As the national debt continues its upward trajectory, now projected at over $13.6 trillion, military spending is moving to the front of Washington spending and policy battles. The military is starting to feel some of heat, as witnessed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ proposal for adjustments in command organization which could save billions over the next half a decade or so. Whether it was the military just trying to get out in front of the issue to look proactive, or something that actually might occur, remains to be seen.
Even at the highest degree of savings, the proposal is a drop in a very big ocean considering that our global military establishment is funded to the tune of $750 to 800 billion per year. It’s really not even a drop in the bucket considering that Gates still sees military spending continuing to increase, just not as fast as it has been in the last few years.
The military/industrial complex, despite the modesty of the proposals which have been put forward, is taking every measure possible to ensure that their budgets remain untouched and unexamined. These measures include the vague testimony given by Gates, to the assembly of committees made of members of the military/industrial complex to override proposed budgets from Congress. Gates gave as vague a testimony as possible, talking about reducing 30 percent of the number of military contractors but saying he didn’t know how many contractors are currently employed by the Pentagon.
Regarding committees to refute the findings of the Quadrennial Defense Review, made public this spring, Congress tasked the United States Institute of Peace (how’s that for a misnomer) to provide an independent study of military needs and funding. The committee was chosen by the Department of Defense which, to no one’s surprise announced that the findings of the Quadrennial Defense Review had understated military needs across the board. The USIP direly announced that military funding had to be increased to levels far above the QDR’s recommended expenditures or disaster would be close at hand. The only concession the USIP report made was to admit some waste and inefficiencies which would be eliminated to help pay for the spending increase. Specific actions on how to eliminate waste and inefficiency were not detailed.
The military/industrial complex’s desire for open ended and growing funding to defend America isn’t meeting any resistance in Congress for good reason; bringing massive military projects home to the constituency while receiving campaign funds from the same purveyors of those projects is too big a temptation to pass up. On the political side, those that make any mention of military cutbacks still get branded with a “soft on terror” tattoo and then have to abandon the rest of the agenda to defend cutbacks on redundant and unworthy projects. For many, it’s much easier to go along for the rideArticle Submission, tough on terror and bringing home the bacon to the voters.