SUSTAINABLE DEFENSE TASK FORCE

CIP convened the Sustainable Defense Task Force to craft a 10-year defense budget and strategy document that could demonstrate a way to rein in runaway Pentagon and nuclear spending and encourage informed debate in Congress, the media, and among citizens’ organizations to advance a common-sense approach for protecting the United States and its allies more effectively at a lower budgetary cost.


Download the Report

Read the Summary

View the Fact Sheet

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

arrow&v
ISSUE BRIEF
December 8, 2020

Sustainable Defense: A Pentagon Spending Plan for 2021 and Beyond

by Sustainable Defense Task Force Co-Directors: William D. Hartung, and Ben Freeman

The events of 2020 have dramatically underscored the need to rethink the concept of national security. The COVID-19 pandemic, the devastation caused by climate change, and racial and economic injustice all pose risks to public safety and security as great, or greater than, traditional military challenges. It’s long past time for the United States to adopt a new approach to national security that prioritizes our most urgent challenges, reduces U.S. global military deployments and spending, defunds unnecessary weapons systems, and eliminates waste.

Sustainable Defense: A Pentagon Spending Plan for 2021 and Beyond
FACT SHEET
June 19, 2019

Fact Sheet: Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending (Fact Sheet)

Sustainable Defense Task Force

This fact sheet summarizes major findings of the report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, a group of ex-military officers, former White House and Congressional budget experts, and non-governmental analysts convened by the Center for International Policy...

Fact Sheet: Sustainable Defense:  More Security, Less Spending (Fact Sheet)
REPORT
June 19, 2019

Report: Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending

Sustainable Defense Task Force, co-directed by William Hartung and Ben Freeman

An alternative defense strategy that avoids unnecessary and counterproductive wars, reduces the U.S. global military footprint, takes a more realistic view of the major security challenges facing the United States, and reduces waste and inefficiency could save at least $1.2 trillion in projected spending over the next decade while providing a greater measure of security...

Report: Sustainable Defense:  More Security, Less Spending

LATEST NEWS

March 30, 2021

De-Hyper: The US Military Is Not the Best Innovator in Manufacturing

William Hartung quoted

"Hartung suggests that, the defense industry deploys new enemies, rhetorically, as it influences congress financially. The weapons manufacturers, according to Hartung, inflate the nature of the risks associated with the “threat of the moment”, such as Russia or China, as a sales pitch for obtaining more funding from the federal government."

November 29, 2020

Shrinking the Pentagon: Will the Biden Administration Dare Cut Military Spending?

by William Hartung and Mandy Smithberger

Now that Joe Biden is slated to take office as the 46th president of the United States, advice on how he should address a wide range of daunting problems is flooding in. Nowhere is there more at stake than when it comes to how he handles this country’s highly militarized foreign policy in general and Pentagon spending in particular.

March 23, 2021

WATCH: Testimony on the Need to End the Overseas Contingency Operations Account

Sustainable Defense Task Force quoted

"Moving OCO to base was also included in the recommendations of both the bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force and the National Defense Strategy Commission. While the former saw this as part of a strategy for necessary defense budget cuts, and the latter argued the budget should increase, both agreed on the need to draw down from OCO. For the commission’s part, its report criticized the use of OCO as “not the way to provide adequate and stable resources” for the department."

November 12, 2020

‘Build Back Better’ Should Mean Reducing Contractor Influence Over the Pentagon Budget

Sustainable Defense Task Force mentioned

The Sustainable Defense Task Force correctly pointed out that the biggest global challenges we confront, including pandemics, are not military in nature. President-elect Biden won by promising to build our country back better. Investing in the Pentagon when the rest of the economy is suffering would be the worst way to do it, particularly because we knew that investments in other sectors of our economy, like healthcare, are more effective at both job creation and in strengthening our response to the current crisis.

EXPERTS

William Hartung

Director, Arms & Security Program
William Hartung

Ben Freeman

Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative
Ben Freeman
  • Gordon Adams, Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center and professor in the U.S. Foreign Policy program at the School of International Service, American University

  • Amy Belasco, former Specialist for the Defense Budget of the Congressional Research Service

  • Neta Crawford, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at Boston University

  • Matt Fay, former Director of Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Niskanen Center

  • Ben Friedman, Senior Fellow and Defense Scholar at Defense Priorities

  • Laicie Heeley, CEO of Inkstick, Host of Things That Go Boom

  • John King, Founder, King and Brown Company LLC

  • Larry Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and adjunct professor at Georgetown University

  • Lindsay Koshgarian, Program Director, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies

  • Miriam Pemberton, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies

  • Mandy Smithberger, Director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

  • Col. Larry Wilkerson (Ret.), Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, William & Mary

  • Col. Isaiah "Ike" Wilson (Ret.), director, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College​

  • CIP Senior Associate Carl Conetta was a consultant to the project

ABOUT

Sustainable Defense Task Force

CIP convened the Sustainable Defense Task Force in November 2018 to craft a 10-year defense budget and strategy document that could demonstrate a way to rein in runaway Pentagon and nuclear spending and encourage informed debate in Congress, the media, and among citizens’ organizations to advance a common-sense approach for protecting the United States and its allies more effectively at a lower budgetary cost.


Given historically high levels of Pentagon spending and the unprecedented level of U.S. debt, this effort is of particular value in the context of debates in the new Congress that took office in January 2019, and as a touchstone for debates over Pentagon spending and military strategy during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.


In recent years debates over Pentagon spending have focused primarily on wasteful spending, specific weapons systems, or the need for more fiscal discipline. These discussions are important but can be far more illuminating when they were backed up by solid, evidence-based analysis of how to keep America and its allies safe without overspending on defense. This was the mission of the SDTF.


The original Sustainable Defense Task Force was requested by Rep. Barney Frank in 2010 for use as a tool in debates over how to cut the deficit and was instrumental in ensuring that the Pentagon budget was subjected to caps as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. Those efforts were a key factor in achieving a cumulative reduction of between $200 and $300 billion in spending relative to Pentagon projections over a five-year period.


The new SDTF is a bipartisan group of experts from academia, think tanks, government, and retired members of the military. The co-Directors are William Hartung, Director, Arms & Security Project of CIP and Ben Freeman, Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at CIP, working in conjunction with CIP Senior Associate Carl Conetta, who served as a consultant to the project.