May 23, 2013
By Baker Spring
The Department of Defense (DOD) is now examining three revised budget options for presentation to the President. All three would impose significant damage. This is because even the highest of the three options would shrink the portion of the economy committed to defense, shrink force structure, reduce the number of people serving in the military, impose slower increases in military compensation, reduce the scope of training and maintenance, and deprive the military of significant portions of the new weapons and equipment it needs.
Most importantly, the budget reductions would result in a military of insufficient overall strength to meet the established security commitments the federal government has made to the American people and U.S. friends and allies around the world.
The three options under consideration are:
The best starting point for comparing the three options is President Obama’s request for defense in FY 2014 and beyond. However, the DOD revised the request earlier this month to provide a firm number of a bit over $79 billion for the defense portion of overseas contingency operations (OCO) in FY 2014, but it omits funding levels for any year beyond FY 2014. Accordingly, this analysis applies the revised request for OCO in FY 2014 and no funds thereafter.
Further, it limits the comparisons to the remaining period covered by the BCA (FY 2014 through FY 2021) because this is the best means of comparison for Congress as it drafts legislation on the defense program in the course of this year. The following are the funding levels for the total defense program under the three options for the eight-year period:
Accordingly, Option 2 provides about 4 percent less for the total defense program than Option 1. Option 3 provides about 8 percent less than Option 1. It is important to understand, however, that the defense reductions have been going on for several years at this point. Even Option 1 in FY 2014 is more than 11 percent below what the nation spent on defense in FY 2010.
By way of analysis, there are eight bases for comparing the three options and their impact on defense. Each basis provides Congress a different means for assessing the impact. All of the comparisons apply the spending amounts in percentage terms and on a straight line across elements of the defense program:
Among the three options President Obama is to consider, it is likely that he will publicly endorse a variation of Option 1. In reality, however, the President will choose Option 3.
Since the enactment of the BCA in 2011, President Obama has consistently stated that he does not want sequestration cuts to apply, and his current defense budget proposal does not account for it. On the other hand, he has just as consistently opposed proposals from the House of Representatives to set sequestration aside.
Congress should encourage the Obama Administration to set aside the ongoing budget-driven exercise in favor of proceeding with the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) directly. Further, it should demand that the QDR establish a national security policy that meets the needs of the nation and then recommends funding the defense program at the necessary level.
Most immediately, however, Congress should not sit by passively as President Obama claims that he supports adequate funding for national security while behaving in ways that effectively block adequate funding in this area.
—Baker Spring is F. M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy
Read More >>
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 450,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2015, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973