Nonproliferation

Barry Blechman’s op-ed on US defense budget realities is published in International Business Times

in Program

When I worked with a group of high-ranking former military and civilian national security officials last year to develop a new U.S. defense strategy called “Strategic Agility,” we assumed our elected policymakers would not be so stupid as to allow the mindless across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration to happen. We were wrong.

The U.S. armed forces have now lived with sequester for more than six months and are poised to suffer under sequester through all of the next budget year as well. In the increasingly vain hope that a comprehensive fiscal deal will be reached, President Barack Obama, the House and the Senate have all offered budgets and appropriations bills that fund defense well above the caps set in law.

The temporary continuing resolution now before Congress has the same flaw. If the final funding bill continues to exceed the legislated caps, the law will be enforced in fiscal 2014 with the same blunt cuts that have left planes in their hangars, ships in port, and service members off the training grounds during the current year.

When it became clear that our elected officials were ignoring reality, we reconvened and expanded our group of 17 senior former officials – including two former vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs Staff, a former Air Force chief of staff, a former chief of naval operations and two retired four-star Army generals. We re-examined our proposed strategy in the light of both international and domestic events. We concluded that Strategic Agility still shows the best way to protect America and issued a new report on released Sept. 24.

To read the full op-ed in International Business Times, click here.

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