THE DEFENSE GAME: An Insider Explores the Astonishing Realities of America's Defense Establishment by Richard A. with Richard A. Mendell Stubbing

THE DEFENSE GAME: An Insider Explores the Astonishing Realities of America's Defense Establishment

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exposÉ of the nation's system for defense planning and budgeting. Stubbing was an analyst at the Office of Management and Budget from 1962 until 1981, where he worked on the defense budget. From that vantage point, he developed hundreds of anecdotes that show how the taxpayers end up spending so much for inferior quality defense equipment and, ultimately, too little security. Much of the problem, he says, stems from over-inflated estimates of Soviet potentials, which are arrived at via guesswork, averaging, and basing estimates on American standards of efficiency and our dollar rates. The estimates almost without fail, are overstated in nearly all cases when actual photographs or the real item turn up for inspection. This system has resulted in the current administration's attempts to increase the Pentagon budget--what Stubbing calls a ""temporary Band-Aid solution to the real issues facing our defense program."" Those real issues revolve around the budget process itself, Stubbing suggests. Major decisions are relegated to interservice squabbling, or as Stubbing quotes one Pentagon advisor: ""The biggest game in town is the US Navy vs. the Air Force, not the US vs. the Soviets."" Within the congressional budget process, Stubbing points to the rise of the congressional staffers as culprits in the problem. Their nit-picking is resulting in excessive micro-management of defense issues by Congress. Meanwhile, the relatively new problem of ""golden parachutes,"" whereby staffers end up landing fat jobs with major defense contractors, further complicates the issue. Insofar as more particular problems detract from cost efficiency in what Stubbing refers to as ""the soft underbelly of defense,"" many areas have just shot out of control. It is almost impossible to control the billions of dollars spent on ""goods and services."" Stubbing recommends increasing the level of competition for these purchases--an increase of only 10% in competition, he estimates, would result in a five-billion dollar annual savings. A fine, well-researched work that will find friendly readers among liberals and conservatives alike.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row