An Early Look at Mattis’ Cost-Cutting Strategy

Two memos signed this month by Defense Secretary James Mattis offer a glimpse into how he plans to steer the Pentagon toward his intended goal of fiscal responsibility.

Unlike the rest of the federal government that is bracing for steep budget cuts, the Pentagon is poised to receive a funding boost. President Trump’s campaign promise to build up the U.S. military, however, does not amount to a blank check, Mattis has said.

The Pentagon expects to get about $570 billion in fiscal year 2017, and will request an additional $18 billion to $25 billion to cover immediate war expenses. But to fund next-generation weapons and expand the size of the force over the next several years, the Defense Department will need tens of billions more per year.

With the entire government under a fiscal squeeze, Mattis will have to generate funds from within the Defense Department to help pay for the modernization of the military. He is quickly moving to attack overhead, administrative and contracting expenses. And he will lead efforts to dramatically change the Pentagon’s procurement organization.

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