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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen: Defense spending at current rate is ‘unsustainable’
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen: Defense spending at current rate is ‘unsustainable’
The Pentagon could finally be headed for the defense budget train wreck that has been predicted for years but so far has not materialized.
 
“Money is not going to keep rolling in … It’s just not going to happen,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, in a speech this afternoon to students at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. The key reason why defense spending at the current levels cannot continue much longer is the dire state of the U.S. economy, Mullen said. With unemployment at 10 percent and other financial woes plaguing the United States, “We’re in a time of real economic challenge,” said Mullen. The military’s budget will be affected sooner rather than later, he added.
 
The amount of funding the Pentagon will request for the fiscal year 2011 budget will not be known for a couple of weeks, although several news media have reported that the budget will increase by up to 2 percent.
In the years beyond 2011, however, spending could be heading in the other direction, Mullen suggested. “It’s unrealistic to expect this [recent growth trend] will continue,” he said.
 
Although Mullen did not discuss specific details of the 2011 budget, he offered that it will seek to “balance” the capabilities of the Defense Department by shifting more funds to weapons systems that are relevant to “irregular” warfare and counterinsurgency. “But we are not walking away from conventional” capabilities, he said.
 
The Defense Department has to adjust its spending priorities in recognition of the wars it must fight today, said Mullen. “As [former deputy defense secretary] Gordon England used to say, ‘We are what we buy.’”
 
One portion of the budget that will not be shortchanged, Mullen said, are the “people” programs (personnel, health care, benefits, family support). “We have to make sure we’re OK with our people and families,” he said.  Sixty to 70 percent of the Pentagon’s budget is committed to those programs, he noted. People and weapons accounts all come out of the same pot, so something has to give.
Mullen’s biggest worry about future budgets is the mismatch between needs and resources.
 
These concerns about the Pentagon having too many programs and not enough funding have been expressed in countless instances for at least two decades. Warnings of impending doom have been sounded so much that most observers assume the Pentagon is once again crying wolf.
 
Do you think Mullen has got it right this time?

Comments

Re: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen: Defense spending at current rate is ‘unsustainable’

Inflation is flat and wages fell last year, so why the 3.2% pay raise? Why not freeze pay for a few years. Retention is no problem since E-9s now earn over $100,000 a year.
Carl at 1/10/2010 4:57 PM

Re: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen: Defense spending at current rate is ‘unsustainable’

How come the DOD is the only government department that says spending is unsustainable for their own department. How come other cabinet members like HHS don't complain that Medicare or Medicaid or other department say welfare is unsustainable. I report came out that the $100 billion spent on head start for pre-K education has been a complete waste of money.

If we did not spend money on unconstitutional programs the US could spend $1 trillion on defense easily.
bobbymike at 1/20/2010 1:28 AM

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