Sydney Freedberg, formerly of National Journal, is the founder of the Learning from Veterans project. Since 2004, he has conducted extensive interviews with over 200 veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If you haven't done so already, today would be a great day to visit the project's website. We were pleased to host him at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth last Veterans' Day for a presentation on "Policy at the Sharp End." You can watch that video below:
Secretary Gates is in Asia busily dealing with what are surely exaggerated reports of a growing Chinese threat. T'were ever thus at budget time. Meanwhile, the White House insistance that he cut his defense plans has led to a proposed $78 billion reduction in the long-term forecast for defense, announced last week. Surely they are trimming at the edges, since this would amount to roughly 2% of the projected defense resource over the next six years.
The National Journal regularly asks national security types to comment on such issues, and this week I have posted the piece attached below, in response to their version of the Goldilocks problem: is $78 billion too much, too little, or just right. It is available here (security.nationaljournal.com/2011/01/whats-next-for-the-pentagons-b.php#1854750 ), where you can see other contributions to the debate, or in full below.
By now much virtual ink has been devoted to the “cuts” that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposes in the defense budget and defense programs. These have been treated as a clear statement of intention that DOD will contribute to the overall effort at restraining federal spending, the deficit, and the growing national debt.
In reality, the Gates strategy does not make any contribution to restraining federal spending or reducing the deficit. And in trying to avoid cutting his budget, he is putting the Pentagon behind the curve in the growing effort to discipline the federal budget and on a collision course with other parts of federal spending and revenues.