November 19 – 21, 2010
Open Letter to Erskine Bowles
By THOMAS CHRISTIE, PIERRE SPREY, FRANKLIN SPINNEY et al.
The Honorable Erskine Bowles
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20504
Dear Mr. Bowles:
We are writing to you and other members of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform as individuals who have worked in national security affairs for decades for the Department of Defense, in the Armed Forces and for Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Our concern is the defense budget.
Similar to what your “Co-Chairs’ Proposal” said last week regarding Social Security and other issues, we do not believe that defense spending should be reduced to a bargaining chip in budget negotiations at the Deficit Commission. On the other hand, we do believe that the defense budget is dangerously bloated, giving rise to serious decay in our armed forces.
Weaker forces at higher costs (discussed below) are the result of many years of exploitation of defense spending for political purposes, dereliction of oversight duties, and gross mismanagement by the Pentagon, the White House and the Congress. There has been a fundamental absence of accountability, both that required by the Constitution and that which accompanies sound management.
Phi Beta Iota: What our distinguished colleagues have not included in this letter is the fact that the US does not have a coherent reality-based strategy within which to evaluate ALL threats and provide a force structure suitable to ALL threats, nor does the US have an intelligence community able to provide any more than 4% (“at best” according to General Tony Zinni) of what we need in the way of intelligence support to policy, acquisition, and operations. At the same time, the Pentagon is committing a major crime against its own humanity by spending less than 1% of its budget on the 4% of the force that takes 80% of the casualties: the infanty, this from General Robert Scales. With all due respect, both Gates and Clapper have presided over the maintenance of the status quo; they have not changed the game for the better; and they have failed to do what needed to be done.