The agreement reached by the White House and congressional Republicans will provide an additional $56 billion for defense over the next two years, compared to what would have been available if the budget-capping process known as sequestration were fully applied. This increase will get the Pentagon back to what General Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chefs of Staff, has described as the “lower ragged edge of manageable risk”, but still falls far short of the cross-party consensus on what our military needs.
Last year, the bipartisan, congressionally appointed National Defense Panel (NDP) recommended that in order to repair the damage done by deep spending cuts accompanied by rising threats abroad, the White House and Congress should immediately repeal sequestration and return to the budget baseline proposed by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates during his final year in office. This would an entail an additional $89 billion per year for defense, or $178 billion over the two-year period covered by the budget deal. A bipartisan group of more than 80 national security experts wrote the congressional leadership this spring to reiterate the NDP’s recommendations.
The next opportunity to restore defense spending will come after this budget deal expires in 2017, and will fall the next President and Congress. They should act on the advice of the NDP’s final report and all those who endorsed it.
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