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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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BPC lends a helping hand

Our friends at the Rivlin-Domenci Debt Reduction Task Force are back on the defense spending scene.  In a meaty blog post published last Thursday, Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center writes that:

As policymakers consider cuts to defense spending, they must ask themselves a pivotal question: Will these changes make our military more intelligent and effective while keeping the essential strength of the U.S. armed forces intact? The challenge of answering this question in the affirmative represents the fine line that Panetta must walk in his pursuit. The Task Force believes, however, that he and his staff have the capability to do just that.

Indeed. It was with that goal in mind that Gordon Adams and I advised the Task Force last year, and it also underpinned our “Leaner and Meaner” essay in Foreign Affairs.  In both, we were inspired by the fact that:

Even with these reductions, and after adjusting for inflation, U.S. defense spending in FY 2018 would be well above the Cold War average. The United States would remain the world's dominant military power and as able as it is today to deploy its military force globally, fight al Qaeda, respond to present and future security challenges, and act as a peacekeeper and a major deterrent force. Befitting its priority missions, the U.S. military would have fewer ground troops, continuing air superiority, a large naval capability, and a force more focused overall on combat -- and it would better ensure the security of the United States. And by choosing to undertake only tailored missions and to fund them with disciplined budgets, the Pentagon would also be contributing vitally to the country's broader fiscal health.

With the super-committee entering its last days, the search is on for ways that Congress can budget more intelligently than sequester.  Seems like a great time to give both the Rivlin-Domenici and Simpson-Bowles defense options a second look.