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American Opinion: On defense spending

An excerpt from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

On defense spending:

From The Associated Press

Here's how you know if a diet is a genuine program for weight loss: It involves some unpleasant sacrifices that you will lament.

Here's how you know if a government spending plan is serious rather than superficial: It inflicts squeals of pain that you can hear.

Count Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the serious camp. When he announced plans to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., as a cost-saving measure, he drew angry protests from the state's representatives in Congress.

Gates has a good idea. The JFC employs some 2,800 people, military and civilian, as well as 3,000 private contractors, at an annual cost of $240 million -- all for the purpose of making sure that the four military services operate in cooperation rather than as individual entities. ... Gates said ... the services have "embraced jointness as a matter of culture."

Having done its job, the command is no longer needed. How's that for an innovative approach to federal spending? ...

This step is just one part of Gates' effort to trim the size of the Pentagon, which is clearly overdue. He wants to slash spending on contractors by 30 percent, reduce the number of generals and admirals from 950 to 800, and freeze hiring in his own Office of the Secretary of Defense. ...

The effort is partly a matter of simple common sense. ...

The fight Gates is undertaking will not be easy, and it will not make him a lot of friends. Those are signs he's on the right track.

Just listen to the squeals.

-- Chicago Tribune