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SCRAPING RUST FROM THE IRON TRIANGLE: WHY THE PENTAGON SHOULD INVEST IN CAPABILITY
FRANK HOFFMAN WAR ON THE ROCKS
FEBRUARY 9, 2018
Since the Cold War ended, the United States has assumed that its dominant military-technological advantages were a given that would not be challenged in our lifetimes. But that time has arrived sooner than expected. As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has noted, America’s military strength is not a birthright and the United States cannot afford to be complacent. A continued failure to respond to the challenge with a fairly substantial modernization program will only continue the erosion of U.S. credibility and deterrence, with serious consequences for American security, prosperity, and liberty.
Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, detailed in these pages what the United States deserves from its next defense strategy several weeks before the document’s release. He noted that greater clarity in terms of threats and missions was needed, but stressed that what was most important was greater precision regarding what capabilities the U.S. military should acquire. The recently released National Security Strategy provides the necessary framing for the Pentagon and the National Defense Strategy, signed by Mattis, provides the priorities for required military capabilities of this age.
Both documents embrace the necessity of facing up to a more competitive era with calls for renewal and larger security budgets. But few believe that the United States can buy its way out of this problem by simply building up the force it had in the 1990s. McCain himself pointed out that “[l]arger budgets will not relieve us of the duty to prioritize and make difficult choices about the threats we face and the missions we assign to our military.” He expected the National Defense Strategy to provide those priorities and choices to confront growing threats in an era of renewed great power competition. read more
Yes, America’s military needs more cash – and oversight, too
By Post Editorial Board NEW YORK POST
February 8, 2018 | 7:50pm
In Congress’ fight over military spending this week, defense hawks are right: America’s armed forces need more money.
Since 2011, the Pentagon’s budget has been held to mindless caps that have sapped readiness. While the nation’s enemies forge ahead with new generations of combat equipment, the US military has watched much of its own inventory become depleted or outdated.
“As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done as much harm to the readiness of the US military” as Congress’ defense-spending caps, insists Defense Secretary James Mattis. A “failure to modernize,” he adds, would leave the military unprepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.
He’s right: The world hasn’t suddenly become less hostile. To deter threats and confront hostile moves abroad, the military needs to be ready — i.e., properly funded.
So it’s good that members of both parties now appear open to busting the caps.
That said, critics of greater spending aren’t wrong to warn of massive waste in a defense budget that may top $1.5 trillion over the next two years. A recent Ernst & Young audit, for instance, found one Defense Department agency couldn’t account for $800 million in construction funds.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) argues that many rebuilding projects in Afghanistan were “mismanaged” and poorly documented. He cites a report of a gas station that cost $43 million. He’s clearly right to demand DOD be a better “fiscal steward.”
By all means, Congress needs to step up funding so the military is ready to face all the new challenges. At the same, though, it should insist on more rigorous oversight — to ensure that its funding is wisely spent. read more
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