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We’ve Moved! Check out “The Will and the Wallet” October 12, 2010

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Stimson Center’s project on budgeting for foreign affairs and defense is pleased to announce the re-launch of blog under the banner The Will and the Wallet. This new outlet will allow us to elevate our profile even further, in part by featuring guest contributors more prominently and by presenting more multimedia content.  A grand roll-out is soon to come, and we are already beginning the transition. New material will continue to appear here until mid-October, but the full posts can only be accessed at our newly revamped and renamed blog.  Thank you for reading, and enjoy!!

New look, new name–same great stuff. We look forward to seeing you on The Will and the Wallet.


Noteworthy Report: Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint September 24, 2010

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By Risa Trump

The CATO Institute’s Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble released a report this week recommending significant defense budget cuts. Molded around a security strategy of restraint, Friedman and Preble find $1.2 trillion of savings between FY 2011 and 2020 by setting priorities.

The report argues that DOD has taken on too much, stretching our forces thin and resulting in significant waste. A strategy of restraint recognizes that “power tempts the United States to meddle in foreign troubles we should avoid. Restraint means fighting that temptation.” By choosing a more rigid security strategy, the U.S. is able to clearly define what will make Americans safer., resulting in significant budget cuts because it requires less from the institutions that support the military.

Suggested cuts include reducing the end-force strength of the Marine Corps and Army by a third, cutting carrier battle groups by three (to eight), and eliminating six Air Force fighter-wing equivalents. Friedman and Preble propose cutting the Pentagon’s research and development budget by 10 percent and the overall intelligence budget by 15 percent. An added benefit is that a significant by-product of these cuts is the reduction in administrative overhead costs, which account for “approximately 40 percent of [the department’s] budget.”

Friedman and Preble are able to justify most of the force cuts by pointing out that most other countries are do not have anywhere near the same military capabilities as does the U.S., nor the same spending levels.  This chart, located on page 4 of the report, shows just how much the US spends compared to other nations.

With mid-term elections approaching and Americans becoming more leery of the growing budget deficit, this report proposes actionable recommendations not only in the realm of the budget but also more generally for national security. Emphasizing the need to choose a strategy and reduce the burden on not just the troops but also the Department on the whole, Friedman and Preble recommend a series of cuts that logically combine strategy and reality.

Gordon Adams returns to “This week in Defense News” with Vago Muradian August 1, 2010

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Sunday, August 1st, Dr. Gordon Adams appeared on This Week in Defense News, hosted by Vago Muradian. Dr. Adams was joined by Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments to form an expert roundtable to discuss the Defense Business Board report that recommended significant cuts to the defense budget.  Click here to view the entire discussion.

Gordon Adams on “This Week in Defense News” with Vago Muradian June 14, 2010

Posted by Alexander Brozdowski in News.
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Sunday, June 13, our own Dr. Gordon Adams appeared on This Week in Defense News, hosted by Vago Muradian. Dr. Adams was joined by Rick Maze from Army Times, Loren Thompson from the Lexington Institute and John Barry of Newsweek to form an expert roundtable on security and defense issues. Spirited discussion ranged from Obama’s potential veto of the National Defense Authorization Act over the unwanted F-35 alternate engine, to political bargaining with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Secretary Gates’ retirement and the future of the Defense budget following troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. (Half)-jokingly dubbed “the Pentagon’s worst nightmare” while serving at OMB during the Clinton Administration, Dr. Adams predicted that Defense might see deep cuts a lot sooner than even Secretary Gates may think. But the experts all agreed: whether they come in six months or two years, topline cuts to DOD are coming.

See the full episode on the show’s website. Try full-screen for HD picture and sound!

Cheater’s Risk: The New Game in Town June 3, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in News.
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Who says nonproliferation can’t be fun?  Today, Stimson is releasing Cheater’s Risk, an interactive game that allows the player to explore the dynamics of a world without nuclear weapons.

The player steps into the role of a country seeking to gain the advantage of a monopoly on nuclear weapons and must avoid being detected by national intelligence services and international monitors.

The game is founded upon the research of the verification of nuclear disarmament in Elements of a Nuclear Disarmament Treaty and features a number of experts on the subject including Stimson’s own Barry Blechman, the Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione, Sharon Squassoni from CSIS, and the Arms Control Association’s Greg Thielmann.  Starting this evening, you can click here to let the adventure begin.

Feed the Future: Improving the current food aid framework June 2, 2010

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For decades the U.S. government has been providing emergency food aid in an effort to tackle hunger caused by famine or drought.  At the same time, the US has also been providing longer-term agricultural assistance as an avenue to help spur industrial and economic growth. These important efforts have remained separate, however, unlinked in strategy, planning, or coordination thereby reducing aid effectiveness and impact.

To address this issue, the Obama Administration launched the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, essentially an interagency planning process designed to strategically coordinate and align the (often purely reactive) hunger and food aid programs with longer-term agricultural development in target countries.[1] FTF is also part of a collaborative global effort centered on country-owned and agriculture-led processes to improve food security.

Conceptually, this is a huge step forward.  Attacking the root causes of global hunger through a planned and integrated government-wide approach has a much better shot at reducing chronic malnutrition and poverty than simply responding to the latest heartbreaking headlines.  This approach may also help avoid the negative consequences of imported food aid on local market development.

The FTF initiative also represents the importance the Obama Administration has placed on food security within U.S. foreign aid. (Food security even made an appearance in the 2010 National Security Strategy.)  High-level support is crucial to sustaining the long-term commitment needed to address growing worldwide malnutrition, especially given budgetary constraints.

There are, perhaps unsurprisingly, organizational challenges.  Multiple U.S. agencies and departments have food security-related activities and coordination remains a real issue because of varying mandates and missions as well as simple organization challenges.[2]

For example, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), created to advance U.S. agricultural exports, is now providing experts in large numbers to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Haiti to provide agricultural development assistance.  While coordination is increasing in specific countries, the Secretary of State does not have full operational authority over the planning and budgets of all food-security programs, especially those programs funded outside the International Affairs (Function 150) budget.

The FTF initiative requires a U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Coordinator (staffed with two deputies, for development and diplomacy) to provide strategic policy and budget direction, taking the lead on interagency coordination.  It is unclear to whom the position would report, where it would reside (State, USAID, USDA), or whether a current official would be dual-hatted.  To date no one has been officially appointed as Coordinator, though the two deputies have been selected. (more…)

Obama’s National Security Strategy: How Will It Be Managed? May 27, 2010

Posted by Laura A. Hall in News.
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The Obama National Security Strategy was released today.  Such a broad document inevitably includes vague words like “engage” and “ensure” and “seek to,” that describe without defining.  Pundits around town are parsing the document for specifics in areas of policy, but Budget Insight places particular focus on implementing the strategy: what does it tell us about who is responsible for what, how it will be done, and how it will be paid for. Only the 2012 budget request can fully answer the question, but a number of them occur to us on reading the strategy.

First, are the missions and the priorities clear?

There does seem to be an overall hierarchy, and it is familiar: a reworded concern about terrorism, as “violent extremism,” nuclear proliferation, a healthy US economy, and follow-on concerns about the Middle East, stronger partners, etc.

  • On the military side, no clear prioritization of missions. As in the QDR, the NSS provides no priorities among military missions, but repeats a long shopping list that could drive force structure and budget expectations even higher than they are now.
  • On the civilian side, the missions are equally multiple and unprioritized.
  • There does seem to be a broader concern about governance, as the context for security assistance and other support for strengthening weak or fragile states.  That is progress from a pure security sector reform perspective.
  • Development as a mission is significantly buried in the strategy, and not presented as a core part of a diplomacy-defense-development trilogy.

Second, how does the strategy address structures and organizational responsibilities, at home and internationally?

  • Internationally, it puts a strong priority on working with allies and strengthening international organizations.  That is a new tone, but aside from endorsing the G-20 group for economic matters, there is not much detail on how these organizations might be reformed and strengthened and what the capabilities the U.S. could contribute. (more…)

Buying National Security May 21, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in News.
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Gordon Adams and Cindy Williams paid a visit to Focus Washington’s Stan Collender to discuss their new book, Buying National Security. With the federal budget under such careful scrutiny, the authors share some insights, and some myths about the federal budget as it exists now.

In the interview, Gordon and Cindy both agree that the Pentagon, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security will be unable to avoid being part of a deficit reduction package.

Happy April Fools’! April 1, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in News.
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QDDR Series:

Recommendations from the Think Tank Community

Next Lecture

The Department of Government: the Ultimate 3-D Experience!

Featuring: Laura A. Hall, Council on Foreign Relations Fellow, The Stimson Center 

Drawing on her experiences in developing whole-of-government operations and systems, Ms Hall will discuss the approach she recommends for the QDDR.   Concluding that alignment of people, process, money, authority, and structure is necessary for effective operations, Ms Hall will explain why a “Department of Government” that incorporates defense, diplomacy, and development capabilities will be more effective and efficient.

“The logical next step is that diplomats and development professionals must be integrated into military structures not just in the field but at all levels.  Only with a fully integrated system of government that allows for the complete overlap of decision making structures with implementation capabilities can we hope to achieve the level of coordination necessary to be rapid, decisive, and to demonstrate maximum superiority over all adversaries.”

Moderator:  Professor Pikov Andropov, Department of History, University of Southern North Dakota; author of Military Coups and the Rise of Totalitarian Societies: Lessons from Latin America

April 1, 2010; 4 pm

at the National Economic Reconstruction and Development Society

2121 J Street; 13th Floor

Weak coffee and stale pastries with messy powered sugar will be served

Copies of the monograph will be available and include the fold-out color org chart showing how USAID, DOS, and NSC are integrated into DoD to form the DOG.

Note: there is no actual 3D display involved in this lecture.

The QDDR Series is designed to provide on the record recommendations for policy makers from the think tank community.  We strive to include speakers who have spent significant time in government where they were themselves in a position to effect the changes they recommend, but did not.

New Feature! Today’s Congressional Hearings February 25, 2010

Posted by Alexander Brozdowski in News.
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It’s testimony season on The Hill, but isn’t it a pain to keep track of all those committee schedules?

Not anymore! Check Budget Insight every morning for a handy listing of the day’s scheduled Congressional budget hearings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

House Foreign Affairs Committee (9:30 am – 2172 Rayburn)

Promoting Security through Diplomacy and Development; The Fiscal Year 2011 International Affairs

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Senate Armed Services Committee (9:30 am – SD-G50 Dirksen)

Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011 and the Future Years Defense Program

Department of the Navy

House Armed Services Committee

Full Committee (10:00am – 2118 Rayburn)

Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Request

Department of the Army: Secretary of the Army John McHugh; Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr.

Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee (2:00pm – 2118 Rayburn)

Department of Defense information technology and cybersecurity activities.

Phillip J. Bond, CEO – Tech America; David Z. Bodenheimer, Crowell and Moring, LLP; Dr. Fred B. Schneider, Cornell University

Defense Acquisition Reform Panel (8:00 am – 2261 Rayburn)

Managing the defense acquisition system and the defense acquisition workforce.

Norm Augustine, Business Executives for National Security; John Gage, AFL-CIO; Professor Steven L. Schooner, George Washington U. Law