"Increasingly, without United States assistance, military experts said, Europe's armed forces have trouble carrying out basic operations as its dwindling financial and political commitment has derailed multiple initiatives intended to make the continent more self-reliant."
According to Meghan L. O'Sullivan, "Given the several still-undetermined variables and the wide variety of plausible outcomes, it is too early to bring final judgment on American efforts in Iraq even 10 years on."
As the Pentagon attempts to refocus the U.S. military strategy toward Asia, the department is facing major budget constraints. Experts disagree on how to balance the fiscal challenge with the country's national security priorities.
The United States has cut defense spending in the past, and it is doing so again today. In 1989, for example, the Defense Department spent $295 billion; seven years later it spent $253 billion, or about 14 percent less in nominal dollars. When inflation is taken into account, defense spending dropped by more than 25 percent during the 1990s. U.S. defense spending will likely follow a similar trajectory over the next decade with the Afghanistan war ending and pressure mounting to cut government spending.
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments President Andrew Krepinevich talks about the future of defense spending, and how spending cuts could impact U.S. security interests, with Foreign Affairs magazine editor Gideon Rose.
"The BCA established an automatic process to reduce spending, partially entailing a sequester of budgetary resources, if Congress did not pass and the President did not sign, by January 15, 2012, legislation reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the FY2012-FY2021 period. No such legislation was enacted by the deadline. Therefore, the automatic spending reduction process was triggered."
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey held this press conference on January 10, 2013. They discussed Afghan President Karzai's visit, defense sequestration, and possible chemical weapons in Syria.
Micah Zenko says, "Like Dick Cheney 21 years ago, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has engaged in an exhaustive effort to avoid both sequestration and any further reductions in the Pentagon's budget. The distinction between Panetta and his predecessors, however, is in the tactics he has employed to protect his bureaucratic turf."
The U.S. defense budget has grown to inordinate levels, and the American public isn't happy about it. Scott Rasmussen sets out proposals on how to create a leaner military spending strategy that is more efficient and satisfies the desires of the voters.
Tough economic times are often met in Washington with calls for retrenchment. But for decades, write two former top Pentagon officials, long-term forward deployments of U.S. forces and robust alliances have guaranteed stability and uninterrupted trade, the very conditions the United States needs for economic prosperity. The Obama administration gets it.
Frank G. Klotz says the possibility of a total stalemate on the U.S. defense budget looms very large, but with American forces still fighting in Afghanistan, and Iran and North Korea remaining potential flashpoints, the consequences could be grave.
The winner of the 2012 U.S. presidential election will have to determine the scope of defense policy ambitions under strong pressure to restore domestic economic solvency, which will "overshadow" policy questions, says CFR's Richard K. Betts.