Retired military officials say they’re concerned about potential automatic budget cuts to the Defense Department which may equal up to $500 billion over the next 10 years, in addition to the nearly $500 billion the Pentagon has already cut from its budget over the time.
“There’s no way that it won’t take place,” retired Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force chief of staff, said during a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Fogleman, along with former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, worried about the so-called sequestration cuts – automatic cuts set to take effect October 1 unless Congress changes the law requiring $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next decade.
Resistance to cutting the defense budget is perverse after a decade of excessive increases in military expansion. The national security budget for FY 2012 totals around $1.2 trillion, or approximately one-third of the entire budget. That’s more than the rest of the world combined.
The debate about defense cuts is very misleading, though. What is really at stake is reductions in the rate of growth of defense spending. True cuts are not even being considered.
The minuscule defense cuts being contemplated could easily target areas of waste. As a recent report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found, while the source of growth in annual defense budgets since 2001 has been mostly (54%) due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of the rest has been spent on wasteful superfluous weapons technology, bloated salaries and benefits plans, and expensive peacetime operating costs for the 900-plus military bases in 130-plus countries around the world. But Washington is committed to an ever-expanding empire.