Why Isn’t The U.S. Keeping Up Militarily?

The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:


But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)


In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. 


So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves? 


The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019. 


All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone. 


If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!


Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.


NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military, 


Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper?  Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system?  Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?  


Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:

“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”

Some poignant examples given:

– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.

– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.


China and Russia variously are beating us out in:

  • Quantum Communications
  • Anti-Satellite Weapons
  • Directed Energy 
  • Hypersonics 

In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes! 

Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.


Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.


Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe. 


Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally. 


If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.


To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:

  1. From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
  2. From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones. 
  3. From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons. 
  4. From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature. 
  5. From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
  6. From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
  7. From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them. 
  8. From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines. 
  9. From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
  10. From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically. 

Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉

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Amazon’s Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 


Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!


For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.


But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 


Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 


Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 


Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 


For a long time, they didn’t even charge sales tax!


It seems people can’t even imagine not having Amazon–where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don’t even want. 


So here is the rub.


Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns–with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 


Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 


Amazon got us all as their slave customers–and we let them and love them for it. 


And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?


I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don’t like that they’ve built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 


Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you…


Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  


Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.


In the end, that is a winning strategy that won’t land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 


Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it’s not product returns that you’ll be for long worrying about. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Teambuilding S-Cubed

Awesome day today with my team at work. 


We had a half-day team building. 


Started off with a Play-Doh exercise where we had to answer things like what we’d like to accomplish as a team in the new year. 


This was my representation with a S-cubed for the new program implementing process improvements and enterprise service management using:


– Strategy


– Structure


– (Customer) Service


We followed up with a great team luncheon and then a game of Monster Mini Golf.


We broke into two teams and one team came in “first place” and the other team were the “winners.”


I suppose whenever we genuinely come together as a team to appreciate each other and work collaboratively as a unified whole–greater than the sum of our parts–then we truly all come out as first place winners! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

NATO Is Asleep At The Wheel

So this is the dumbest military strategy I have ever heard. 


NATO is planning a “rapid deployment force” of at least 30,000 troops, 30 naval ships, and 360 planes to fight off a Russian invasion.


Sounds good?


The only problem is that this rapid reaction is planned to occur “within 30 days” of being put on an alert. 


Gee, a lot can happen in 30 days. 


It took only a little over two weeks for Russia to invade and annex Crimea in 2014 in a blitzkrieg that completely took the West by surprise. 


NATO continues to be shockingly unprepared for a Russian land grab.


Further, the 4,600 troops stationed on “forward deployment” and the 5,000 additional “spearhead force” to come to their aid “within 10 days” is again completely inadequate and ridiculous. 


Israel won the 1967 War in just 6 days against invading armies from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and Israel again halted the advancing Egyptian army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War in just 3 days. 


With modern weaponry, Wars are fought and won in days–not months and years anymore. 


The long deployments we’ve had in Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars, but wars of attrition again terrorism and dictatorships. 


If and when there is a war with the “Great Bear,” it will be fought and won–OR lost in days–as well. Russia will act with stealth and speed and a ferocity that we remain blind to. 


And I fear that when we are ready to fight back, it will be way too little too late–like in Crimea–and all that will be left–after the European lands are gone–is more meaningless sanctions that Russia will retaliate against, tit-for-tat, anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wrapped In Bubble Wrap

So I thought this was an interesting risk management strategy…


One colleague joked with me that:

“Everyone should just wrap themselves in bubble wrap!”

Reminded me of that game where people put on big wearable inflatable bumpers and then smash into each other for fun.


The problem though is that sometimes we put on the bubble wrap, bulletproof vest, or seat belt, but then we get stupidly overconfident. 


We think we are protected, but nothing human in impenetrable. 


So the person with the seat belt and air bag drives too fast and off a cliff and still gets him/herself killed. 


Or the person with the bulletproof vest gets shot with a high caliber armor piercing shell or in the back of the head.


Like on many cars, where the mirror says, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” we need not over rely on safety, protective, and risk measures and still do stupid things.


One guy told me, he backed up into the wall in the garage, because he thought there was more room and that’s not how things looked in the mirror. 


Let’s face it, there is no bubble wrap that can fully protect us from life. 


Everyday we face risks out there, and we need to manage them with common sense or else… 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)