March 30, 2021

Storm Clouds Ahead: Musings About the 2022 Defense Budget

By Robert O. Work

It’s that time of year when the president’s annual budget is due to Congress, and with it, the annual update to the Pentagon’s future years defense program. The program is a projection of the forces, resources, and capabilities needed to support Department of Defense operations over a five-year period. The future years defense program covers the current “year of execution” and the next four years. These five-year plans are typically delivered to Congress with the defense resources for the two previous fiscal years and force structure estimates for the three years following the program.

Normally, both the president’s budget and the future years defense program would be delivered during the first week of February. But, in a transition between administrations, they are typically delayed as the incoming administration reviews the program developed by the outgoing administration and makes changes to it. This transition is no different — therefore, we should see the budget and defense program before May 1.

One hopes Washington won’t lose another year as its competitors continue to chip away at America’s conventional overmatch.

The coming update to the defense program promises to be more important than usual. It’s been over three years since the National Defense Strategy established a long-term strategic competition with “revisionist powers” — particularly China — as the primary defense challenge facing the joint force. During this time, the services have all been developing new operational concepts and the platforms and capabilities to support them. It’s time to start seeing concrete changes in the defense program that should follow.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

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