April 1, 2009  

The people’s budget

TO DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES for a 2010 defense budget request that prioritizes the people of the armed forces. There are many reasons to applaud this budget: Its clarity; its astute selection of weapons that best counter the threat; the ridding of supplementals for what should be base-budget items; the genuine attempt to reform the defense acquisition process. The SecDef also did well to build a consensus across his senior national security team (or, equally important, the appearance of consensus) and to keep lips sealed until his official announcement. Best of all, however, was his decision to focus first and foremost on the troops and their families. By adding $12 billion to grow troop levels, improve medical research, care for the wounded, and increase family benefits, Gates provides meaningful support to what he rightly calls “America’s greatest strategic asset.”