President Barack Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2015 makes significant progress in cutting excess overhead costs and focusing resources in areas critical to national security, according to an assessment released by the Stimson Center. The assessment examines how well the president’s budget incorporates the recommendations of a panel of 17 distinguished defense experts, including former high-ranking military officers and national security policymakers, who developed a new U.S. defense strategy and published 27 specific recommendations for implementing that strategy in Strategic Agility, a report released last fall.
The Stimson Center assessment finds that the president’s proposal fully incorporates 12 of the panel’s 27 recommendations and partially incorporates another nine. If implemented, the president’s budget would take substantial but incomplete steps towards streamlining management and overhead costs, adjusting the military’s force structure to face current threats and investing in the new equipment most critical for future needs.
“Overall, the president’s proposal goes a long way to incorporating the recommendations in Strategic Agility,” said Barry Blechman, distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center and chairman of the Defense Advisory Committee that authored Strategic Agility. “However, by enacting all of the proposed recommendations, the administration and Congress could reduce the amount of uncertainty that has had a debilitating impact on strategic planning while, at the same time, preserving a strong national defense.”
To read the full assessment, click here.
Some of the recommendations the president incorporated include:
- Maintaining the number of aircraft carriers and reducing Army force structure;
- Maintaining ready special operations forces;
- Canceling the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle and cutting minor procurement;
- Reducing contractors, headquarters, and defense agencies; and
- Consolidating infrastructure and reforming health benefits
Several recommendations, such as reducing civilian employees, extricating uniform personnel from non-military tasks and slowing the purchases of the F-35 fighter plane, were only partially incorporated. And another five were not, including buying an additional AEGIS Destroyer a year.
Grounded in a fundamental assessment of US interests and the threats to those interests, Strategic Agility charts a new US defense strategy for a new era, and lays out specific steps to implement such a strategy in these times of constrained defense resources. The report warns if these steps are not taken, US defense could be vitally weakened.