Analyst Sees $200-$300 Billion Gap between Defense Needs, Budgets

There is a $200 billion to $300 billion gap between the missions, force structure, and procurement programs called for in the national defense strategy and the funds allowed under sequestration, argued Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategy and Budgetary Assessments. Harrison said the Administration should present Congress with that “stark choice” and challenge it to either increase defense funding to meet the stated needs, or change the strategy to conform to the available funds. The later choice, he said, would mean even deeper force reductions than planned, cancellation or cuts in major procurement programs, and withdrawal from some of the military’s current global missions. Those retrenchments would come when the military is struggling to meet rising threats from Russia, China, and Islamic extremists while also trying to replace a generation of aged weapon systems. Harrison calculated the gap by comparing what was proposed in the Obama Administration’s five-year budget plan and the funding allowed under the 2011 Budget Control Act. “DOD needs to present Congress with a clear choice” to fund the requirements or change them, he said.