March 04, 2014

CNAS Expert: Gambling with Ground Forces: The 2015 Defense Budget and the 2014 QDR

Washington, March 4, 2014 – The president’s FY 2015 defense budget released today finances its bet on technological superiority by gambling with ground forces according to Travis Sharp, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  Mr. Sharp notes, “By betting on technology over size, the FY 2015 budget intensifies the debate over whether to prioritize men or material as defense spending declines.”

Mr. Sharp writes, “Prioritizing technology over size has a strategic logic and conforms with historical practice.” However, he argues that focusing on high-tech modernization without simultaneously implementing policies to regenerate ground forces quickly should a crisis erupt constitutes strategic negligence of the highest order.

Download a copy of Gambling with Ground Forces: The 2015 Defense Budget and The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.

On the issue of regenerating ground forces, Mr. Sharp says that “The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review was a missed opportunity for DOD to address the issue directly.”

He outlines two options to regenerate ground forces: surge the reserve or increase the active-duty force. “Surging the reserve faces complex budgetary, operational and cultural problems,” he writes, whereas “increasing active-duty forces takes longer than many political leaders may realize.” He then explains how DOD and Congress should dedicate more attention to this issue in 2014 and beyond.