Friday, December 14, 2012

"Sovereign Man" Simon Black Reveals Lack of Military Budget Knowledge

I need to address something that a blogger going by the moniker of Simon Black, a.k.a. "Sovereign Man" posted on his blog.  His credibility rests partly on his claims of having been a military intelligence officer in the United States armed forces before becoming an globe-trotting investment guru.  Today he posted an article in which he claims he was tasked to make long-term budget forecasts for his military unit when he was a second lieutenant.  I have problems with this story.

It is possible that a 2LT could be asked to assist with a budget forecast if he were a battalion staff officer but the battalion executive officer (XO) would not have handed off such a task without some detailed guidance on where to look for data.  Sovereign Man's other posts have hinted that he was independently deployable for much of his early career, which makes little sense if he were fresh out of a military academy and initially assigned to a battalion staff.  If he were leading a platoon or detachment, which is what he would have had to do to be eligible for his exotic adventures, it is very unlikely that he would have been tasked to work on the battalion's budget.

Anyway, what really unnerves me about the substance of his claim is that he states he was "responsible for requesting how much money my unit would need to operate… 2, 3, 4, 10 years down the road."  That is simply impossible.  I have over 17 years of military experience at every echelon of the United States Army from platoon to theater, both active and reserve component.  I have participated in numerous budget planning sessions both as a commander and staff officer.  Not once did any of my MTO&E or TDA units ever prepare a budget forecast that extended past a single fiscal year.  Battalions and lower echelons have no way to estimate their budgetary needs farther than a year in advance, and certainly not the "2, 3, 4, 10 years" that Simon Black claims he did.  This is because Congressional appropriations for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) accounts that fund tactical units are tied to a one-year fiscal cycle.

I'd like to hear Simon Black tell us all exactly which unit he served with and how he reconciled his duties as acting budget officer with whatever fantastic James Bond mission schedule he claims he executed. If he's really so intelligent, he can figure out how to reach me.