Twitter Facebook Google RSS
 
National Defense > Blog > Posts > Defense Pundits Tackle Myths and Truths about the Military Budget
Defense Pundits Tackle Myths and Truths about the Military Budget

The Pentagon’s budget, for the first time in more than a decade, is coming under intense political fire. Critics from the right and the left are raising a ruckus about the Obama administration’s decision to shelter the Pentagon from the painful cuts that other agencies are having to make. Even the U.S. top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, has called out the soaring federal debt as a threat to national security.

The heated debate only will intensify as the nation’s deficits spin out of control. To shape the conversation, one of Washington’s watchdog think tanks, the Center for Defense Information, is publishing a book of essays by 10 insiders and retired officers. Collectively, the essays are intended to help understand how the defense budget sausage is really made. Titled, “The Pentagon Labyrinth,” it covers topics such as, “Decoding the Defense Budget,” “Penetrating the Pentagon,” and “Evaluating Weapons: Sorting the Good from the Bad.”

Inside the Beltway, the defense cognoscenti constantly are being flooded by news stories, think tank studies, congressional and inspector-general reports about defense issues. Nonetheless, there are widespread misconceptions about military spending, and about how key decisions are made, contends Pentagon Labyrinth editor Winslow T. Wheeler. This book, he writes, “aims to help newcomers as well as seasoned observers learn how to grapple with the problems of national defense.” Wheeler, a former Senate staffer and longtime critic of Pentagon spending, is director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, which is funded by public donations and foundation grants.

“Given the uncertainty of the DOD budget environment, continuing questions about how to proceed with Afghanistan, the Middle East and China, and Americans' tentative sense of security in a time of extremely high defense spending, we believe the release of this unique publication is timely,” Wheeler said.

A few “Labyrinth” nuggets:

• Despite the doubling of the defense budget since 1998, equipment and weapons are being worn out and not replaced.

Congress has abandoned critical oversight functions, especially with regard to providing the common defense and to declare war.

• Acronyms have long played a part in the language of a wide variety of human communities. Few other realms, however, can compete with the American defense establishment when it comes to the number, variety and pervasiveness of such synthetic words. Indeed, we have reached a point where there are communities within the defense establishment that use acronyms made up of other acronyms.

• It is difficult to find another process that has been studied more than Defense Department weapon acquisitions. Every three to four years, yet another high-level study is commissioned to review program management. Yet, the same problems persist. The U.S. government has the tools and expertise to make substantial reductions in the cost overruns, performance disappointments and schedule slips that plague our weapon programs. What we do not have, or have not had consistently, is the determination to apply the available tools.

Comments

Re: Defense Pundits Tackle Myths and Truths about the Military Budget

It's not hard to ascertain the reasons for this staggeringly wasteful & inefficient spending. We have huge corporations with armies of lobbyists making big bucks to keep the money flowing to them. Most of said lobbyists are retired officers. We have a Congress whose members use the DOD budget to create jobs and bring home the bacon to their constituents, and collect bribes called "campaign contributions". We have massive armed service bureaucracies in charge of each major weapon system program, as well as each weapon type (heavy bomber, aircraft carrier, tank, etc.). We have institutional arrogance as a massive obstacle to the deployment of cheap but effective weapons, as described by Spinney and others. Our military has been accurately called "a lightly-armed and very costly horde".
Monnie at 4/10/2013 12:38 PM

Add Comment

Items on this list require content approval. Your submission will not appear in public views until approved by someone with proper rights. More information on content approval.

Name: *

eMail *

Comment *

Title

Attachments

Name: *


eMail *


Comment *


 

Refresh
Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.

Characters *

  

Legal Notice *

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.

 

 

Bookmark and Share