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5 NatSec Things - 19 Feb 2018

Today's things: Find your pants, sir; Taliban write America; Trump didn't save us $1b; Pentagon wants
February 19 · Issue #34 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Find your pants, sir; Taliban write America; Trump didn’t save us $1b; Pentagon wants to save $2b; Gitmo remodel - $69m.
Minor admin note in this Friday edition: I’ve started writing the blurbs again, instead of just copying the summaries out of the original sources. So the articles I link to? Not mine. 
But the rest of it, it’s all me. So if it’s great, thank me. If it sucks, well, if you can’t say something nice, go find you a comments section somewhere.

If you're going to lead from the front, best put your pants on first
Jason. Bud. Listen. 
You’ve just been given the best answer ever to, “Why did you leave your last job?” Own this. Lean into this. After you find your pants. 
I’m leading with this for a couple of reasons:
  1. Man got fired for walkin’ round naked in a non-assault-y way
  2. Life is pain, and this amuses me
There are no larger conclusions to draw here. No defense-related truth to glean. No life lessons to learn. Just a drunk guy wandering in the woods by himself. 
The interesting bit? He wasn’t the only one canned. They also fired his boss and the senior non-commissioned officer in the unit. Which happens to be the Seabees, that part of the Navy that builds stuff. 
Looks like the Lt. Cmdr. was building himself a reputation. 
Taliban address 'peace-loving' US, have not actually met us
Couple things: the Taliban know nothing of the American people or their Congress. Because we’re the folks that think bombing the hell out of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 counts as a commensurate response. 
God help y'all if we find actual evidence next time. 
This one’s getting second billing behind Lt. Cmdr. Wears No Pants because it’s still kinda interesting. Just not naked-officer-in-the-woods interesting. And there’s still a war on in Afghanistan last we checked. 
The US president recently said that talks with the Taliban weren’t going to happen for a long time. Of course, since the Grabber-In-Chief has the kind of attention span that would worry your average crack addled lab rat, time is pretty relative. 
And while it’s cute that the Taliban are sending letters to people of the US, they’ve got a list of demands neither DC nor Kabul is going to meet. Like the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. Which is how they want to start negotiations. 
Maybe he meant in Monopoly money?
Donald J. Trump
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
8:52 AM - 6 Dec 2016
That was in 2016, and in February 2017, at another rally, he made this claim: 
“They were close to signing a $4.2 billion deal to have a new Air Force One,” Trump said Saturday. “Can you believe this? I said, ‘No way.’ I said, ‘I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane. I refuse.’”
“We got that price down by over $1 billion, and I probably haven’t spoken, to be honest with you, for more than an hour on the project,” he continued. “I got the generals in, who are fantastic. I got Boeing in. But I told Boeing, it’s not good enough. We’re not going to do it. The price is still too high.”
Which was…news…to people in the Air Force at the time. 
Turns out that $4 billion price tag for 2 x VC-25 aircraft (what they call the 747 once it’s been presidentized…yes, that’s a word…or it is now) is still in the latest Pentagon budget. So the president didn’t save the American public $1 billion after an hour long conversation. 
Easy answer to this? Trump lies on a pathological level.
Alternative answer? Since Trump doesn’t read anything, he assumes no one else does, either. And if no one’s checking facts, then what he says has to be true. 
Airplanes that cost more than the operating budget of several small countries combined seems excessive. And it is, if we look at this as just a glorified airborne presidential taxi. 
Except that the aircraft is meant to keep the president in charge of things in the event that someone wipes Washington off the map. And keep him and whoever’s on board alive for a lot longer than your average airliner. 
But like most of Trump’s self-proclaimed accomplishments, this one’s got as much substance as the presidential hairline. 
That was a cheap shot. 
I’ll do better. 
Pentagon gives up on trying to save $2 billion a year
Talking money a lot this issue, from imaginary presidential savings to actual savings if the Pentagon got its wish list for base closures. Because the DoD has the same problem as Best Buy: it’s holding on to a lot of really expensive real estate it doesn’t need. 
And the Pentagon’s Geek Squad has done the math, estimating that if they held another base realignment commission, they’d end up saving about $2 billion a year. Just enough to buy another Air Force One.
You know who doesn’t want bases to close?
For several years, the Pentagon’s asked for another BRAC. And for years the request has been ignored. Because bases mean jobs and jobs mean votes and votes mean staying in Congress. Which is the most important job of all.
If you’re in Congress. 
*rolls soapbox out of storage*
Congress isn’t about better governance. Or about more efficient spending. It’s not even about protecting the country. 
What Congress is about?
More government not by or for the people. But government because of the people. Maybe even in spite of the people.
That’s $2 billion that could go into roads, bridges, schools. 
*rolls soapbox back*
BRACs can be painful to the communities around them. I get that. And this isn’t some capitalist tripe about market forces: a military better aligned in locations it needs to be is a military better able to protect the nation it serves. 
Because that’s why it’s there.
Protect the nation, not a legislator’s job. 
Pentagon want to build a new Camp 7 for $69m
$69 million. 
That’s the price tag to build a replacement for Camp 7, that part of Guantanamo Bay where the “Top Secret” prisoners are kept. And by “Top Secret” I mean the ones no one knows what else to do with, so they’re still there. 
Because at a certain point as an enemy noncombatant, your rights are so secret even you don’t know what they are anymore. 
Here’s the Trump connection: he’s promised to add more inmates (nope) and cut operating costs (not done that, either). And John “Seriously, I’m the adult here” Kelly, when he commanded SOUTHCOM, had suggested a similar renovation/building of a new structure back in 2014. 
But Obama wanted to close Gitmo, which kicked off a major round of NIMBY. So that plan was quashed. And Gitmo lives on. 
Even though the greatest threat to Americans right now is another American carrying a semi-automatic extension of the comments section.
I’m saying there’s a lot of hate going around. 
Gitmo will stay open for the immediate future, and maybe for the next 40 years, since that’s how long the new Camp 7 is supposed to last. 
Maybe by then we’ll have fixed the gun problem. 
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