We have never been among those who believe a strong national defense depends solely on throwing money at the military. To the contrary, we have argued the Pentagon often spends far too much money on flashy super-weapons and not enough on making troops safer and more effective.
For that reason, Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announcement the Pentagon is slashing thousands of jobs and eliminating some programs is not necessarily bad news. Perhaps it can enable generals and admirals - of whom there will be at least 50 fewer, according to the Gates plan - to focus less on bureaucracy and more on winning armed conflicts.
Gates said Monday that funding will be slashed, by about 30 percent over three years, for civilian contract employees working for the Pentagon. Contractors in war zones will not be affected.
In addition, some major Defense Department programs are being scrapped. One, the Joint Forces Command, has more than 6,000 military and civilian employees. The command has various roles, with one of them promoting "transformation" of the armed forces to meet new demands in the future.
Gates said the goal of cutbacks at the Defense Department is to free up more resources for use in fighting wars. We agree whole-heartedly with that aim. And, again, we support devoting more money and personnel to the fighting forces rather than the bureaucracy.
Still, members of Congress should monitor the changes closely. If, indeed, they make for a leaner, meaner military, they should proceed. If not, they should be reconsidered.