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Elaine McCusker | Breaking Defense
Elaine McCusker and John G. Ferrari | April 2023
Congress requires select uniformed and civilian leaders in the Pentagon to submit unfunded priority lists (UPLs) each year shortly after the president’s budget is released. In performing its constitutional responsibilities, Congress uses the UPLs, as the best judgment and advice of senior leaders, to understand risk inherent in the defense budget.
This year’s UPLs total $16.9 billion and are notable in part for what they do not include: requests for assistance in addressing inflation that was not part of the budget request.
As in previous years, investment accounts continue to dominate the UPLs, providing continuing evidence that defense needs both capacity and capability to perform its missions.
Elaine McCusker | AEIdeas
Defense Fiscal Year Countdown
American Enterprise Institute
Elaine McCusker | AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Working Paper Series
The defense budget funds has an increasing number of programs that do not produce military capability. Elaine McCusker explains that absent intervention, this trend will likely continue. As the US rethinks defense budgeting, it is useful to examine three key challenges. First, the Defense Department budget contains nearly $109 billion in spending that does not directly produce military capability. Second, as the definition of national security continues to expand, the number of noncore missions, programs, and activities funded by the defense budget will likely grow. Third, key characteristics of the defense budget need improvement. The budget should be transparent, responsive, and flexible in quickly taking advantage of technological advances. Currently, the defense budget struggles to be any of these things. Read the working paper here. >>
Mackenzie Eaglen and Thomas Spoehr | 19fortyfive.com
Congress finds itself torn between the twin imperatives to supply defense programs and reduce annual deficits to put the economy on a sound path. Mackenzie Eaglen and Thomas Spoehr identify ways the Pentagon can save and reinvest money to confront China. First, serious defense reform is the patient work of many years and requires allowing reformers to carefully cut and trim where necessary. Next, broad coalitions must advocate needed updates to the defense bureaucracy. Third, change requires up-front costs before the US can reap meaningful savings. Finally, continuing to avoid reform is unhelpful to those in uniform, since reform will free up funds for reinvestment in the things the military needs. Read more here. >>
The means by which the Department of Defense decides how to spend its budget has long been criticized as needlessly complex and incapable of helping policymakers choose among investments to meet strategic goals. Seeking solutions, Congress created the Commission on PPBE Reform in the 2022 defense policy bill. But the reforms the system needs may not be as obvious as they seem.
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By Elaine McCusker, RealClearDefense: “As Congress prepares to review the fiscal year 2024 federal budget request, new opportunities are emerging that can provide for America’s defense while still prioritizing cost saving and fiscal responsibility."
The Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Budget Falls $40 Billion Short
By Francis P. Sempa, The American Spectator: "Economic interdependence and globalization does not lessen the likelihood of war or the need to prepare for it."
By Antonia Colibasanu, Geopolitical Futures: "Borderlands have long been an object of scrutiny in the realm of geopolitics, as they represent a point of convergence, interaction and oftentimes conflict between nations and political systems."