According to the testimony given at the confirmation hearings for the five new members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the international situation has never been more chaotic. They see Russia as the greatest threat, followed by China, North Korea, Iran and ISIL. The new Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, echoes these claims and goes so far as to call Russia an existential threat. Moreover, the new service chiefs and most of the Republican candidates argue that, under the Obama administration, defense spending has been cut so drastically we cannot deal with the threats we now face.And this...
But the real issue is not the amount we spend on defense but how we are spending it. In fact, the current level of defense spending is more than adequate. The defense budget for FY 2016 amounts to about $600 billion. In real terms, this exceeds the amount we spent on average in the Cold War and accounts for between one third and one half of the world's total military expenditures, depending upon whether one uses purchasing power parity or just straight dollars. Moreover, when one adds in the amount our allies spend, we account for somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of global military expenditures. Our greatest strategic threat, Russia, spends about $80 billion, less than our Saudi Arabian ally. Moreover, this amount is less than it seems, as the decline in the value of the ruble and the price of oil has had to delay Russian plans for modernizing its force. Even China spends only about one third of what we do.
The chiefs are right. The main enemy is chaos. But in order to tackle the chaos in the world, we must first tackle the chaos in the Pentagon. For example, if Secretary Carter believes Russia is an existential threat, why is he continuing the “pivot to the Pacific" a policy he inaugurated when he was Deputy secretary of defense, and decreasing the percentage of the budget going to our land forces, who would be the most likely to deal with the threat from Russia?This is a great article and should stimulate some great discussion. There are some AMAZING POINTS that the author makes and some pretty GLARING OMISSIONS.
Second, any of the Republican candidates are urging that we must urgently add more might to our nation’s military. However, these arguments for more and more forces aren’t connected to any strategy, nor any idea of how to pay the enormous costs. For example, some candidates have argued that we need to increase the size of the Navy from its current level of 275 ships to as many as 350. But they do not tell us for what, and when, and where. Why 300, and not 400 or 200? What about the mix of ships? Do we want 25 or 50 more littoral combat ships or, or more Arleigh Burke destroyers, or aircraft carriers, or submarines, or small coastal patrol ships? Finally these candidates ignore the fact that since it takes a long time to build a ship, the size of today's Navy is more a result of decisions made by the Bush administration. In fact, as a result of decisions made by President Obama the Navy will grow to over 308 ships by early in the next decade.
Still. His basic premise sings to me. Oh and if you're wondering who the author is, its Lawrence Korb, former Assistant SecDef under Reagan. Read it all here.