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  • Rethinking the Defense Budget…Yet Again

    Pentagon (Photo by Newscom)

    Washington’s latest over-used phrase—“rethinking the defense budget”—has, for many policymakers, come to mean “what can we cut next?” On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs convened to identify solutions to tame the growing defense budget. The thinly veiled premise behind the hearing was to identify what the Administration can cut and which cuts politicians can get behind while trying to appear not to compromise national security.

    Congress’s continual evaluation of government spending is vital; it can help identify efficiencies as well as waste, and reprioritize programs to reflect changing needs. Unfortunately, this hearing was less about an objective and accurate assessment of what is required to defend the nation and more about justifying defense cuts already in the cross hairs of a task force established by the committee. The recently released report Debt, Deficits, & Defense: A Way Forward by the Sustainable Defense Task Force was central to the discussion. It outlines measures that, if implemented, would cut up to $960 billion from the Pentagon’s budget between fiscal years 2011 and 2020.

    The Task Force recommended reducing all major defense programs, from conventional force structure to command, support, and even infrastructure expenditures. But enacting such recommendations would have dramatic implications for U.S. military superiority, consequences hardly discussed.

    The Air Force needs increased funding to modernize its aging inventory of planes, many of which will need to be retired in upcoming years. Recently, Air Force and Navy officials gave Congress a bleak assessment of modernization plans, warning that the military could be 900 fighter jets short of what it will need when 2020 rolls around. This shortfall in fighters is one example of already diminishing resources applied to ever expanding global missions for the military that could have major consequences.

    As proposed by Subcommittee witnesses, policymakers could reduce missions as a solution. However, current obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan must be fulfilled because they are vital national security interests. Not to mention what must come first is the decision to reduce missions and foreign policy commitments around the world. Only then can equipment and other items be considered for cuts in defense. In this case, some in Congress are trying to put the cart before the horse. With other federal priorities, this may be acceptable. But when it comes to the nation’s defense and providing the right tools for those in uniform, this approach is downright dangerous.

    Everyone is looking for a quick fix as U.S. debt continues to rise. However, reducing the defense budget will have a marginal long-term effect on the national debt. If Congressman Frank’s Task Force was serious about reducing the debt and deficit, it would instead look to the real culprit: out of control entitlement spending.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Rethinking the Defense Budget…Yet Again

    1. George Colgrove says:

      Referring to the Washington Post Articles this week, 856,000 Top Security Clearance holders (after doing the math results in 1 in 4 feds having a TSC – the ratio is even worse just looking at the defense dept) is a clear sign the defense department is as susceptible to wasting taxpayer resources as any other department in government. There is massive overlap and redundancy in this kind of work. There is little trust between programs therefore resulting in numerous people who have clearances that do not need them. It is a high paid industry that consumes taxpayer resources quickly. Considering the periodical reports we see in the news about yet one more secret some DoD employee has just released, makes me think that there should be a massive review of this clearance and the means which they protect our nations secrets. There is no consistent standard applied to the clearance – how background checks are done and what is required or expected from each holder. Costs to obtain and maintain clearances can be upwards to what most low-income families earn in a year. The sheer number of clearances is a symptom that demonstrates how the federal government is out of control and is not working. It is a fallacy to think the DoD is not subjected to waste and that it does not need to have its programs looked at for cost reduction. This government is spending money that does not exist, that means the DoD as well. As much as I would like to see the rest of the government significantly cut back, so do I want the DoD. With roughly 1 fed to 2 soldier ratio in the DoD, cutting back on the civilian non-military programs and functions in the DoD is and should be fair game. If these cuts translate into increasing our soldier count in the field as well as reducing the budget – all the better. In fact, these cuts may result in a leaner DoD. Without the massive dead weight, the DoD may prove to be more responsive to our nation's defense.

    2. Pingback: Pentagon Laying The Groundwork For Defense Cuts « Read NEWS

    3. West Texan says:

      Defense is the only real legitimate budget item of the federal government. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution clearly spells this out. And to all you self-righteous bleeding heart liberals out there in la la land, the GENERAL welfare means states and free markets can prosper within a secured environment. It never meant offering social entitlements. This remains the sole domain of states. To be making cuts in order to pay for a leftist social agenda goes far beyond unconstitutional. The federal government has long created plenty of jobs. Don't believe me? Ask your local military recruiter. Besides a pay check comes benefits like their great character building. Ooh Rah!

    4. Micki-Tamarac, FL says:

      How about we cut the Congress and Senate pay raises that they keep voting in for themselves. The rest of the country has been getting by without raises for a couple of years while their raises are still going on. Lets put that into consideration, see how many would vote for that.

    5. Wes in Cincy says:

      Most dictatorships want a strong military to keep them in power,

      but our dictator-in-chief wants a weaker military so that he can

      have more money to buy votes. I hardly think that welfare recipients

      will do very much to keep this country safe. We need to drain the

      federal swamp of these community organizers.

    6. Steve S. California says:

      Leaner DoD? We have been leaner and leaner every year for two decades! It's the sad inside joke told daily by the folks who have to make do every day because of the constant leaner/meaner crap. When you cut to the bone, you are done.We have folks who have been to the sandbox a dozen times or more, who's next rotation is scheduled before they return home.Before you mention the L word again, think about what our military is asked to do and what they are given to do it. Budgets, hardware and personnel have done nothing but shrink, done by the same government which has our folks in harm's way all over the world, without a break. The civilian government cant make up their mind what they want from one year to the next, resulting in phenomenal wast of our money. ABM was a good example (operational one day, shut down the next). How about $9billion on LHX, then shut it down right when ready to enter LRIP?

      What has the taxpayer gotten for their money, a more secure nation? Defense needs to be paid for at some point. Why? Because this isn't pearl harbor! You will fight with what you have today. promises of tomorrow (F-22 vs F-35) are empty political shells. We all know that we need to conquer waste, but we must also face facts. If we balance the two, which is still not happening, then the system may start to make sense. So let's stop throwing out the baby with the bathwater, ensure the nation is properly defended, and make decisions based on need, rather than political concerns or personal likes/dislikes. What is happening now is a travesty, as well as fundamentally dishonest.As one who lived with that for years, I can tell you that they have cut too much already, and from all the wrong places.

      Your point about security clearances is a good one. When I retired and went to work for another agency, I had an active clearance. The gaining agency would not accept it, and ran their own. That's criminal.

      Steve S.

    7. Pingback: Pentagon Laying The Groundwork For Defense Cuts | TechsZone

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