Booknotes+ Podcast: Dakota Wood, Editor, “2023 Index of U.S. Military Strength”

By | November 8, 2022

In October, the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, released its 578-page 2023 Index of U.S. Military Strength. Retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood edited the Index, which includes essays and analysis from over 16 experts chosen by the Heritage Foundation. The introduction to the Index concludes: “America’s leadership role remains in question, and its security interests are under substantial pressure. Challenges continue to grow, long-standing allies are not what they once were, and the U.S. is increasingly bedeviled by debt and domestic discord that constrain its ability to sustain its forces at a level that is commensurate with its interests.” Lt. Col. Wood joins us to talk about the findings.

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In October the Heritage Foundation in Washington released its 578 page 2023 index of U.S military strength Retired military Lieutenant Colonel Dakota wood edited the index which Includes essays and Analysis from over 16 experts chosen by the Heritage Foundation The introduction to the index concludes That quote America's leadership role Remains in question and its security Interests are under substantial pressure The authors finished the intro by Writing that increasingly were bedeviled By debt and domestic Discord that Constrain its ability to sustain its Forces at a level that is commensurate With its interests Dakota wood This 578 page index of U.S military Strength Was meant to do what inform the American Public about a very important aspect of Our nation National Power that they just Don't get from any other source right so You've got a kid he's in school all year Long and you get to the end of that year And you get a report card how well or Poorly did he do and so he viewed this Index as kind of a report card for the American public you know we're taxpayers Where's all this money going uh is the World disordered or safe and we have a Military

But you know folks in the military Outside the military will kind of Portray it in a certain way and so what We wanted to do is provide a facts based Evidentiary approach to reporting to the American public the status of U.S Military power and the implications for Having an offer or not so what was your Role in it uh I was asked to put this Thing together originally it was going To be just a 20-page glossy sort of Overview but given the background that I Had in this kind of analytic efforts and Especially working for Mr Andy Marshall Who was a long time director of The Office of that assessment I thought we Needed to kind of go deep and provide Context for military power go back to Andy Marshall though he is well known in Some circles tell us what he did and why He meant so much to you actually an Economist out of the University of Chicago way back when 1950s and he got To start really with some colleagues at The Rand Corporation Associated with some of the great Nuclear deterrence theorists of our time Herman Khan the wool stutters and others And so understood that there's more to The story than just counting ships and Planes and Warheads you know that there Is a cultural component a political Component an economic component and so He kind of developed this approach which

Has been term net assessment turns out He didn't like that term at all but if You're going to look it yourself you Need to look at your competitor or your Friends as well and see how that area of Competition whatever that might be is Playing out right because there could be Driving factors that are really Influencing this that are just not Obvious or they are obvious but people Are going to discount them because They're so glaringly obvious and so he Yeah in their early 70s he was asked to Come in and do this at a national level Initially and the National Security Council off the White House and found That all the data you needed was inside The Pentagon and they just weren't going To give it to an outsider so under uh Secretary of Defense Slicinger back then started the office Of net assessment in 1972 politically Appointed position and was reappointed By every president since Richard Nixon To a time he retire just as you know a Few years ago and he's he's passed two Or three years ago now I think but just A wonderful guy who brought a different Perspective on how we look at problems And he thought the thing like the global War and terrorism as important as it was Was basically a strategic distraction You know if you're facing competitors With deep inventories of nuclear weapons

That could mean the end of your country That should take precedence over Terrorists without air forces and navies And armies and so it was just an Appreciation for this Fuller story and How do you tell that story and so that Was part of my kind of upbringing in the Late 90s early 2000s in that world and Then now you know 20 some odd years Later was asked to do this assessment of U.S military power and and so again Whether you've got one tank or a Thousand whether that's good or bad it Depends on the nature of the world it's An operating environment or your Competitors capable or not and now we Can have a discussion about military Power right and then with some Experience I mean you know try 20 years For myself in the Marine Corps so it's Retired in 2005 so it's almost 40 45 Years total that have been around this And and all my colleagues to contribute Yeah this index is a work of like 20 Authors and so they're bringing dip uh Rich deep experience in their particular Areas and I helped kind of put all that Together we published the first edition Again this report card in 2015 this 2023 Edition is our ninth and so we'll be Able to kind of track Trends and Spending habits and levels of Readiness Across the military and we've made sure That it's historically rooted you know

Not just what you think today but how Has military been power been used in Previous areas of conflicts so Historically rooted data-driven and we Provide our own professional experience As uh is informed the understanding of These issues I don't know whether you Said it or what I heard from somebody Else but that the Pentagon was a bit Irritated that in this report you use The word weak to describe our current Military posture well it's a searing Indictment isn't it to say that our Military the greatest in the world is Actually weak I mean how how can we have Great people in cutting-edge Technologies and what 20 years of Operational experience since you know 9 11 just as a starting point how could That possibly be weak and so if you're In the Pentagon you're concerned about Morale of the force you want to recruit American Youth to join the military you Tout The nobility of service and civic Virtue associated with that and now Somebody's calling your baby ugly you Know I mean it's you you view that as a Real insult and so again parts of the Index we go to links to explain What we're saying and why we're saying And what the the Paradigm is or the Framework within which we're saying weak So it's not that a soldier or an Airman Is a weak individual I mean we've got

Fantastic people but when you look at Global interests from the United States Perspective obligations you know Stretching from our NATO obligations you Know in constant treaty to the stuff we Owe in terms of an obligation to Japan And South Korea and those are matched With our economic interests it's a big Planet and unlike the Cold War days we Had one monolithic opponent in the Soviet Union today you've got many more Competitors that are also Technologically enabled you know I mean China is a nuclear power with a vastly Growing military Russia is getting kind Of beaten down in Ukraine but they still Have their nuclear weapons capabilities And submarines and ballistic missiles All these other sorts of things a crazy Kim Jong-un in North Korea nuclear power And near nuclear Iran so it's a very Challenging world and so what we do is We look at the size of our military is Do we have enough to cover down on all These interests are they training enough So I can have a great Soldier or a great Marine but if they're not shooting Enough to maintain competencies or Pilots aren't flying enough you know Those sorts of things even though I've Got stuff and I've got people if it's Not being used and practiced with then You're not ready and then the equipment Do you have modern equipment or is it

Old equipment and the answer to that is Very old so in the Aggregates at a National strategic level are military is Not up to the task to do the things we Would expect it to do now you talked About 20 years in the United States Marine Corps should I be suspicious That when uh you rated the different Services the Army was rated marginal the Navy was rated weak the Air Force was Rated very weak and the Marine Corps was Rated strong yeah funny about that I'd Be suspicious as well but uh I I guess The Saving Grace here my out is that we Have individuals from those Services Writing the sections in each one of Those services so our director uh Tom Spoor and our Center for National Defense is a retired three-star Army General and uh so 36 years of active Duty service he wrote the chapter on the Army and so he talks to all of his army Colleagues you know people that are Still in uniform uh looks at their own Budget documents and what they're Reporting on Readiness looks at the Historical employment of the U.S army And every contingency from the Korean War on How much Army was used and so if he Comes out and says the Army is marginal That's an army guy talking about his own Service you know I've worked at the Marine Corps and looked at the modernity

Of the equipment the level at which Their training the focus in the Organization and so for all the in our Methodology we talk about these criteria And and the numbers play out as we would Uh roll this that it comes out strong uh Captain Brent Sadler U.S Navy retired Wrote the section on the Navy a career Submarine officer and then JV Venable Retired Air Force Colonel commanded the Thunderbirds commanded the largest Combat Air Group in the Middle East back In 2006 or seven somewhere in there uh What's up like 4 000 hours you know it's A pilot find the F-16 so he's the guy That rated the Air Force is very weak Based on pilot shortfalls lack of flying Hours age of equipment and so the people Who were charged with writing the Sections on Europe or the middle Middle East or Russia or the you know U.S space Force have got background in those areas Process question can the average Person who is listening to this read This report that's the whole focus of This saying is to write for Olay Audience and so if somebody is Interested enough to dive into the index Of U.S military strength I mean I'm Amazed at how many uh how much traffic We get to the website for it and people Who want hard copies of the publication Itself so if you've got enough interest It is written for you we we

Don't get involved in jargon we write in A storytelling you know narrative on This thing uh the the measures we use we Thought about how do people normally Think about the military so we're not Going to get into things like lines of Supply and logistical underpinnings You're going to talk about what's the Status of tanks and combat airplanes and Ships you know things that would Normally resonate and the average Citizens mind and then talk about Military power in those terms so I think It's very readable and and one of the More difficult tasks on this is to Present this information in a very Readable format is it fair to call the Heritage Foundation a conservative think Tank oh very much so so on a political Spectrum a socio-economic political Spectrum they Hue to conservative Principles uh there are many policy Organizations in the Washington DC area I mean we're just swimming in them right And so you'll have organizations that Approach either a single topic Health Care education uh how we treat our pets Whatever that might be or you have Larger organizations that cover down on A great many different issues and Heritage is one of the largest uh in the Country and so the approach is small Limited governments fiscal restraint We're not the world's policemen I mean

All these things that you would hear Politically conservative organization Talk about that's the driving principle But I think and another thing I think That that underlies The credibility of The report is we don't do any contract Work the government we don't take any Funding from foreign sources I mean this Is a member driven organization and and It's what makes it possible for us to do This sort of work I wrote something down that's not in the Report Because I want to get your view of it You were a lieutenant colonel hey when You retired from the Marine Corps 20 Years in the Marine Corps but people Outside and don't understand they here's Here's a view that you don't hear about Very often Lockheed Martin These are the top five contractors Billions and billions of dollars that Are spent with them to build the Equipment lucky Martin on their board of Directors is Joseph Dunford who used to Run the chief he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a former Marine Not an ex-marine as you would say very Well known and with a great reputation Behind him sure General Dynamics Jim Mattis former Secretary of Defense and Marine General Uh north of Grumman the number three uh

Gary roughhead Admiral roughett who was The CNO chief of Naval operations uh He's on their board at Boeing Admiral John Richardson who is the chief of Naval operations Raytheon Admiral James I'm not sure how you pronounce it Winfield oh yeah uh and then Robert work Who is both the Marine Corps officer General and was a deputy secretary of Defense point of bringing this up is That when people stand outside they see These big shots thoughts in the service Just migrate over to these big Corporations get four hundred thousand Dollars a year to be on the board what How do we trust all this yeah well do we Believe in the Integrity of the Individual so when they were in active Service they're responsible for the Lives of the men and women placed in Their charge you know they are Responsible for the use of actual Military power I mean Waging War so for Some reason we trusted them to do that We extol the virtues of integrity and Honesty and truth and all these sorts of Things that are inculcated into America's youth when they get out of High school or college and join the Military so apparently we trusted them Well enough to do those things and yet Somehow we believe that when they leave Service and continue to participate in National Defense matters now they've

Become money grubbing profit seeking you Know evil and military industrial Complex sorts of minions right and so I Don't know how you actually Square those Points of view if you don't become bad You know overnight you know in this sort Of way and so I think the the defense Sector is an easy target to shoot at you Know coming from a marine right because We spend a lot of money on ships and Planes and those sorts of things and and Because all of those are public records You know what is the American government Spend on defense you know all the budget Documents all the procurement requests Uh the various figures that you just Brought out in terms of individuals all That stuff is public record and and I Don't know that we have that kind of Visibility in any other sector of the U.S economy right so it's easy to take Shots because you know what you're Shooting at if you had to go to war and If you look at U.S history from the time Of the Revolutionary War 1770s until now we're in a war about Every 20 years it's just part of our Historical timeline to so to think that We'll never be at War again is kind of a Fantastical notion so if you find Yourself at War and you don't have the Appropriate airplane or tank now there's Lots of you know who's to blame for that Right where's the finger pointing why

Couldn't we defend ourselves and yet if You have a company that makes a tank or An airplane You know that you would have on hand and Be able to train with somehow or other Than the bad guys because they make Military gear so again there's a a Contradiction in there you either want Useful military power which is only Possible that by having men and women Who are willing to serve the country and Having tools that are up to the task of Prevailing in today's conflicts I mean You know look at what's happening in Ukraine right or what China is putting Into the field or odious regimes like Those in Iran and North Korea already Have starving populations and yet they Have nuclear weapons So there are value systems out there uh That conflict with ours and you want to Have the ability to deal with that world Somebody has to make that gear so now When we look at the retired Community if If you've just retired with 30 or 40 Years of experience dealing with Military things do we expect that that Person is going to turn to farming and Grow you know corn in Nebraska or Something like that I mean you want to Take that insight and that experience And get more value out of that right so If you were a great football player at The high school college and now

Professional leagues and then they leave Active football playing because of Injury or whatever and now they're Signed on as a coach isn't that a Revolving door as well aren't they Making big bucks by being you know the Assistant coach for your offensive team Or something so I don't I think unless Unless we can show that the Integrity Has been compromised or they're Dishonest people or they're working to Harm their country I don't see a problem With it I'm not sure these numbers are Accurate but I looked it up today uh if You are an E1 or a private in the army Or Marine Corps for that matter that you Can make as much as forty two thousand Dollars a year when you talk about Housing and sus and you're sure you know Your underwriting um uh substance Sustenance uh 436 dollars a month uh benefit the Reason I bring this up is because you Point out in your report first and Foremost that only about 22 23 percent Of the American people are eligible yeah To go into the service Uh and I and then that all of the Services are having trouble I'm not sure About the Marine Corps having trouble Recruiting can't fill their recruiting Requirements this there's a something's Not mixing up here why do you think that Is the case since uh the 80s and the

American population has grown from 220 Million to 330 million plus so a huge Upward curve right uh and I'm a marine So I don't do math that well but I think That's a 50 increase uh the military on The other hand in that same period of Time uh back in the 80s the Army was Almost 800 000 soldiers acted Duty I Think the 770 000. today the U.S army is 470 000. they've lost three hundred Thousand or more active duty soldiers so On those two diverging lines more and More people smaller and smaller military There are fewer touch points I mean Fewer references fewer people that the Average high school student would have Any connection to whatsoever with any Kind of military service so how do we Even know about the military well we've Got new news reports and social media And movies and how that is often Portrayed is if you join the military You Come Away with PTSD you know some Kind of post-traumatic stress disorder It's filled with racists with uh you Know sexual harassers I mean it's just Kind of this broken body that's what Social media and what the news media Will often portray right which is Completely inaccurate we've got great Men and women who are joining the Military they learn teamwork they learn Values they learn discipline and Restraint they leave the military

Service and they're just better citizens You know they've more stuff has been Entrusted to them not only at home but Abroad you know carrying firearms for Example you know not shooting up the Local population I mean we just have Wonderful wonderful people but that Message doesn't come across at the same Time in our culture our American society 77 percent of American Youth between 17 Years old and 24 years old are Ineligible because of obesity health Problems mental health issues criminal Records and substance abuse so even if They wanted to join they're ineligible Without a waiver that's more of a Societal problem than it is a military Issue however How do you explain the Navy officers who Have been jailed and convicted of taking Money from a guy named fat Leonard right I think he's a Malaysian originally who Himself is going to spend time in prison Huge Scandal but I mean in my lifetime I've never seen this much Scandal where He had Services he provided the Navy Ships over in the Pacific and that he Was making all these deals with these Guys yes or officers not not unless Right no send senior officers you know They would tell him when a ship was Going to visit a port right which is Classified information the schedules Deployed ships he then would be able to

Maneuver to provide services for this Incoming ship because you know how many People how long it was going to be and All that stuff in turn these officers Would get goodies you know trips and Access to prostitutes and the whole bed I mean it was a huge Scandal and I think What this actually reveals is something That we all know anyway where people Poor flawed human beings right so you Have most people who are great you have Some people in the clergy in sports Teams in business and law enforcement Right that run afoul you know the Corrupt cop and so a news reporter come Out they'll talk about some police Officer who's in bed with the mob or Whatever that is you know turning a Blind eye into something going on and it Colors The public's perception of the Entire police department but the reality Is 99. some odd percents you know of the Police in that department are just great People you know serving the community so We do have scandals if you remember tail Hook back in the 80s with the naval Aviators we've got this fat Leonard Thing involving some ship a procurement Personnel that are involved all the Services will have some kind of a Scandal to blow up and again we have a Better ability to see what's going on Right we have greater investigative Techniques modern technology makes it

Easier to share that information instead Of trying to hide it and so we see a Service that is working very hard to Understand the depth and the bread to The nature of this fat Leonard case and That can be a representative of any Other case that went on in any of those Services and do something about it where Perhaps in an earlier era it would have Been swept under the rug and nobody Would ever know how difficult has it Been for the service to recruit officers During this period I think it mirrors The difficulty in recruiting enlisted Personnel right so officers typically Going to be college graduates we have Seen declines in the number of Applicants to the service academies the Armies at West Point the Navy's at Annapolis and Air Forces of Colorado Springs so there's just a decreasing Interest among the American public at Large to come in the Air Force is short 650 Pilots they have such a difficult Time in recruiting Young American College graduate who want to fly that They have a near 100 percent graduation Rate in their flight school it's like 94 Graduation of those that don't uh make It through pipeline the pilot training Pipeline for a lack of just ability to Learn how to fly less than one half of One percent so the others are they they Owe out because of some illegal issue or

A personal issue or something like that So it's almost like if you've got a Pulse you know and you can fog a mirror You're going to become a pilot in the Air Force which is a huge indictment but It tells you that the challenge the Services have to get people to join the Military round numbers Army as you said 470 000 on active duty uh Navy 346 000 Air Force 329 000. Marine Corps 180 900 Why is the Marine Corps well it's less Than that it's in the 170s yeah I did See that this morning but why is that Not why is the Marine Corps smaller it Always has been small always has been it Just has a different Mission so if you Think about it here which the true is is A naval service Though it does superbly on sustained Operations ashore I mean World War II Korea Vietnam Desert Storm Iraqi freedom I mean it's one of the problems that Marine Corps has had over the last 20 Years has grown to become a second land Army you know very heavily armored very Logistically dependent and so that was a Criticism hence the current commandant Suffered to get it back to Sea so if Your shipboard infantry if you're a Force that lands from amphibious craft To ashore it was never meant to be a Second Army it's always been smaller and Rightfully speaking the Marine Corps say They're basically a one war Force I mean

If you had to go to a big war the Marine Corps is going to invest in that and They won't have much left you know for Other things the though the Army is a Land Army it is just a bigger has Greater capabilities in scope and scale It's meant to get to a place displace an Enemy Force fighting tooth and nail not To be displaced and then hold that Ground the Marine Corps has a different Job and so it's just going to be a Smaller capability I did notice that it Was a one war Service as you said but in World War II yeah they were in the Pacific Marines obviously in the and uh In Europe America from its founding has Always been suspicious of maintaining Very large standing forces right I mean They were very angry with the King of England quartering his soldiers you know They're in and the homes of of colonists So we've just been kind of skeptical of That it was it was in the aftermath of World War II where you had this Monolithic Soviet Union and the Expansion of Communism in various forms And and autocratic you know forms of Government that really Force Western Nations in particular to maintain large Forces because they had to be ready and In the world of nuclear capabilities it Was all that much more important so We've got these big standing militaries And when you go to war like a World War

II Where an entire nation is harnessed for Battle like the Japanese empire or Germany or Russia in the early stages When it was aligned with Nazi Germany Um that's just that's masked people it's Masked industrialized military forces And you have to have something large Enough to combat that so with the Pacific War inherently Maritime in its Nature it was going to be a Navy Marine Corps fight primarily whereas the the Army Iroquois back in those days and the US Army handed a handled the extended Land Combat on the European continent Right not to disavow or you know MacArthur and army forces in the Southern Pacific but that large a force Was needed because of the scale of Operations and the fact that you had the Entire Japanese Nation Mobilized for war and you just needed More stuff and so what we find is Americans always rise to the challenge Right whether it's a hurricane or a Tornado Neighbors come out to help clean Up the mess and help their Neighbors When the nation's been attacked people Will want to join up and defend our Country the problem with today's Environment is It Warfare is now so complicated that it Takes a lot of time to train and to get Good at the things that you're being

Asked to do so you can't just have a Citizen Army that stands up in six Months and expect them to be competent And very complicated Modern Warfare Hence the need for standing military Forces that then would be augmented by Call-ups in in a time of major conflict I mean this is the value of the National Guard right that support their fellow Citizens and their home States and then When we have to go someplace right that They augment the Army and the Air Force Primarily there is some naval Reserve And the Marine Corps as a reserve Component but no guard component so There are mechanisms for everybody to Throw in but you have to have a standing Capability that is competent in flying Planes and employing artillery and all These other sorts of things that you can Use on fairly short notice until you can Get the rest of the country up and Running Let me bring up something that even I Can understand uh and today's Wall Street Journal front page There's an article that talks about The two 747s that are due to replace the President's plan And some of the background on this is That I can remember president Trump Saying he was going to keep the figure Under 5 million and he got it down to Three point a billion you got it down

For these two planes to 3.9 billion which of course Boeing is Now losing probably a billion dollars on This whole process saying they want more Money but the big thing in this is they Can't deliver it on time in 2024. they Say in the article they'll be lucky to Deliver these two planes by 2028. Why is Boeing having so much trouble Just building two planes for the President United States well I think Like any uh government procurement Program everybody is buys into we Charitably call it a fiction I'll call It a lie at the very beginning so Somebody wants something whether it's a Highway built in their District or a Battleship I mean modern equivalent to a Ship being built in a district or what Have you everybody wants those High-paying jobs we want to actually Contribute this capability I mean it's Actually needed in most cases and if You're a company that does that you want That work so the the Contracting Organization whether it's the Air Force Getting these Air Force One aircraft or You're buying a fleet of Tanks or Whatever you're going to say I'm trying To anticipate not what the needs are Today but what they might be 20 or 25 or 30 years from now and look at how Technology changes over time so they Want that the company wants to make

Tickets so they're going to say I can Make what you want we can do it on your Timeline and we understand the budget Game so we'll come in at that budget Figure the member of Congress who wants To approve that also wants those jobs And wants that talking point and so Everybody buys into something that is Wholly unrealistic when you actually Start bending metal you find out the Technologies to be achieved or harder And take longer that the schedule is Going to slip because you can't deliver Something overnight that has magical Capabilities right and because the Budget and things like inflation the Domestic spending priorities and Government subsidized health care or Whatever you want to talk about right The money is always volatile because They vote on it every year right Continuing resolutions you have to then Spend money in a very hurried manner Which is always ineffective and Inefficient and stuff so what what Routinely happens is it runs over cost Because the original figure wasn't Realistic it's going to take longer than What all the Technologies promised would Be the case and because of the time and Expense and our priorities have changed Over administrations you're going to get Fewer of these things so you get a Smaller delivered capability that's less

Capable than what you would hope for and It's going to cost you more than what You originally planned where if you were Honest at the very beginning the price Tag is probably going to be higher than What might be promised originally but It's more realistic and you would Actually get what you're wanting you Know in a plausible period of time so Today's Air Force One aircraft have to Do with cyber threats uh anti-aircraft Missile threats you want redundant Communications capabilities I mean if You actually had to use those there's an Air Force One platform in a time of Emergency and it didn't have some Capability again then we would be saying How could this have happened how can we Have taken the leader of our nation and Put them in aircraft where they can't Conduct businesses we would need them to Do so these are just very complicated Things that everybody involved by eyes Into a fiction at the very beginning the Reality then is once again rediscovered 10 or 15 years later and a great price And less technical capability than what You've been promised as long as we're Talking about things that haven't worked Out on schedule let me bring up the Gerald R Ford carrier which is four Years late being online it's in its First ever deployment at the moment We're speaking a 13 billion dollar

Machine if that's the accurate price and Of course as Outsiders looking in we Never know what the accurate price is But why do we need 11 aircraft carriers In the world where the only country as You know that comes even close to that I Think the most that anybody else has is Two maybe three at China and but why do We need 11 aircraft carriers and then Why if we're planning on these every Four or five years are we behind four Years in the process and that it's on The manufacturer not on the military That this is uh happening yeah so uh on The manufacturing side if you have steam Catapults so you know as nuclear Reactors that produce a lot of energy Part of that goes to a steam generating Capability where this expanding steam Like you know we've seen in other things You know it's kind of a glorified Hydraulics system operates these Catapults so you go to see top gun and You know airplane launches down you see All the steam coming up there those have To be reset there's a lot of Machinery Involved in that it takes time to Recycle the gear there's Auto mechanical Linkages in there so it's just a Maintenance Nightmare and you can only Generate so many flights off that flight Deck in a given period of time what we Did we the country is went from that Steam catapult to electromagnetic so

Maglev trains you've seen hurtling down The tracks in Japan by using this Magical property of magnetism they can Use that in these catapults you can dial In the weight of the aircraft you can Get more effective launch Cycles you can Reset it and it saves a lot of Engineering space under the deck that You can use for other stuff aboard the Ship so it's just a much more effective Efficient never been done before and so You got to work out those Kinks the Weapons elevators were another one those Are also magnetically run electrical Systems instead of mechanical linkages And chain changing cables and those Sorts of things so to bring a munition From deep down in the ship where the Magazines are at up to the top these new Elevators Kinks had to be worked out They would have done all this stuff in a Test bed on land going back to budget Nobody wanted to pay for that extra step And so we skipped past that as a defense Department so they didn't do all of the Testing on land because it would upped The initial price but if they had done That then you would have figured all These things out before you actually put Them on a new ship so the manufacturer Because of budget drivers tried four or Five brand new things on a finished Platform and now we discover that it Didn't go as smoothly as everybody had

Hoped so again it's this you can pay me Now or pay me later the pay me now is Slightly more in the sticker price but You're going to get assured performance Later on if you don't want to pay for That Assurance up front you're going to Pay more of it much later later on now Why do we need so many if everybody came To the United States to fight a war we Could have all of our stuff based right Here at home and you'd only have to Reach out two or three hundred miles but If China and now has a fleet of 360 Ships that has grown from 220 just in The last 10 or 15 years latest Generation aircraft massive missile Inventories all of that stuff operates Within just a few hundred miles of the Chinese Coastline if we have economic Interests and treaty obligations and we Have to deploy a force into that region You're operating 7 000 miles from home So now as a strategist or a planner You'll get what countries could you Operate from in that region who has an Air base to generate air power so if Those air bases are in Guam or Hawaii or In Australia and there are also Thousands of miles away they're they're Basically irrelevant let me ask you this So Um there have been a lot of stories Lately about hypersonics in that we're Behind in that game first I mean China

Is ahead of us and Russia's ahead of us And then highmars which is being used as You all know in Ukraine weapons that We're providing Define what hypersonics Is and what highmars is and why wouldn't Those capabilities Be able to take out an aircraft carrier Just like that well uh an aircraft Carrier like any platform either a tank Or what have you isn't operating uh Undefended right so as anti-armor Anti-tank weapons have improved uh the Tank system itself improves to have Close in defense uh weapon system so the Israelis have developed a wonderful System senses and incoming anti-tank Round and then it shoots out its own Projectiles to various types to defeat That round before it gets to the ship so If you have an anti-ship cruise missile The carrier is not undefended it has its Own defenses plus it has a screen of Other ships so there are lots of sensors To detect incoming things and shoot them Down or to interdict them somewhere in Flight before they get to the ship Itself for a Hypersonic cell well Hypersonics now or another game because They move so fast and that speed is Their Chief Advantage if you're moving At an hypersonic I think is like Mach 8 Or above so 8 9 10 12 times the speed of Sound really hard to calculate and Intercept with an anti-missile missile

Of some type and blow that thing up Before it gets to the Target but they Have to use extraordinarily exotic Materials to make those the engines are Just a marvelous work of engineering so They're very very expensive so Regardless of the country how much of Your budget can you dedicate to a Hypersonic missile so how many of those Things can you actually buy they're Going to be few in number and you're Going to be very careful about how you Choose to use them they still have to Fly and if you're moving very very fast Any kind of maneuvering is very hard Because the body is moving so quickly Right so when you have an aileron or a Rudder or something like that that would Move this thing or even jets that might Move it it takes a long time to move This sing so you might use a Hypersonic Or hyper velocity sort of munition and Try to hit an aircraft carrier but that Ship is actually moving in the water not As fast as the weapon is but if the Weapon takes hundreds of miles to make a Course correction right you can kind of Get where it's going to go in that final Moment and then affect evasion of some Type so it's a very competitive space Same thing applies to anti-aircraft Weapons versus the aircraft it can you Reduce the signature of the airplane can It be more maneuverable can it use its

Own kind of chaff and flares and things That distract an incoming missile so It's a very competitive space the more Advanced weapon you get the more Expensive it is because it's more Expensive you can buy fewer of them so You have to be very discriminating these High Mars systems is a rocket system That comes in a box launcher put on the Back of a vehicle because it's boxed it Depends on what you're trying to do as To what kind of Rocket you put inside That box but they're very discriminating They can Target things hundreds of miles Away but again very very expensive so It's the target you're going to shoot at Worth a hundred or a hundred and fifty Thousand dollar missile or rockets for Each shot So you're not going to use these things Against a single tank you're going to Try to find an Ammunition Depot or a Headquarters element or something like That if you can find it you can probably Hit it but the enemy is always also Going to be bringing defenses to bear so You're usually going to fire these in Salvos and every time you pull that Trigger it's another hundred and fifty Thousand dollars that you've just Expended so it goes back then to size of Defense budgets a little bit on you Dakota where'd the name come from my Father grew up in St Louis Missouri in

The 1930s and 40s a very few number of Radio stations back then so the story I Understand is a very popular singer back Then by the name of Dakota Stanton it Was just popular with the kids you know 1940s kind of a blues Jazz sort of thing And he just loved the name you know I May enjoy the music but it was this name Dakota just stuck with him and uh so he Just thought you know if I ever have a Child and came along I'm going to tag Him with that name so you were in the Service 19 85 to 2005 where did you go To get your officer stripe U.S Naval Academy so I graduated from a little bit Of high school Sequoia High School in Northeastern Oklahoma graduating classes 63 people so a little Oklahoma kid going Off to Annapolis U.S Naval Academy four Years there I then commissioned into the Marine Corps and so started my Marine Corps journey in the summer of 1985. I Did that for 20 years we got to that 20-year mark my wife and I said hey Let's try a different Adventure so ended Up retiring and I've stayed in the Defense analytic world since then I Don't know if this is accurate but I was Watching your heritage uh day when you Made the announcement on this particular Report and somebody in the audience Stood up and said he knew that 17 of the 535 members of Congress in the senate in The house did not send anybody to the

Academies uh and I wondered if you Followed up to see if that was accurate And if it is why would somebody not fill Those spots which are very generous to Somebody that's getting a education paid Yeah so for the listeners each member of Congress can have five people five People that they dominated in the Academy any one time so when one of Those spots opens up you know the person Graduates or drops out or whatever they Can nominate up to 10 people for that Spot and then the Naval Academy has an Admissions board they look at those 10 People and then they select the person Based on whatever the criteria that They're using so if the Congress Person's office doesn't receive any Applications well they've got no name Then to forward so we were talking about The difficulty of recruiting the number Of applications down something like 25 Percent I believe for the U.S Air Force Academy 20 I believe for the Naval Academy so we just have a lack of Interest fewer than one in ten in American Youth in that cohort 17 to 24 Fewer than 1 and 10 have expressed any Interest or propensity to serve at all In the U.S military so you just have Fewer people That even know about the military see it As a worthwhile career path for them to Follow or perhaps it's how the military

Is being painted You know in terms of its kind of Cultural Standing right if you're not proud of Your country well why would you want to Serve in an organization whose sole Purpose is to protect the country you Know so there are a lot of connections Here in our cultural social political uh Environment we're dealing with today a Lot of the fractiousness the divisive Politics Vitriolic you know phrasing and rhetoric It's just a lot of problems I think what We're dealing with internal to the Country and that ripples out then as to Whether somebody wants to join the Police department or wants to join the Marine Corps or you know serve their Country in in some way so I think They're all connected but the solution Is going to be a much more civics-minded Discussion And the nobility of serving in any in Any capacity capacity that will actually Get to the military issue a day doesn't Go by when a major newspaper has a Story that the coming war with China the Coming war with China and I looked at Some of your report which said the U.S Army is the smallest since 1940. the Air Force is the smallest since its Inception the Navy is nowhere near its Goal uh it has what 280 ships or

Whatever and its goal is you say it Should be 400 ships and we don't even Have enough shipbuilding capacity uh to Uh to build those ships right and is This I mean how much of this is why you Called our military posture week well That military section in the index we Have almost 700 footnotes so every fact Figure age statistically cite is linked To a publicly accessible Source we don't Use any classified materials so on the Ship count uh 292 ships I think I looked At the number today the Navy says They'll drop down to 280 in the next Five years before they start an upward Trend so whatever let's say 292 we'll Round that to 300. during the Cold War With almost 600 ships 580 think they Kept about a hundred at Sea every day Today a Navy half that size still keeps A hundred at Sea so you're working your Ships twice as much and the crews twice As long of those hundred maybe 60 are in The indo-pacific China has a Navy of 360. so you're operating a six to one Disadvantage those are not good odds in War in the Air Force the average age of A fighter airplane is 32 years old They're already short 650 pilots in the Cold War the average Air Force pilot Will get well in excess of 200 hours a Year in flight time today the average Pilot is fewer than 120. Air Force Pilots are flying in on average uh less

Are about about once a week is what it Comes down to 1.3 shorties or so a week The Army assesses their their brigades Or their army is very strong in terms of Readiness but they have also said this Is the Army speaking that they're Focusing their training at the company Level So you would have to aggregate companies Into battalions battalions into brigades And assume that your company level Focus Translates into Brigade let me stop you There just to ask how big is a brigade It's about five thousand it varied Depending on type but about 5 000 Soldiers in a brigade how big is a Battalion Battalion about in the Army About 600 people 600 700 people how big Is a squad uh well it's going to be Let's say a dozen you know in a squad so You know fire team squads platoons Platoons make companies companies make Battalions so if you're focusing way Down low and you're getting individual Soldiers to the rifle range and training Them in battle drills that's good I'm Not dismissing that but if you're Working at a battalion a brigade level That staff you know the commander is Having to coordinate the action uh the Employment the resupply all the things That come with a lot of things so we Could think about it in terms of a Sports team uh football basketball or

Whatever you'll have uh coaches that Will focus on offense or defense or Special teams something like that but if You don't get the whole team together to Operate as a team and run through the Plays then you can't expect that your Forwards and guards and basketball right Or your Outfield and infield right or Your pitching team is going to all come Together magically game time and workers Are supposed to work so the Army Assesses itself is strong but we think That their training focus is too low so It's another indicator of why we'd say We got some problems in in major Conflict the Army historically Regardless of decade or opponent has Employed about 21 Brigade equivalents of Combat power so if you want to be able To do more than one thing on the planet You could double that right to 42 we Think you need some buffer and so our Metric for the Army is 50 brigades the Army currently has 31. So you know they've got enough for a Major Korea-sized thing to start with but then You start taking casualties you need to Rotate units and do something else in Some other part of the world it's just Too small we already talk about the Smallness of the Navy they just don't Have enough ships to go out there and Get enough relief and Crews and ships to

Actually perform maintenance so you have Backlog maintenance which makes broken Ships even more broke takes longer and More money to get them fixed to get out Into the fight on the Air Force again And during the Cold War they used to Have 29 squadrons in Europe alone today The entire active component of the Air Force is only 32 squadrons So you just can't Square these numbers With the size of the planet the fact That the U.S operates five to eight Thousand miles from home in somebody Else's neighborhood has limited access To basing the Army only has two Permanently stationed brigades in Europe The Air Force is withdrawing two Squadrons of F-15 fighters from Okinawa Japan so you think that China's a Looming threat and we're reducing the Number of permanently stationed U.S Air Force capabilities you know at that very Moment so all the trends are in the Negative Direction uh I mentioned that Air Force Fighters are 32 years old on Average their tanker Fleet is in the 60s Our ballistic missiles in silos were First procured the Minutemen 3 missiles In 1972 they were only supposed to be in The ground for 10 years and we've had Them for 50. so it's just the American Public is not aware of the Aging of the Military how it is shrinking over time Because we go off to do something like

An Iraq or Afghanistan or something you Know Bosnia operations in Syria I mean Things that you can think over the last 20 or 30 years you're consuming the Military that was built for the Cold War And you're not replacing it at the same Pace as it's aging and being used up Provision to Ukraine militarily speaking Very very important if they're reducing The Russian military we get a Strategic Benefit from that in some ways I mean You could think about it in that thing But if we have given them 800 000 Artillery rounds from existing inventory That needs to be replaced the Marine Corps keeps on hand about 70 000 rounds On Any Given year for training and Deployments and contingencies the Marine Corps have been told is down to fourteen Thousand rounds so where does that where Do you make up 65 five thousand rounds So should we conclude that if there is a War with China or Russia that we are in Bad shape we're in bad shape I think we Would have an initial pulse of Capability uh it wouldn't be so bad if Our if our allies were strong but They're not West Germany and the Cold War had 5 000 tanks today they have Fewer than 300. the British royal Navy Has fewer than 20 surface combatants the Japan hasn't thought about what they Call out of area operations you know Military operations uh since the end of

World War II so we don't have capable Allies even if they're buying new stuff It's very small in quantity they don't Have any operational experience at all So they would have to figure it out We're operating thousands of miles from Home with the military that's half the Size it should be and it's using very Old equipment and our people can't fly And drive and shoot to the levels they Need to be to be actually competent in Those first battles so I think we're Entering a danger zone and it's going to Get worse before it gets better so in my Lifetime the Vietnam War turned out to Be extraordinary Extraordinarily controversial yes I watched the government lie to me During that process about whether we Were winning or not winning it's been Fully documented Then you have Afghanistan where we spent A trillion dollars right 20 years and I Don't know who you blame but we also Weren't informed about the waste that Was going on there to the extent that it Was why should anybody outside of this Whole thing think forgetting the truth Anywhere yeah I would be skeptical I Mean I've grown up in this world right Seeing a lot of these Shenanigans happen So what I would say is that the decision To use military power is always a Political decision I mean the Pentagon

Doesn't just decide on its own and we Wouldn't want it to to go invade some Country right or to take somebody on so It's a political decision those Decisions are made by elected officials President supported by congress with Funding I mean this is the will will of The people you know in a very kind of Macro sense so it the decision to employ Power is political how Wars end are Always difficult and controversial Stretching back Millennia how do you end A War World War II was a very weird Thing and that it was absolute surrender Right this our U.S Civil War was also You know total surrender right but but In terms of historical precedent very Very odd you know normally things kind Of Peter out lots of loss and it's very Unsatisfying so in the conduct of the War from its start to its unsatisfying It you know end uh all these politics And different administrations and the Will of the people Ebbs and flows I mean World War II he had what five or six or Seven war bonds drives that got Increasingly difficult as you got into 1944 1945 so even at that scale you know Public willingness to the sport was Starting to waver so all I we can say in Our index is we have a military so that When we are attacked or an ally is Attacked or we have a core critical Interest that is severely challenged

Energy flows access to markets and Expansionists Iran or China or whoever It might be you can't invent that Military Terry overnight Right so it takes years to develop these Things to get Pilots trained to Brigade Sufficient to build ships you have to be Thinking 10 15 20 years down the road Actually using that should be expressed You know as a will of the people through Their elected representatives but when You do decide to use that because you Have to or there's a national imperative To do or whatever reason it's either Their ready modern and capable or it's Not and if it's not then you have Reduced your options you've allowed or Encouraged aggressors to take advantage Of that right part of deterrence is your Competitor's belief that you not only Have the ability to stymie their Objectives but also actually do Something about that so if you're Perceived as weak no trading partners no Friends an empowered incentivized you Know field of competitors and America Loses all the way around As you know there's a contract I think For something like 2500 f-35s The Marine Corps has an F-35 it's Different than the others but it's all Joint Strike Fighters what is your Opinion of the F-35 It's had a lot of delays

It's not they're not making as many as They were supposed to make at this point And they call this the most I don't know Most valuable weapon system that we've Ever had it's actually a fantastic Aircraft again I'll turn to my colleague JV Venable who's you know career pilot And he's talked to uh pilots who flew The older aircraft they also fly the new F-35 we looked at the assistant Development it's sensors Suite there's Just nothing on the planet can touch it With perhaps the exception of the F-22 Raptor whose purchase was also truncated Right 100 750 I think planned and we Settled in like 174 or something the Cold War was over so this is the 1990s Why do we need a very expensive you know Capable aircraft designed to penetrate Enemy air defenses when there is no Enemy air defense to penetrate the Soviet Union was gone away China was not Yet what it is today so there was no Threat and so in this extended period of Peace in the 1990s we were more afraid Of Japan buying Hawaii and how to make Money in Silicon Valley than some kind Of external threat so to save money and To reduce the defense budget which People would love to see less government Spending that very expensive program was Ended all the tooling equipment was done Away with you cannot make a new F-22 and Yet now we see the rise to China we see

Modern integrated air defense systems we See a Russia that will not be satisfied To see its military destroyed it's going To come back with a vengeance and want To pay back right to see what's happened To it even though it initiated the war In Ukraine it's just the way people and Countries operate so when we look at the F-35 again there was a fiction that Everybody bought into and the program Was envisioned and that instead of Buying different airplanes for different Services why have three programs for the Air Force the Navy and the Marine Corps When you can get it all done with one so The lie in that is flying airplanes off The ten thousand foot runway for the Air Force flying it off at 800 foot run way You know catapult shots off of the Carrier deck and flying it short takeoff And vertical Landing for the Marine Corps that one airplane can do all those Things so you find that you had to so Modify the original design that they Turn out to be basically three different Airplanes anyway but all the delays to Get that figured out the expenses to Modify things to have different engines You know in them especially on the Marine Corps stoval version you end up Paying more because you weren't honest Up front but as they have worked out Those bugs it is a fantastic airplane to The numbers being procured it's one of

The things we write up in the report we Don't understand the Air Force's Acquisition program they've spent 70 Percent more on research and development To get a sixth generation airplane Sometime in the late 2030s than they're Willing to spend on current production Aircrafts or already short airplanes and They have very old airplanes only buying 33 e f 33s if I remember my numbers Right this year when the when the the Company could give them a hundred so you Know anytime you buy in bulk right you Get more things for less less price per Item and yet the Air Force decided to Buy fewer To spend money on a fourth generation Plus airplane the F-15 ex which is a Better version of the F-15 but it's not Stealthy and it will not survive in a Modern anti-air threat environment if You had to go to war in Europe or in the Indo-pacific and they're taking more Money to design an airplane for the 2030s than they are spending on current Production airplanes so some of these Decisions by the services mystify us and We report that in our index what do you Think of the management of the military By the United States Congress uh 535 Board members so if you're looking for Efficiency in the Department of Defense To buy anything or to do anything can You imagine a company with over 500

Board members how many different states Build things for the F-35 well on that I Think it's like 35 or something like That because you've got different Suppliers still have uh here's a Vulnerability which also gets into these Big five companies that you talked about In the top tier Soviet Union goes away In the 90s we're slashing the size of The military so you don't need as much Stuff right you've got a whole inventory Of Tanks why would I need to buy another Tank so anybody who is in the tank Building business goes out of business With the exception of uh General Dynamics right the Lockheed Martin makes Cf-35 they have one final assembly plant For the F-35 in the United States There's one in Europe and one in Japan But Fort Worth Texas is it so you talk About a strategic vulnerability so if You're make tires or you make wiring Harnesses or light bulbs or anything the F-35 if the company isn't building f-35s And selling it to the air force or the Navy how does the second third and Fourth tier manufacturer actually stay In business right but look at where we Are you're looking at China and Russia Yeah and the United States when it comes To a future War China doesn't have to Ask anybody in congress can we spend Right anything on anything neither does Russia are we

In a difficult position because of that And unable to fulfill what you think we Need because of so many hands in the pie Yeah I think I think it's a necessary Evil problem in our system so we Absolutely want accountability to the Taxpayer for how those funds are being Spent we do not want some good old boy Network right where whoever the top tier Leadership is in the defense company has A buddy who makes tires or something and So they're going to give all their Business you know Port all these defense Dollars to a select few preferred Clients right so you want Um you want competitiveness in the Marketplace you can't have Competitiveness if there isn't more than One manufacturer but if you're not Building and buying products it's hard To have more than one manufacturer right So that consolidation of the industry in The 1990s mean that there are only a Very few number of companies that can Make an advanced airplane or ship or Missile or radar system I mean that's Just a fact of the matter and so when a Con when a contract is offered and the Army says I want a thing there aren't That many companies who have the Requisite expertise and production Capability that can even bid on that Thing so that's a problem of our own Making Congress then we'll get involved

And say but that's not fair I mean I've Got a company in my district that they Were just given a little bit of seed Capital could come up to speed and also Bid on that thing well our taxpayer Monies supposed to be meant is seed Capital you know to to bring new Companies how do you pick and choose Winners and losers isn't that favoritism Remember solyndra and some of these Other things where the government Decided to put taxpayer monies into a Particular industry or company and it Just doesn't work out that well so the Consolidation of the industry in the 90s Meant there were very few players those Few players are going to hire up all the Talent and engineers and have the Manufacturing lecturing capabilities can I build a tank physically speaking so When you need a new tank or an airplane There are very few people who can Actually bid on that in a credible way So Congress will get upset about that And then they try to meddle or exercise Oversight or try to get more people Involved that's going to increase the Program cost increase its complexity and You're going to slow things down because Now Congress will want reports they're Going to want to challenge the awarding Of a particular contract and so hence Another delay right in in buying Something more money that's spent to try

To get more people involved but those Monies spent to get more competitors Into space don't actually produce an end Item but they add to the overall program Cost so these are these nuances these Realities and complexities that just are Not conveyed to the public to explain Why things take longer and a more comp Applicated so this necessary oversight That you don't have in China or Russia Well we don't want some authoritarian State here in the United States right Where you have some autocrat that's just Spending money that they extract from The public you know as they won but we Want to introduce supervision you know Reporting it's going to cause delays why Did it take so long to have an audit of The Pentagon that really was Controversial once they did it and we Didn't get much out of it so an audit of A commercial Enterprise Gets complicated when there are mergers And Acquisitions and an asset that was Procured under one company label is now Transferred to another company I mean How do you account for that particular Dollar being invested or the return on That dollar now expand that to the Department of Defense it's been in Business for since it was established as Its current form in the late 1940s how Many administrations how many congresses How many sec secretaries of defense and

Service secretaries of the Navy Air Force and army right so this color of Money you know a dollar that was Allocated in 1981 to buy a building at a Fort in Kansas well 20 years later the Fort is closed that building ownership Has changed hands through seven or eight Different government organizations so How do I track that dollar right I mean On Whose Ledger does that dollar exist When something was destroyed in combat I Write that off as a combat loss or maybe The dollar associated with that didn't Percolate through the seven or eight Reporting chains so when we do see news Reports about The Pentagon unable to Account for a trillion dollars worth of Whatever A lot of times that's that one Dollar being accounted for in profit and Loss right adding to inventory are taken Out seven or eight or nine times so it's Kind of a misreporting and then you Would have an accounting firm coming in And trying to understand 50 or 60 or 70 Years worth of transactions under Different corporate leadership right Different types of money uh sometimes We'll have an issue like during Sequestration the budget Control Act of 2001 where the normal defense budget is Limited and then Congress will say we Understand you need more money not Subject to limitations and so here is a Supplementary fund

So additional funding that was Designated for a certain use how do I Account for those dollars right so the The books inside the Pentagon at the Department level civilian departments And then the military services have gone Through so many changes over so many Years that it's not on impossible to get A clear audit statement Right on the complexity of that Enterprise does that mean we shouldn't Try no I'm not saying that but but Understanding the complexity and how the Defense department has to operate Against a set of rules that are often Not its own making and those rules Change with every Congress and how many Congresses have we had I mean it the House turns over every two years right Well let's go back to what we talked About earlier you have staff in Congress That work on the uh the uh the military Committees that leave there and go Downtown to work for these big Corporations that build all this stuff You have members of Congress to do the Same thing they become lobbyists for the Boeings and all that uh and then we Talked earlier about the military once They retire going out and working for These companies uh either in a lobbyist Position or uh working for they've Worked on a particular item a weapon and Then they go out into the corporation

And continue working for it twice the Amount of money that used to get paid And you go back to and I you've heard This so many times General Eisenhower Said Beware the military industrial Complex and you're say you're you know 20 years in the Marine Corps you're Sitting here saying we're in bad shape China and Russia are are stronger shape Than we are as we sit here so what's the Answer to all this do you have an answer An interested public you know and not Just interested but all educated and Informed so I think there is a lot of Well-placed righteous anger that you Know I spend however much I do on my Taxes the government you know takes it And they're going to tell me that we've Got an 800 billion dollar defense budget And yet we're weak how could this Possibly be well there is a 30 or 40 Year story that leads to that right the 20 years of operations a lot of that Money was spent on fuel ammunition and Replacing blown up gear very little was Spent on actual bringing new equipment In to replace the stuff that was being Aged out replacing those Munitions you Know once you've burned up a gallon of Gas that gallon of gas is gone you can't Say well I already gave you a gallon Well yeah but I've got current Operations today so I need another Gallon of fuel right so it's that level

Of understanding again this lack of Direct exposure to military Affairs you Know coming out of World War II in Korea You had a whole host of adults that were Coming from the world the military Experience into the business Community Into government and they kind of Understood the context of that we have Very little of that today a very small Number uh in in the Congress that have Military experience although I think There are like 200 or so running this Year which is great but sometimes that Experience itself is kind of viewing Larger operation through a soda straw You know so you did a tour or two in Iraq back in 2008 uh probably Junior and Rank your world view was informed by That particular personal experience so You appreciate the military but now You're at an elevated level talking About multi-billion dollar procurement Programs who has experience in this kind Of very complicated world you know the Federal acquisition regulation Uh are just enormous so um I've got a Friend who worked for years in the Internal Revenue Service uh finally left That to go work for one of the big Accounting firms because they wanted to Hire him because he understood federal Tax code as it applied to a certain Sector of tax law at some point he'll Retire from that firm and he will

Probably be in high demand as an Independent consultant because if you're A company that wants to do business with The government or you're going to do a Merger or an acquisition of some type You want to know how the government is Going to view that transaction or if you Want to stand up a mom and pop shop and Make tires for the F-35 how do you even Get into that business and so you reach Out to somebody who actually understands That the note and you're going to pay Them for their time so they're ex They're selling their experience Something that you wouldn't have and They're going to charge you for that you Know I would love to do work on my own Car I used to be able to do that when it Was mechanical and everything is digital So I don't do any electrical work and I've got to pay you know whatever the Labor rate is to have a Certified Mechanic at the dealership you know do That specialized kind of work so there's Just a cost to doing business I'm not Saying it's not that it's insoluble but I think a better informed American Public that could ask good questions Challenge their representatives in Congress and then it's incumbent upon That elected representative to actually Understand what the heck they're doing All these people will be placed on these Committees because they've got a

Military base in their home district and So they want to represent that district And yet they don't have any background In federal acquisition uh you know Buying procurement things uh training of Military forces I mean the complexity of All the things we've talked about They're just trying to have a background In that so it's incumbent upon them to Learn and to report honestly back to Their constituency you know to the People that they're representing and if We could just get that going it's a high Bar right but I think that's the only Way to get some rationality back into The system on that note let me remind Our listeners at the this is a Heritage Foundation index of U.S military Strength for 2023 And our guest has been Lieutenant Colonel retired Dakota wood who is the Editor of his Publications 578 pages Over 16 experts that you used in order To tell the story of the entire military And we thank you very much for joining Us thanks for having me on really really Enjoyed this thanks Foreign To the book notes plus podcast please Rate and review book notes plus and Don't forget to follow so you never miss An episode Questions or comments we would love to Hear from you you can email us at

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