Defense in an Age of Austerity
October 31, 2011
In order to comply with the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Department of Defense (DoD) will face a drawdown of uncertain magnitude. At a minimum, DoD will be forced to accept cuts of $450 billion in the coming decade, and in the absence of any “grand bargain” on federal government spending reductions and tax increases, this figure could be far higher, with sequestration expected to add another $500 billion to $600 billion in cuts.
Given the potential scale of this drawdown, it is vital for security experts to engage in a robust and candid public debate on the role of the United States in international affairs and how the U.S. military should be structured to best support this role. To facilitate such a debate, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), with support from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, hosted a one-day conference on September 29, 2011, that convened experts from across the ideological spectrum to deliberate the proper alignment of the “ends, ways, and means” of U.S. defense strategy in a fiscally constrained environment. This report reflects the CSIS study team’s analysis of the conference proceedings and highlights key areas of agreement and disagreement among conference panelists.