Are DoD Budget Cuts Ever Coming?

We reported in June that new administration’s defense budget includes major cuts to Missile Defense, Future Combat Systems and Navy shipbuilding operations, kills programs to build a new presidential helicopter and a new communications satellite system, delays the development of a new bomber, and includes only four more of the advanced F-22 fighter jets.

But overall, will the DoD’s bottom line really shrink?  Counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, senior advisor to Afghanistan theatre commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, sees “about two more years of heavy fighting” ahead of us in Afghanistan, and the Washington Post reports that costs of the Afghan war could “eclipse” the costs of the Iraq war. 

The rapidly-escalating conflict in Afghanistan presents a major opportunity for government contractors like DynCorp and Fluor, who each won $7.5 billion contracts in Afghanistan.  For perspective, according to the Washington Post, the U.S. spent a total of only $982 million on the Afghan conflict in 2003, and those awards have nowhere to go but up. Gen. McChrystal, who commands the Afghan counterinsurgency effort, is preparing his troop recommendations for release at the end of August ’09.  Considering that 2009 was the deadliest year of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, there probably won’t be a troop reduction.

Strangely, what seems more at risk than Defense spending is the organized opposition that was forcefully advocating peace over the past few years.  Perhaps there are two questions: “Where’s the money?” and “Where’s the Peace Movement?”

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