The U.S. defense budget has climbed incessantly since 1995, when republican-dominated Congress imposed on President Clinton a rearmament drive to take advantage of the USSR demise and achieve world dominance. However, it rapidly became unmanageable. Since Donald Rumsfeld’s famous speech on September 10, 2001, attempts to reform the Pentagon have fallen through.

From the onset of the economic crisis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have heeded Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ warnings and acknowledged the need for drastic cuts. To date, the Pentagon has decided to abandon the F-22 Raptor programme and to contain the cost overruns of the F-35 Lightning II (JSF) programme.

The most important effort still lies ahead: clearing up the mess connected to the "antimissile shield". On 22 March, Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, announced that he would not foot the bill for missile shield elements that proved inefficient.

Some experts have already voiced concern over the criteria that will be carried out. Indeed, it’s up to the manufacturers to prove the efficiency of their arms and, in the past, they have rarely stopped short of employing ruse to extol their products.

Coming out in support of Robert Gates, some fifty retired high-ranking officers wrote to members of Congress asking them to withstand the lobbying of the military-industrial complex and to vote for the budgetary restrictions that are urgently called for.

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Open letter to the Congress
(PDF - 274 KiB)