Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Frontal Attack on the Military — Not a Foreign Force — From Our Own Congress

Another step in a bigger plan if enacted: Privatize Commissaries

Quite a long post, but one that is necessary and detailed to discuss a very tough subject: Privatization and now DOD more and more.

Extracted Via my email notices

Stars and Stripes | May 15, 2015 | by Travis J. Tritten

WASHINGTON -- At least five military commissaries would be privatized under a two-year pilot program proposed and unveiled in a Senate version of the 2016 defense budget.

The bill calls for DOD to temporarily privatize those five commissaries while federal auditors study the potential effects of private ownership on the entire network of commissaries.

My note: why? Oh simple really and typical of asinine government action:

Congress is eyeing benefits such as military commissaries, pay and allowances, and retirement for ways to reduce military personnel costs – a move that has riled troops and military service groups. I also note and in time of war, too while the VA is still struggling to help Vets – yippee – nice job Congress. Keep that hornet’s nest all stirred up as much as possible while professing that you help those who serve in uniform and protect and defend America … way to go, really. Oh, did I say, shitty job, too???

More: The bill’s language had not been released but the Senate Armed Services Committee said it has proposed a raft of other reforms including an overhaul of the retirement system and deep cuts to headquarters and administrative staffing. The staff of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who heads that committee confirmed the commissary plan part on Friday (May 15th).

Background: DOD spends about $1.4 billion annually supporting some 243 commissaries at bases
all across the United States and around the world. Those commissaries provide a significant savings for military shoppers and remain a popular benefit.

Several groups of VFW came out strongly against the Senate proposal, which follows a year of debate over cuts to the stores, saying, in part: “The VFW is against privatizing military commissaries and we are against the pilot program to test it” said John Stroud, the VFW national commander, who further added: “We want this language stripped from the Senate's version of the defense bill.”

Turning the commissaries over to private companies could endanger the benefit, according to the group, adding that troops can sometimes find shopping deals off base but not an overall savings of up to 30 percent that the commissaries now offer.

The Senate budget proposal will now head to the chamber floor. If the pilot project survives that vote, it will likely face a congressional conference committee later this year that would negotiate a final budget bill from both the House and Senate proposals. 

Thus far, the House has opted to protect commissaries from the budget knife. But, we shall see.

So, the Koch’s want to privatize the VA (see this story) and now perhaps Wal-Mart wants the commissary franchise? What would be next: Dockers taking over the clothing, open bids for boots and dress shoes, and the NRA running the arms and ammo portions? Velkom to Amerika – freedom for a price and that price does not it seems with these moves factoring in the blood of those who serve and enjoy the few remaining benefits they were promised and basically have enjoyed while serving the entire nation and not free enterprise (My insert: Free enterprise definition. “The freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with minimal governmental regulation.) 

Private businesses are in business to make a profit -- so, is our military blood worth a profit or an increase in CEO salary, or a dividend increase?

Yes, arms and equipment and other certain aspects of DOD are handled by private industry and most are under government contract for a specific product or service, but what we are talking about here is massive change in the way soldiers live, work, and serve and enjoy the benefits they have earned and are entitled to without change due to budget concerns or personnel costs. Smart budgets are ideal, sure; but at the expense of national security, not for sure.

With all this in mind, logically it seems that the next Congressional “brainchild idea to save money and reduce personnel costs” would be to turn over the military to the private sector and let the market prevail and dictate. Wal-Mart could pick the next military engagement; the Koch’s could plan the next field exercise; Donald Trump would plan design the next base facilities; and a handful of other billionaires would occupy the Pentagon and run whole shebang! Nice job, Congress, really nice job.

I leave you with a favorite military expression: “Freedom is not free” (sometimes scribbled on the helmets of combat troops). Privatizing DOD in any part for any reason is flat out insane. Some day we might have a war and no one shows up. What if???? 


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