MYTH: We need a larger Pentagon budget to address increasing dangerous threats in the Middle East.
• In January, the Department of Defense released a new strategic posture designed to rebalance the military “at a moment of transition” as “we end today’s wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan]” and move forward to “focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific.” That transition takes into account “reductions in federal spending, including military spending.”
• National security experts have built on this foundation. In May, the Center for New American Security released a detailed blueprint that builds on the Pentagon’s strategy to achieve “sustainable preeminence” and “maintain America’s military preeminence but spend less on defense by operating more efficiently and effectively.”
• The American public overwhelmingly agrees that it is time to strengthen our economic security to combat our international competitors.
• National security leaders such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey have stated that thoughtful Pentagon spending reform can increase our security: “[W]e have come to grips fairly effectively, I think, with the interrelationship of the diplomatic, military and economic instruments. And if you’re wondering why this is being — our grand strategy is being renegotiated in terms of outcomes in the face of the nation’s budget crisis, it’s because, truly, we are only as strong as those three pillars — diplomatic, military and economic — can interrelate with each other to achieve a common outcome.”
• Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter explains, “Sequester was supposed to be … a trigger so irrational that the prospect of it would … drive the leadership to do what was needed, which was to put together an overall budget package for the nation’s finances that could win wide support.” Former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy agrees that “The onus is really on Congress to exercise the discipline, the political courage, the pragmatism to reach a budget deal that avoids sequestration, which would impose draconian cuts in a mindless way that would have severe and negative impacts for our national security… I think frankly we would be wise to spend our time trying to build a balanced package … tax reform, spending cuts, and more investment in things that drive American competitiveness.”
• Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces has addressed the need to shift to updated, and in many cases less expensive, defense mechanisms to meet 21st century threats, stating that “The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war.”
Bottom Line: Our Pentagon budget should strategically take into consideration all of our international goals – from our economic strength to our national security. Any claims that we should increase our Pentagon budget to address threats in the Middle East ignore the advice of military leaders, national security experts, and the American public.