Citing War Strain, Pentagon Warns Against Spending Cuts

Gates, Mullen Push Senate for 'Sustained Support'

Speaking today to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reported that cuts to military spending would mean a military that “will be able to go fewer places and be able to do fewer things.”

In the midst of three open-ended wars and endless attacks across the Middle East, one would think this might be a selling point, though Gates clearly didn’t intend it as such. Rather, he warned that the military faces “a diverse range of threats” and needs to retain funding at a level unrivaled in the history of humankind.

Both Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen addressed the subcommittee today and the message was, as ever, that the record current military budget represents underfunding and that even the “cuts” to the rate of growth going forward are major threats that could tear the US military, which receives almost ten times as much money annually as any other nation, to bits.

The current line of argument is that all those open-ended wars are really putting a strain on the military, and that not only do they need the increased funding to “reset” the force to its pre-war positions, but that it also needs money to continue those wars.

Which seems pretty obviously an endless cycle. Admiral Mullen admitted only yesterday that the US will be in Afghanistan long after 2014, and Secretary Gates has openly suggested the US might stay in Iraq for “decades” more. The Libyan War is still escalating, while US strikes in Yemen and Pakistan both continue apace. Even if the military is giving extra “reset” money, it seems the wars will ensure that the strain and need for more money is never-ending.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.