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Publications – strategy and budgets collide

“The sinews of war are infinite money.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

The coming cuts to the defense budget loom over every issue in national security. Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics, but policymakers talk budgeting — which, after all, is simply what logistics boils down to at Washington level. Lately, I’ve written two stories for AOL Defense exploring this topic from the respective perspectives of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

First, from a roundtable discussion with the Pentagon’s policy chief, Michèle Flournoy:


We’re going to do downsizing right: That’s the essence of the pledge made today by the Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Policy, Michèle Flournoy. It won’t be an easy one to keep….The problem with all this, of course, is that every previous budget review started with similar and equally noble pledges to put strategy first but all ended up shaped primarily by bureaucratic politics…..At least one part of the institutional politics genuinely has changed since the 1990s, however: The Department of Defense is now lobbying for the Department of State.

Then, most recently, about the Army’s quest for new missions in the post-Afghanistan War world:

Escalating cyber threats, a struggling economy, the rise of China, and the unpredictable impact of the Arab Spring will dominate the next decade. At least, that’s the best collective guess of a conclave of academic experts, government officials, and military officers from the U.S. and abroad, convened by the United States Army…..It sounds like, no matter which “alternative future” ends up coming true, there’ll be plenty of work for the U.S. Army. Now the service just has to translate the experts’ guesses into arguments for its looming budget battles.

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