Gary Schmitt, writing at Fox News:
Faced with an annual deficit total approaching $1.5 trillion, it was natural that the new Republican majority in the House would look to cut government spending. And because the Department of Defense is, by far, the largest piece of the pie when it comes to the “discretionary” part of the federal budget, it became a natural target for reductions.
As was repeated ad nauseum by many on the Hill and by pundits, defense had to be “on the table” if the deficit was to be tackled.
The result was enactment of the budget control act this past year that mandated more than $450 billion in defense cuts and, potentially, another $500 billion if the “super committee” could not agree on a deficit-reduction plan to pare back the federal deficit—which it didn’t.
However, all of these numbers were divorced from two key points.
The first is that defense had already been “on the table.” Even before the elections in 2010, the Obama administration had already reduced planned defense expenditures by nearly $400 billion, eliminating among other things the continued procurement of the F-22, the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.
Second, while it is true that the defense budget had grown substantially since the attacks on 9/11, most of that growth had come from expenditures tied to the wars and pay and benefits for our all-volunteer military force.