Defense Reform in a New Administration

Within the span of one week in December, President-elect Donald Trump turned the defense establishment on its head with three tweets. The first tweet threatened to cancel Boeing’s Air Force One replacement program, the second affirmed a Washington Post story on billions of dollars in waste within the defense budget, and the third targeted Lockheed’s F-35 program as a way to save “billions.” After several weeks of euphoria within the defense establishment, these tweets helped bring expectations back down to Earth. A change in the White House may mean a larger military and growing defense budget, but it does not mean that “the spigot of defense spending” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates began to close in 2009 will be opened wide again. As the President-elect has indicated since winning the election, defense reform is likely to remain a high priority in the new administration, albeit in a different way. President-elect Trump seems to understand that making the military stronger is not just a matter of spending more money—how you spend it is just as important.

“The Trump administration is inheriting a military that is ripe for reform.”

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Photo credit: SSG KYLE DAVIS/Wikimedia Commons
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Todd Harrison

Todd Harrison

Former Senior Associate (Non-resident), Aerospace Security Project and Defense Budget Analysis