spending was in decline as a percentage of the GDP, and thus was in decline as a relative influence on the total economy.
  2. Federal Non-Defense spending and State and Local Government spending were becoming larger factors of influence on the total U.S. economy.

The second point will become of greater interest a little later in our discussion.

Here is a graph comparing defense spending and personal spending (including investments) for the same time frame as percentages of the GDP:
Defense Spending Was Not Eating into Personal Spending  in the Eisenhower Era
Just looking at this snapshot one would have to wonder just what Eisenhower was so worried about? But if we consider the state of the world at the time, what we as a nation had gone through since the prelude to WW2, and what Eisenhower was facing as the Cold War intensified, it is easy to see what his fears were about. Expanding that snapshot in time to 1935-1960, we see what Eisenhower and his contemporaries had experienced and remembered all too well. 

When Eisenhower stated:
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment…
He and others were remembering what it took out of the civilian economy to mobilize and mechanize for WW2, and he knew we were headed into new and uncharted territory

On top of the (obviously) huge impact on the economy that defense spending had between 1936 and 1945, we also see a slight hiatus in defense spending levels coming down from WW2, to increase slightly in support of the Korean War and then the early Cold War, Ike knew that the Korean War caused a haitus in Post-WW2 economic growth and by 1960, personal spending had still not returned to pre-Korean War levels. He feared this might go on or get worse. He feared a future that, as we are now illustrating, did NOT happen.

 Eisenhower himself had tried to reduce Defense Spending by moving away from ‘expensive’ conventional forces via his ‘New Look’ strategy, but quickly (in ‘political’ measures of time anyway) realized he had to back well away from replacing conventional forces with nuclear forces as much as he had originally planned. By the time Kennedy took office, the buzzword had become “Flexible Response” with a marked re-emphasis on conventional forces (I touched on this back and forth in policy and how it affected the tactical force structure somewhat here). But also by the time Kennedy took office, the American economy was clearly moving beyond being a defense-driven one and it was personal spending that was on the rise. Interestingly, neither Vietnam and the war in Southeast Asia nor the much misunderstood 'Reagan Buildup' caused more than an economic ‘blip’ in the 'defense spending' vs' personal spending' timeline:

And all the while, the GDP itself was growing by leaps and bounds, uninterrupted (at least until 2009, when the bookkeeping rules changed) :

This growth in GDP was not just all due to inflation either. 'Chained' to 2009 Dollars, the GDP still shows pretty much the same steady increase over time:


Relative percentages of GDP is a good way to show relative impacts on the total economy, but this could still have meant relative shares of a shrinking or stagnant economy could be hiding behind those percentages. In absolute GDP dollars, what was the private sector of the economy doing?

It was growing, and growing far faster than Defense Spending:

So Where Might We Find Growth in  Government Spending? 


After WW2 we began to see a near inexorable rise in State and Local Government spending, pausing only for the Carter “Malaise” and perhaps the current (2009 and on) economy, while defense spending as a percentage of the GDP since the Korean War consistently declined to the current levels. Non-defense Federal spending appears to have just loped along at about the same level. But there is something hidden in the State and Local Government GDP contribution. That hidden something is Federal funds transferred to the State and Local ‘pots of money’ yet not accounted for as Federal spending in the GDP.

I rarely find Cokie Roberts useful, but in 2009 she provided the impetus for Politifact to check something she said on the Oct. 4, 2009 episode of This Week With George Stephanopoulos:
"You know, right now, 40 percent, 40 percent of GDP is state, local, or federal money. I mean, that's an incredible number. So that, you know, adding more [government spending] to that, I think, is going to ... distort things even more. And the public is so concerned about it."
Politifact took up the challenge to test Ms. Robert’s numbers, and related this bit to its readers:
Marc Goldwein, an economist with the New America Foundation, framed the conundrum in this mind-bending fashion: "What percent of GDP is made up of government spending is a different question from what government spending equals as a percent of GDP."
That's because when a government "transfers" money — such as through Social Security — it is shifting money around rather than spending it directly. "This can have real and large effects on GDP, but it does not directly impact GDP, since tax and transfer policies simply take money that one person could be using for consumption or investment and give it to another person to use for consumption or investment," he said.
So hidden ‘off the GDP books’ and in transfers to state and local governments is a large chunk of money above and beyond the official Federal GDP contributions (BTW, Politifact found Robert’s claim for 2009 “Mostly True” (within ~5%).

How much is ‘hidden’ from the GDP federal (overwhelmingly non-defense) numbers over time? I’ve not found ‘hard data’ to plot, but I have found significant snapshots of data and other indicators.

First, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides this handy graphic:

This shows a fairly constant 4-5% of the GDP tied up in Federal grants to state and local governments from 1980-2010. This tells us the Federal Government gives away money to the states and localities that is about equal to the current federal spending levels on defense.

Another CBO (2013 chart of 2011 data) chart gives us a snapshot of how those Federal ‘grants’ are 'apportioned':

Thus we can see there is quite an 'economy' all in itself sitting ‘off the GDP books’, and only some trivial subset of the ‘other’ category goes to ‘national defense’. All of the rest is ‘non-defense’. 

At the ‘State’ level, these funds show up as significant portions of the State General Fund. from taxfoundation.org:

If the US Government were an official criminal enterprise, this might reasonably be viewed as a money laundering operation.

So we can now state that while State and Local Government spending has been increasing, it is clear that one of its driving forces is the Federal dispensation to the states and localities above and beyond what is found in the Federal GDP contributors.


In summary, we have shown:

  1. The feared Military-Industrial Complex never materialized. 
  2. The Defense Industry is relatively minute compared to the rest of the world’s and U.S. industrial base. 
  3. Personal Spending as part of the GDP has risen constantly over time, even when inflation is accounted for. 
  4. Defense Spending to support the National Defense Infrastructure has declined as a percentage of the GDP since 1953. 
  5. As a percentage of GDP and in absolute dollars, only State and Local Government spending has grown consistently over time since the end of WW2. 
  6. Defense spending has only increased in dollars, not as a proportion of the GDP, and at lower rates than all other forms of government spending over time since 1953. 
  7. Much of what State and Local Governments are increasingly spending actually involves spending significant Federal ‘Non-Defense’ dollars off the record as far as GDP books. That money which is ‘laundered’ through the State and Local Governments, overwhelmingly goes to ‘Health Care’ and ‘Income Security’. 


There is not now, nor has there ever been pernicious and/or detrimental “acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought” by a “military-industrial complex” in these United States. Eisenhower’s fears were never realized, or if you like, his ‘warning call’ headed off one ever coming into existence. 
Instead, we have— “sought or unsought”— maintained a National Defense Infrastructure that to date has admirably supported the National Interest since WW2 without ever rising to being an unreasonable economic burden, much less a threat to the “structure of our society”.

Can the same be said for all other government endeavors?