“Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.“
These were the words of Secretary of Defense James Mattis in his initial message to the men and women of the Department.
That last part is a long overdue warning to the cash-guzzling hordes who’ve had free reign over a bottomless budget for decades, and have surrendered the trust of the taxpayer. In an era of celebrity tourism masquerading as leadership, the services have lately weathered the absurdity of watching their politically appointed generals and secretaries whine about a lack of dough in Congress while simultaneously tossing money into various firepits of frill and frivolity.
Let’s assume for a moment Mattis is serious. That he means what he says. It’s a reasonable presumption given his track record of honesty. In he is being authentic, he’ll need some ideas for where to start slashing. He’d do well to cast his gaze on the Air Force. It’s the most top-heavy, the most bureaucratic, and the most addicted to VIP culture of the military services.
Here’s a sampling of blatantly wasteful activity culled from less than a week of Air Force observation.
1. Air Force Academy Trades Salary of 15 Airmen for Foyer Renovation.
Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnston’s staff saw fit to spend $387,000 of taxpayer funding to upgrade a 1,450 square foot waiting room. Unless it turns out to be an ornate scheme for hiding priceless unobtanium harvested from an alien spacecraft, Johnston has some ‘splaining to do. Mattis should investigate this immediately and discipline (a) whoever approved it, (b) everyone in a responsible position who noticed and did nothing to halt or report it, and (c) a random selection of everyone else within three meters of those people. This is the merciless approach necessary to root out a culture of waste, and anything short of it will be ignored.
Johnston is not the Pope. She’s not Caesar. She’s not a CEO. Hell, she’s not even the equivalent of a junior VP. We don’t have such positions in public service. She’s a servant of the American people. Then money she spends comes out of their bottom line. Every spending decision she makes must represent maximum value for money. She’s entitled to renovate the facilities entrusted to her, but is bound by the code of frugality Mattis invokes in his message. Therefore, vanity projects like this one are strictly verboten.
2. Debbie James’s Self-Celebratory Clap-Out
The video below appeared on the former SecAF’s Facebook page (which she had recently pimped her staff to push past 75k Likes) on her merciful final day in her position. Take note of the number of people getting paid to screw off.
In just the snippets we see here, which are but a sampling of this overwrought and banal propaganda fest, you can count more than 250 people stood clapping their hands like they’re wedging a sing-along in-between recess and nap. Assuming a 30-minute interruption of normal duties and an average salary of $80k/year, this exaltation of history’s most clueless political appointee weighs in at more than $5000 in lost productivity. Now let’s multiply that by the number of times James has expected everyone to stop working and pay attention to her. This is some serious savings.
Mattis should hire an Air Force Secretary who is too focused on getting the job done to encourage such sycophantic shenanigans.
3. Overpaid Weed Pullers.
“Clearly no one at Travis has learned from all of the previous JQP posts on the excess abuse of manpower when a DV comes to visit. Yesterday all flying squadrons at Travis were expected to pony up ALL personnel to pull weeds for the AMC/CC’s visit next week. [I’m in one of the flying squadrons] and we are slammed with trips next week. 5 trips off station, 7 locals, and an outbound desert rotator [but everyone] Friday [was] out of the office for half the day when there is so much work to do. And the thing that further infuriated all of the young Captains I see everyday, even more than the multiple emails from base enlisted leadership and up to Sq DO was the fact that if you don’t know what a weed looks like, you can reference the attached briefing that insults everyone’s intelligence and teaches how to identify what to pull. With a pilot shortage, is this how we want to convey to our pilots that they are needed and useful? Guarantee pilots aren’t picking weeds at Delta. Standard US Gov’t waste, hiring the most expensive gardeners!”
Is this why we fought to increase pilot bonuses? So we could pay them $140,000/year to pull weeds?
4. Empty Offices, Full Retard
Nothing quite so green as someone else’s money. So why not pay an entire staff to sit on their asses and listen to mindless bloviations all day? In fact, why not make it mandatory?
And here we get the bonus of witnessing an executive officer not just participating in waste, but proudly revelling in it.
Curtailing waste in all forms must be the first task of the next SecAF. The service has no money, and yet has bills to pay. The only chance we have at tethering expenditures to resources is to fight for more budgetary authority while reducing costs. This means generating savings from top to bottom, and that only works when those at the top live by the same rules as the rest. It means scrapping or re-writing regulations that encourage waste or set up wasteful structures. It means giving airmen the authority to refuse participation in manifestly wasteful activity.
This is not just about quantifiable examples of waste, but underlying behaviors. At present, it is considered totally acceptable to oblige others to waste their time, break their focus, and divert their attention to valueless frivolities. That has to change.
Mad Dog is the guy to change it. Let’s hope he picks a SecAF who aligns with him on this most important issue.