Friday, September 5, 2014

Defense Budget Constraints May See US Shedding Allies: CSBA

If the US Defense Department is going to adjust to the current threat environment while operating within current military budget constraints, it may be forced to back out of security contracts and shed allies, Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budget Assessment (CSBA), said at a press conference.
According to Harrison, the downsizing could occur “by shedding missions, by coming up with innovative concepts to execute missions with fewer resources.”

“Or we could divest some security contracts – basically tell some allies, ‘Hey, we told you we were going to have your back and things have changed, and we’re not going to have your back,’” Harrison said.
Harrison qualified his remarks noting, “I’m not saying that's a good idea given the threat environment we see going around the world.”

Outlining the two major options to address the gap between US defense strategy and defense budgeting, Harrison continued, “[The Defense Department] can either submit a budget that fully resources that strategy ... and then show us precisely what they think the gap is between what they need to execute the strategy and whatever they deem to be an acceptable level of risk ... The other alternative is they can adjust their strategy, downsize their strategy to fit within those budget constraints.”

“If you want to see what our real defense strategy is, you don’t read the documents, you look at the budget numbers,” said Harrison. “I think if you want to know what’s likely to happen in terms of US defense strategy in the future, you look at the numbers.”

CSBA estimates for a five-year defense projection show the difference between strategic objectives and budget constraints may reach between $200 billion and $300 billion. The range of the estimate is large due to many political uncertainties, including whether Congress will adjust the 2015 budget to exceed the budget restraints implemented in 2012 prior to a government shutdown.

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