Authors: Chris McKinney, Mark Elfendahl, and H.R. McMaster
Looming budgetary constraints and the U.S. Army's ongoing downsizing have enhanced the appeal of forces that are lighter, smaller, and cheaper than tanks and other protected vehicles. But not only have armored forces proved critical in yesterday's wars; they will also be needed to win tomorrow's.
While there was some early discussion on where to base the command (continental United States, Africa, or Germany), its current location in Germany has the existing infrastructure, transportation links, housing, schools, and health facilities to support its personnel, employees, and family members. Any future rebasing discussions will need to take into account a cost-benefit analysis—and in a time of fiscal uncertainty, the cost might be prohibitive.
Micah Zenko argues, "The tolerance for threat inflation in the absence of plausible threats should be questioned and challenged by anyone interested in, or holding a stake in, the future of U.S. foreign policy."
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.
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.
The Congressional Budget Office prepared this report in July 2012, to analyze the long term impact of the 2013 Future Years Defense Program, the Department of Defense's budget projection of fiscal years 2013 to 2017, through 2030. This report considers the budget in light of the Budget Control Act, or sequestration.
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.
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