Quotes From Those Who Know

Military Validators Support Reshaping the Pentagon to Meet 21st Century Challenges

Prioritizing Choices

Fmr. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: “Having this ready spigot of money hasn’t forced us to make the hard choices…It hasn’t forced us to prioritize. It hasn’t forced us to do the analysis. And it hasn’t forced us to limit ourselves and get to a point or deciding, in a very turbulent world, what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do.” [Adm. Mike Mullen, 04/28/11]

Air Force Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger: “The cuts are a chance to bring good ideas forward and have them get a fair, sound hearing in a way that (in) some other environments we don’t get the opportunity to put those good ideas on the table as readily.” [Dayton Daily News, 10/30/12]

Fmr. Navy Secretary and Romney advisor John Lehman: “I think we ought to let the government drive right over that cliff. The reason is because I think our system for providing the common defense is so broken that it would take a major crisis to be a catalyst to getting real change.” He argues that the upheaval would spark changes for the better because national leaders would be forced to rethink national defense. Too much money and too many resources are wasted, he said. “I’m not a fatalist…It’s not going to collapse. The Pentagon is a pretty strong building. There will be a lot of contract rewriting.” [Virginia Pilot, 12/06/12]

Meeting Today’s Security Challenges

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and Brig Gen. John Johns: “America’s power is more than a massive force structure and number of ships, tanks, and planes. A national security strategy must be based on current and future threats, not past war doctrines…the Pentagon budget needs to be on the table. Reducing wasteful spending on unneeded programs and outdated strategy will save money and enhance national security.” [CNN, 12/12/12]

The Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, led by Adm. Mike Mullen, placed a full page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal on reducing Pentagon spending stating, “In previous eras, increased defense spending may have been required to maintain security,” the group wrote in a joint statement. “That is no longer the case. In our judgment, advances in technological capabilities and the changing nature of threats make it possible, if properly done, to spend less on a more intelligent, efficient and contemporary defense strategy that maintains our military superiority and national security.” [Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, 12/05/12]

The Pentagon and Jobs

Robert Hale, Comptroller General of the Department of Defense: “I would prefer that job effects not enter into decisions about what we do in defense. We ought to propose and implement a good strategy for the nation, and the job issue, though very important, should be handled separately.” [Brookings Institute, 01/07/13]

Larry Korb, fmr. Asst. Secy of Defense has called claims that Pentagon cuts would cost nearly a million jobs — as asserted by the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that includes numerous defense contractors — both “bogus” and a disreputable form of “gunpoint stimulus.” [Foreign Policy, 07/02/12]

Rebuilding America’s Economic Strength

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey: “We are only as strong as those three pillars – diplomatic, military and economic – can interrelate with each other to achieve a common outcome. And if one of those pillars is weakened, they’re all weakened. So it makes no sense for us as a nation to have an extraordinarily capable military instrument of power if we are economically disadvantaged around the world. So we’ve got to rebalance ourselves.” [Martin Dempsey, 01/12/12]

Fmr. Defense Secretary Gates has cautioned that the U.S. “could only be as militarily strong as it was economically dynamic and fiscally sound.” According to Gates, while the 9/11 attacks may have “opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade…Given America’s difficult economic circumstances and parlous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny. The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.” [Bob Gates, 05/08/10]

Consensus: Reductions Safe and Reasonable

Gen. Colin Powell: “I hope he [Hagel] does find bloat and gets rid of it… bloated doesn’t necessarily mean the whole department is bloated. Bloated means there are probably things in the department that you can take a hard look at and determine whether or not you need it in light of the current situation and the strategy that we are implementing. You know, when– when I was chairman, we saw the end of the Soviet Union, a completely different change in– in our strategic positioning. And we eliminated a million troops and cut the budget 25 percent. That’s not the case now. But there’s no reason why a secretary of defense should go into office thinking can’t change anything, can’t cut anything. You know, the people who say that, oh, that’s terrible, he is going to try to find things to cut in the department are the same people who are saying we have got to cut spending, we have got to cut spending. Everything has to be looked at–entitlements, more revenue, and yes you have to look at the Defense Department to see if there are opportunities for savings.” [Meet the Press, 01/13/13]

Fmr. Asst. Secy of Defense Larry Korb: “Returning to a 2007-size budget in 2013 is doable. If you can’t run the Pentagon on $500 billion, then something is wrong.” [Fiscal Times, 12/14/12]

Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the top military official in charge of Air Force acquisition: “There are definitely going to be cuts. We know that’s a given,” He said it was unlikely the Pentagon’s budget would remain unscathed even if it can avoid sequestration. [Reuters, 12/21/12]

Nuclear Reductions

Gen. James Cartwright: “The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the Cold War. There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we’re really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.” [New York Times, 05/15/12]

Frm. Asst. Secy of Defense Larry Korb: “Our nuclear arsenal is expensive to maintain and largely useless in combating threats facing the nation today. Even the Pentagon concedes that deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force.” [Fiscal Times, 12/14/12]

Defense Industry and Experts Agrees that Pentagon Spending Can Come Down Safely

Consensus: Reductions Safe and Reasonable

David Langstaff, president and chief executive of TASC, said at an event at the National Press Club in December that Pentagon executives can no longer expect “an indefinite extension of defense spending at current levels…[defense contractors] are talking a good game, but are still unwilling to park short-term self-interest.” Langstaff believes that the Pentagon budget could be reduced up to $150 billion over 10 years. He went on to say “Every trade group, special interest and corporate lobbyist is up on Capitol Hill clamoring that Congress solve the problem, avoid the fiscal cliff and not default to sequestration…but, don’t touch my budgets! We can’t have it both ways…we need to stop pretending there’s a scenario out there that offers no defense cuts.” [National Press Club, 12/03/12]

At the National Press Club event, Aerospace Industrial Association President Marion Blakey was asked whether Wes Bush, David Hess, and David Langstaff were breaking ranks when they said that further cuts to defense spending were both inevitable and acceptable. In response, Blakey said: “They weren’t breaking ranks at all. They were being very, very consistent with what we are advancing and truly believe, and that is what we do have to have a balanced solution. Everything on the table, we believe.” [National Press Club, 12/03/12]

Raytheon CEO William Swanson, one of the few who’s overseen previous defense drawdowns, said: “This is all about not panicking. This is about both feet on the ground, looking at it and making sure you’re prepared…The best thing that we can do as a company is to be able to provide the best amount of security that we can for our workforce.” [Defense News, 07/22/12]

Mike Madsen, president of Honeywell’s defense and space unit: “We recognize these cuts are going to happen. We’re not really fighting these — they need to occur.” [Market Watch, 11/19/12]

Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute: “We appear to be at the beginning of a long downward trend. You don’t need sequestration in order for that trend to unfold.” [Politico, 12/26/12]

Erich Fischer and Marty Bollinger, analysts at Booz Allen: “Tackling the fiscal situation — both in the U.S. and globally — will require that defense spending be reduced further… It is hard to overstate the extent of the downturn.” Survival in such an environment, they said, will require “self-amputation.” [Politico, 12/26/12]

James Hasik, Hasik Analytics: “Industry executives are expecting cuts. None of them are under the illusion that it’s going to keep raining money like this.” [Defense News, 01/02/13]

Mackenzie Eaglen, American Enterprise Institute: “Here’s the dirty secret in Washington: a majority of Congress can live with this volume of defense cuts.” [This Week in Defense News, 01/07/13]

Ret. Gen. Lawrence Ferrell, Defense Industry Association: “We know that even if sequestration doesn’t happen, defense will have to cut billions.” [Fox News, 01/14/13]

Industry Can Withstand Sequestration

Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute: “They [defense firms] don’t want sequestration but they’re capable of dealing with it,” [The Hill, 12/25/12]

Samir Mehta, president Sirkorsky Military Systems: “It’s very easy to be focused on the short term in the next two to three years, and say, ‘Boy, the meteor’s coming at us and we’re headed for really tough times,’ but if you look at this industry over the next 20-30 years, it’s going to be vibrant.” [Reuters, 11/28/12]

Said Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman, at the National Press Club event: “If done in a pragmatic and managed way … we all know that we can deal with tough challenges.” [National Press Club, 12/03/12]

Todd Harrison, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments: Compared to a default, then, sequestration actually looks almost sane. “I don’t think this [sequestration] is the apocalypse…I think it is very short-sighted, but it’s not the end of the world, we’ll survive if it happens…If you do it smartly and you’re actually willing to make hard strategic choices you could at the end of this come out stronger.” [AOL Defense, 01/09/13]

Pentagon Isn’t a Jobs Program

And in a major departure from defense contractor rhetoric of the last two years, Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush went on to acknowledge that the industry’s highly funded effort to take Pentagon reductions off the table “was excessively focused on the number of jobs that would be lost. Defense should not be viewed only as a jobs program.” [National Press Club, 12/03/12]

William Hartung, Center for International Policy: “The Aerospace Industries Association has been grossly exaggerating the job losses that are likely to occur. Job losses under sequestration are likely to be one-third to one-half the levels claimed by the industry.” Compared dollar-by-dollar and job-by-job to other forms of federal spending, such as education or infrastructure, he said, “military spending is a particularly poor job creator.” [AOL Defense, 12/06/12]

Members of Congress and Pentagon Spending

The Pentagon and Jobs

Rep. Judy Chu: “Republicans claim they’re concerned about job losses from defense cuts, but the fact is non-defense cuts will likely cost more jobs and will clearly harm many more Americans than trimming our over-bloated military budget. If Republicans really care about job losses – and if they really care about minimizing the harm that sequestration will cause – they should protect all the American people, not just those they favor. They should support a balanced plan.” [The Hill, 11/08/12]

In a SASC hearing on President Obama’s defense budget, Sen. Lindsey Graham noted, defense manufacturing was not “a job creator for America.” [NBC, 02/14/12]

Meeting Today’s Security Challenges

Rep. Barbara Lee: “The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era weapons system designed to fight a phantom Soviet army. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union long gone — nonetheless, today we are spending above Cold War levels in real, inflation-corrected terms. It is time to say enough is enough; we need to rein in Pentagon spending after the last decade of unchecked increases, and spend our security dollars wisely on proven programs that can meet our national security goals. [Huffington Post, 12/05/12]

Rep. Barney Frank: “Russia does not have anything like the capacity it had at the height of the Cold War. We still have the capacity to destroy them. Can we not say to the Pentagon, ‘You know, those three ways you have of destroying the Soviet Union, please pick two?’ Would we not be very secure against a Soviet nuclear attack if we had two instead of three, and could save billions of dollars?” [Boston Globe, 12/20/12]

Rep. Mick Mulvaney and Rep. Keith Ellison: “We can disagree about the proper amount of defense spending, but it is clear that recent growth has not been tied to strategic needs. It has been, simply, growth for the sake of growth…we know that achieving defense savings and keeping our nation safe is possible. Smaller defense budgets in the past more than adequately provided for a strong national defense, even during the height of the Cold War.” [Huffington Post, 12/21/12]

Rep. Barney Frank: “We no longer have weak nations in central and western Europe. We no longer have a belligerent threat to them. One thing hasn’t changed. We’re still there. With tens of billions of dollars of American money protecting the strong nations against a nonexistent threat.” [Boston Globe, 12/20/12]

Waste and Accountability

Sen. Tom Harkin: “Let’s take a hard look at waste and inefficiencies in the Pentagon budgets and we’ll be happy to take a look at waste and inefficiencies in the non-defense budget. Let’s match them up. I mean, that’s ridiculous. We can do a lot without harming our national defense. We can’t just take it all out of non-defense discretionary.” [Huffington Post, 07/25/12]

Rep. Barbara Lee: “Vast savings can be realized by treating the Pentagon like any other government agency that is subject to oversight and transparency standards. Nearly 60 cents of every federal discretionary dollar now goes toward defense spending, and by the Pentagon’s own admission, it cannot properly account for how the money is spent. There is no doubt that these circumstances have contributed to instances of waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon.” [Huffington Post, 07/25/12]

Sen. Tom Coburn: “Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies.” [The Hill, 11/15/12]

Consensus: Reductions Safe and Reasonable

Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member, HASC: “At a certain point the industry has to deal with what’s coming at them. They did what they could, but just the broader challenges of addressing our deficit issues are too great for anyone at this point.” [The Hill, 01/06/13]

Rep. Jack Kingston: “Here’s the reality: You cannot reduce spending unless you get into the three sacred cows: retirement, healthcare and military spending. If you look at spending $80 million on NASCAR, $37 million on the Blue Angels, $70 billion in Europe … that doesn’t sound like an impoverished budget.” [The Hill, 01/06/13]

Sen. Rand Paul: “Republicans who think military spending, myself [included], who think national defense is important, should compromise and say, you know what, not every dollar spent on the military’s sacred, we can reduce the military spending, that’s a compromise.” [ABC News, 11/19/12]

Sen. Roy Blunt, SASC member: “I do think it is time to really look carefully at the cost impact, the effectiveness of the defense dollars we spend. I’m certainly not of the group that says that defense has to be off the table.” [St. Louis Beacon, 01/11/13]

Sen. Lindsey Graham, SASC member: “I believe we can reduce defense spending in a responsible manner through reform and efficiencies. America is on an unsustainable spending path that represents a real threat to our way of life, including our national security. So in these fiscally challenging times, we don’t have any other option than to put the defense budget on the table.” [Politico, 10/23/11]

Leave a Reply