Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

America’s Military: Overcommitted and Underfunded

leave a comment »

Kori Schake writes in the Atlantic:

I confess up front to being a budget hawk. I basically believe that as long as the Pentagon is still buying two manned fighter planes after the unmanned revolution, there is more than enough money going to the Defense Department—because if money were really tight, one or both of those programs would be cancelled, and the military services would be undercutting each other’s budgets to increase the funding available for their priorities. As long as adaptation to obvious next-generation platforms (like unmanned aerial fighters) remains this slow and the services placidly accept their budget shares, the topline is adequate.

But even I am now nervous about the widening gap between America’s military obligations and the resourcing we are committing. What’s worsening the situation is that the Trump administration is both expanding requirements and contracting spending.

Since taking office, President Trump and his defense secretary have approved an increase in both forces and operational tempo in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria; committed to an enduring presence in Iraq after the defeat of ISIS; are considering an imminent increase of at least 4,000 troops to Afghanistan as part of the advise and assist mission to Afghan National Security Forces; are reviewing an Afghan war strategy that could make weightier demands of long duration to that country; have increased the military assets assigned to deter and if necessary engage North Korea; are providing greater intelligence and special-operations support to allied operations in Yemen; and are pushing back assertively on Iranian naval activity. Those are non-trivial expansions of demand to place on an already over-stretched force.

Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, assesses current requirements at 540,000 active-duty soldiers, which appears to be the Army’s favorite round number: It was also what the Army believed it needed in the mid-1990s, and what the Army believed it needed mid-term of the Obama administration. So it’s likely an institutionally comfortable number rather than a rigorously derived one.

Still, the 540,000 number cannot reasonably meet the very different demands of those three time frames. Planners at the end of the Cold War envisioned a strategic environment that entailed Russia integrating into the West, did not imagine the emergence of global terrorist threats, and under-emphasized the rise of an aggressive China as America’s peer. The early-2000s assessments were based on a Russia reset, the tide of wars receding, and China as a responsible stakeholder; none of those three planning parameters hold. Even without factoring in the president’s policies, objectively the international environment is increasing demands.

The president’s budget allots only a 3-percent increase in the coming fiscal year DOD spending. When out-year projections are taken into account, the Trump budget will add only $463-billion increase through 2027. Despite political grandstanding about the “historic” size of the increase and a pledge to rebuild America’s armed forces, that is a very modest bump, probably inadequate even to rebuild current readiness shortfalls. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2017 at 9:15 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s