The Project On Government Oversight claims it is, and is described by others, as an independent government spending “watchdog”. Yet, a close scrutiny and analysis of its biased “reporting” and its ridiculous blogposts and articles reveals that it is anything but. It is, in fact, just another anti-defense liberal group whose mission seems to be to spread anti-defense propaganda and campaign for deep defense cuts.
Its Director, Danielle Brian, was fiercely rebuked by me many months ago for downplaying the disastrous impact of, and lying about, sequestration (which POGO still supports), and POGO’s Ben Freeman was rebuked by me several weeks ago for calling for the cancellation of the F-35 B and C variants.
And it’s clear that deeply cutting – and gutting – defense is the foremost goal on POGO’s agenda. Not only do they clamor for deep defense cuts (including sequestration), the vast majority of the defense budget “waste” they whine about is not waste at all, but crucial military capabilities and weapon systems they call for terminating!
See, for example, this list of deep defense cuts they demand. The vast majority of the “waste” they single out for termination is not waste, but needed military capabilities: the aircraft carrier fleet, upgrades to the dilapidated 1980s’ tank fleet, the V-22 Osprey (the most capable VTOL aircraft ever built, with 150,000 flight hours under its belt), the SSBN fleet (they call for cutting it to just 8 boats, down from 14 today), the Next Generation Bomber program, the SBIRS, the PTSS, the B and C variants of the F-35, highly-enriched-uranium-inventories, nuclear weapon production facilities, the MOX facility at Savannah, and any further development of and additions to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System. (What weapons do they want the military to use? Muskets?)
Such cuts and eliminations would gravely weaken the US military and disastrously jeopardize national security.
But not only do they advocate such irresponsible, dangerous defense cuts; in so doing, they prove their utter, abysmal ignorance about defense issues.
A case in point is this blogpost by POGO anti-defense hacks Ben Freeman and Mia Steinle, both of whom have long been clamoring for deep, damaging defense cuts. In this one, they call for a 10-year delay of the development of the Next-Gen Bomber and a cancellation of the Marines’ F-35B fighter variant.
What’s wrong with those proposals?
To start with, everything.
First, the Next Generation Bomber. There is a clear and URGENT need for it. The USAF’s B-1 and B-52 bombers – which make up the vast majority of its small bomber fleet – are nonstealthy, have large RCSes, and are therefore easy to detect by modern radar and easy to shoot down for any enemy. They furthermore lack any defensive armament. Moreover, the cost of maintaining them (especially B-1s) is significant and rising due to their old age.
These old nonstealthy bombers are easy to shoot down and therefore unsurvivable in any environment except the most permissive ones, where the enemy is an insurgency or a weak country unable to contest control of the air. Yet, this kind of war environments is scarce and becoming even less frequent. Countries such as China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela have advanced Integrated Air Defense Systems and, in China’s, Russia’s, and Venezuela’s case, advanced fighterplanes.
These heavily-defended theaters will be those in which the USAF will be forced to operate in the future in almost any contingency. Yet, the only current USAF bombers capable of surviving in such an environment are a handful (20) of B-2s. And even they won’t remain stealthy forever: their stealth technology is 80s’ vintage. By the 2020s or the 2030s at the latest, they will lose their ability to penetrate enemy airspace as well.
Delaying, or even worse, cancelling the development of the Next Generation Bomber would cause the Air Force to completely lose its already small (due to the small size of the B-2 fleet) long-range penetrating capability by the time B-2s lose that capability. This, in turn, would cause the USAF to be unable to strike any targets protected by modern IADS and/or fighters, thus creating huge sanctuaries for America’s enemies – a scenario that America cannot accept.
It is therefore imperative to begin the NGB’s development NOW – not a year from today, not in 2023, not in 2024, but NOW – and to complete it BEFORE the B-2 loses its penetrating capability.
POGO complains about the cost ($6.3 bn over five years), but its own figures show that this would be just a few hundred million dollars in the first 2-3 FYs, and only a few billion in FY2016-FY2018. The Air Force, with an annual budget of ca. $150 bn, can certainly afford such tiny expenditures, even if it has to cut spending elsewhere. Even the entire $6.3 bn sum is small – especially given that it would be paid over five years, not one FY – which, on average, amounts to just $660 mn, which is a rounding error in the DOD’s budget.
To sum up, the Next Gen Bomber is, contrary to POGO’s lies, absolutely needed, and needed now, and even if POGO’s numbers are correct, it will cost only peanuts to develop – a tiny price to pay compared to how much almost every other DOD weapon program costs, and compared to the overwhelming bias in the DOD’s budget in favor of short-range weapons (e.g. the F-35) and against long-range strike weapons, which the nonpartisan CSBA says amounts to a 20:1 ratio.
I am hardly the only person saying that the NGB is necessary. Successive SECDEFs from Rumsfeld to Panetta have said the same, as have the current CSAF and SECAF, their predecessors, their colleague Adm. Greenert, and numerous outside experts from the CSBA and the Heritage Foundation. This requirement has also been validated by two successive QDRs – those of 2006 and that of 2010. The fact is that, contrary to POGO’s lies, the Next Generation Bomber is needed – and fast.
Now, the F-35B. POGO falsely claims that the Super Bug has capabilities that “rival” those of the F-35. That is completely false; the Super Bug has no such capabilities. Not turning capability, not thrust, not TTW ratio, not speed, not range and combat radius, not stealthiness (and thus survivability), and not weapons possible for integration (the F-35 can, for example, be fitted with Meteor A2A missiles; the Super Bug cannot). The Super Bug’s combat radius (350 nmi) is DECISIVELY inferior to that of the F-35B and F-35C. Yet, range and endurance are absolutely vital, as is stealthiness, because it determines survivability, which is key to winning ANY war. If a plane is not survivable, it’s worthless – and that’s exactly true of the Super Bug.
The “proven” Super Bug, like B-1s and B-52s, has “proven itself” only in permissive environments (Afghanistan and Iraq) where the only opponent is an insurgency unable to contest control of the air. It is useless for any war theaters in which the enemy is a country with advanced IADS and/or fighters. It’s not even fit for any real A2A combat (and has not partaken in any), because it’s not a real fighter, but rather an attack jet. And it doesn’t have the STOVL capability required to take off from and land on amphib ships and primitive airfields, which is an absolute non-negotiable USMC requirement.
In short, Ben Freeman and Mia Steinle have, like other POGO anti-defense hacks, once again proven their utter ignorance, and not “waste” in the defense budget. And contrary to their pious denials that
“These amendments would result in savings without compromising security…”
The fact is that the amendments delaying the NGB and cancelling the F-35 would GRAVELY compromise security by undermining America’s airpower and its ability to operate in A2/AD environments and penetrate defended airspace. These amendments were rightly rejected. They shouldn’t even have been considered.
POGO is just another anti-defense liberal group, composed of anti-defense liberal political hacks whose sole agenda is to deeply cut, and gut, America’s defense. The vast majority of the programs they call “waste” are actually needed military capabilities and weapon systems crucial to ensuring America’s national security and winning the wars of the future. Furthermore, in their drive to gut defense, they’ve buddied up with some of the most leftist groups in the country, including Code Pink and “Just Foreign Policy”, some of which are funded by George Soros.
POGO’s goal is not to eliminate “waste”. Their sole goal is to gut America’s defense.
 See e.g. Mark Gunzinger, Sustaining America’s advantage in Long-Range Strike, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Washington DC, 2010.
 Just Foreign Policy is an extremely leftist group which calls for, among other things, an immediate defunding of the Afghan war, creating a Palestinian state unilaterally (through the UN), and deals with the Iranian mullahs and the Taleban; it also denies that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons and bombards any media outlet which says Iran is developing them with thousands of emails. This is the kind of groups that POGO and the NTU have buddied up with.