Authors of the newly released report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity, judge that "the U.S. military’s ability to execute America’s global engagement strategy, as it is currently articulated, will be placed at high risk if total national defense cuts exceed $500-550 billion over 10 years. This judgment could change if policymakers recalibrate America’s global engagement strategy and/or generate savings by reforming military pay and benefits for future service members."
Report authors LTG David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Dr. Nora Bensahel and Travis Sharp offer four illustrative scenarios for potential defense budget reductions, and try to identify the best possible ways to cut military force structure, end strength, procurement and overhead to reach different potential targets for savings. Barno, Bensahel and Sharp also consider the modified roles and missions, operational approaches and vulnerabilities that might result.
The report, appropriately titled Hard Choices, makes clear that determining “how much is enough” for defense requires both art and science, which is difficult in today’s world of unprecedented technological change, economic dislocation and rapidly evolving threats. Yet the U.S. government’s fundamental responsibility is to provide security to its citizens and any cuts to the defense budget should be made with a clear view of the strategic risks they entail.
On Friday, October 7, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., CNAS will host an event featuring a discussion with Hard Choices authors and leading defense and budget experts Gordon Adams, Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, and Tom Donnelly, Resident Fellow and Director of the Center for Defense Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. RSVP online here. Copies of Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity will be available at the event on October 7 and a light breakfast will be served.