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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/28/2016 09:44:16

Good Morning.

Well, the budget-cutters are at it again. About 8 years ago now, I was first motivated to run for public office because of some poor budget choices by our then (and still) mayor in this city. As the son and grandson of musicians, she annoyed me by wading into a budget fray with her chainsaw, and the first thing she cut from the school budget was the Fine Arts director.

The city has since come back to its senses, and we now have a thriving art and music curriculum, with the presumed benefits across the board. Our high school show choir was at a national competition in the fall, which they won! and the orchestra travelled to Disney World in April to compete in another event. (they didn't win.)

But...isn't this "Ask a Vet"?

My own father got his invitation from Uncle Sam back around 1957. He was attending the then - Schillinger House in Boston (later to become Berklee College of Music). He put in his request to be assigned to a regimental band, and naturally the army made him a machine-gunner. He always told me, though, that most of the time the base commander would pull up in his jeep, and specifically request (order?) my father to show up at so-and-so to play in the band for the evening.

In any case - of course Congress wants to cut back the music and arts budget.

Supporters of military bands are pushing back against legislative attacks on the musicians’ work, arguing the benefits the groups provide outweigh the costs cited by critics.

Earlier this month, House lawmakers approved new restrictions on military ensemble performances at social functions outside official duties. The move would not directly cut any performance funds, but would stop service musicians’ appearances at military social events, if approved by the Senate later this year.

The House has already included a full review of band costs and manning in its draft of the annual defense authorization bill, arguing that “the services may be able to conserve end strength by reducing the number of military bands.”

According to Defense Department estimates, military bands spend about $437 million on instruments, uniforms and travel expenses each year. Lawmakers argue that money could be better spent elsewhere, given the strict spending caps placed on defense spending.

But supporters of the bands call the moves short-sighted and ignorant of the scope of the performers’ work.

“These servicemen and women set one of the highest examples of musical achievement, pride in nation, and further the aspirations of all citizens, including young American music students across the nation,” Mike Blakelee, executive director of the National Association for Music Education said in a statement.

“They provide music throughout the entire spectrum of operations, to instill in our forces the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote America's interests at home and abroad.”

Just days after the latest House vote, supporters set up a petition on the White House website urging the president to support continued funding for the bands, arguing “if these events were contracted to civilian musicians, the cost would be significantly higher.”

About 23,000 individuals have signed on to the effort, although 100,000 are needed before the White House is required to issue a response.

Of course there's a corollary. You may be familiar with something called "the boneyard". It's a vast assemblage of ancient, decrepit, and decaying aircraft in the Arizona desert near Davis-Monthan Air Force base.


Aircraft land there for various reasons. Sometimes there's so much wrong with a plane that it can't be flown anymore, but the rest of the parts are still good. Sometimes technology changes and a perfectly good warplane isn't "slick" anymore. Sometimes treaties reduce the number of a certain kind you can fly. Surprisingly enough, the Pentagon doesn't sell most of these for scrap - they're there as a sort of 'strategic reserve'...just in case. Realistically though, once a plane goes there, it slowly withers away until there's only a shell left. Unless, of course, your "next greatest thing" turns out to be a flying turd and you need reliable aircraft to continue on with your ever-expanding mission.

The Marines are looking for a few good planes, and their search has taken them to an Arizona boneyard where the Corps' old F/A Hornets have been gathering dust and rust for years.

The jets are being reclaimed and refurbished by Boeing after the service branch was caught short on planes because of long delays in the rollout of the much-awaited F-35.

The Marines could have done as the Navy did and adopted second generation F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets until the new planes were ready, but opted not to.

"In hindsight, it was a misstep for the USMC to not have purchased the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, but only because the F-35 has seen such extensive delays and complications in production," Omar Lamrani, senior military analyst for global intelligence firm Stratfor told FoxNews.com. "If the F-35 had entered production as originally scheduled and at the expected price, then the USMC would have been able to successfully transition straight from the F/A-18 Hornets to the F-35."

Boeing has refurbished two of a planned 30 F/A Hornets stored at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson – known as "the boneyard" – and will soon finish more, according to WarIsBoring.com. The planes will be modified to a current "C+" standard under a contract with Boeing and the USMC signed in 2014.

It's not the first time the military has brought back decommissioned planes from the graveyard. The Marines pulled and restored several retired heavy-lift helicopters during the height of the Iraq War to help with a shortfall in the fleet as a result of heavy usage and crashes.

The F-35 was supposed to be ready for front-line service in 2006. The Marine Corps reasoned that the Super Hornets were too pricey to serve as a bridge to the new planes, and chose to continue to operate their current fleets.

As the F/A Hornets dwindled through attrition, and quality-control issues delayed the F-35 from coming off the assembly, the Corps was caught short.

Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the USMC deputy commandant for aviation, told Senate lawmakers that just 32 percent of the Corps' Hornet fighters were operational. The branch needs at least 58 percent of the F/A-18s to be flight ready so that there are enough planes for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training.

Officials for the USMC did not immediately return requests for comment but in their most recent annual report on aviation capabilities, Davis said, "I am concerned with our current readiness rates, both in equipment and personnel."

So - things have been pretty thin of late; that's all I got this week.

5 comments (Latest Comment: 06/28/2016 18:56:50 by BobR)
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Comment by wickedpam on 06/28/2016 13:13:52

Comment by Raine on 06/28/2016 14:19:33
Good Morning!

Comment by Will in Chicago on 06/28/2016 15:34:16
Good morning, bloggers!!!

I hope that everyone is doing well today. As for myself, I e-mailed the Hawaii Department of Education with some questions on licensing and applications. (I am still applying for jobs locally and out East, although I have to check to see if I can renew my Virginia license, which was more of a right to get a license.)

Comment by livingonli on 06/28/2016 17:13:24
Quiet day on the blog.

Comment by BobR on 06/28/2016 18:56:50
Quote by livingonli:
Quiet day on the blog.

Busy day at work...