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Video Brief: Defense

Speaker: Richard K. Betts, Adjunct Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
March 22, 2012

"Budgetary pressures will in significant part drive the decisions" on defense policy for the winner of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, says CFR's Richard Betts. In 2013, the White House and the next U.S. Congress will have to decide whether to reduce the objectives and deployment of armed forces as the defense budget comes under scrutiny, he says.

"If the priority is going to be on resolving the gap between resources and spending, then cuts in the defense budget are almost certain, and the debate will be about how much," Betts predicts. If, on the other hand, the priority is going to be maintaining high levels of military power and ambitious policy objectives to shape security developments in other parts of the world, the president and Congress will have to find savings elsewhere, he says.

Betts expects defense budget reductions to center on U.S. Army and Marines ground forces involved in interventions abroad. Support for counterterrorism capabilities will be preserved, he says, as this remains a priority for the United States and relies primarily on special operation forces and intelligence gathering, which are relatively less costly.

This video is part of Campaign 2012, a series of video briefings on the top foreign policy issues debated in the run-up to the 2012 elections.


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