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.

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Recent Publications

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

Sustainable Defense Task Force

Jun-19-2019

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...

Report: Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending

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

Jun-19-2019

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...

Latest News

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

Sustainable Defense Task Force mentioned

Sustainable Defense Task Force

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.

A Long Overdue Discussion on Pentagon Spending

by William Hartung and Ben Freeman

Oct-26-2020

Sustainable Defense Task Force

In a series of interviews this month, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) expressed an openness to making modest reductions in the Pentagon’s near-record $740 billion budget, but he has also stated he is “unconvinced” by progressive calls for more substantial cuts. One of his key arguments has been that we can’t reduce Pentagon spending without a “conversation about what’s the strategy, what’s the plan going forward.” It’s long past time to have that conversation. One contribution has already been made by the Center for International Policy’s Sustainable Defense Task Force (SDTF), a group of former White House, congressional and Pentagon budget officials, retired military officers and think tank experts from across the political spectrum that we co-chaired.

It's Time to Rein in Inflated Military Budgets

Sustainable Defense Task Force mentioned

Sept-14-2020

Sustainable Defense Task Force

For example, the Center for International Policy’s Sustainable Defense Task Force—a collection of former White House, congressional and Pentagon budget officials, ex-military officers, and think tank experts—published a report detailing how the Defense Department could cut $1.2 trillion in waste and inefficiency over the next decade.

Meet The Experts

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Co-Director

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Co-Director

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 THE 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.

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