When defense-policy website DoDBuzz sought to put together a year-end retrospective of defense and acquisition news, the theme that quickly emerged was “declining budgets.”
But, aside from the moribund fiscal situation, which will certainly rank at the top of many end-of-the-year lists, the past 12 months have also featured a number of other notable events in defense.
The top defense story of 2010 is undoubtedly the round of efficiencies initiated by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, which has roiled the Pentagon as well as government contracting ever since the policy was announced in August. Gates’ plan, to cut $100 billion in overhead costs from the Pentagon’s budget and repurpose it within DoD, had industry’s ears pricked from the beginning.
“While previous plans to bring significant alterations to the defense-contracting budget were struck down by the private sector’s immune system of industry lobbyists and legislative challenges and clouded by logistical issues,” GovConExec magazine wrote shortly after the efficiencies were announced, “there is a prevailing sense across the business that Gates’ demands for cutbacks are not a drill.”
And, the twists and turns of DoD’s budget over the year, if nothing else, proved that.
DoDBuzz also identified “all things Afghanistan” as being on nearly all defense watchers’ radar screens: from the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus taking the helm, to the debates about troop withdrawals and drone strikes.
Finally, a key take-away from the year was the updating of the national security strategy. Released in May, the new strategy aimed to provide a 21st-century framework for the nation’s defense posture and also identified economic wellbeing as essential to long-term national security goals.