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Cutting the Pentagon's Budget is a Gift To Our Enemies

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Presented in Partnership with The McCain Institute for International Leadership

Political gridlock in Washington triggered across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, in March. As a result, the Pentagon was given six months to eliminate $41 billion from the current year'€™s budget, and unlike past cuts, this time everything is on the table. In 2011, America spent $711 billion dollars on its defense'€”more than the next 13 highest spending countries combined. But the burdens it shoulders, both at home and abroad, are unprecedented. Could the sequester be a rare opportunity to overhaul the armed forces, or will its impact damage military readiness and endanger national security?


Military leaders are frustrated by the knowledge that the sequester is not only forcing them to spend precious dollars inefficiently but also depleting the preparedness of the force in a way that will be costly and time-consuming to restore.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
James Kitfield

While we know what today’s costs for keeping this global preeminence are, we are losing sight of what the much larger bill might be, should we lose it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013
Gary J. Schmitt

Despite the benefits of military research spending, there tend to be powerful short-term incentives to reduce defense R&D investments.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Mackenzie Eaglen

Cuts to defense spending have the potential to devastate the U.S. armed forces, and if left unchecked, will do more damage to their fighting capacity than the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or any other external foe could inflict.

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Max Boot

Sequestration has done material harm to America’s national security at a dangerous moment.

Friday, April 19, 2013
Frederick W. Kagan

Defense Department Comptroller Robert F. Hale said the severe and abrupt budget cuts imposed by sequestration are devastating the U.S. armed forces.

Friday, May 10, 2013
Cheryl Pellerin

So long as the prevailing stereotype about the spiraling and inexorable growth of military spending remains unchallenged, we will keep looking to defense cuts to avoid the hard choices required to genuinely constrain the major drivers of America’s deficit and debt.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Robert Zarate

Witness statements from General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps; Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Frank Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau; Admiral Jonathan Greenart, Chief of Naval Operations; General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; and General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Armed Services Committee Hearing

The sheer size of the defense budget suggests that it should be part of any serious effort to address America's long-term fiscal challenges.

Friday, April 12, 2013
Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Many of the big-ticket items in the Pentagon’s budget request are ill suited for dealing with the complex transnational threats facing the country today, serve only to reinforce the United States’ overwhelming superiority in conventional and nuclear weaponry, and come at a considerable cost to American taxpayers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Lawrence Korb

The military's Chicken Littles want you to think the sky is falling. Don't believe them: America has never been safer.

Monday, March 4, 2013
Thomas P.M. Barnett

There’s a fundamental need to have a conversation about what kind of military we need to have and what we should expect it to do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Gopal Ratnam

Pentagon spending is based on strategies from old ideology and driven by lobbyists.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Robert Gard and John Johns

The Pentagon will make it through sequestration better than most.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Gordon Adams

The military budget can be cut beyond the initial reductions from the 2011 Budget Control Act. But continued sequestration or reductions of comparable magnitude such as those resulting from the Simpson-Bowles proposals go too far.

Sunday, May 12, 2013
Michael O’Hanlon

An overview of the U.S. defense budget.

Monday, January 7, 2013
Brad Plumer

What is an appropriate level of defense spending, when the federal budget is strained and the United States faces few major military threats? 6 experts answer this question.

Sunday, September 9, 2012
Room for Debate

The impact of sequestration and the FY 2014 budget request, in charts, graphs, and tables.

Monday, April 29, 2013
Anthony Cordesman and Robert Shelala II

In fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, amounting to 23% of the nation’s GDP. 19% of that year’s budget, or $689 billion, paid for defense and security-related international activities.

Friday, April 12, 2013
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Answers to the most-asked questions about the sequestration cuts.

Friday, March 1, 2013
Dylan Matthews
FY 2014 Budget Request

The FY 2014 budget request for a $526.6 billion base budget.

Monday, April 1, 2013
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer

The president’s proposed budget request reflects wishful thinking on the part of the administration, as it exceeds by $51 billion the amount that Congress allowed the Pentagon to spend in 2014 under the Budget Control Act that was passed in 2011.

Monday, April 8, 2013
Sandra I. Erwin
Strategic Choices and Management Review

As the Pentagon nears completion of its ongoing Strategic Choices and Management Review, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments conducted an external Strategic Choices Exercise with teams of experts from three other prominent think-tanks—CSIS, AEI and CNAS–to inform public debate.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Defense Department will create at least five defense budgets this year as a result of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, and some of those alternative plans 'could entail significant risk.'

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Colin Clark
Budget Cutting Proposals

CSBA conducted a series of strategic choices exercises in which experts from across the defense community were given the task of altering DoD’s strategy and capabilities while implementing budget cuts of roughly the same magnitude required by sequestration.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Todd Harrison and Mark Gunzinger

This paper identifies two options for reshaping U.S. military forces in a way that would reduce future budgets while keeping a strong and ready military.

Friday, February 1, 2013
Cindy Williams

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed the cost of implementing DoD’s plans (as presented in its 2013 budget request and related planning documents) and examined general approaches that the department might take to comply with the budget caps.

Monday, March 18, 2013
Congressional Budget Office