Rubber Band Man

The new defense budget means it will be tougher for the US military to fulfill its national strategy, in that wars will take longer and likely incur more casualties, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. James Winnefeld said Wednesday. Speaking at a Bloomberg budget conference in Washington, D.C., Winnefeld said the Fiscal 2014 budget submission put the US military “squarely in the middle” of the band of risk. The Fiscal 2015 budget “takes us closer to the edge of that band, but in our view, we stay within it.” If sequester continues, however, a new strategy will have to be written, because the 2012 version—the one the military has been working with—will not be executable, Winnefeld said. The level of risk “will be significant in the near term due to our readiness challenges, left over from last year . . . there’s also increased risk in the long term due to increased uncertainty in fiscal environments,” he noted. “A smaller force will mean less deterrent presence and less margin for error in combat, particularly if it involves two simultaneous fights. But much of this risk will be mitigated” by the quality of the all-volunteer force and its demonstrated ability to innovate, he said.