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What Did the Rumsfeld/Gates Pentagon Do with $1 Trillion?

In 1998, the Pentagon budget was at a twenty three year low at $361 billion (in constant 2010 dollars). For 2010, the DOD budget was $697 billion (also 2010 dollars, as are all the rest that follow).

According to the analysis of the Project on Defense Alternatives, between 1998 and 2010 Congress appropriated to the Pentagon $2.144 Trillion (with a "T") more than was anticipated by the 1999 "baseline." Of that amount, $1.113 Trillion was spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $1.031 Trillion was added to "base" (non-war) Pentagon spending. (See p. 3 of PDA's study, "An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending" at http://www.comw.org.) Finally, that $102 billion efficiency drive being pursued by Secretary Gates is over five years. The current Pentagon budget plan is to spend $3.245 Trillion over that period. In other words, the much touted Gates plan would shift from overhead to hardware just 3 percent of the planned spending.

If the soft spoken Secretary Gates is to avoid the derision generally slung at the blustering Secretary Rumsfeld, the former will need to do more—a lot more—to evade a legacy of failure. Gates highly effective soft spoken technique of overpowering Congress when he wants to and his mutually reinforcing relationship with President Obama will be seen by history as wasted assets if the secretary does mobilize them for a far more pervasive program of real reform to help the Pentagon survive, even prosper, in the coming age of scare money.

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

By: Winslow Wheeler
Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO

Mr. Wheeler's areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems

The goal of the Straus Military Reform Project is to secure far more effective military forces and much more ethical and professional military and civilian leadership at significantly lower budget levels.

We would like to thank Philip A. Straus Jr. and family for their generous support.

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