Margin Call: How to Cut a Trillion from Defense

Abstract

America’s military has proven incredibly effective and adaptive to the threats of the 9/11 era. It has not, however, been particularly cost-conscious. Insolvency is our gravest national security threat, and – thankfully – the Congress has finally gotten serious about dealing with it. Defense is in for a decade of austerity, of a magnitude that cannot be accommodated within current strategy and forces. Much higher risk will need to be accepted in how we fight our wars and address threats of lesser magnitude or longer lead times unless we find more innovative approaches. Foregoing counterinsurgencies, simplifying our war aims, protecting our advantages in creativity, restructuring military benefits, shifting greater responsibility to allies and emphasizing cost-exchange ratios in our operations will be necessary. It is a daunting list, and wearying to a military that has shouldered the burdens of wars for a decade with little contribution from our broader society. But it, or something like it, will also be necessary to redress the dangerous vulnerability or our debt.

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