‘Pentagon’s Worst Nightmare’

The Daily Beast
August 3, 2011

Since 9/11, Pentagon officials have had no trouble getting whatever they needed from Congress. But all that’s about to change with the debt deal, which could slash defense spending.

During a decade of warfare, the Pentagon mostly had its way with budgets, as Congress was reluctant to turn down many spending requests for troops in the field. There was billions here for IED-detection and billions there for weapons like the F-35 joint strike fighter, the Virginia class of submarines, or the Predator drone.

Sometimes defense officials even got money for projects they didn’t request, such as armored vehicles known as MRAPs (mine-resistant and ambush-protected) that top military officials said were not a good investment. The end result was the Pentagon’s base budget swelled from $307 billion in 2001 to $529 billion this year, a 72 percent increase over 10 years.

And while the Pentagon was just beginning to trim its spending over the last year, the debt deal approved by Congress this week raises the possibility of steeper cuts between $350 billion and $800 billion over the next decade. And that has left even the most veteran Pentagon budget watchers surprised.

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