This piece originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post.
The Post’s portrait of defense spending in the Oct. 6 editorial “Paying for our wars” left out a few key facts. The post-Sept. 11, 2001, surge brought Pentagon spending, adjusted for inflation, to its highest level since World War II. Despite the budget “slashing” since 2010, as the editorial described it, Pentagon spending remains higher than all but a couple of years in that period. And it is higher than the defense budgets of the next 11 top-spending countries combined.
In 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated the wastecreated by the Pentagon’s post-9/11 blank check at somewhere between $31 billion and $60 billion. That was the year Congress established its 10-year plan to retrieve the blank check and set some limits.
As we make choices in the future, abandoning defense budget discipline must not be one of them.