ReportsOverview of the 2019 President’s Budget Request for Defense
The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request for the Department of Defense is $686 billion, an increase of $40 billion1 over the president’s fiscal year 2018 req...
By Susanna V. Blume & Lauren Fish
CommentaryHow the United States Can Get More Strategic Bang For Its Force Structure Buck
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released an unclassified summary of the new National Defense Strategy two weeks ago. The big news in the strategy is a front-and-center focus o...
By Susanna V. Blume
CommentaryThe True Cost of Trump’s National Defense Strategy
On January 20, the U.S. Department of Defense released the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy, followed nearly a month later by the president’s budget request fo...
By Susanna V. Blume
Every process in the Department of Defense, from strategy down to budgeting, is at its core about establishing priorities against which to allocate finite resources. A good strategy will provide the department with guidance on what challenges, roles, and missions to emphasize based on an assessment of the current and future threat environments. When done well, a strategy will also give guidance about where to accept risk, stating what the department should not do or do less of in order to make resources available for higher priority roles and missions. In a perfect world, the strategy filters down through the department’s planning processes to result in a budget that is aligned with the strategy’s guidance about what to prioritize and where to accept risk.
Strategy is meant to guide planning and budgeting, but chaos in the budget process can also severely impact execution of the strategy. When resources levels vary widely from year to year, and defense strategists and planners are uncertain about what to expect even over very short time horizons, strategy, planning, and resource allocation break down. The result is a fragmented and astrategic approach to national security challenges.
The Defense Priorities project explores defense strategy, planning, force sizing and shaping, and budgeting, seeking alignment among these disparate processes in support of a coherent strategic outcome. The research team will follow the annual calendar of major planning and budgeting events, providing timely analysis of executive and legislative approaches to defense resourcing, the risks inherent therein, and alternatives to consider.