Let the Games Begin: Bowles-Stimson, Defense, and the Way Forward

November 12, 2010

by Gordon Adams
The Stimson Center

The presidential debt commission co-chairs (Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson) decided to move forward yesterday and present the package they want the commission to discuss over the next two weeks. In defense, it is a striking package, with a great deal of merit and no small amount of courage in tow. It also has one critical weakness, which I will come to.

The package puts defense squarely on the table in the overall effort to reduce the deficit and get the debt under control. It lays out a very detailed set of options, including procurement savings from terminating or cutting back on major programs (like the V-22 and the F-35), a 3-year military and civlian pay freeze, and a variety of efficiency savings, many of which have been advanced for years by the Congressional Budget Office.

The merit and importance of expanding the debate on future defense budgets this way is great. Just one missing piece; none of the co-chairs proposals are explicitly derived from a different view on how the US engages the world and the missions we give to the armed forces. They seemed to have set a budget cutting target, then grasped a variety of options to get there. The options are great, the context is missing.

Stay tuned for the release next week of the Bipartisan Policy Center's report on budget options, which will include defense options more closely linked to strategy.

This piece was first published on the Capital Gains and Games blog, on November 11, 2010.

Posted by coalition at November 12, 2010 09:40 PM

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