Time to Discipline DOD

August 02, 2010

The Disappointing Perry-Hadley Report
by Gordon Adams

The struggle to discipline the defense budget and reign in the Department of Defense has begun. Growing concern about the deficit, combined with growing disenchantment at the ever-expanding global US military presence and the growing role of DOD in our foreign policy have combined to put this issue squarely on the table.

The latest round in this debate is the report of the Independent Review Panel on the DOD Quadrennial Defense Review. This report, chaired by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former National Security Adviser Steven Hadley, is longer than the Quadrennial Defense Review itself. The following column on that report is one I wrote for the National Journal national security experts' blog, published today, August 2, 2010:

The Perry-Hadley report, for all its detail, is a great disappointment. It betrays the continuing "suspension of disbelief" already painfully evident in the report the panel was created to critique: the Quadrennial Defense Review. Instead of bringing realism and discipline to defense planning, the report simply "doubles down" on the QDR, calling for even more forces and more spending. The report willfully avoids three pressing national security realities.

The first is our looming fiscal crisis, which JCS Chairman Mike Mullen has called "our biggest national security threat." The report simply waives this issue aside; DOD planning, it seems to argue, must be done outside this context, as if budgets and the need for restraint did not exist.

Second, the Perry-Hadley report, like the QDR, assumes that all military missions are a priority, all are urgent, and the forces must grow to perform all of them. From counter-insurgency/stabilization/occupation/nation-building on the one hand, to a massive expansion of the forces for conventional war/deterrence/allied reassurance on the other, the report calls for more mission expansion, and, by implication, for even more funding than the unprecedented level of defense spending we already have today. There is, here, no realistic assessment of the likelihood of challenges, no prioritization of missions, and no discrimination about US choices and interests.

Third, the report, like too many of our national security documents, assumes that US strategy should be driven by a Manichean world view, where threats around the globe are ever more present, dangerous, and challenging. While it pleads for a "whole of government" approach to our security, the focus of that "whole of government" is intended to pull all the US civilian architecture into the dark hole of perceived growing global violence and threat, to support military planning and deployment, focusing our civilian institutions on the way DOD should see the world.

Read the rest here.

This item first appeared on August 2, 2010 at The Huffington Post.

Posted by coalition at August 2, 2010 01:54 PM

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