Part of a Series
Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey released details of the Pentagon’s plan to reduce projected military spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years. At first glance, nearly half a trillion dollars in reductions might sound like a huge cut. But in reality, if Panetta’s reductions survive Congress, the baseline defense budget will fall by just $6 billion next year and resume its growth thereafter.
Let’s be clear: Secretary Panetta’s $6 billion reduction for the next fiscal year is a positive first step and a major achievement. It will be the first real reduction in baseline defense spending in more than a decade. Even more importantly, with his budget adjustments, Secretary Panetta has seized the opportunity to address some of the long-term strategic and fiscal challenges facing the Pentagon, including shifting to a posture focused on 21st century threats and working to stem the unsustainable growth of the Pentagon’s personnel costs.
But with the fiscal year 2013 budget request topping $500 billion, there is a long way to go to reach sustainable levels of defense spending and bring the Pentagon budget back in line with historical norms—as we explain below.
For more on this topic, please see:
- Panetta’s Trimmed Defense Budget Is a Good First Step—but It Isn’t Enough by Lawrence J. Korb, Max Hoffman, and Alex Rothman