May 1, 2011  


for his call to find another $400 billion in defense budget savings over 10 years. Finding those savings on top of the $400 billion already slashed from long-term spending over the past two years won’t be easy. But it can and must be done. Soaring personnel costs must be brought under control so that they don’t squeeze out modernization and equipment needs. There needs to be better oversight of contractor use and a tighter rein on contract labor costs. Efficiency reforms begun by Defense Secretary Robert Gates must continue after his expected retirement later this year. These moves will ultimately create a more efficient and stronger military while being part of a broader national security effort to tame the nation’s budget deficit. That said, top-down pressure must be applied to ensure that the cuts are, in fact, cuts and not savings previously identified or for canceled programs that resurface under new names. Obama is right to put the fiscal pressure on the Pentagon and to signal the message that times have changed. But follow-up by the president, Congress and by Gates’ successor will be key.