Today’s national security leadership is confronting a dilemma not unlike that which confronted the Western allies in the 1930s. Faced with growing great power threats in both Europe and Asia, they knew it was essential to build up their militaries. However, the ongoing effects of the Great Depression and bad economic policies caused them to hesitate when it came to increasing defense spending. As a result, France and Great Britain were ill-prepared when war came. Current U.S. defense leaders are warning that the same situation could occur again. Although the Trump Administration increased defense spending significantly for FY 2018 and 2019, going forward, defense budgets are likely to be flat or even to decline. At the same time, the Services are each proposing major increases in force structures and modernization to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy. I discuss the conflict between future forces and budgets here.
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