Analyst: Keep defense cuts in place, avoid 'exaggerated rhetoric'

While congressional defense hawks like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) want to completely void the additional Pentagon cuts, Hartung echoed other analysts when he offered a few specifics on what things the military could shed to save cash.

Pentagon chief Leon Panetta and several GOP presidential candidates have joined McKeon in arguing the $600 billion in cuts over 10 years would hinder U.S. national security. But Hartung and others have their doubts.

“At a time when nuclear weapons serve no useful military purpose, we should terminate funding for a new generation of nuclear bombers and submarines,” Hartung said. “And since it is extremely unlikely that we will engage again in wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should also stop preparing for large-scale, ‘boots-on-the-ground conflicts."

“These steps alone could save hundreds of billions of dollars,” Hartung said.

During Tuesday's debate, Republican presidential candidates will likely call for robust Pentagon budgets and to undo the Budget Control Act’s defense cuts provision.

“We need leaders who will make hard choices that serve the national interest rather than engaging in exaggerated rhetoric designed to protect their own turf or curry favor with special interests,” Hartung said.
The CIP analyst also highlighted a statistic increasingly bandied about by proponents of allowing the Pentagon cuts to occur: if the automatic cuts are carried out through a process known as sequestration, the Defense Department’s annual budget "would remain at 2007 levels."

“And the 2007 Pentagon budget was one of the highest since World War II," he said.