News from the Middle East Forum
Colin Dueck | National Institute for Public Policy
The 2022 National Security Strategy is problematic. A better approach would begin by clarifying vital US national interests in plain English, laying out threats to those interests, and then describing the necessary policies to follow.
Mackenzie Eaglen | AEIdeas
Notwithstanding the rhetoric of White House officials, the Democratic Party continues to subsidize demand and constrain supply.
By Mikayla Easley, National Defense Magazine: "U.S. national security policies and financial investments are not aligned to support the defense industrial base’s need to support great power competition, according to a new report released Feb. 8."
Defense Primer: U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces
From Congressional Research Service: "The United States has reaffirmed the value of the nuclear triad. The Obama Administration noted, in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), that the unique characteristics of each leg of the triad were important to the goal of maintaining strategic stability at reduced numbers of warheads."
By Christopher Edward Carroll, The Diplomat: " Japan and the U.S. are actively taking note of changes in China’s naval and air capabilities in the region and making changes of their own."
The Way Forward
By Michaela Dodge, National Institute for Public Policy: "The United States is facing new challenges in trying to assure allies and deter revisionist adversaries, most notably Russia, China, and North Korea."
Mackenzie Eaglen | 19fortyfive.com
As House Republicans continue to bandy about a major cut to the US military’s budget next year, Mackenzie Eaglen asks: Why would they arbitrarily pick a top-line budget number that is not threat-informed? Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) seems to think that returning budgets to 2022 levels is simply going back to “what we were spending just two or three weeks ago.” No. Returning to 2022 spending levels for 2024 is much more than a $75 billion cut for the US military. Once more accurate inflation data are available, it will be clear that the House GOP is proposing a defense cut well north of $100 billion. The result of this shortsighted and unserious proposal would be nearly immediate and create a much less capable force. Read more here. >>
William C. Greenwalt | AEIdeas
As the US wrestles with a rapidly changing security environment, creating new military capabilities to counter growing threats is essential. William C. Greenwalt shows that defense leaders are being forced to relearn that one cannot just turn on a spigot and obtain weapons on demand. Industrial base constraints reliably manifest themselves in multiyear lead times, which Americans are seeing today in the effort to replace munitions used in Ukraine. The quandary, however, is much greater than just reconstituting peacetime stocks of existing systems. Any impending conflict, or perhaps more optimistically any deterred future conflict, will require not only production at scale but also innovation at a scale not seen since WWII and the early Cold War. Continue here. >>
Mackenzie Eaglen | Hill
Many states in America have two separate budgets: one for capital expenses and another for operating activities. Separating investments from the costs of annual operations means long-term capital improvement projects are not seen as deficit drivers. Mackenzie Eaglen explains that it is time to separate the Defense Department’s capital and operating budgets. By making important and necessary funds for pay and benefits into mandatory spending, policymakers will have a clearer understanding of where defense dollars go and how much of the defense budget actually buys direct military capability. This method will go a long way toward ensuring the military receives what it genuinely needs to execute its central mission to defend the nation. Continue here. >>
Matching Defense Budget to Strategy
Elaine McCusker and Emily Coletta | AEIdeas
As we await the release of the President’s fiscal year 2024 budget request to Congress in early March, chatter continues on Capitol Hill about potentially irresponsible and dangerous cuts to defense. Elaine McCusker and Emily Coletta show that such speculation directly contradicts bipartisan support for the recently passed defense budget. There is a false belief that the Pentagon can reform or save its way out of the current budget hole. It cannot. American should be unwilling to accept any budget plan that threatens to repeat the costly mistakes of the Budget Control Act era. To this end, representatives on Capitol Hill can lead this year by reaching a budget agreement now that will allow enactment of regular appropriations bills before the start of the fiscal year. Learn more here. >>
Katherine Zimmerman | Hill
Recent American raids against the Islamic State (IS) in Somalia add to a growing series of operations to capture or kill those involved in plotting transnational attacks. Katherine Zimmerman argues that while targeting high-value individuals within IS weakens it, raids and airstrikes will not be enough to win this fight. IS has routinized its leadership succession to overcome rapid losses, which means the US must refocus on denying terrorists the safe havens needed to recruit and plan for attacks. Washington’s hesitancy to do more than targeting for fear of overcommitting resources again is letting terrorists regroup. Suppressing terrorist networks is not a permanent solution; it requires constant resources to monitor and prevent attacks.
Read more here. >>
By Miguel Alejandro Laborde, RealClearDefense: “. . . in March of 2022, USSOUTHCOM Commander General Richardson provided, in illuminating and stark detail, a number of concerns and threats both resident and growing in the Southern Command Area of Responsibility (AOR)."
Elaine McCusker | AEIdeas