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“Modest reforms to pay and compensation will improve readiness and modernization. It will help keep our all-volunteer force sustainable and strong. Keeping faith also means investing sufficient resources so that we can uphold our sacred obligations to defend the nation and to send our sons and daughters to war with only the best training, leadership and equipment. We can’t shrink from our obligations to one another. The stakes are too high.”

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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Thursday
Oct062011

More Strategy, Less Politics 

Among the evidence that the defense budget is driven by politics rather than strategy, the consistent one-third breakdown of the services’ shares of the budget is an obvious example.

At the beginning of his tenure, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen wasn’t willing to directly address why the budget was so evenly shared among the services. 

But as he was leaving office he changed his tune, as Inside Defense reported in late September:

 In a speech Thursday to Business Executives for National Security, [Mullen] said the ‘one-third, one-third, one-third’ approach to funding the three military departments could be obsolete. ‘I don't know if that's right,’ Mullen said. ‘Actually, if it isn't right, we need to change that.’

While the one-third arrangement may help the Joint Chiefs get along, creating an overall force structure that reflects strategy should be a higher priority than avoiding inter-service rivalry. Its impressive to see as prominent a figure as Mullen reach that conclusion during his term as head of the Joint Chiefs.

Reader Comments (1)

I keep throwing this in: the one-third shares bit is a complete non-issue. For one thing, it is not one-thirds, as I keep pointing out. For 11 or 12 years, after the end of the Cold War, it was Navy and Air Force alternating between 31 and 32 percent, and the Army at a constant 24 percent, with Defense-Wide varying from 14 to 19 percent across the ttime. And then since Iraq and Afghanistan, not couinting OCO, the Air Force and Army are at 26 percent and the Navy at 29 percent, the rest being Defense-Wide. And then let us remember that the Navy Department budget includes that other ground force, the Marines, and the Air Force includes NRO and other Black projects, plus just about all the space and communications projects that benefit the other Services. All of this happens because the determination of the defense budget is made (1) by the White House OMB based on the tolerable deficit (now intolerable) and then whether you continue to support the forces you got. There is no zero-based budgeting. So the whole one-third business is silly. As for "strategy," does any reader know what the hell it is? Barno says it's "engagement." Where does he get that. Bill Lynn going out says "used to be Two Major Combat Ooperations, and now we may have to settle for One." And the QDR says the U.S. military has to manage the whole world. In short, everyone involved has his/her own strategy. And any "strategy" I've ever seen, since not costed, requires doubling the defense budget. No wonder we lost the Cold War!

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHank Gaffney
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