Obama’s Favorite Think Tank: Cut The Army, Forget Counterinsurgency
By Spencer Ackerman Email Author

The Obama administration’s favorite defense think tank was once a hothouse of counterinsurgency theory. But now that the government is trying to crawl out of its massive debt, the Center for a New American Security is less about big ground conflicts and more about how to shrink the defense budget. First on the chopping block, according to its forthcoming blueprint for defense cuts: counterinsurgency. Next: the Army and Marines who wage it.

“Extended counterinsurgency operations” are passe once the U.S. draws down in Afghanistan, says Nora Bensahel, a defense expert at CNAS, as the think tank is ubiquitously known in Washington. “We’re judging that a less-likely scenario.”

On Friday, CNAS will release a dour report called “Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in the Age of Austerity,” which looks at various scenarios for how to cut defense. Those scenarios range from a relatively easy $350-400 billion over ten years, which the Pentagon has been prepping for all year, to the “high risk” option of cutting up to $850 billion over a decade — which will happen automatically if Congress and the White House can’t agree to a comprehensive deficit fix by January 15. What they all have in common is that the Army and Marines are in for a world of hurt.

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