February 1, 2011  

In this issue

In their presidential debt commission report, released in December and ominously titled “The Moment of Truth,” co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson point out that the federal debt has soared from 33 percent of the gross domestic product in 2001 to about 62 percent. If the U.S. continues on its current course, debt will spiral to 90 percent of GDP in 2020 and by 2025 revenue will be able to finance only interest payments, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Every other federal government activity, including defense, will have to be paid for with borrowed money. To avoid national bankruptcy, the report recommends a number of steps, including cutting all excess federal spending and slicing $100 billion from the defense budget.

Col. Mark Troutman, deputy chair of the Economics Department at the National Defense University, details what this debt time-bomb means to U.S. national security in general and to defense spending in particular. It’s a grim situation, but not without solutions and opportunities.

Lt. Col. Paul Brooks, Cmdr. John Myers and Lt. Col. Scott Stephens join forces to address a House Armed Services Committee report calling for more joint education to be taught earlier in officers’ careers.

A.E. Stahl analyzes the debate on targeted killings, which has heated up since the rise in U.S. targeted operations in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Stahl’s case is that such operations are not only legal, but also effective.

Michael Allsep, David Levy and Lt. Col. Jim Parco address another topic making headlines: the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They look at the cultural challenges this policy change will pose for the services and suggest ways to help prevent discrimination inside the ranks through the transition.

A pair of perspective columns highlight the debate that is AFJ’s central tenet. Air Force officers Maj. Aaron Clark and Lt. Col. Brad Reeves rebut an earlier AFJ article on close-air support co-written by Army and Navy Reserve officers. And Army officer Lt. Col. Mark Elfendahl responds to an Air Force officer’s views on ISR.

— Karen Walker, Editor