The Magazine

Be Alarmed . . . Be Very Alarmed

Aug 11, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 45 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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The panel judges that “the reductions since then have been imposed with no analysis of their impact on short or long-term readiness” and believes “it highly likely, given the events of the last three years, that the Gates proposed fiscal 2012 baseline budget will not be adequate to prepare the Defense Department for the challenges ahead. But it is the minimum required to reverse course and set the military on a more stable footing.” Such a minimally acceptable budget would imply an increase of about $100 billion a year over the next decade above the current defense budget baseline. Put otherwise, we need something like a 20 percent increase in defense spending.

This is not because the panel is enamored of performing heroic tasks abroad. It’s simply because “today the Department is facing major readiness shortfalls that will, absent a decisive reversal of course, create the possibility of a hollow force that loses its best people, underfunds procurement, and shortchanges innovation. The fact that each service is experiencing degradations in so many areas at once is especially troubling at a time of growing security challenges.”

The National Defense Panel’s report is in no way alarmist. But it is surely alarming. Have we sunk to such a depth that, having received this report, we will choose to close our ears, avert our eyes, and shirk our duty?

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