While the so-called fiscal cliff has been averted, questions about needed defense spending cuts still remain and additional defense budget cuts are still possible. Pentagon officials as well as other agencies, organizations and individuals have repeatedly questioned whether major cuts in defense spending would be extremely damaging, resulting in lost jobs, decreased readiness, and more. All of this takes place as the international environment remains in turmoil. Yet at the same time, the nation’s military budget stands near a historical high while the deficit and debt have themselves become major national security issues.
On January 7, the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion examining defense spending and U.S. national security, featuring a keynote address by Robert Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and chief financial officer at the U.S. Department of Defense. Following Hale’s remarks, a panel discussion followed, including: Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon; Richard Betts of Columbia University; and Paul Wolfowitz of the American Enterprise Institute. Senior Fellow Peter W. Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative, moderated the discussion.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.