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Healing the Wounded Giant

Maintaining Military Preeminence while Cutting the Defense Budget

Michael E. O'Hanlon

Publication Year: 2013

President Barack Obama survived a tenuous economy and a toxic political environment to win re-election in 2012, but the bitter partisan divide in Washington survived as well. So did the country's huge fiscal deficit. in this, the latest in a long line of Brookings Institution analyses of the defense budget, Michael O'Hanlon considers how best to balance national security and fiscal responsibility during a period of prolonged economic stress and political acrimony —even as the world remains unsettled, from Afghanistan to Iran to Syria to the western Pacific region.

O'Hanlon explains why the large defense cuts that would result from prolonged sequestration or from deficit-reduction projects such as the Bowles-Simpson plan are too deep. But the bulk of his book represents an effort to look for greater savings than the Obama administration's 2012 proposals would allow.

Praise for the work of Michael O'Hanlon

The Opportunity: "A practical and hard-headed analysis of how another Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty might be achieved" — Financial Times The Science of War: "Timely, thoughtful, and full of insight. A signal contribution to the field." —General David S. Petraeus, U.S. Army

A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament: "O'Hanlon expertly unravels the myriad threads of the often abstruse disputes about nuclear weapons and disarmament." — New York Times Book Review

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Front Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Information

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pp. 5-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

How much more should defense spending be cut, if at all, as part of further deficit reduction efforts in the United States? This is a central question as Congress and the president seek to avoid future fiscal calamities while finding a balanced, politically acceptable path toward deficit reduction. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

The author wishes to thank Ted Piccone, Peter Singer, John Barnett, and Ian Livingston for their assistance in the writing and editing of this book. Thanks too for additional inspiration and guidance from Martin Indyk, Ken Lieberthal, Ken Pollack, and Robert Kagan. ...

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1. American Military Strategy and Grand Strategy

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pp. 1-16

American national security strategy is premised on international presence, deterrence, and engagement. Jarred by the world wars into recognizing that its geographic isolation from most of the world’s industrial and resource centers did not allow it to stay out of other nations’ conflicts, the United States chose to stay active internationally after World War II. ...

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2. Army and Marine Corps Force Structure

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pp. 17-34

Today’s U.S. Army is slightly larger than half a million soldiers strong, in the active force; the Marine Corps is at 200,000. Both numbers are headed downward, with the Iraq war over and Afghanistan winding down, to current targets of about 490,000 and 182,000, respectively. ...

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3. Air Force and Navy Force Structure

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pp. 35-46

With its rebalancing to Asia as well as the new defense guidance, issued by the Pentagon in early 2012, that envisions avoiding large-scale stabilization missions, such as Afghanistan, in the future, some of the center of gravity of U.S. defense planning is shifting to the Navy and Air Force. ...

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4. Modernization

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pp. 47-54

Even after the cuts in planned weapons buys of recent years, it is still the case that we can rethink a number of weapons programs. Some weapons are bought partly out of bureaucratic inertia as well as logrolling by Congress. Some are simply unnecessary or, to be more precise, not worth the money even if they do provide certain attractive capabilities. ...

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5. Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense, and Intelligence

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pp. 55-59

Substantial defense spending savings can be realized in the broad domain of strategic capabilities and intelligence functions. The sums are not as large as they used to be, in the former case, and not as easy to scrutinize as the rest of the Defense Department budget, in the latter case. ...

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6. Military Compensation and Pentagon Reforms

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pp. 60-70

Beyond cutting forces and weapons, are there ways to save money without directly reducing combat capability? Chuck Hagel, the new defense secretary, has called the Pentagon “bloated,” and in some ways it surely is. But Pentagon comptroller Bob Hale has noted that eliminating actual waste in the Department of Defense (DoD) often is difficult in a classic economic sense; ...

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7. Conclusion—and the Implications of Prolonged Sequestration or the Equivalent

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pp. 71-76

Defense spending cuts make sense only as part of a broader national effort of deficit reduction and economic renewal. The suggestions here are motivated not by any anti-defense agenda but rather by the goal of minimizing aggregate national security risk. ...


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pp. 77-82


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pp. 83-94


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pp. 95-100

Back Cover

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p. 119-119

E-ISBN-13: 9780815724865
E-ISBN-10: 0815724861
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815724858

Page Count: 100
Publication Year: 2013