go to top

Strategic Horizons: With Small Cuts, U.S. Undermining Its Ability to Think Big

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

Rumors are swirling in Washington that the Pentagon is thinking of closing its Office of Net Assessment (ONA). Alarmed by this idea, four congressmen led by Rep. Randy Forbes wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (.pdf) demanding "a commitment to the Office of Net Assessment." The Lexington Institute's Daniel Goure joined the fray, opining that ONA "must be preserved and supported." National security discussion boards and email loops quickly lit up with concern for ONA's future.

Outside Washington such passion must seem strange. ONA is a tiny organization that mostly commissions analysis and studies. Abolishing or changing a government office like this normally would pass unnoticed except by the people directly affected. But the Office of Net Assessment is not a normal organization. While most of the Pentagon's massive bureaucracy is focused on short-term issues and immediate problems, ONA was designed to think big and long-term. Since there is nothing else exactly like it, closing it would have deep symbolic importance and raise major questions. As the Department of Defense cuts spending, what capabilities should stay and what can go? If the Office of Net Assessment is closed, does this mean that the United States no longer considers it important to think big thoughts about national security? And if its function is important, is there a better way to do it? ...

To read more,

enter your email address then choose one of the three options below.

Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 10,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.