President Obama’s call for the Pentagon to slash another $400 billion dollars in spending over the next 12 years must “start with a strategy rather than a budget number,” said Rudy Deleon, former deputy defense secretary.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already found that amount in cuts in recent years. But Gates has said the additional cuts would affect defense missions and operations.
To decide how and where to cut, the Defense Department must first determine the size of its force and the number and types of missions, Deleon said.
“You can’t do more with less, you can’t do more with fewer people,” he said.
In the past decade, DoD has taken a “high-op tempo” in terms of ground troops in the Middle East. The department now might want to “take a deep breath and be a little more selective where we make our commitment and put our troops,” Deleon said.
The Pentagon must also question whether it has neglected resources it regions outside of the Middle East, such as the Pacific or Mexico.
The DoD budget is the largest piece of discretionary spending, and a gaping national debt will no doubt turn policy decisions to defense operations, Deleon said.
“If (DoD) is not returning to a bal budget of 11 years ago, at least it’s stepping forward to work on a plan that moves in that direction,” he said.
Deleon is currently on the Defense Policy Board, and Senior Vice President of National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress.