SecDef Gates has testified before Congress about the next defense budget. A lot of people are going to be crying about this or that, but overall, I don’t think it’s all that bad.
First, I don’t think anyone can claim I’m an Obama defender, but when people start crying about cuts in the defense budget, remember, the total budget went up. What we are talking about here is program cuts. And there are a lot of programs that frankly, we can live without.
From the Secretary’s prepared remarks:
We will stop the growth of Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) at 45 versus 48 while maintaining the planned increase in end strength of 547,000. This will ensure that we have better-manned units ready to deploy, and help put an end to the routine use of stop loss. This step will also lower the risk of hollowing the force.
Sixth, and finally, we will significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. We will retain and accelerate the initial increment of the program to spin out technology enhancements to all combat brigades. However, I have concluded that there are significant unanswered questions concerning the FCS vehicle design strategy. I am also concerned that, despite some adjustments, the FCS vehicles – where lower weight, higher fuel efficiency, and greater informational awareness are expected to compensate for less armor – do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current vehicle program, developed nine years ago, does not include a role for our recent $25 billion investment in the MRAP vehicles being used to good effect in today’s conflicts.
Guys, this is about as good as we could hope for. In fact, it ain’t bad at all. Here’s the thing- Obama doesn’t care about this stuff. Working on the details of the Defense Budget is well, work. Since he doesn’t care to work, he left Gates in charge of it. And Gates has made mostly grown-up decisions. Sure, there’s room for disagreement, but overall, he’s made choices that can be logically defended.
H/T: Information Dissemination for the prepared remarks. Go visit him to see the impact on the other services as well.