Russell Rumbaugh

Former Director, Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense, and Senior Associate

This is the profile of a former staff member, affiliate, intern, or guest author. Biographical information is not maintained and may be out of date.

Russell Rumbaugh is a senior associate at Stimson and director of its Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program. He is a widely recognized expert on the institutions, processes and budgets of US national security. He has proven a perceptive and productive observer of these issues, in part by contributing new and groundbreaking analysis in reports on defense strategy, defense procurement, foreign policy personnel, public diplomacy and the costs of nuclear weapons. Rumbaugh is a sought-after speaker, and his work has been cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post and others.

Before joining Stimson, Rumbaugh was the defense analyst on the Senate Budget committee covering both the 050 Defense and 150 International Affairs accounts of the U.S. government budget. He also served as military legislative assistant for Congressman Jim Cooper from Tennessee, and was the lead staffer for Rep. Cooper as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on Roles and Missions. In this role, he helped to produce the report “Initial Perspectives” in February 2008.

Rumbaugh previously served as an operations research analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Program Analysis and Evaluation, as a military analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army resigning with the rank of captain.

Rumbaugh holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Chicago and a Master of Science in security studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Excellence as well as the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for his service in Kosovo.

Selected Publications

What We Bought: Defense Procurement from FY01-FY10 (Stimson, October 28, 2011)

Real Acquisition Reform (Joint Force Quarterly, September 2009)

Strategic Agility: Strong National Defense for Today’s Global and Fiscal Realities (Stimson, September 24, 2013)

Diplomacy in a Time of Scarcity (Stimson, October 25, 2012)

The Pentagon as Pitchman: Perception and Reality in Public Diplomacy (Stimson, December 6, 2012)

Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons (Stimson, June 5, 2012)

A Tax to Pay for War (New York Times, February 10, 2013)

The Logical Conclusion of the New Defense Strategy (CNN, January 6, 2012)

The Battle Between the Air Force and the Air National Guard (DefenseOne, August 29, 2013)

Also see BFAD’s Budget Analysis pages for Defense and Foreign Affairs

Research & Writing

US national security institutions: Pragmatic solutions require knowing how things work

In 25 years of providing pragmatic solutions, it is not surprising Stimson has always had an eye on the processes and institutions that would have to implement those solutions: a solution is pragmatic only if the policies it recommends can realisticall…

Stimson in the News
Russell Rumbaugh and Barry Blechman’s op-ed on USAF strategic agility published in Breaking Defense

The myriad of conflicts raging worldwide right now would pose a challenge to any defense strategy. From Russian aggression in Ukraine and China’s belligerence in contested waters to a particularly violent flaring of the Israel-Palestine conflict and Ir…

Issue Brief
A Step Backward, or More to Go?

The FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request—the war funding request—helps illustrate how much further the defense budget needs to go to adjust to statutory spending caps. We have previously noted how realistic the base FY…

Stimson in the News
Barry Blechman and Russell Rumbaugh’s op-ed on tactical nukes in Europe published in Foreign Affairs

In 1991, U.S. President George H. W. Bush decided to retire almost all the tactical nuclear weapons operated by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. His reasons were simple: these short-range weapons were militarily useless and imposed significant burdens…

An Un-Hollow Force: Readiness in the FY15 Budget Request

The debate about the defense budget suffers a fundamental disconnect: even as the national conversation focuses on deep cuts, the actual force remains the most awe-inspiring military force in the world. Some of that disconnect stems from blurring the d…

National Security Programs Supporting Social Science in Academia

The federal government invests heavily in supporting higher education and academic research in a wide range of disciplines. Much of this funding is channeled through national security-related agencies, particularly the Departments of Defense and Homela…

Budget Deal Proves That Congress CAN Take On Military Pay & Benefits Costs

By Russell Rumbaugh – For the most adamant, personnel costs are about to eat the entire Department of Defense budget, reducing it to just a welfare agency and leaving the United States at the mercy of its enemies. Since the creation of the All-Voluntee…

Hagel’s Defense Cuts Are Just A Start

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s announcement last week of a 20 percent cut in his headquarters was a necessary but minimal step in the major restructuring needed in the Department of Defense to respond to budget cuts under the sequester. Hagel actua…

An Analysis of U. S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization Programs

The Nuclear Budget Campaign initiated by the Ploughshares Fund was prescient in recognizing the opportunity to cut defense budgets, leading to some impressive victories. Today, those smaller defense budgets look locked in, even though the specific…

The Battle Between the Air Force and the Air National Guard

Faced with the need to reduce spending by $4.8 billion under this year’s budget, Air Force leaders wanted most of the cuts to come from the Air National Guard. Congress disagreed and the fight over where to cut in the future continues. The Air Force su…

Treading Water: National Security in the FY14 Budget

President Obama’s budget request was released last week with some dramatic proposals, including raising taxes and changing how Social Security is calculated. The dramatic changes are meant as the framework for a deal to finally resolve the budget fight…

Sequester Cuts Hurting US Foreign Policy

The mandatory across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequester are weakening America’s ability to effectively carry out foreign policy and are also highlighting the existing flaws in how the U.S. spends foreign affairs dollars. Because the State…

Stimson in the News
Russell Rumbaugh’s op-ed on sequestration and US foreign policy featured in The Hill

Russell Rumbaugh’s op-ed on how the sequester is hurting US foreign policy featured in The Hill. Click here to read the op-ed.

Presidential Inbox 2013: Execute the Defense Builddown

Click here to view the complete Presidential Inbox series.  The Challenge: The US defense budget is getting smaller, but a declining defense budget does not have to mean a decline in US national security or even American leadership aroun…

Presidential Inbox 2013: Meet the Demand for Civilian Capacity

Click here to view the complete Presidential Inbox series. By Russell Rumbaugh and Alison Giffen The Challenge The US needs more deployable civilian capacity to assist a troubled country move towards stability. The military is not a wholly ap…

Stimson in the News
The New York Times publishes Op-Ed from Russell Rumbaugh

Russell Rumbaugh, director of the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program, has an Op-Ed in The New York times. In the Op-Ed, “A Tax to Pay for War”,  Mr. Rumbaugh argues that Congress should institute a surcharge for any milita…

Diplomacy in a Time of Scarcity

The United States faces unprecedented challenges in conducting diplomacy and development as it responds to the residuals of three wars and a constantly changing global environment.  At the same time, the outlook for the entire federal budget has c…

Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons

As the defense budget comes under increasing pressure, many have suggested nuclear weapons as an area for savings. But estimates of what the United States spends on nuclear weapons widely vary. This report provides an estimate of US spending on nuclear…

Stimson in the News
Stimson Report “Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons” Is Cited In N-TV Commentary

A 2012 Stimson report called “Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons” is cited in an N-TV German language article about President Obama’s recent speech in Berlin. To read the full commentary, click here.

Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons

By Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn – As the defense budget comes under increasing pressure, many have suggested nuclear weapons as an area for savings. But estimates of what the United States spends on nuclear weapons widely vary. Click here to downlo…

Striking the Deal

Defense spending and the issue of sequestration are again in the public debate, as the presidential election campaign moves into high gear, and the start of a new fiscal year looms on October 1. Sequestration – automatic, across-the-board budget cuts o…

The Reality of the Defense Builddown

The President released the FY13 defense budget request today, and the total amount is $5B less than the FY12 appropriated levels. We are certainly into the defense builddown. But we should remember that the defense budget has cycled up and down over th…

Russell Rumbaugh writes op-ed for CNN on President Obama’s defense budget cut strategy

Russell Rumbaugh authored an opinion-editorial for CNN regarding President Obama’s announcement Thursday on the administration’s strategy to cut the defense budget, saying “Obama’s defense cuts are too timid.” Click here to read the full op-ed.

Policy Paper
What We Bought: Defense Procurement from FY01 to FY10

Prevailing wisdom on defense spending in the past decade asserts that despite the large amount spent, we did not modernize our weapons systems. In reality, the military services did take advantage of increased procurement funding to modernize their for…

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