The defense budget is going down. The Defense Department has been through the first two stages of grief: denial and anger. Denial was from FY 2010 to FY 2012 — “the budget should not go down, we need more.” Anger was 2012 — the Aerospace Industries Association campaign to halt sequestration, Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte touring bases and plants, “defending defense” and hoping to influence the election and reverse the tide.
Now we are at “bargaining,” the stage where the department and the services try to make a deal that will slow the decline, delay the effects. Secretary Chuck Hagel and Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made this clear on Wednesday, July 31, when they rolled out the Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR). The key signal that we have arrived at “bargaining” was the demand the secretary made for “time.” Just give us more time because these cuts cannot come so fast, he argued. We cannot manage them.
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