One Approach to Defense Management

While defense spending has been excessive over the past decade, the rush is on to cut as quickly as possible. No easing, no slowing. Just shift from 5th to reverse in one smooth move.

Top defense leaders in Washington plan for the futures of the services and the Defense Department as a whole. They don’t fight wars; they look to see what the force will be in 20-plus years and plan accordingly. Budgeting is crucial. Picking winning weapons systems, well, we’ve witnessed the fallout of bad choices. They pull this off through a combination of lessons learned, guesswork, and the occasional Hail Mary pass. Very scientific.

Already there is talk of an Army drawdown of 10,000. We knew it would happen, and discussions seem so matter-of-fact. It has been reported reductions won’t start until the invasion of Afghanistan, “The Event,” they repeatedly announce.

Defense Secretary and Weary Super Hero Robert M. Gates has clearly stated billions will be cut from the defense budget over the next several years. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense kicked things off by striking $8.1 billion from the latest appropriations bill, including a $600-plus million cut for a Navy littoral combat ship. (Will this Navy ever reach its goal of 300 ships?) Cuts to the joint strike fighter hit the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, a $3 billion savings in defense, but where will that money go?

Hey, but not everyone comes up short. The black hole of DoD, the Joint IED Defeat Organization, will get $2.8 billion so it can continue to let the network in Afghanistan defeat it.

Civil servants are not immune. The defense contractor herd will be culled 10 percent. Brookings, in its study of the growth of government uses the term the “Thickening of Government,” to describe its indescribable growth in recent years.

There is nary a mention of war. Similar cuts have been made after major conflicts and run-ups in defense spending and are generally unremarkable in the long term.

But hardly a mention of war in this flurry of budget activity. It seems the secret’s out: The United States is not at war. We have never been at war, save for very early in Iraq – maybe. I hear active duty personnel and retirees complain that Americans don’t support the war. They are unaware there is a war. Or is there? It seems a forward-looking defense department is immune to combat operations.

Recent Posts