Secretary Panetta was on point yesterday when he warned against a sequester of defense funding beyond the first tranche of budget disciplne in the new debt agreement.
But the point he was making is important. What is not desirable is a sequester - a blunt, across-the-board reduction in agency budgets. It is about the worst way to cut a budget I know, for it is not driven by planning and choice-making, just mechanics.
What is likely, however, is a deeper reduction in defense budgets than the $400 billion or so over the next decade currently in the debt agreement plan and being implemented by the Pentagon. That's easy - we could provide DOD with inflation growth over the next ten years and the savings from the current Pentagon budget appetite would be more than $400 billion.
As he approaches his retirement in September, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continues to speak the truth about our fiscal problems, their impact on the military budget, and the consequences of ten years of continuous growth in defense spending.
He spoke to the Government Executive media group on April 28 and made four critical points policy-makers need to pay attention to, as the Congress returns from recess.
First, he sees the nation's "debt as the single biggest threat to our national security," a point he has made before and one the Congress will be grappling with as they approach the next stage of the budget resolution, the proposals that may emerge from the Gang of Six, and the forthcoming debate over the nation's debt limit.