Recent discussions amongst Republicans regarding US Defense force structure have revealed an ongoing disagreement between two camps within the party. Military Hawks, citing the recent disturbances in Ukraine and Iraq have begun to beat the drum for more resources to be allocated for the Department of Defense to address threats that never really subsided. Fiscal Hawks, focused on budget deficits that stretch as far as the eye can see, continue to argue for DoD to continue to be part of a basket of cuts in entitlements and discretionary programs. While all agree that the United States needs to maintain a military strong enough to deter the rise of competitors and preserve our ability to respond to crises around the world, the question that remains is how large and how capable does our military have to be to accomplish these twin goals?
The Military Hawk’s solution is to increase spending and buy more weapons already in production from our military industrial base. Fiscal Hawks, arguing that our Department of Defense is larger than the next ten militaries combined, believe there is room for continued cuts before the nation’s interests are placed at risk. Objective analysis suggests that a path exists that would allow cuts to the DoD budget and marginal growth in the force. Such a path is predicated on recognizing that our national fascination with high-tech weapons systems has led to a defense culture where the exquisite has become the enemy of the good-enough.