"Strategic Agility" Assessment of the President's FY2015 Defense Budget

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"Strategic Agility" Assessment of the President's FY2015 Defense Budget

In its September 2013 report, Strategic Agility, the 17-member Defense Advisory Committee of former high-ranking military officers, former national security policymakers, and distinguished academics endorsed 27 specific defense policy recommendations that would protect American national security while saving nearly $50 billion in FY2015 relative to the President's FY2014 budget request. A downloadable version of the assessment can be found to the right.

The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) was passed after Strategic Agility's release, and relieved the anticipated deep cuts in FY14 and FY15. However, it did not end the need for some reductions in defense spending, leaving a $30 billion drop from the President's proposed FY14 budget. More importantly, the BBA did not change the outyear levels-in FY16 the defense budget will be the same as the one Strategic Agility considered.

Strategic Agility's recommendations remain valid and important considerations for ensuring a healthy defense posture under this reduced funding.

This assessment looks at how the President's FY2015 budget request stacks up against those recommendations. This assessment is complicated by the proposed budget's treatment of outyears. Instead of meeting the statutorily required levels in FY16 and beyond, the proposed budget assumes these levels will be increased, just as the President and Congress have done in the last few years, creating the damaging delays in rationalizing US defense planning.

Overall, the President's proposal goes a long way to incorporating Strategic Agility's recommendations. However, by enacting all of the proposed recommendations, the Administration and the 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.