Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sought to spin some relatively trivial cuts in weapons programs as fiscal responsibility in the era of record military budgets, and seems to have had at least some success, with numerous papers touting the “major cuts” and calling his plan the first significant cut since 9/11.
The cuts were, of course, largely illusory. The 2011 military budget is the largest ever, and despite claims that the plan reflects the “absolute minimum” spending, each subsequent year through the end of the projections in 2016 is larger than the last.
Rather what Secretary Gates has accomplished is to announce an extremely minor cut in the rate of the growth of the enormous budget, with most of the imagined savings backloaded to 2015 and 2016, giving plenty of time for even this to be pared away.
Gates’ efforts are primarily a function of the Republican House of Representatives looking at possible military cuts. If Gates can spin his slight decrease in growth as sufficient, the assumption is that they will look elsewhere.