The President’s fiscal year 2015 defense budget request demonstrates the Administration’s willingness to sacrifice America’s leadership while the world grows more dangerous. If the President gets his way, all of the services will see significant reductions in their ability to protect America’s interests abroad.
The U.S. needs to sustain forces large enough to fight and win two major regional conventional contingencies. Today’s force and the force proposed under the President’s budget request are too small to meet this criterion.
A strong, engaged, and capable U.S. assures allies and deters adversaries. The U.S. is a force for good abroad and needs to continue to fulfill its role as an international leader. A credible U.S. presence abroad is essential for a wide range of domestic and national security goals, including sustaining open access to trade and travel routes critical to free trade, maintaining the flexibility to respond to emergent crisis and prevent their worsening or mitigate their consequences, and protecting American citizens and those of our friends and allies when disasters do happen.
The budget reflects a failure of leadership because it sacrifices the security of the United States in order to preserve and even expand unsustainable levels of entitlement spending—the primary cause of U.S. fiscal woes. The budget reduces actions aimed to preserve our nation even while it increases spending in areas that undermine its viability over the long term.
The President’s proposal reduces the defense budget slightly from the current fiscal year’s level while accepting “somewhat increased levels of risk for some missions.” This is disingenuous. His own Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has highlighted the woeful state of defense under this budget, requiring cuts in capacity in order to preserve modernization and readiness.
Recognizing that reforms in military health care, compensation, retirement, and acquisition systems require congressional cooperation, Congress must provide its support and work with the Administration to reform these outdated systems and practices. This is a no small task, but it is essential to keep the U.S. safe and prosperous, our allies assured, and our enemies deterred.