February 14, 2011

The Sacrifice Ahead: The 2012 Defense Budget

The fiscal year 2012 defense budget request released today is a break from the past 10 years of budget growth, but it does not go far enough to rebalance defense spending priorities given the fiscal pressures and threats the United States faces, according to a new policy brief released by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The Sacrifice Ahead: The 2012 Defense Budget recommends that the Department of Defense (DOD) pursue additional efficiencies savings and make modest reductions in its base budget to help shore up the U.S. economy, the core of America’s global and military power.

“The FY 2012 budget requested by DOD will enable the U.S. military to defend the nation against many perils. But it will do little to stymie a threat that may ultimately prove more dangerous: America’s growing debt,” writes author Travis Sharp. “Over time, the economic consequences of indebtedness may crowd out investments in a U.S. military that undergirds international security; render the United States more vulnerable to economic coercion; and erode America’s global stature and soft power. Relieving U.S. indebtedness demands preventive action by American society and government – including DOD.”

In The Sacrifice Ahead, Sharp recommends that: 

  • Policymakers modestly decrease DOD’s base budget over the next few years. A base budget reduction of approximately 10-15 percent would serve as a useful benchmark because it corresponds with DOD’s approximate share of total federal spending. Any reduction must be undergirded by strategic analysis and should not just be a crude topline cut.
  • DOD streamline its operations by making force structure tradeoffs among the military services, i.e. tailor service-specific funding to national security requirements rather than ensure each service gets “an equal share” as has been the precedent. 
  • DOD make the efficiencies initiative a regular part of the defense budget process. 
  • Republicans and Democrats in Congress overcome difficult political obstacles and work to ground defense budget decisions in national security requirements.
  • DOD pursue additional efficiencies savings in such areas as the military services’ capabilities and DOD's logistics; supply chain management; and military personnel policies on retirement, benefits and health care.

  Download The Sacrifice Ahead