CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

Hagel's Defense Cuts: A Good Idea

  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will take up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA) over the next month, reviewing a $601 billion total budget request submitted by the Department of Defense and tweaking the plan to reflect Congressional priorities. The Pentagon is asking for $496 billion for the base budget, $26 billion for the defense portion of President Obama’s “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” or OGSI, and a $79 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO), largely for the war in Afghanistan. This year’s NDAA will test whether Congress can set aside parochial interests in favor of strategic choices and plan effectively for the future of national defense.

This is a crucial period for defense planning and budgeting. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) trimmed $487 billion in planned future spending increases from already elevated spending levels, basically slimming down the Pentagon’s unrealistic budget plans. This reduction in planned spending is often falsely presented as a cut, but it was not. In 2013, the Pentagon refused to submit a budget in line with the BCA caps, triggering sequestration. This $42.7 billion in cuts were less significant than many have argued. They trimmed the fat built up from over a decade of unprecedented increases in defense spending, were partly absorbed by spending down unobligated balances left over from past years, and were further mitigated by shifting funds around between more fungible readiness accounts and into the off-book OCO accounts. The military came through largely unscathed in terms of real capabilities. But since the Department of Defense has cut the low-hanging fruit, it now faces real choices about how to define its priorities and invest its resources for much of the next decade.

Read more here.

This article was originally published in The National Interest.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Elise Shulman (Oceans)
202.741.6256 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (Immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics)
202.741.6258 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or