The Center for New American Security (CNAS) has utterly and irredeemably discredited itself. How?
In response to the groundbreaking, reform-implementing FY2012 DOD budget proposal, the CNAS, rather than praise this budget and call on the Congress to approve it (one of their own, USD(P) Michele Flournoy, was involved in its crafting), has rejected it and the threat environment analysis of Secretary Gates, and they’ve called for a massive, 10%-15% reduction of the core defense budget (not the GWOT budget).
What is wrong with that proposal?
To start with, EVERYTHING.
Their call for a 10%-15% defense budget cut, if implemented, would dramatically weaken the military. There isn’t that much waste in the defense budget. Such cuts would have to be made at the expense of military capabilities. They would thus dramatically weaken the military. Secretary Gates explained this with these words:
“I got it that we’ve got a $1.6 trillion deficit. But defense is not a significant part of that problem. If you took a 10 percent cut in defense, which would be catastrophic in terms of capabilities, that would be $50 billion on a $1.6 trillion deficit.”
Using the FY2012 defense budget as a baseline, a 10% cut would be $55.3 billion; a 15% cut would amount to $82.95 billion.
Secondly, the DOD needs these funds to replace obsolete military equipment and installations. It cannot afford such cuts. The vast majority of the equipment the US military uses now is old, and indeed obsolete, and cannot survive in highly-defended environments like China, North Korea, Iran, or Venezuela. It would be an utter disaster. The DOD needs this money to replace its obsolete, worn-out equipment. Its equipment spending is insufficient, so it needs to reinvest any savings it makes in equipment.
Thirdly, the DOD should NOT shoulder its “fair share of the burden of reducing the budget deficit”. Why? Because defense is far more important than any other task or agency of the Federal Government. Other federal agencies and programs do not deserve the same treatment. They are not even half as important as defense. The military is what protects the US 24/7 against all foreign enemies, be they China, Russia, North Korea, or terrorists. America’s Founding Fathers rightly cautioned that providing for the common defense would be one of the most important tasks of the Congress; one of the most important functions of the federal government.
Fourthly, the DOD should not should its “fair share” (whoever defines it) because the Constitution says that defense is not only a legitimate function of the federal government, but even a constitutional DUTY of it.
Secretary Gates knows this, which is why he has said:
“Defense is not like other discretionary spending. This is something we’ve got to do and that we have a responsibility to do. And so the two shouldn’t be equated. They have not been equated in the past. I mean, that’s why they call it non-defense discretionary spending and so on. (…) National defense is the one function that unambiguously belongs to the federal government.”