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Blueprint for Defense Transformation

The defense budget is a complicated document. Depending on which baselines, inflation adjustment estimates and supplemental items one includes, clever advocates can make the numbers say almost anything they wish them to say.

This past March Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the spigot of increasingly large defense budgets had been turned off—as he proposed a FY2010 baseline budget of “only” $534 billion. The momentousness of that announcement, however, did not seem to match the number. While it’s true that the Joint Chiefs prepared a budget for the incoming Obama Administration calling for $584 billion in FY2010—$50 billion more than the Gates proposal and some $60 billion more than the Bush Administration had projected for that year—last year’s budget had been $518 billion, $16 billion less than the proposed FY2010 baseline.

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