American Elephants

No Army Training In The Last Six Months. Preparedness Loses Out To Politics. by The Elephant's Child

General Ray Odierno, Army’s Chief of Staff told a Washington conference on Monday that the U.S. Army had not conducted any training in the last six months of the fiscal year ending September 30.

He added that there are currently only two Army  brigades rated combat-ready. A brigade numbers somewhere around 3,500 to 5,000 troops, commanded by a Colonel. That adds up to around 7,000 to 10,000 troops and less than one-third of what the combat veteran regards as necessary for national security. Odierno said:

Right now, we have in the Army two brigades that are trained. That’s it. Two.

Troops being deployed to Afghanistan now are prepared only to train and assist Afghan troops, not to conduct combat operations themselves, though there is no guarantee that they will not find themselves actually in combat, while accompanying Afghan soldiers.

Sequestration had its origins in the debt-ceiling battle of 2011. The President’s team, in an attempt to force Republicans into a compromise, devised the sequester as a sort of nuclear option. Sweeping cuts across all discretionary spending — including defense spending in a time of war, would be such a bitter pill to the Republicans, that they would fold and stop insisting on cuts in spending. Republicans took in the Obama team offer, and spat it out. The President remains furious.

Harmful automatic budget cuts — known as the sequester — threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.

These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.

You have undoubtedly heard the president bragging about bringing the deficit down.  Depends on who he’s trying to impress. Because the sequester is automatic for nine more years, it can only be changed or undone if both houses vote to change it. It is a powerful tool for Republican negotiators in the budget conference committee, and gives them leverage to address the real driver of the debt — entitlement spending. Left unchanged, the combined unfunded entitlements of Social Security and Medicare threaten to bankrupt the country.

Republicans are trying to save the country. Democrats are trying to win. It’s politics all the way down.

Obama has made an effort to make the cuts forced by the sequester as painful as possible, just as he did with the government shutdown.

All this to obey Obama administration orders to drastically cut the Army and military spending and meet cuts under sequestration. Since the Obama Pentagon began the troop draw-down two years ago under the president’s orders, more than 33,000 active duty soldiers have been cut.

Current plans call for additional reductions of 42,000 soldiers in the next 23 months to a total of 490,000, down from 570,000. Those cuts have been accelerated by two years under Pentagon orders and will involve involuntary separations of thousands.

Military planners, under directives from Defense Secretary Hagel, now anticipate administration orders to sever another 70,000 active duty Army personnel at all levels. There is apparently a purge going on of some of the nation’s top veteran generals, allegedly for personal misconduct.

It is not a peaceful world. Al Qaeda is on the rise, Bashar Assad seems to have control of Syria after gassing dissidents, the Saudis are not friendly. Egypt is no longer under the control of the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and a more friendly Army-backed government has taken over— so we have discontinued aid. Having botched Syria, botched a status of forces agreement in Iraq, Iraq is in flames again with an upsurge of al Qaeda in Iraq. So we are in peaceful conversations with Iran, the sponsor of all Middle East terrorism. Good time as any to cut back on military readiness.

Whenever wars are over, America settles back into heedless slumber, and we are never, never prepared when trouble breaks out again, as it always will.

Bad News All The Way Down. by The Elephant's Child

We had to wait three weeks for the September jobs report because of Obama’s government shutdown, and it’s dismal enough that they should have waited longer. It’s bad news all the way down. The number that stands out is the 136,000 Americans in September, (following the 516,000 in August) who joined the ranks of those “not in the labor market.” The participation rate of the labor force remains at the lowest level since the 1970s at 63.2%.

The U.S now has 90.6 million men and women over the age of 16, and not institutionalized, not working. That is 10 million more unemployed than when President Obama first took office, and in the fourth year of the “recovery.”

There are some explanations — about six million baby boomers have turned 65 since 2008. Young people are staying in school longer— trends that go with a bearish job market. But even among those in their prime working years 25-64, the number not working has increased by about 1.8 million since 2008, in addition to the 11.3 million officially unemployed. Payrolls rose 148,000 in September, but that doesn’t really cover the number of people just entering the workforce.

Obama has an answer: he’s going to create jobs with education, infrastructure and research.

Democrats have excuses. They always have excuses. The Keynesian idea is to blame it on “fiscal drag” caused by the sequester’s budget cuts (they really hate those budget cuts), and the government shutdown. But the September numbers came before the shutdown. Public employment rose in August and September by 54,000, but that doesn’t help the economy for taxpayers have to pay the inflated salaries and benefits.

Private businesses and business associations, and individual businessmen have been telling the administration for over four years that over-regulation, high taxes, and uncertainty about what government is going to do next are a real problem. Layer the thousands of pages of new regulations from ObamaCare and the catastrophic rollout — why would any sane businessman take big risks right now? Why would they hire more workers or expand their business. They are hunkered down trying not to get noticed by this lawless government.

The economy is not recovering, and nobody in charge seems to have noticed, nor cares, nor has the slightest idea of what to do about it.

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