The Growing Gap in Defense Spending: America Needs a Ready and Modernized Fighting Force
The President's Budget
- The Obama Blueprint: While a robust starting point, the
Obama budget blueprint fails to fully fund the core defense needs
of the United States by about $30 billion in the base defense
- Creates 10-Year Shortfall:The shortfall likely exceeds
$1.3 trillion cumulatively over 10 years against the 4% of GDP
benchmark identified as the cost to train, equip, and modernize
America's military for the next five to 10 years.
- Balanced Defense Program:Congress has sought to restore
balance to the defense program by demanding an end to supplemental
defense appropriations--such as $130 billion in war costs in this
budget--and restoring the money to the core program. If pursued
cautiously, this is the right approach.
The Military Needs Additional
- Increasing Demand: Today's reality is that the demand
for U.S. military forces has increased significantly while the size
of the force decreased in the 1990s. It is impossible for the
military to support the efforts necessary to protect the American
people, friends, and allies if the defense budget is not sustained
at roughly today's level for 10 years.
- Current Strength:The Navy's fleet has declined from 568
ships in the late 1980s to 276 in 2007. During Desert Storm, the
Air Force had 37 fighter wing equivalents, but today it has just
20. The average age of aircraft in the Air Force has risen from
nine years in 1973 to 24 years in 2007. Meanwhile, the Army is
struggling to fund the Future Combat Systems, its most important
vehicle- and communications-modernization program in over a
- A Smaller Force:The past six years have shown that the
Army needs to be large enough to sustain large-scale operations
without having to deploy the same units multiple times or extend
their deployments over the duration of the mission.
4% of GDP: A Small Price to Pay
- Inhofe-Franks Resolution: A joint congressional
resolution introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and
Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) would commit 4% of the nation's GDP
to defense for 10 years.
- Declining Funding:Defense spending has gradually
declined as a percentage of GDP since the 1960s, while spending on
major entitlements has continued to grow.
- Alternative to the "Peace Dividend":The wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq occurred with a smaller peacetime force and
were fought on a peacetime pre-9/11 budget, so there is no "peace
dividend" to be had. The United States hasn't mobilized its
military to the appropriate levels since the Cold War.
- The Right Approach: The Inhofe-Franks proposal would
allocate the resources necessary to protect the U.S., account for a
wide spectrum of future missions, ensure adequate funding for
ongoing operations, maintain a trained and ready all-volunteer
military, and reform manpower and procurement policies.
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