Tag Archives: Trump defense budget

Trump Defense Budget Too Small? Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of criticism of the President’s 2018 defense budget proposal.

As this report was being prepared, Spacewar reports, a Chinese naval fleet is steaming towards the Baltic Sea to participate in joint exercises with Russia, with the show of force to take place after US President Donald Trump visits NATO ally Poland next month…Russia and China have taken turns hosting the exercises, dubbed “Joint Sea”, since 2012…[the Chinese news agency] Xinhua said … that this year’s drills aim ‘to consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries…The exercises, it added, will also ‘improve coordination between the two navies on joint defence operations at sea…Previous year’s drills have also been held in politically sensitive areas. Last year, the exercises took place in the contested South China Sea, where Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in waters claimed by its neighbours has drawn criticism from the US and other nations which say the project threatens freedom of navigation through the region.”

America also faces threats from within its own hemisphere greater than at any time since the end of the Cold War, and, some would argue, even higher than that era.  Russia’s navy again is docking ships in Cuba. Moscow has emplaced military equipment in Nicaragua. China and Russia have military-to-military contacts with some nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. China operates “civilian” bases on both sides of the Panama Canal.  Terrorist cells operate in conjunction with Mexican drug cartels.

For all of these reasons, keen observers of U.S. national security issues believe that the additional funds called for in President Trump’s budget request are inadequate.

An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) states that “To confront rising threats in Eastern Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East, America needs to adopt a three-theater force-sizing construct. It noted that:

“President Trump’s defense budget would repair, not rebuild, the military. Worse, it lacks the investments necessary to allow a robust rebuilding effort to begin a year from now. The request represents a more muscular status quo at best.

“This budget continues a favored Washington tradition of investing in the immediate and long term while shortchanging the next three to 15 years. This “barbell” investment strategy emphasizes the conflicts of today and the wars of the distant future, while discounting the long bar of the medium term, wherein most strategic and military risk lies.

“President Trump’s overall federal spending blueprint suggests that balancing the budget ranks above rebuilding the military in the administration’s list of priorities…”

Bloomberg News reports that President Trump’s first full-year military budget would delay increases in major weapons systems while committing additional funds into troop readiness and precision munitions, including additional Tomahawk cruise missiles. Readiness, including training, maintenance and resupply of needed munitions was significantly and adversely affected during the Obama Administration.”

The diminished and increasingly challenged U.S. Navy will have to wait another year before the President fulfills his campaign pledge to increase its size from the current 276 vessels to 350. In 1990, the Navy operated almost 600 ships.

According to Bloomberg, The biggest difference in the Trump budget from Obama’s approach is increased funding for the Army to add 26,000 active-duty troops to keep force levels at 476,000, as directed by Congress this year, instead of dropping to 450,000 as had been planned.

Abroad, Trump’s controversial drive to push NATO members to increase their moribund defense spending has had success. In 2017, twenty-five Allies will increase defense spending in real terms, according to NATO.

Even non-NATO nations within Europe have awakened to the vastly increased threat from Putin. Sweden, according to RT, will upgrade its air defense system. “Russian missile systems stationed in the nearby exclave of Kaliningrad make this a necessity. US-made Patriot systems are among the options for the major overhaul.” The Swedish government has also re-introduced conscription, noting “The security environment in Europe and in Sweden’s vicinity has deteriorated and the all-volunteer recruitment hasn’t provided the Armed Forces with enough trained personnel. The re-activating of the conscription is needed for military readiness.”

Trump Defense Budget Too Small?

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reviews criticism of the President’s 2018 defense budget proposal.

A key issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, ignored by the media but not the voters, was the sharp reduction in America’s national security during the Obama presidency.

President Trump’s first 2018 defense budget request amounts to a $603 billion base budget, a $54 billion hike over Obama’s last figure.  While a step in the right decision, it fails to take into account four key factors. First, the military has been starved for funds during the Obama presidency, (From 2010 to 2015, total defense spending was cut 22% in constant dollars) a deficiency which must now be remedied; Second, much of America’s equipment and the personnel of the armed forces are worn down and exhausted from use in the Middle East and Afghanistan; third, an excessively substantial portion of the U.S. arsenal has simply aged out, much of it dating from the Reagan buildup of the 1980’s and some going all the way back to the 1950’s; and fourth, the world’s strategic environment has changed, dramatically for the worse.

That fourth point must be the centerpiece on any debate over defense spending.  Unlike almost all other federal programs, military planning does not turn on purely internal considerations.  It is always a response to the threat environment. Over the past decade, that environment underwent a radical change. Russia is now, for the first time in history, the planet’s strongest nuclear power. In addition, it has invested vast sums in developing a 21st century conventional military, with cutting edge equipment.  China has also emerged as a rising nuclear power, and some believe that its atomic arsenal is many times larger than once assumed. The U.S. deterrent has become badly outdated. China’s conventional military is as technologically advanced as America’s, and outnumbers its U.S. counterpart in several areas.  Significant nuclear and conventional threats also come from North Korea, and in the not too distant future, Iran.

Defense Secretary Mattis stated that he was “shocked” at the lack of readiness of America’s military. A statement from the House armed services Committee (Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) worries that the U.S. has “too many planes that cannot fly, too many ships that cannot sail, too many soldiers who cannot deploy, while too many threats are gathering. We have come to a key decision point. For six years, we have been just getting by – cutting resources as the world becomes more dangerous, asking more and more of those who serve, and putting off the tough choices…”

Chairman Thornberry is seeking $28.5 billion above President Trump’s $603 billion for core Pentagon needs, along with slightly under $65 billion for warfighting missions.

Thornberry points out that “FY 17 defense spending is 18% lower than it was in 2010, measured in constant dollars.  And remember, 2010, the year we are measuring against, was before Russia invaded Crimea, before China built islands in the South China Sea, before any of us had ever heard of ISIS, and certainly before North Korea embarked on its crash missile program.
The Administration sent us a budget proposal for $603 billion, about 5% above current spending and about 3% above the amount that the Obama Administration had proposed for FY18.  Their proposal would cut missile defense below current spending, cut ship building accounts, add no additional soldiers to the Army, etc. While Secretary Mattis and General Dunford testified that they support the Administration’s request, of course, they also testified that they supported every one of the unfunded requirements submitted by the Services.  And so the difference in the Administration’s request and this mark is that we [the House armed services committee) fund $21 billion out of the $31 billion in unfunded requirements, plus we start moving toward the 350 ship Navy with an extra $6 billion in shipbuilding.”

 A Heritage Foundation study  concurred with Rep. Thornberry’s concerns. “…military readiness is dangerously low due to chronic underfunding, forced reductions, and the prolonged, high tempo of combat operations. Adequately funding national defense programs should be the primary objective of Congress in the upcoming spending battle. Inadequate and uncertain funding is particularly devastating for our military because it stops new initiatives in their tracks, derails innovative solutions and creates huge, long-term problems for equipment programs.”

Compounding the individual threats from Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang is the clear and growing military alliance between Russia, China, and Iran.  One of several factors in the U.S. victory over the Soviet Union was the very subtle commonality of interest between Washington and Beijing. That advantage has been reversed, and now China and Russia constitute a unified axis aimed at America.  The two giant nations trade technology and advanced weaponry, and their navies have trained jointly in major exercises in the Mediterranean Ocean, the Baltic Sea, and the Pacific.

The Report concludes tomorrow.

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the danger posed by inadequate defense budgets.

During its tenure, the Obama Administration engaged in policies which were breathtaking in their scope and in the extraordinary danger they posed. Among  these actions were slashing the defense budget, preventing the development of  an adequate anti-missile shield, proposing unilateral reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, withdrawing all US tanks from Europe, (some have since been returned) cutting benefits to active duty service members, alienating  regional allies such as Israel, betraying key nuclear defense secrets of the United Kingdom to Moscow, prematurely withdrawing U.S. forces from key hot spots, not responding to Chinese aggression towards allies Japan and the Philippines, ignoring Russian, Chinese, and Iranian military growth in Latin America, softening sanctions against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, and taking no viable steps in response to North Korea’s imminent deployment of nuclear ICBMs.

These actions occur in the face of a US military that was already sharply reduced from its strength in the recent past.  The navy has shrunk from 600 ships to 284, the Army is down from 17 divisions to ten, the Air Force from 37 fighter commands to 20.

This diminished force must contend with a Russia that has returned to cold war strength, possesses a 10 to 1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, has invaded two neighboring nations in the past ten years, has returned to cold war bases around the world, assisted in the shooting down of a civilian airliner, and has allied itself with China.

China has engaged in unprecedented espionage against civilian, governmental and military targets in the U.S., and has increased its nuclear and conventional military strength at a pace faster than either the Soviet Union or the United States did at the height of the cold war. It is a full-fledged military superpower on land, sea, air, and space, with technology every bit as capable as Washington’s.  It unabashedly asserts hegemony over a vast swath of seas that it has no legitimate right to, and has brazenly stolen resources from the Philippines. It makes no secret that it views the United States as an adversary, and its extraordinarily powerful armed forces are precisely structured to fight what is left of the American military.

The oft-cited clichés about the amount the U.S. spends on defense, and its comparison with potential enemies, serve to cloud the debate.  Defense spending as a percent of GDP, at about 3.3%, is at a near post-World War 2 low, and represents less than 16% of the federal budget.

Comparisons with the publicly stated budgets of Russia and China, which those opposed to adequate American defense spending often point to, is deceptive.  The non-transparent governments of those nations hide substantial portions of their military spending. They also do not include within their stated figures many items that their U.S. counterpart does.  Additionally, within their essentially command economies, manufacturers are not taking the type of profit American companies do, making the purchase of weapons exceptionally less costly.

The Trump Administration has called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, although some estimates indicate that the actual figure may be closer to $30 billion. After the Obama disinvestment years, either figure represents merely treading water.

A True Pundit review of the request notes that “The Trump administration claimed that the proposal increases defense spending by 10 percent (approximately $54 billion), however, that number is based on unfounded estimations from 2011. The increase may actually represent a 3 percent increase, when based on the number former President Barack Obama said he would have liked to have seen last year.[Defense Secretary] Mattis said…while the $30 billion is necessary, it is only enough to fill current gaps, and not enough to improve capabilities in the future.”

Writing for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Mackenzie Eaglen explains: “The current outlook for the U.S. defense budget is middling with a chance of disappointment. When Trump’s first budget is eventually signed into law, it will likely just be a more muscular version of the status quo, increasing defense spending only a few percentage points above last year’s enacted levels… On the campaign trail, Trump set a fairly nebulous goal of growing the military to 350 navy ships, 540,000 active-duty army soldiers, 200,000 marines, and more than 1,200 combat-capable air force fighters. Such growth would cost an estimated $60 billion per year more than what Obama planned for in his five-year budget from 2017, or about $90 billion per year more than the levels prescribed by the Budget Control Act.”

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its exposure of the defense budgeting errors that endanger the U.S. 

In his recommendations for the 2018—2022 budget periods, Senator McCain states:

“We are now at a tipping point…We now face, at once, a persistent war against terrorist enemies and a new era of great power competition. The wide margin for error that America once enjoyed is gone. This deterioration of America’s global position has accelerated in recent years, in part, because the Obama administration’s defense strategy was built on a series of flawed assumptions. It assumed the United States could pull back from the Middle East and contain the threat of violent Islamist extremism. It assumed that ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea would improve conditions for negotiations and not exacerbate the threat. It assumed that a nuclear deal with Iran would moderate its regional ambitions and malign behavior. It assumed that U.S.-Russia relations could be “reset” into a partnership and that American forces in Europe could be reduced. It assumed that a minimal “rebalance” of efforts could deter China from using its rising power to coerce American partners and revise the regional order. “And it assumed with the Budget Control Act of 2011 that defense spending could be cut significantly for a decade. Though all of these assumptions have been overtaken by events, [President Obama] and many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have nonetheless failed to invest sufficiently in our nation’s defense. Indeed, for most of the past eight years, including this one, Congress has forced the Department of Defense to start the year locked into the previous year’s budget and priorities, which in practice is a budget cut.

“As a result, our military is caught in a downward spiral of depleted readiness and deferred modernization. Readiness is suffering, in part, because the force is too small and being asked to do more with less. This, in turn, harms modernization, as future defense investments are delayed and mortgaged to pay for present operations. That helps to explain why all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have stated that our military cannot accomplish the nation’s strategic objectives at acceptable risk to the force and the mission. Reversing this budget-driven damage to our military must be a top priority for national leaders…

“Donald Trump has pledged to ‘fully eliminate the defense sequester’ and ‘submit a new budget to rebuild our military.’ This cannot happen soon enough. The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year. Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter…

“Our adversaries are modernizing their militaries to exploit our vulnerabilities…The cost of further inaction…is worse: We will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict. Indeed, as General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, has said: “The only thing more expensive than deterrence is actually fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is fighting one and losing one.

“For many years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. defense planning and budgeting were guided by what was called a “two major regional contingency” force sizing construct. This required the U.S. military to be sized, shaped, and postured to fight and win two major wars in different regions of the world more or less at the same time. In 2012, the Obama administration departed from this construct…it stoked a perception of American weakness and created power vacuums that adversaries have exploited.

“A better defense strategy must acknowledge the reality that we have entered a new era of great power competitions. China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests. They maintain large, survivable nuclear arsenals. They are modernizing their militaries in order to counter our ability to project power. And they are making rapid progress…the United States must have the will and military capability to deter and, if necessary, defeat these competitors in order to maintain peace through strength. Without sufficient hard power, which is our leverage, our diplomacy will be ineffective.

“A better defense strategy must also account for the threats posed by North Korea and Iran…But these dangers are serious and growing. North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is rapidly developing a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the U.S. homeland. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons has been postponed but not halted. And it seeks to use its malign influence to remake the Middle East in its image. If left unchecked, these threats will grow, to the detriment of American interests, allies, and partners. Finally, a better defense strategy must recognize that violent Islamist extremist groups will continue to pose a direct threat to American lives, and that U.S. forces will be conducting counterterrorism operations at varying levels of intensity, for the foreseeable future. … the scale of our defense challenges are clear: Major improvements can be made in the next five years, but we will not be able to rebuild and reshape our military to the degree necessary in that timeframe. In this way, the goal of the next five years is more digging out than building up—halting the accumulated damage done during the Obama administration through decreasing force size, depleted readiness, deferred modernization, and sustained high operational tempo.”

A professional opinion on the need for even greater increases in defense spending comes from the Military Officers Association .: “While many in Congress, especially the defense hawks, have applauded [President Trump’s] defense increase, several in key leadership positions on the Armed Services committees say it is not nearly enough. The administration termed the $603 billion budget request, which is an increase of $18.5 billion over what the Obama administration had proposed for FY 2018, as an increase of 10 percent, but that number is only in comparison to sequestration levels of $549 billion. So in reality, says Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, ‘That’s really only a 3-percent increase and is fake budgeting’.”

The Report concludes Monday

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part exposure of the danger caused by the disinvestment in America’s National Security

Two dangerously mistaken assumptions have guided American defense planning since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The first, made by successive administrations, was that there would no longer be a substantial military threat following the end of the USSR, and that the only true danger remaining would be regional conflicts. China’s extraordinary increases in spending on armaments, and its development of a highly advanced and sophisticated force with worldwide reach, has proven that theory wrong, as has President Putin’s dramatic reconstruction of Soviet power and strategy. Both nations have engaged in aggressive actions, confident that their armed strength shields them from repercussions.

Russia has twice invaded neighboring nations, and engages in intimidating actions towards its European neighbors and the North American coastline. China has illegally occupied a resource-rich maritime area belonging to the Philippines. It is now claiming domination over vital sea lanes in contradiction of all international law.  North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have reached an extremely dangerous point, and the Taliban is preparing for a major return to power in Afghanistan. If they do so, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may be within their grasp.

Nikita vladimirov, in an article in The Hill.reports that “Russia and China are increasingly challenging the military superiority that the United States has held since the early 1990s…[they]…are spending heavily on ‘modernization’ to improve their militaries’ quality, efficiency and overall performance…According to the experts, China’s military advancement is most noticeable in its new naval and ballistic capabilities…Researchers at the International Institute for Strategic Studies noted the rapid development of China’s new air-to-air weapons that will ‘make the air environment more difficult for the F-35 and supporting aircraft.’…Moscow, meanwhile, is seeking to develop new technologies that would undermine U.S. capabilities in Europe and Asia.

“In summer of 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the country’s military progress, asserting that Russia had achieved ‘substantial success’ in modernizing its forces… Tony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said improvements to Russia’s nuclear weapons and precision cruise missiles should be a major concern for the Pentagon…Another highlight of Russia’s push toward military innovation is its lethal T-14 tank…the International Institute for Strategic Studies said the ‘revolutionary’ tank will feature new technologies that will ‘change battlefield dynamics’ in the future.”

The second assumption, solely the work of the Obama Administration, was that significantly scaling back American defense spending and activities would induce hostile nations to do the same.  In essence, President Obama “Gave peace a chance,” to quote the rock song.  It didn’t work. Instead, it had the reverse effect: aggressive nations saw U.S. weakness as an opportunity, and took advantage.

The errors of judgement and the rise of dire threats should have been headline news. But the prevailing leftist ideology within the American media has kept the overwhelming danger out of the headlines.  It is a mantra of Progressive politics that any penny spent on defense is a penny taken away from social welfare programs. Therefore, dependent on ever increasing benefits for support at the ballot box, left-leaning politicians have ignored the hazardous reality and continued their transfer of funds from the military to the programs that get them re-elected.

Former Defense Secretary  Ashton B. Carter noted  that “DoD’s [Department of Defense] 10-year budget projections have absorbed more than $750 billion in cuts, …DoD’s fiscal year 2016 budget is at a near-historic low, representing about 14 percent of total federal discretionary and nondiscretionary outlays.”

In 2010, the total defense budget was $757 billion.  The 2016 budget was approximately $585 billion.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) noted “Russia has challenged the postwar order in Europe by invading and annexing the territory of another sovereign nation…China has stepped up its coercive behavior in Asia, backed by its rapid military modernization…Military spending is not to blame for out-of-control deficits and debt.  It is now [at] the lowest [share of federal spending] since before World War 2.”

The Report continues tomorrow