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Gates and Mullen’s Preemptive Attack on Defense Budget Critics

Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are before the Senate Armed Services Committee to defend their defense budget in the face of GOP criticism over its program cuts. (Comptroller Robert Hale is in there too.) Their opening statements are careful attempts at disarming that criticism. Gates, for instance, rejected the idea of “slash[ing] defense spending,” one of the (ludicrous) charges leveled against the budget, and pledged he would “do everything in my power to prevent this from happening on my watch.”

Mullen anticipated the charge that the process Gates put in place to formulate the budget muzzled uniformed critics. It was “comprehensive and collaborative,” he said, with “every service chief [and] every combatant commander [having] a voice” and using it. Instead of asking all the services to “share the pain equally” in program cuts — which typically preserves the status quo — there were “no pet projects, nothing [was] held sacred.” The budget, according to Mullen’s bottom line, provides the United States with “the military it needs for the challenges it faces today.”

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