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“Progressive” think tank says Obama defense budget on target

The Center for American Progress’ Lawrence Korb wrote today on the think tank’s blog that the Obama administration’s top-line budget for the Defense Department –which is a 4% increase over the Bush administration’s 2009 budget , and $6.7 billion more than Bush had asked for in 2010–is more than adequate, and gives some suggestions on how to spend it.

His laundry list of recommendations:

Ground forces recommendations (Army, Marines):

Continue increasing the size of U.S. ground forces without lowering standards. Enlarging the recruiting pool by dropping the ban on women serving in ground combat units and repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will facilitate this growth.
Slow down Future Combat Systems and cut the program’s procurement, research, and design budgets by a third over the next four years.
Move forward slowly on the Brigade Combat Team model, but carefully
Review the operations of the Maneuver Enhancement Brigades and determine whether more are needed.
Maintain funding for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at the current level, allowing for development and testing, but delay production in favor of purchasing M-ATV armored vehicles for Afghanistan.

Naval forces recommendations:

Cancel the Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 destroyer and build two Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers a year for the next four years.
Keep SSN-774 attack submarine production steady at one per year instead of ramping up to two per year in FY 2013.
Move forward with current plans for the Littoral Combat Ship.
Deploy the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) aircraft carrier but delay the construction of the CVN-79 aircraft carrier for five years.
Cancel the LPD-26 amphibious ship and move forward with the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future).

Air forces recommendations (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines):
End production of the F-22 Raptor immediately at 183 planes.
Continue development of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, but do not start full-scale production until flight tests have been completed.
Buy F-16 Block 60 fighters, two wings of MQ-9 Reaper drones, and 69 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to make up for the anticipated gap in fighter aircraft.
Cancel the MV-22 Osprey and substitute cheaper helicopters while continuing production of the CV-22.
Build more C-17 cargo aircraft.
Move forward on the KC-X.
Substitute MQ-1C Warrior drones for Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters.
Move forward on the new long-range bomber.

Missile defense recommendations:
Cancel unproven missile defense programs.
Halt deployment of the ground-based missile defense system until it has proven itself in realistic operational tests.
Continue work and testing on lower-risk missile defense systems.
Stop deployment of the missiles and radars in Poland and the Czech Republic until the system has been adequately tested.

Sure, the budget is bigger. But it’s also, for the first time, incorporating the actual cost of the wars within it (and not breaking out GWOT as supplemental). And some people will look at this list of proposed cuts and…not be very happy.

Korb has this to say to them:

Supporters of a vastly increased defense budget, including many who support the Pentagon’s internal request for $584 billion for FY2010, have argued that Obama’s baseline represents a budget cut in a time of war. They contend that this so-called reduction will unnerve our allies, embolden our enemies and, by ending programs like the F-22 Raptor and slowing down programs like the F-35 and Future Combat Systems, will not only weaken defense but hurt our economy. Objective analysis reveals that these arguments are without merit.

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