Recently, though I cannot remember where, I came across an argument for cutting the pentagon budget. The speaker was aghast that, adjusted for inflation, the pentagon was spending more money now than it did at the height of the cold war.
There actually is a good reason for this.
If you think about it, the whole Mutually Assured Destruction concept is a bit on the nutty side, although it did get us through the cold war. Why would countries “at war” invest in such a concept? Because it saved money!!
Maintaining a nuclear deterrent was significantly cheaper than what it would have cost to maintain enough non-nuclear military to deter the USSR. Now we are faced with security challenges that are spread out over many countries instead of concentrated in one. It is going to cost more.
Add in the fact that for most of the cold war, we drafted most of our soldiers. Now it is an all volunteer army. I coiuld be wrong, but I’d wager that the pay for soldier is higher today. It is true that there are fewer soldiers, but that just means that many of the tasks that used to be done by soldiers are now done by contractors at what I believe, I could be wrong here too, is a higher cost.
Is there money to be saved in the Pentagon? I have to believe that there is. But given the world we still live in, there is probably not as much to save as one might think. Even with the money we have been spending on defense, we were not able to wage two wars at the same time. We fought in Afghanistan, then we let up in Afghanistan so we could fight in Iraq, and we did not again get serious in Afghanistan until we had let up in Iraq.
I wish I could say that the days of waging two wars at once are past (or the days of waging one war!!!), but I am not that naive.