Military Bands: Who Needs Them (redux)

I’m all for efficiency but I’d like to know where the $125M number came from (since some  Soldiers I know – who knows, maybe me – would lose their job come October 1 if this trend continues — oh, wait, no one told you that?).

I’m no genius but does anyone really think this is like building fewer jets or buying fewer wickets to bring down spending?  The bulk of that $325M budget goes to Soldiers’ salaries and equipment; not concerts or trips across this great country performing for Americans so that they can feel connected to the men and women who have sworn to protect their way of life, and for them to feel good about their military and their country, since for probably 90% of the population, the only military member they’ll meet face-to-face is a military musician.

So…to cut $125M from a budget of $325M, which Soldiers are going to have their contracts ripped up and put in the unemployment line?  This isn’t about “bands”; this is about jobs…and contracts:  you know, that legal document that guarantees employment so long as the terms of the contract are met by both parties; it’s kind of an important thing in a civilized society…

…kinda feeling like Socrates here.


Filed under Army Bands

13 responses to “Military Bands: Who Needs Them (redux)

  1. Anonymous

    I hope that the cuts for Military Bands do not make it past the Senate for the sake of all Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers (not just Soldiers). However, if these cuts do go through I hope someone in DoD, preferably the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs (OSDPA) does some detailed research before carrying out these cuts. For example:

    USA: 105 Bands (34 Active Bands, 18 Reserve Bands, & 53 National Guard Bands). Of note: 8 bands in VA & DC, 6 Bands in NY, 4 Bands each in AL, CA, GA, KY, NC, & TX, and most every other state with at least 2 bands. As well as 2 bands in Korea, 1 band each in Belgium, Germany, Guam, Japan, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and 2 Bands in Hawaii..

    USAF: 23 Bands (12 Active Bands and 11 Air National Guard Bands, including the Premier Bands: USAF Academy and DC Bands) One band in Europe and one band in Japan which cover the all of Europe and Asia. Both the Active and Guard bands cover multi-state regions.

    USN: 13 Bands. All active, including the Premier Bands: USN Academy and DC Band. 1 Band in Europe and 1 in Japan. Like the USAF each USN band covers multi-state, multi-country regions.

    USMC: 14 Bands. All active including the Marine Band and Drum and Bugle Corps in DC and 1 Band in Japan. Much like the USAF & USN, each USMC band covers multi-state, multi-country regions.

    USA has 1,156,616 Soldiers (Active, Guard, Reserve) = 1 Band per 11K Soldiers
    USAF has 497,000 Airmen (Active, Guard, Reserve) = 1 Band per 22K Airmen
    USN has 399,000 Sailors (Active and Reserve) = 1 Band per 31K Sailors
    USMC has 243,095 Marines(Active and Reserve) = 1 Band per 17K Marines

    In short, if the Senate does pass the a cut in Military Bands Budgets, I hope they look at these numbers and clearly see which service should take cuts. Maybe cut all the reserve and guard bands? Maybe the USA needs some streamlining before the other three sister services take cuts? But the active bands need to stay and no service should have more than one band in each state.

    • Anonymous

      The Anonymous reply on 9 July appears to imply that the Army has too many units in a band/Soldier ratio. Okay, I get it, but this analysis is another one that’s way too simplistic… much like the ‘info’ upon which Congresswoman McCollum based her arguments. Keep in mind that different bands have different missions. Some are touching many Soldiers while other are touching many civilians. To line up these arguments is no more productive than what just happened in Congress else you look like you’re simply willing to throw other branches’ bands under the bus in some kind of territorial dispute. Trust me, going into an ‘every man for himself’ mode will benefit none of these bands (in any branch) at this point and time.

      Let’s hope that this doesn’t make it through the Senate as is…

      • Anonymous

        Anonymous on 10 July at 5:48 pm said: “Keep in mind that different bands have different missions. Some are touching many Soldiers while others are touching many civilians.”

        I am sure that the other service bands also have the same missions as Army Bands…however they seem to be representing their individual services with FAR less than the Army’s assets. Why does the Army need multiple bands in the same state? I am sure the USAF would love to have a Band at every base or the Navy on every ship.

        Virginia has 8 Army bands! EIGHT! NY has 6 Army bands…and there are 6 states with 4 bands each. Even if the Army gave up all its National Guard and Reserve Bands…The Army would have over double the active duty bands than any of the other services.

        I think we all want to keep military bands but it should not be at the sacrifice of one service or the other. If the law is changed to a $200,000,000 cap then it should be split equally amongst the services, $50M each. If we maintain the $325M it should also be split equally amongst the 4 services, $81.25M each. Army Bands need to be streamlined, not the USMC, USN, & USAF having to gut their programs further so the Army can maintain 105 bands.

  2. I hope everyone contacts their respective Senator:

    Feel free to Cut & Paste:
    Honorable Senator [insert name],

    I urge you to restore full funding for Military Bands in the National Defense Appropriations Act for 2012.

    Military Bands only represent 0.049% of the total DoD budget!

    Our Military Bands are not frills. They are an integral part of our armed forces. Military bands boost morale, lend dignity to ceremonial occasions,drum up crucial public support for our Armed Services, provide diplomatic relations abroad by representing our great nation, and ultimately provide funeral honors to our fallen heroes

    Please support giving FULL funding for Military Bands!

    Thanks you for your time and service to our great nation!

    [Your Name]
    Very Respectfully,

    Master Chief Musician Jim Ramsey, USN

  3. Anonymous

    To Anonymous on 11 July,

    -Please inform me by name of the 6 Army Bands in NY. I’d love to know where they are.

    -To my knowledge, I can think of 7 bands in VA, not 8… with 2 of them having inside-the-beltway, DC-specific missions— VERY different missions. If you don’t believe me, look them up. The Army Reserve Band in VA is a ‘regional band’. Sorry that VA is in such a central position on the east coast to justify a regional reserve band, but that’s something that can’t be helped. We didn’t create the geography of the US.

    -The bands do not have the same missions. Look them up and read them. You will find similarities… but significant differences as well.

    -Based on the earlier numbers presented – The Army has more than double the troops of each of the other branches… yet you want them to have equal the amount of funding for their bands. Your logic is failing me.

    Looking up and posting numbers (some of which, btw are NOT accurate), applying false and inconsistent logic, and then asking for a disbursement in the manner written is, once again, not helpful here.

    Please stop posting false numbers. This is reminiscent of the idiot who wrote the “military bands will cost $50B over the next 50 years. There is absolutely no way to prove that without lying… and that’s the information this Congresswoman used to justify her amendment.

    …and I’m still trying to figure out where those 6 bands in NY are…

  4. Anonymous

    6 Army Bands in NY:


    8 Army Bands in VA/DC area:

    THE UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND (Maryland but in a 25mi radius of DC)
    ***3 Special Bands??? *** WHY?

    You are right the size of the service should not matter…and it should not be taken into consideration as to how many bands a service has.

  5. Anonymous

    Okay, I got it. I keep forgetting about the National Guard layout in NY b/c of huge population center that’s, I don’t know: New York City.. the largest city in the country… But who cares if the Army is there? Let’s just let them determine their own opinions about the Army. Hell, they’ve got CBS, ABC, NBC, and the NY Times. I’m sure those outlets will give a nice, balanced approach to the populace about the Army.

    The Field Band does not have a DC mission. Tied to Army Public Affairs…

    Once again, to answer your ‘3 special bands’ question:

    -FDC is tied to the Old Guard. Maybe they can be moved over to the Army Band and absorbed… but the mission still exists.

    -Army Band. Arlington is the primary. Enough said.

    -Field Band. See above. Not a DC mission.

    257th Army Band is in DC, or not? I guess DC doesn’t have a National Guard. They never have national disasters, floods, riots, Inaugurations, etc….

    The guard has a different mission in the Army from the Active Duty Army. Therefore, the bands occupy somewhat different roles. Or are we going to stay with the notion that all the bands are all doing the same thing. That seems to be the premise.

    Army School of Music is in the same place it was when it was called the Army Element of the School of Music. Same people, same job: training people. It’s another manipulation of facts to call it “new” without an explanation.

    Look, I’m not saying there doesn’t always need to be scrutiny, but while you’ve (sort of) demonstrated the quantity of bands in places like NY and VA (if I’m willing to call DC part of VA… and most people in DC wouldn’t like that…)the earlier arguments presented on how the money should be passed around are still unsound.

    Here’s what was shown earlier:

    USA has 1,156,616 Soldiers (Active, Guard, Reserve)
    USAF has 497,000 Airmen (Active, Guard, Reserve)
    USN has 399,000 Sailors (Active and Reserve)
    USMC has 243,095 Marines(Active and Reserve)

    …and yet we should spread the money equally? Really?

  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous on 11 July 2011 at 10:37 am…YOU WIN…Army should have all the bands they are clearly the most important service. Let’s close all the other service bands save the DC Bands… 1 USAF Band. 1 USN Band. 1 USMC Band (Marine Band) and……105 Army Bands.

    • Anonymous

      Do you see anywhere in the above comments in which that moronic position was advocated. Of course you don’t.

      So, okay pal, we’re done here.

      On a final note, I sure hope that you aren’t someone in the Pentagon who has input into this process, because I’ll then have to weep for all of the military bands.

      • Anonymous

        Well from your comments you do not support cutting any of the bloated Army Music Program….105 Bands? Really….The Army (with reserves and National Guard) is little over double the AF and 3xs bigger than the USN total personnel. SO, the Bands should be as follows:

        USA: 28 active bands and 22 reserve/guard bands.
        USAF: stay the same, 12 Active Bands and 11 Air National Guard Band
        USN: stay the same, 13 Active Bands
        USMC: stay the same, 14 Active Bands.

        Thats 55 Army bands cut….and Soldiers still have double of all the other services.

  7. Anonymous

    Dear other Anonymous poster onto Major Robinson’s Blog:

    Okay, I just can’t let this all go. I tried not to respond because you have some sort of complex about these Army bands… and I don’t personally know Major Robinson, but I hope he’ll indulge me. A number of things are bothering me about this.

    1. Okay, you’ve done the math in addition to some wonderful google searching and you’ve come up with a formula. I had to prod you to get off the ‘condemn Army Bands to hell” platform/ divide the money up in some strange ‘spend the cash equally’ thing you were on, but you finally at least looked at it beyond what is obviously a resentment of that service’s bands.

    2. In your haste to play mathematician, you’ve forgotten about an examination of relevancy, mission (the missions are NOT the same whether you want to believe that or not), and numerous other – non-mathematical issues.

    3. If the budget cuts come. I’m sure the Army will take a hit and satisfy at least some of your desires, but it shouldn’t be done in a vacuum of a numbers game. MAYBE…. Just maybe, some of the other branches’ bands are simply not relevant and should go the inevitable way of some of the Army bands that you so desperately want to see disappear.

    4. Finally, and this is what’s really bothering me:

    As I surfed the web like you do, I found out that you either have a club or you are combing around and spreading your strange brand of logic throughout article comments where it would be nice to have ‘defenders’ versus people simply trying to attack the other branches to save their own jobs:

    Here’s some samples of either your club or your own work. The numbers are strangely familiar:

    The first is from a Pincus article:


    If any cuts need to happen in Military Music it has to be from the Army, 32 active bands in the Army, 51 Army National Guard, 17 Army Reserve.

    The Air Force has 13 active bands, 11 reserve bands and the Navy and Marine Corps each have 14.

    Spread the money out equal to the 4 services….$320/4 = $80 Million. Or if the cut does go through the Army should absorb all of the cuts and leave the other service bands intact.
    7/7/2011 10:23:13 AM EDT

    The Second is from a Stars and Stripes article:

    Jim Ramsey 4 days ago

    If any cuts need to happen in Military Music it has to be from the Army, 32 active bands in the Army, 51 Army National Guard, 17 Army Reserve.
    The Air Force has 13 active bands, 11 reserve bands and the Navy and Marine Corps each have 14.

    Spread the money out equal to the 4 services….$320/4 = $80 Millions. Or if the cut does go through the Army should absorb all of the cuts and leave the other service bands intact.

    If you’re the same guy who posted that everyone should write your Senator with a letter while simultaneously dropping bombs on the Post, S&S and Maj Robinson’s Blog, you should do some reflection on your professionalism.

    Otherwise, our dialogue on this blog is complete. Go play with your calculator some more and enjoy your web searching. These hard-working musicians don’t need someone trying to stir the pot within their own ranks. If you’re going to be an advocate, be an advocate…

    Major – sorry for going on and I’ll understand if this has gone so far off topic that you want to strike it. Just had to get that off my conscience.

    Farewell. I really hope that you guys don’t get cut.

  8. Debate is always a good thing so long as we keep things civil. I appreciate the attention and fervor with which the two anonymous posters have debated. It’s part of what make this the greatest country in the history of the world.

    All of the Services’ bands have their place. So long as we continually try to be as efficient and as relevant as we can, we’re moving in the right direction. Performing and recording music that targets our audiences would be a good first step. We must never forget who we work for — if we keep that at the forefront of our minds as planners, ensuring our audience (whomever that is) comes first, I am confident we will not be arbitrarily cut.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s