If Senator John McCain were a tad less senile, Senator Harry Reid would be a biological wonder of a living, breathing man. That second rectal orifice he’d be sporting would truly make him unique amongst the human herd. Seven US Marines died recently during a live fire accident in the State of Nevada. Harry Reid rose in the well of the Senate to express his condolences. If only he had stopped there and yielded to the Gentleman or Gentlelady from someplace else the balance of his time.
But no, zipping the soup cooler is not a job skill common amongst US Senators of any era. Harry Reid does what Harry Reid always does and decided to mine this tragic event for a good political spin. Harry Reid’s use of seven dead Marines for Sequestration Porn follows below.
Mr. President, it’s very important we continue training our military, so important. But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That’s the way sequester was written…. These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. And with this sequester, it’s going to cut back. I just hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military.
At this juncture, I can point a few things out that will help a reasonably well-educated audience understand the extent to which to Senator Reid perhaps requires that second rectal orifice. He is filled to brim with male bovine scatology. The pressure seems to have given him that bloated look. I’m here to help. My apologies for not warning you that some undergraduate college math follows.
One of the things I do for a living as a Cost Estimator for Sam’s Army, is look at historical data for Army helicopter training and compare the number of hours flown to the number of wrecks recorded. This allows me to determine a Poisson Parameter that represents the likelihood that a given helicopter will wreck during a giving hour flown under conditions of peacetime OPTEMPO. In other words, if your kid is flying a certain brand of US Army Helicopter and flys it 250 operational hours, I can assure you at a 95% Confidence Level, that he isn’t going to lawn dart during the next training year. That’s not a 100% guarantee. That’s just a very high likelihood. We learned that to our sorrow last Tuesday.
However, I can pretty much calm your fears, because unlike Senator Spout-Off, I’m looking at fifteen years of real-world data. But does the loudmouthed aardvark have a point? Did the Sequestration cause those seven dead Marines? GTFOOT!*
Or better yet, will The Sequestration cause me to reevaluate my happy Poisson Parameter assuming that training wrecks in my particular helicopter fleet are more likely? Again, “no”. But at least this time it was an intelligent question. I’ll explain why “no” from Sam’s Army’s perspective.**
Training safety relies on several factors. These include design and oversight of the exercise, the risks actually taken, the experience and skill of the soldiers and (what Harry chooses to demagogue) the maintenance being performed on the soldier equipment. If you knew nothing about how the Army manages training OPTEMPO***, it would be understandable to believe that Sequestration could lead to a significantly higher statistical likelihood of soldiers dying in training. Here’s why that isn’t true.
The Army (and probably the USMC as well) pays for OPTEMPO as it goes, based on the maintenance requirements to use the equipment safely. No Army unit gets to fly its helicopters until it receives authority to obligate training dollars that will buy fuel, spares, maintenance consumables and expert help for high-technology system components. If the unit “check-book” doesn’t have the money to buy these items before hand, the training exercise gets cancelled. Each OPTEMPO hour has a price that has to be paid before the event can go forward. Paying for this training OPTEMPO is a big part of what made Iraqi Freedom such an expensive military endeavor.
Maybe, after a couple of years of not training our pilots particularly well, I might be willing to entertain an argument that Sequestration has made their training environment statistically more dangerous. That’s after a couple of years. Did Sequestration, ceteris paribus, make the USMC a more dangerous place to train this Tuesday? You are out of your ever-loving tree if you truly believe that.
Senator Reid also knows better. This is why he is such a disingenuous scumbag for getting up on the Senate Floor and saying what he just said. People (even Barbara Boxer-like specimens) don’t survive for multiple decades in competitive politics if they are genuinely that incompetent and stupid. When Senator Reid lied, he knew exactly what he was doing.
*- It’s a technical term. Its meaning is easily inferred from context.
**- If the USMC manages their training OPTEMPO differently, I’ll stand corrected.
***- Unlike vertebrate members of the Senate who have been there longer than the last three months.