Deficit plan aims to safely cut DoD spending

Monday - 12/6/2010, 5:30pm EST

Carl Conetta, Co-director, Project on Defense Alternatives

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The president's deficit reduction commission recommended some defense spending cuts proposed by the Sustainable Defense Task Force in a report in June.

Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives and member of the task force, said the report was aimed at creating criteria that "cordoned off what we considered most important." At the same time, the report offered options that could save up to $960 billion between 2011 and 2020, Conetta said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

Among those areas that would be safe from cuts were requirements for war, and measures to ensure counterterrorism and non-proliferations requirements, Conetta said.

The report also recommends a re-evaluation of weapons in the procurement pipeline that did not match with emerging threats, he said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called for less reliance on contractors and redundancies. These are positive steps but don't go far enough, Conetta said.

The Defense Department must re-evaluate how it fights terrorism. War of the size and scale in Iraq and Afghanistan is simply too costly.

"We need to find a more effective way to address terrorism," Conetta said.

DoD must focus on two main concerns: fighting Al-Qaeda and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Conetta said.

Other independent reports on deficit-reduction have included principles advocated for in the task force report. This is a sign that there is a "developing consensus that something must be done" about defense spending, Conetta said.

He added, "I think change is coming."

Conetta said the challenge of reducing the deficit has far greater implications than the budget alone.

He said, "It's also a question of the economic vitality of this country and increasing global competition. This is a national security issue."

Read the Commission's draft proposal in the New York Times.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.