National Security Network

NSN Policy Paper: Matching Resources with Interests: A Strategy to Guide the Defense Budget

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Press Release Washington, D.C. 5 October 2011

Military Military Defense Budget defense spending policy paper

The Budget Control Act of 2011 is driving a focused budgetary review throughout the federal government, including the Department of Defense. Next week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify before the House Armed Services Committee, where he is expected to discuss the Pentagon's budget and describe elements of the department's upcoming strategy review. As lawmakers look for savings, they must also reevaluate our national security priorities, the way America conducts its business in the world and the role the military plays in accomplishing those objectives.

In a new paper, "Matching Resources with Interests: A Strategy to Guide the Defense Budget," [.pdf] the National Security Network's Major General Paul Eaton, USA (Ret.) and Kelsey Hartigan offer a strategic look at how to realign U.S. interests with our resources and produce a leaner defense budget. Recommendations include:

  • Shift to a counterterrorist mission in Afghanistan and elsewhere and rebalance how and where the U.S. deploys its military.
  • Reduce ground forces to 2001 levels, resulting in an end strength of approximately 480,000 for the Army and 173,000 for the Marine Corps, provided that deployment guidelines are honored.
  • Invest in systems that match our missions; reduce distorting political pressures on the procurement process by instituting a weapons systems BRAC; and eliminate redundant or unnecessary weapon systems, such as the littoral combat ship, the next-generation bomber and certain tactical vehicles.

This paper reviews the world as we know it, considers the changes since the 9/11 attacks and proposes a prioritization logic to better achieve a match between America's defense ends and budgetary means, recognizing that our strong defense is based upon a strong economy.

To read the full report, click here.