Panetta’s Challenge

When the President announced his new national security team last week most of the attention focused on David Petraeus at CIA and the problem of winding down the war in Afghanistan. Leon Panetta’s nomination as Secretary of Defense went almost unnoticed, by comparison.

But Panetta has the bigger challenge: how to manage a build down in …

CBO Defense Option #2

Another Congressional Budget Office way to trim defense spending is to slow the rate of growth in troops’ pay. That’s going to be a tough sell, especially during wartime. For a decade, Congress has boosted the Pentagon’s annual recommendation that military pay raises match the employment cost index by adding 0.5% to each year’s ECI. …

CBO On Defense Options

Every year, the green eye-shade crowd at the Congressional Budget Office takes its weed-whacker to the federal budget in its poetically-titled Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options. The CBO doesn’t make any recommendations about what its masters — those would be the members of Congress — should do. It simply lists some …

Speaking of Government-Provided Health Care

Military retirees know that their family insurance payments under the so-called Tricare program — $460 a year, where they have been since 1995 — are going the way of the gramophone record. Given that hikes are inevitable, their leaders are telling them they should embrace the modest fee increases currently proposed — and then push for …

Obama Sharpens Pentagon Ax

It was only three months ago that Defense Secretary Robert Gates rolled out $78 billion in Pentagon spending cuts he said the nation could safely make over the next five years. His boss, President Obama, just announced that Gates’ trims are only a down payment on the cuts the Defense Department needs to make.

Over the last two years,

"Pay The Guys With The Guns First"

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a savvy guy. “A smart thing for government is always to pay the guys with the guns first,” he jokingly told U.S. soldiers Thursday in Baghdad. But it’s not really funny: he warned 175 U.S. troops — on behalf of more than 1 million of their comrades — that their mid-April paycheck might be only 50 …

The Pentagon Role in the Budget Debate: Inputs v. Outputs

Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to cut the federal budget is garnering a lot of attention because it makes tough choices. Except when it comes to defense spending, that is. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee embraces the twin tom-toms used by those who think it’s perfectly fine for the U.S. to …

D.C.'s National-Security Political Musical Chairs

The Washington buzz machine is in overdrive, whispering that U.S. Army Gen. Dave Petraeus will be leaving Afghanistan later this year to take the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency. The current CIA boss, Leon Panetta, is rumored to be moving to the Pentagon to take over for Robert Gates (as Joe Klein suggested might happen three …

More Fire For Gates

Elliott Abrams, the polarizing Reagan Administration State Department official, now hangs his hat at the centrist Council on Foreign Relations. But there’s no moderation in his zinging of Defense Secretary Robert Gates for some of his comments Thursday before Congress. Abrams especially didn’t like Gates’ eyebrow raising remark that …

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