How Politics Will Shape The Defense Downturn (From Forbes)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have been making a series of remarks during their final months in office stressing the importance of providing robust funding for new military technology. They say that the savings needed to fund modernization in a flat defense budget should be found in areas like overhead and compensation (especially healthcare benefits). That’s sound advice given the slow pace of weapons replacement since the Cold War ended, but the political system isn’t likely to heed it. Because politics is mainly about getting and keeping power, the system will tend to preserve the things Gates & Company want to cut while cutting the things they want to preserve. In other words, there will be more consumption and less investment. I have written an essay on this subject at Forbes.com that can be found here.