US Foreign Policy

Rebalancing the Defense Budget

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By U.S. Navy Admiral Gary Roughead (Ret.) – The U.S. Department of Defense is facing deep budget cuts caused by sequestration. With no political agreement to lift these cuts in sight, our nation’s leaders must make hard, prudent, strategic choices to shape the defense budget to legislated fiscal constraints. If automatic, across-the-board budget cuts occur, they risk hollowing out the United States’ military capabilities and producing a force that does not meet the nation’s strategic needs.

This summer, I worked with a committee of experts – including former military commanders, senior civilian leaders in national security agencies, defense contractors and academics – to develop recommendations for an appropriate force for protecting the United States, even at lower budget levels. Organized by the Stimson Center with support from the Peterson Foundation, our report, “Strategic Agility: Strong National Defense for Today’s Global and Fiscal Realities,” was issued Sept. 24. It shows how these goals can be achieved by 2015 with $50 billion in targeted annual Defense Department budget cuts – ending the need for automatic cuts and their catastrophic effects on our military readiness.

Our strategic approach and recommendations preserve the U.S. military as the only true global force, maintaining the intelligence, command and control capabilities, and robust forces that allow us to maintain credible global presence, respond in areas of strategic importance and guarantee the global commons of the sea, air, and now the cyber domain. To do so in a cost-constrained environment, however, we must avoid the traditional default to equal budget shares among the service branches.

To read the full op-ed, click here.


This op-ed was first published in The Hill on October 16, 2013

Photo by U.S. Navy photo/Michael D. Kennedy

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