Obama has gone further, pledging to cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful Pentagon spending, including "unproven missile defense systems," to slow the FCS, make deep cuts in the nuclear arsenal, and create an independent defense priorities board to help take security decisions out of the realm of politics.Carter redux. Sound familiar?
We can help the next president add to his list, and connect the dots between these two commitments to increase nonmilitary foreign engagement and cut wasteful military spending. Since 2004, we have headed up a team that has produced the annual "Unified Security Budget for the United States." This report's latest version, just released, identifies $61 billion in Pentagon cuts that can be made with no damage to our security. And it outlines $65 billion in increases for key priorities in the International Affairs and Homeland Security budgets.
One example: The $3.2 billion necessary to fund the Transit Security Agency's 17 priority action items could be paid for by canceling the unneeded DDG-1000 destroyer. Another: the $350 million necessary to fill the shortfall of 1,000 positions in the diplomatic corps could be found by forgoing just one F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
Gates has also pointed out why it is so hard to make these changes. In noting that the entire diplomatic corps, about 6,500 people, is smaller than the staff of a single aircraft carrier group, he put his finger on why. "Diplomacy," he said, "simply does not have the built-in, domestic constituency of defense programs."
In this season of "change," we need to change this mind-set so that we can achieve the right balance in our national security budget.
Monday, October 13, 2008
More glimpses into the Obama Pentagon.