The military is bloated, there's simply no argument that it's not. I've said several times on BC Politics that I think the Department of Defense needs to get rid of its single biggest-ticket item: our fleet of aircraft carriers. This is despite the fact that I served twenty years in the Navy, eight of them on aircraft carriers, and learned to love them as retired military are wont to do of their respective favorite units. The carrier fleet needs to go, they are not nearly as cost-effective as they once were.
Now Mitt Romney has a different take on the burden of taxpayers in maintaining a strong Navy:
“I was speaking with former secretary of the Navy John Lehman. He told me that during the Second World War, we commissioned about 1,000 ships a year. And the Navy purchasing department that year, which they called at the time the Bureau of Ships, had 1,000 employees. By the time John Lehman was secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, he said we commissioned about 17 ships a year, and Navy purchasing had grown to 4,000 people. Today, we’ll commission nine ships a year. And purchasing? Navy purchasing [under Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)] has grown to 24,000 people. A business like that would be out of business. We’ve got to cut the size of the federal workforce.”
That makes perfect sense, doesn't it? What's more, he got his point straight from former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. It would seem unconscionable that we would need 24,000 people to control all purchasing for nine lousy ships when back in WWII it was closer to one purchaser per ship, right? Right?
Wrong. That's not a failure to compare apples and oranges, that's a failure to compare capabilities of weapons systems more than half a century apart. Today's capabilities come at a steep price, with logistics requirements that would have been unimaginable in WWII, e.g. nuclear reactors and all the support they need. For the sake of brevity, I'll keep to just one example: SUBSAFE (yes, it's all caps).