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Healing the Wounded Giant

Healing the Wounded Giant: Maintaining Military Preeminence while Cutting the Defense Budget

Michael E. O’Hanlon
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 100
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  • Book Info
    Healing the Wounded Giant
    Book Description:

    President Barack Obama survived a tenuous economy and a toxic political environment to win re-election in 2012, but the bitter partisan divide in Washington survived as well. So did the country's huge fiscal deficit. in this, the latest in a long line of Brookings Institution analyses of the defense budget, Michael O'Hanlon considers how best to balance national security and fiscal responsibility during a period of prolonged economic stress and political acrimony-even as the world remains unsettled, from Afghanistan to Iran to Syria to the western Pacific region.

    O'Hanlon explains why the large defense cuts that would result from prolonged sequestration or from deficit-reduction projects such as the Bowles-Simpson plan are too deep. But the bulk of his book represents an effort to look for greater savings than the Obama administration's 2012 proposals would allow.

    Praise for the work of Michael O'Hanlon

    The Opportunity:"A practical and hard-headed analysis of how another Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty might be achieved"-Financial TimesThe Science of War:"Timely, thoughtful, and full of insight. A signal contribution to the field."-General David S. Petraeus, U.S. Army

    A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament:"O'Hanlon expertly unravels the myriad threads of the often abstruse disputes about nuclear weapons and disarmament."-New York Times Book Review

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2486-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Finance

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. 1 American Military Strategy and Grand Strategy
    (pp. 1-16)

    American national security strategy is premised on international presence, deterrence, and engagement. Jarred by the world wars into recognizing that its geographic isolation from most of the world’s industrial and resource centers did not allow it to stay out of other nations’ conflicts, the United States chose to stay active internationally after World War II. It developed a network of alliances throughout Western Europe, East Asia, parts of the broader Middle East, and Latin America.

    At times the United States was arguably not quick enough to form alliances, as when deterrence failed and North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950....

  6. 2 Army and Marine Corps Force Structure
    (pp. 17-34)

    Today’s U.S. Army is slightly larger than half a million soldiers strong, in the active force; the Marine Corps is at 200,000. Both numbers are headed downward, with the Iraq war over and Afghanistan winding down, to current targets of about 490,000 and 182,000, respectively. How much smaller, if any, can they become? And what about the Army reserve component in particular—another half million soldiers in all?

    Some historical perspective is in order. In World War II, the United States Army had nearly 6 million personnel on active duty (not counting the Army Air Force or other services).¹ During...

  7. 3 Air Force and Navy Force Structure
    (pp. 35-46)

    With its rebalancing to Asia as well as the new defense guidance, issued by the Pentagon in early 2012, that envisions avoiding large-scale stabilization missions, such as Afghanistan, in the future, some of the center of gravity of U.S. defense planning is shifting to the Navy and Air Force.

    This trend is most evident in the new “AirSea Battle” concept being touted by the two services. The concept emphasizes maintaining access to the global commons, and defense of overseas allies and interests, in light of the spread of advanced technologies (like antiship missiles) as well as the challenges posed by...

  8. 4 Modernization
    (pp. 47-54)

    Even after the cuts in planned weapons buys of recent years, it is still the case that we can rethink a number of weapons programs. Some weapons are bought partly out of bureaucratic inertia as well as logrolling by Congress. Some are simply unnecessary or, to be more precise, not worth the money even if they do provide certain attractive capabilities. As Admiral Gary Roughead and Kori Schake have argued, the services continue to add new performance requirements to weapons systems too far into the acquisition process.

    The so-called acquisition accounts—primarily research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) on the...

  9. 5 Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense, and Intelligence
    (pp. 55-59)

    Substantial defense spending savings can be realized in the broad domain of strategic capabilities and intelligence functions. The sums are not as large as they used to be, in the former case, and not as easy to scrutinize as the rest of the Defense Department budget, in the latter case. But several billion dollars a year in possible savings are at stake.

    Even though it has already come down dramatically since the end of the cold war, spending on nuclear weapons can be further reduced. The United States does not need all of the more than 1,500 strategic warheads allowed...

  10. 6 Military Compensation and Pentagon Reforms
    (pp. 60-70)

    Beyond cutting forces and weapons, are there ways to save money without directly reducing combat capability? Chuck Hagel, the new defense secretary, has called the Pentagon “bloated,” and in some ways it surely is. But Pentagon comptroller Bob Hale has noted that eliminating actual waste in the Department of Defense (DoD) often is difficult in a classic economic sense; more often, when cuts are made, capabilities are lost, even if they are less important ones.¹ In other words, the reform process is important, feasible, and promising as a way to save money—but there is no free lunch and there...

  11. 7 Conclusion—and the Implications of Prolonged Sequestration or the Equivalent
    (pp. 71-76)

    Defense spending cuts make sense only as part of a broader national effort of deficit reduction and economic renewal. The suggestions here are motivated not by any anti-defense agenda but rather by the goal of minimizing aggregate national security risk. There is no logic to doing so if entitlement policy, tax policy, and most other federal programs remain unchecked while the Pentagon is offered up as sacrificial lamb (along with domestic “discretionary” programs) in an unbalanced deficit reduction effort. However, done as part of a general national agenda of shared sacrifice, cuts of significant magnitude in defense may be feasible...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 77-82)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 83-94)
  14. Index
    (pp. 95-100)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 101-102)