Posts Tagged ‘AllServices’

Deficit-Buster Proposals Won’t Work Without Changes in U.S. Defense Strategy

Sandra Erwin. National Defense Magazine, 22 November 2010.


“The Defense Department’s biggest weakness is its budget strategy: the absence of strategic choice,” says Gordon Adams, American University professor who authored the defense recommendations in the Domenici-Rivlin proposal that was presented by former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and White House Budget Director under Clinton, Alice Rivlin.

Cutting the defense budget should not be about doing the same with less, Adams says. The reaction to the Simpson-Bowles report, which takes aim at many big-ticket weapon programs and calls for work force reductions, was predictable. Every targeted program or agency, as was seen recently with U.S. Joint Forces Command, is making a case that it is essential to national security, and its supporters already are mobilizing lobbyists and advocacy groups.

The smarter approach would be for the Obama administration and Congress to agree to a scaled-back military strategy, says Adams. “At the end of the day, it’s about policy makers restraining their impulse to use the military in the reckless way it’s been used in the past 20 years,” he says.

Carl Conetta speaks on strategic value of getting the nation’s financial house in order

Capitol Visitors Center, 11 June 2010.

Debt, Deficits, and Defense: A Way Forward

Report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force. 11 June 2010.
full report:
executive summary:


Putting America’s defense establishment on a more sustainable path may require curbing some of our commitments abroad, adopting more realistic military goals, or putting greater emphasis on more cost-effective instruments of power.

C-SPAN video of the report release briefing hosted by Rep. Barney Frank, U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, 11 June 2010.

Photos of the report release briefing, U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, 11 June 2010.

Army Budget Share Will Grow

Greg Grant. DoD Buzz, 09 April 2010.


In DOD’s funding forecasts, future costs to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are vastly understated as are personnel and healthcare costs. “Reset” costs for Army and Marine equipment returning from Iraq are also vastly understated, as all are new aircraft programs, e.g. F-35, tanker. The shipbuilding plan is also underfunded. Cost overruns in the F-35 and satellites continue due to immature technologies, the analysis says, and risks shifts to existing platforms.

The biggest future growth areas will be in networked communications and overhead surveillance, followed by repair, maintenance and training. The future requirements process will be driven more by combatant commanders than service bureaucracy, more joint and fewer overall contracts and programs. There will be further monopolization of large platform primes, e.g. one tank builder, one aircraft tanker builder and one shipbuilder.

Speech by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen at Kansas State University

as delivered by Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas Wednesday, 03 March 2010.


I’ve come to three conclusions – three principles – about the proper use of modern military forces:

1) … military power should not – maybe cannot – be the last resort of the state. Military forces are some of the most flexible and adaptable tools to policymakers. We can, merely by our presence, help alter certain behavior. Before a shot is even fired, we can bolster a diplomatic argument, support a friend or deter an enemy. We can assist rapidly in disaster-relief efforts, as we did in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake. We can help gather intelligence, support reconnaissance and provide security.

And we can do so on little or no notice. That ease of use is critical for deterrence. An expeditionary force that provides immediate, tangible effects. It is also vital when innocent lives are at risk. So yes, the military may be the best and sometimes the first tool; it should never be the only tool.

2) Force should, to the maximum extent possible, be applied in a precise and principled way.

3) Policy and strategy should constantly struggle with one another. Some in the military no doubt would prefer political leadership that lays out a specific strategy and then gets out of the way, leaving the balance of the implementation to commanders in the field. But the experience of the last nine years tells us two things: A clear strategy for military operations is essential; and that strategy will have to change as those operations evolve. In other words, success in these types of wars is iterative; it is not decisive.

Editor’s Comment:

Mullen’s first principle is dangerous in the extreme. It is a sad reminder of the militarization of the American state. Mullen suffers from an inexplicable amnesia of the horrors of war in the 20th Century.

America will likely be paying a high price for decades to come in what comes around from the quick and easy resort to war in 2002-2003 by policy-makers enthralled with their military instrument. If war is not a last resort, then policy-makers are abject failures as leaders.

Trillions to Burn? A Quick Guide to the Surge in Pentagon Spending

Carl Conetta. Project on Defense Alternatives, 05 February 2010.

Federal Debt as Percent of Gross Domestic Product


The most ready comparison to America’s current circumstance are the years of the Second World War. Back then, the level of debt rose higher than it has today, but the period during which the burden exceeded 100% of GDP lasted only 4 years. Today, by contrast, it looks as though the period during which debt will equal or exceed 100% of GDP will last for more than twice as long. If we think of the mid-1940s as representing “the Mount Everest” of US debt accumulation, then the period after 2008 should represent “the Tibetan plateau” (which is not as high as Everest, but far wider.)

Summary of the DoD Fiscal 2011 Budget Proposal

DoD summary prepared for press briefing, 01 February 2010. Hosted on the Commonwealth Institute website.

Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) 2010

Office of the Secretary of Defense, 01 February 2010. Hosted on the Commonwealth Institute website.

Quadrennial Defense Review 2010