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April 06, 2009

A Pretty Good Start
Posted by Michael Cohen

When it comes to defense spending I think the greatest challenge the United States faces in the lack of a strategic framework for our military - whether its a focus on conventional war-fighting or counter-insurgency the all important question of what type of enemies America will be facing and how our military should be reconfigured to deal with these new threats is all too rarely asked.

But having said all that, the budget announced by Secretary of Defense Gates is a pretty damn good step in the right direction. Not only does it propose long overdue cuts in outdated and overpriced defense systems, but there was this Churchillian rhetoric on contractor reform:

There is broad agreement on the need for acquisition and contracting reform in the Department of Defense. There have been enough studies.   Enough hand-wringing. Enough rhetoric. Now is the time for action.

While I need to dig a little deeper to see if the reform measures Gates is advocating are the right ones this is an important step in the right direction and a long overdue recognition from the highest levels of the Pentagon about the need for reform.

I hope this is the beginning not the end of a larger discussion about what we want our military to be doing in the future, but the fact that we are even talking about serious budgetary reform is a critical step in the direction. And the larger recognition in the Pentagon of the diminished importance of gold-plated weapons system built to confront a conventional enemy that no longer exists is great news.

As Noah Shachtman puts it over the Danger Room: "What we have here is the Defense Secretary trying to shake the defense establishment free of the Cold War, finally."

Amen, brother.


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this is the beginning not the end of a larger discussion about what we want our military to be doing in the future, but the fact that we are even talking about serious budgetary reform is a critical step in the direction.

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