There is a reason it’s called the Department of Defense. But the same mission creep that haunts other agencies has gotten hold of the military. There are 50,000 troops still in Iraq, which never attacked us. Afghanistan began as a defensive campaign, but has since become an exercise in nation-building.
The U.S. still has troops in Germany and Japan; World War II ended in 1945. America has a military presence in dozens of other nations. We have become the world’s policeman.
Few people are willing to consider returning the Defense Department’s role to what its name says. So it goes; there are still ways to substantially cut defense spending without even touching all those defense-unrelated missions. Cato’s Christopher Preble identifies $441 billion in cuts over ten years — an average of $44.1 billion per year — in three minutes.
These are cuts that can be made right now, with no loss of mission capability, a minimum of political fuss, and without a rethinking of the status quo.
Which says a lot about that $800 billion per year status quo. Maybe Congress will work up the courage tackle that someday.
More details in this study.