Old Whine in a New Pentagon Budget Bottle

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That was the headline from the Pentagon’s official news service report on Monday’s release of the Defense Department’s proposed 2013 military spending plan. It’s a safe bet other reporters will echo that refrain in the coming days.

Not exactly stop-the-presses news, you think? Turns out you have a good memory – or have waded through too many Defense Department budget cycles and realize this quest for agility is Pentagon’s perpetual Holy Grail:

Pentagon wants agile force for new threats

— Gannett News Service, February 2006

Bush proposes ‘more agile, lethal’ military

— Cox News Service, August 2004

Military changes buying habits to optimize speed and agility

— Aviation Week, February 2002

War in Afghanistan marks shift in military culture; DoD’s chief of transformation says plans call for mental agility

— Air Force Times, December 2001

Pentagon strategy shifting to agility, better home defense

— Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 2001

Bush Vows an Agile, High-tech Military

— The Associated Press, May 2001

In the reporting trade, these kinds of stories are referred to as “evergreens” – because they’re always true, they can run pretty much any time. But just because the Pentagon re-announces its quest for agility is no reason for the press to embrace it as it it’s something actually new.