Winslow Wheeler’s recent briefing to the press on DOD’s new Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the new 2007 defense budget made the following points:
• The new 2007 defense budget achieves a post-World War II high for defense spending, and yet it supports new lows in the quantity of Army divisions, Navy combat ships, and Air Force wings.
• In their depictions of the defense budget, both liberals and conservatives bias their typical presentations to conform to their preconceptions. These days, few consider a depiction of the threat.
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s new QDR fails to address the key rationale behind such reviews by Congress in the statute calling for QDRs: that the defense budget ought to be sized to execute the new defense plan and that the new defense plan should be devised to implement the national defense strategy. The 2005 QDR does not address budget requirements even superficially, and while the strategy focuses on unconventional 4th generation war (“the Long War”), the defense plan remains focused on conventional war.
• Many of the new budget’s ideas for strengthening our forces for 4th generation war are too little, too late, and other ideas start to fall apart on close inspection.
• Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has requested a budget he knows Congress will augment and expand. Proposals to reduce the Army Reserve and National Guard, to truncate C-17 production, and to retire prematurely the F-117 “stealth” bomber (and other proposals), are what some call “Washington Monument Drills” (proposed budget reductions the Pentagon knows Congress will immediately add back into the budget). The thought that any such money will be saved is surely illusory.
In sum, in a time of war and when certain critical elements of the defense budget require steadfast support and straightforward justification, today’s Pentagon leadership gives the nation mismatches between rhetoric and realities and a focus on budget gimmicks. Click here for a copy of Winslow Wheeler’s budget briefing slides as presented to the press on Feb. 10, 2006.