The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Having your Cake and Eating it Too: US Defense Cuts without Capability Cuts

June 7, 2013

The Center for a New American Security released a report yesterday entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending.”[1]  In it, they lay out some very basic (but very fundamental) ways that the DoD can cut costs but “preserve a strong and highly capable U.S. military.”  Many of the suggested cuts seem like something you would see Dunder Mifflin being advised to do: reduce redundancy in IT management, cut pay allowances, increase pharmaceutical cost sharing, etc.

And, perhaps that’s the beauty of the plan: reduce normal day-to-day business expenses in such a way that it allows the DoD to keep its current level of military readiness.  It seems like a no-brainer but will definitely take across-the-aisle and across-the-civilian-military-gap support:

In an era of increasing fiscal austerity, DOD will be less and less able to provide those forces if increasingly inefficient and wasteful business processes and spiraling personnel costs continue unabated – and that is a price that the United States simply cannot afford to pay (42).



[1] My former PhD student, Katherine Kidder, is an author on the report.  Go, Kate, go!

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Amanda Murdie is Professor & Dean Rusk Scholar of International Relations in the Department of International Affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She is the author of Help or Harm: The Human Security Effects of International NGOs (Stanford, 2014). Her main research interests include non-state actors, and human rights and human security.

When not blogging, Amanda enjoys hanging out with her two pre-teen daughters (as long as she can keep them away from their cell phones) and her fabulous significant other.