As fiscal year 2016, which begins on October 1, 2015, draws ever closer, the subject of how much and how America should spend on defense, given the threats and fiscal challenges this nation faces, has once again become front and center. Steadily increasing chaos and security challenges internationally have come into sharper focus, while in the political realm, most of the Republican candidates for president are making the size of the defense budget a campaign issue. Meanwhile, President Obama has vowed to veto a federal budget that gives the Pentagon relief from the budget control caps that does not do the same for the nondefense portion of the federal discretionary budget. Although FY 2016 is almost upon us, it does not appear that the Congress will pass a budget before the start of the fiscal year, forcing all federal agencies, including the Pentagon, to operate on a continuing resolution.
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.This article was originally published in The National Interest.