The comments of several people on defense spending

As the budget battle continues, several people have stated or restated their opinions on the subject of the defense budget – oftentimes ignoring what Secretary Gates has recommended and the reforms he has proposed (

Take the Texan Tea Party man running for the Senate. He says that because of America’s huge budget deficit, “everything has to be on the table, including defense spending”, although he does also say what House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (RINO-VA) has declined to say: that defense should be prioritized because protecting America is an absolute priority. (

Frequent AT Contributor Bruce Walker has written an article (published on AT today) in which he says that defense spending should not be reduced, and lists several plausible reasons why, but he has also wrongly claimed that defense spending is “excessive” and that the defense budget is “big”. The truth is that defense spending is neither excessive nor big – it’s small. America’s FY2010 defense budget ($542.76 bn) constituted just 3.65% of America’s $14.62 trillion GDP estimated by the IMF (in PPP terms; in nominal terms America’s GDP is over $15 trillion according to the IMF). The FY2011 ConRes authorized only $525 bn as a core defense budget; this constitutes just 3.59% of GDP. Moreover, Walker ignored all of my articles on defense spending and the sources contained therein, and neglected to mention that defense is a constitutional DUTY of the federal government. He als ignored Gates’s proposed reforms. (

The three leading bloggers at DangerRoom (David Axe, Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman) continue to lie about defense spending and argue for reductions of it.

Meanwhile, I checked the FY2009 defense budget today (the last Bush defense budget). Bush’s request was for $515 bn in 2008 dollars. Its largest part was the portion devoted to strategic modernization ($183.8 bn in 2008 dollars, i.e. 35% of the total defense budget). O&M costs totalled 31%, and personnel and HC costs constituted 29% of the total proposed defense budget. The actual enacted DOD budget was $512 bn in 2008 dollars. These days, the O&M part is the largest part of the annual defense budget and the personnel & HC costs portion is the second-largest.

We shall see if the Congress will ratify Gates’s proposed defense budget without changes. We shall see if it will authorize the Next Generation Bomber program. Historically, the military’s attempts to start a next generation bomber program have been sabotaged by politicians in the White House and the Congress. In the 1950s, Eisenhower denied funding for it because he believed it to be unnecessary because ICBMs existed. Kennedy and LBJ also denied funding for them, even though they earlier supported it. And their Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara (known during WW2 as “that asshole major up at Wright-Pat”) was opposed to it. Eventually, the Congress stopped providing funding for it, even though both Chairman of the JCS Nathan Twining (1957-1960) and Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay (1961-1965) supported it. (

Then there was the B-1 program and the B-2 program, both of them sabotaged by politicians.


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