This summer’s dramatic global events — from the rise of the Islamic State, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, war between Hamas and Israel, violent confrontations and air strikes in Libya and continued tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the East and South China seas — have reminded us all that the United States faces perhaps the most complex and volatile security environment since World War II.
This realization has led to repeated calls for U.S. leadership to sustain the rules-based international order that underpins U.S. security and prosperity. But scant attention has been paid to ensuring that we have a robust and ready military, able to deter would-be aggressors, reassure allies and ensure that any president, current or future, has the options he or she will need in an increasingly dangerous world.
The National Defense Panel, a bipartisan commission chartered by Congress and on which we have served for the past 13 months, concluded in its recent report that the Budget Control Act of 2011 was a “serious strategic misstep” that has dangerously tied the hands of the Pentagon leadership, forcing across-the-board “sequestration” cuts in defense spending and subjecting the nation to accumulating strategic risk. The commission’s report concluded that, without budgetary relief, the U.S. armed forces soon will be at high risk of not being able to accomplish the national defense strategy.