With the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction poised to close up shop with no recommendations, the discussion has turned to the sequester and what it will mean for military spending. Gordon Adams, former associate director for national security and international affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, tells NSN to "expect endless garment rending over the impact of a sequester, but do not expect a sequester. It is mostly for show. Managing a build down is still the issue, and it will be the issue after the election."
With a deadline looming for the Super Committee to agree to a deficit reduction plan, and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act headed to the Senate floor, questions loom large about the defense budget and what might happen if the Super Committee fails to reach an agreement. The warnings have been dire, and the facts have been loose. Instead, lawmakers and others should consider the actual magnitude of proposed reductions in growth and ask serious questions about strategy, missions and outdated Cold War capabilities. In many cases, the answers point the way toward future savings.
As the Super Committee convened yesterday to discuss possible deficit-reduction deals, its members were bombarded with faulty claims about the relationship between defense spending and jobs. Economists and strategists alike point out that, because military spending is capital-intensive, not labor-intensive, it is a poor job creator.
The Department of Defense is charged with protecting the American people and defending our nation and our allies. Our Armed Forces are operating in a strategic environment that continues to evolve as geopolitical trends shift and the world becomes increasingly interconnected. Yet chief among the myriad of challenges we face in the 21st century is our economic security.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 is driving a focused budgetary review throughout the federal government, including the Department of Defense. Next week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify before the House Armed Services Committee, where he is expected to discuss the Pentagon's budget and describe elements of the department's upcoming strategy review. As lawmakers look for savings, they must also reevaluate our national security priorities, the way America conducts its business in the world and the role the military plays in accomplishing those objectives.