Prescription Drugs Crowd Out Shipbuilding in US Defense Budget

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* Bloomberg has seen the US Navy’s latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, which finally acknowledges that it “requires funding at an unsustainable level” to deliver the number of new vessels in the plan. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been saying so for years. * When the Government Accountability Office pointed out last month that the Pentagon was paying prescription drugs at a higher prices than Medicaid, the Pentagon had no comment to offer. With drugs now accounting for more than $5B/year in the Pentagon budget (i.e. separately from Veterans Affairs), you would think that would elicit some response. It seems clear that paying near-retail rates for most drugs for military personnel is not optimal when you’ve become one of the biggest drugs buyers in the country. * TRICARE reform is one of the big potential money savers within military pay and benefits, as outlined in a recent presentation [PDF] from CBO analyst Carla Tighe Murray. She projected [PDF] last year that military healthcare could grow from less than 10% of DoD’s budget to more than 14% by 2030. A more recent, formal CBO report shows a gentler scope, but the trend still points upward. That’s only 16 years away, which […]

* Bloomberg has seen the US Navy’s latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, which finally acknowledges that it “requires funding at an unsustainable level” to deliver the number of new vessels in the plan. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been saying so for years.

* When the Government Accountability Office pointed out last month that the Pentagon was paying prescription drugs at a higher prices than Medicaid, the Pentagon had no comment to offer. With drugs now accounting for more than $5B/year in the Pentagon budget (i.e. separately from Veterans Affairs), you would think that would elicit some response. It seems clear that paying near-retail rates for most drugs for military personnel is not optimal when you’ve become one of the biggest drugs buyers in the country.

* TRICARE reform is one of the big potential money savers within military pay and benefits, as outlined in a recent presentation [PDF] from CBO analyst Carla Tighe Murray. She projected [PDF] last year that military healthcare could grow from less than 10% of DoD’s budget to more than 14% by 2030. A more recent, formal CBO report shows a gentler scope, but the trend still points upward. That’s only 16 years away, which in shipbuilding time is not that much. Who would have thought General Dynamics would end up competing with Pfizer?

Middle East

* Israel steps up its Gaza offensive after a surge in rocket fire from Hamas. It started with the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teens last month. A Palestinian teenager was later burned alive by Israeli youths, and his Palestinian-American cousin was then beaten up by Israeli police. Indeed, the seeds of the next intifada.

* Commentary Magazine argues that the fact foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman ended his alliance with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not actually about what to do in Gaza.

* According to BasNews the Iraqi Army forced Islamic State insurgents to flee Baiji, the town with the biggest oil refinery in the country, with some undefined help from Iranian soldiers. Meanwhile Press TV reports that some Sunni tribes are fighting ISIL in the north.

Asia

* India’s Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against former IAF chief SP Tyagi in the VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland.

Europe

* French Army General Pinard Legry, president of the ASAF military advocacy nonprofit (Association de soutien à l’Armée Française) gave a very good in-depth interview (video, in French) on France and Europe’s loss of strategic autonomy because of declining defense budgets and staffing.

Defense Globalization

* Today’s video features a discussion at the Atlantic Council with William J. Lynn III, CEO, Finmeccanica North America and DRS Technologies, about technology trends in and outside of the defense industry:

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